Photography by: Vanessa Leroy


Michael is a developmental neurobiologist. Right now, he’s working at Harvard University and the Broad Institute. He uses stem cells to learn about neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, intellectual disability, and Zika congenital syndrome. 

Michael does more than just research, he is the founder and co-director of the COVID-19 National Scientist Volunteer Database and leads the Trainee Advisory Committee at the Society for Neuroscience.

Vanessa Leroy, Portrait of Michael Wells, 2021. Digital Photograph. ©Poetry of Science. All rights reserved.


This remarkable community of cells
calls to mind, in its harmonious serenity,
an American housing development of the late-fifties:
the quiet suburban lanes, the orderly rows of newly planted trees,
the identical houses, differentiated only by numbered mailboxes
sitting like sentries at the sidewalk’s edge.
One can imagine each little cellular house
with its own backyard grill,
each chef in “Kiss the Cook” apron
wielding spatula and fork,
blinking at the smoke and fire,
while golden tones of Frank Sinatra
drift from the radio on the fragrant air.
And as evening comes, perhaps as lights in the lab
are turned down low, there’s quiet conversation,
and one last drink while sitting before the embers
of the charcoal fires.
Little village, working together so tirelessly, so selflessly
on behalf of humankind, we thank you for your service,
and wish you soft rains to nourish emerald-green lawns
that will never know a blade of crabgrass.
- Charles Coe

This children’s poem was written after two interviews with Michael Wells, PhD.

Poetry of Science

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Project: Scientists of color and local poets of color are collaborating to create poetry based on the work, motivations, and history of the scientists. We are working with fine art photographer Vanessa Leroy, to create portraits of each scientist for public display alongside their associated poetry. Selected poets and scientists will be published in a dedicated issue of an award-winning literary journal. Our Mission: The Poetry of Science counters the negative associations handed down by systemic racism by creating new and positive associations between people of color (POC), the arts, the sciences, how nature is perceived, and what it means to generate knowledge. In this context, POC offer new ways to understand and create novel realities to resist systems of oppression.

Other work from The Poetry of Science