A Balance of the Hemispheres
Mike Middleman seeks out the middle ground in things—“a balancing of the hemispheres,” as he would phrase it. It’s a concept that has left a mark on Mike’s life, having its roots in his childhood where he developed a pair of lasting interests.
“Two things have always been huge in my life: biology and music,” says Middleman. Mike grew up in Grant, Michigan alongside of six older sisters—most of whom were musicians, as were his parents. As for biology, it was a simple matter. “I’ve always been interested in biology and seen environmental studies as really important”, he says. “For a career, that was the direction I wanted to go.”
Pulling from his varied upbringing, Mike sought after a unique college experience. “I don’t think I would have handled lecture halls very well… I knew a big, state-school wasn’t right for me.” His love for the mountains made Vermont an ideal place to live while his preference for a small-scale, creative learning environment drew him to Green Mountain College. He hasn’t regretted his decision.
“It was great—socially, music was my ‘in’,” says Middleman. Over the course of his college career, Mike has been in a number of bands, all of which have had their success in one way or another. “It all started freshman-year, after I got into bluegrass, with ‘The Western-Central Vermont Uptown Whiskey Ramblers’,” Middleman chuckles. Since then, he has played with “The Bad Assets” who opened for last year’s Spring Concert and “The Carl’s Corner Basement Band” who will be opening this time around.
As part of his self-designed study in conservation biology, Mike has done superb work in population genetics - which, in keeping with his good sense of balance, requires him to be creative and diligent in the driver’s seat of his own degree plan while maintaining the analytical mindset needed to tackle the science itself.
Over the past couple of years, Mike has studied the gene flow of the silver lamprey—an eel-like fish—in Lake Champlain and other rivers in the area. “We really don’t know anything about the silver lamprey,” says Middleman. It is something he hopes to rectify. After completing his lab work, Mike will present his findings at the end of April for the Lake Champlain Research Consortium, the organization that has funded his research. Additionally, he will be submitting his work to various academic journals—something Mike sees a necessary step along the road to graduate school.
Mike’s success is rooted in his ability to appreciate so many different things in so many different ways. It could be said that if Mike’s life were a song, it might have a wide variety of notes and chords throughout but would, all the while, have a consistent melody—a true balancing of the hemispheres.
By Chad Skiles '12