I was born on December 31, 1958 at 1:30 a.m. in Ft. Worth Texas . My mother had taken castor oil the day before to induce labor so that I could be a tax deduction in 1958. It apparently worked. My father was a recent Th.M. graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary working on his Th.D., and was a pastor of a small church, Ft. Worth Bible Church. I believe that the first two words I ever said were "Dallas Cowboys" for I have been a Cowboys fan since I was two. When I was five, we moved to Huntsville, Alabama where my dad was pastor of Calvary Bible Church. I was captivated by the space program while growing up in Huntsville, where the first stage of the Saturn-V rocket was built and tested. It was that interest in space and technology which eventually led me to study physics in college and graduate school.
In 1972, our family moved to Escondido, California in North San Diego County because my dad accepted the job of senior pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church, a large (about 4000 people) non-denominational church. My dad, who passed away in 1993, was one of the best Bible teachers I have ever heard. Because of the internet (and my mom's hard work) all of his sermons can still be heard at SpiritualGold.org. They are well-worth listening to for my dad had the ability to make the message of the Bible clear and relevant. (My spiritual heritage also includes my grandfather, Lehman Strauss, who was a very well known pastor, Bible conference speaker, and author.) I went to San Pasqual High School where I played varsity football, was elected vice president of the Associated Student Body, graduated as valedictorian, and was elected by my peers as "most likely to succeed."
I had an interest in science and theology, so in 1977 I chose to go to Biola University where I could study both subjects in detail. I thoroughly enjoyed college and participated in intramural sports, was elected to student government, served as a resident assistant, competed in forensics, and studied a lot. As I neared college graduation my dual interest continued so I applied to seminary and to graduate school. After graduating summa cum laude from Biola, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in physics at UCLA.
During my first few years of graduate school, I developed an increased interest in quantum mechanics and subatomic physics and decided to do research in a field that dealt with these subjects. I joined a High Energy Physics experimental group doing research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to actively participate in research at SLAC. I graduated in 1988 with my Ph.D in High Energy Physics (a.k.a. Elementary Particle Physics). If you would like to know more about High Energy Physics, the Particle Data Group at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has a very nice interactive adventure that teaches you all about the subject. My research advisor was professor Charles Buchanan and my disertation was titled "A Study of Lambda Polarization and Phi Spin Alignment in Electron-Positron Annihilation at 29 GeV as a Probe of Color Field Behavior."
After graduation, I accepted a post-doctoral research position with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I continued to do research at SLAC where I joined the SLD experiment. My research interests centered on the SLD silicon pixel vertex detector. I wrote most of the offline software for this device, and did physics analysis which used the vertex detector, including tagging b quark events for flavor specific QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics) analysis. In the seven years I was employed by UMASS, I only spent 3 days on the Amherst campus. The rest of the time was spent in California.
While in the bay area, I enjoyed road bicycling in the coastal mountains, and snow skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I was married there, and my two children were born there. I also attended a wonderful church, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church where my wife sang in the choir and I served as an elder. My activity in church is a natural result of my convictions about religious truth and the God who loves me.
In August 1995, I accepted a job as an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Oklahoma (OU) in Norman, Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma has a vibrant high energy physics research group involved in exciting current research. For about 15 years I did research at the Fermi National Accelerator Center (Fermilab), with the DØ experiment . As a member of the DØ collaboration I made contributions to the testing of silicon sensors for the upgraded vertex detector, to the track finding algorithms, to a measurement of the photon production cross section which probes the gluon content of protons, to a measurement of the di-jet production cross section, and to other QCD measurements. I also studied properties of B mesons that contain a b-quark, and did many other QCD analyses as co-convener of the QCD Physics group.
Currently, my research is conducted at CERN, where I am a collaborator on the ATLAS experiment. This is one of the two experiments that used data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to discover the Higgs boson in 2012. This discovery has confirmed the Higgs mechanism of the standard model, but also opened up a number of questions. For example, it is possible that there are a whole family of Higgs bosons with different masses, so I am actively looking for evidence of higher mass Higgs bosons. In addition, I am doing research trying to understand properties of the top quark, the fundamental particle with the highest mass. I have collaborated in research that measures the pole-mass of the top quark and tries to understand top-quark production by measuring properties of quark or gluon jets produced in conjunction with the top quark. Much of my research is conducted in collaboration with outstanding graduate students at OU.
I received tenure and the rank of Associate Professor in 2001 and was promoted to Professor in the summer of 2010. Most of the time at OU I have taught introductory physics classes to physics majors, engineers, and life science majors. In these classes I have used a number of interactive techniques to facilitate student participation and learning. I have been privileged to win a few awards for my teaching. In 1999, the Associated Students selected me as the Outstanding Professor in the College of Arts and Science, and in 2000 I was awarded the BP AMOCO Foundation Good Teaching Award. In 2002, I was given the Regents Award for Superior Teaching. I received the Carlisle Mabrey and Lurine Mabrey Presidential Professorship in 2006 which is given to "faculty members who excel in all their professional activities and who relate those activities to the students they teach and mentor." In 2012 I was named David Ross Boyd Professor (after the first President of OU). This is a lifetime title given to faculty members who have consistently demonstrated outstanding teaching, guidance, and leadership for students in an academic discipline or in an interdisciplinary program within the University.
I still enjoy riding my bicycle, although sometimes when I am riding the rolling hills of Oklahoma I miss the mountains in the bay area. I enjoy golf, and now play a decent game. I continue to downhill ski when I get a chance. I love spending time with my wife and children. We have found a great church home at Wildwood Community Church in Norman. Over the last few years I have had a number of opportunities to speak at universities and churches throughout the world on the relationship between science and Christianity, and to work with Reasons to Believe, an organization that integrates faith and science. A talk that I gave at the University of North Texas is posted at Scientific Evidence for God. Also YouTube has a talk I gave at the University of Santa Barbara in 2004 on the same subject and an interview answering questions about science and faith. The talk at UCSB and interview can be purchased on DVD at Access Research Network. I am one of the four general editors for Zondervan's Dictionary of Christianity and Science and the author of the book The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible, which discusses how scientific discoveries about the origin and design in the universe agree with the biblical text. I write a blog that discusses issues dealing with science and Christianity at www.michaelgstrauss.com, and have a YouTube channel on the same subject.