Michael Starobin is a 1986 graduate of East Pennsboro Area High School and continued his education at Macalester College in Minnesota. While at Macalester, he majored in Anthropology and earned honors in the field of Biomedical Ethics. He has traveled the world doing research for his studies in Kenya, China, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. A multi-talented scholar, Michael has worked in the field of Communications as an associate producer for a radio station and a supervising producer for Conus Communications in Washington, DC.
Since 1999, Michael has been a senior producer for NASA Television and Honeywell in Maryland. As the senior producer for NASA, Michael is responsible for taking highly technical or scientific subjects, including Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics, climate change, satellite design and operation, and computationally intensive computer simulations, and turning them into media products that make sense to elected officials and the general public. His award winning movies, speeches, videos, and live presentations have played for high profile audiences around the world, including Congress, The United Nations, the Japanese Diet, The Smithsonian Institution and more. In 2006 Michael invented a wholly new way to think about movies. Using a novel system that at that time showed little more than images of planets on a round screen, Michael developed a way to create fully spherical movies. Suddenly an obscure tool for simple scientific depiction of round images became a dramatically new way for presenting all sorts of things. Michael’s methodology not only resulted in a breathtaking new form of cinema for telling scientific stories, but a wholly new form of digital media. The offshoot of this work is already starting to appear in places as varied as scientific presentations on the changing nature of global ice resources to displays of pure visual invention in museums, concert spaces, and industrial applications.
Michael came back to East Penn several times and presented lectures on several topics. As recently as 2007, Michael spoke to students at the high school not only about his work with spherical video systems, but also talked about basic issues related to global climate change. In separate appearances, Michael presented general talks about several exciting avenues of research currently underway at NASA, and then a personal story about how he converted an East Pennsboro education into his current position.
According to his nominator, Michael demonstrates that high levels of achievement need not be narrowly defined; his career requires a deep understanding of science and technology, but it also demands the eye of an artist, the soul of a poet, the heart of a civic leader. He always says there is beauty in both the ordinary and the extraordinary, and as his career has opened the doors of the universe to him using little more than creativity, curiosity, and hard work, he wants to share that sense of meaningful pursuit with new students coming up.