Michael earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Arizona State University in 2012, studying developmental plasticity and mallard ducks. Very broadly, he is interested in developmental plasticity from physiological, evolutionary, and ecological perspectives. By combining field studies with lab-based experiments, his research examines the development of traits associated with both survival (e.g., immune function) and reproduction (e.g., ornamentation) and then quantifies these traits using a variety of techniques, including biochemical analyses, in vivo and in vitro immunological assays, and behavioral trials.
He continues to publish scientific literature, and enjoys being active in community outreach. For two years, he directed a program that brought graduate students into mentoring relationships with 7th and 8th grade students from an under-served school in downtown Phoenix. He likes giving back to his institution and has served on several committees and as President of the Graduate Scholars in the School of Life Sciences. He has taken an active role in professional service by organizing the first ever international conference on iridescence, which was attended by physicists, biologists, and artists from over 10 countries on 5 continents and resulted in a special issue of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Currently, Michael is an Assistant Biology Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Selected publications since Boise State University graduate school:
Behbahaninia H., M.W. Butler, M.B. Toomey, and K.J. McGraw. 2012. Food color preferences against a dark, textured background vary in relation to sex and age in House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). Behaviour 149:51-65.
Butler, M.W., and K.J. McGraw. 2011. Past or present? Relative contributions of developmental and adult conditions to adult immune function and coloration in Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Journal of Comparative Physiology B 181:551-563.
Toomey, M.B., M.W. Butler, and K.J. McGraw. 2010. Immune-system activation depletes retinal carotenoids in House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). The Journal of Experimental Biology 213:1709-1716.
Butler, M.W., and K.J. McGraw. 2009. Indoor housing during development affects moult, carotenoid circulation and beak colouration of Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Avian Biology Research 2:203-211.