Texas Tech University

Longtime Faculty Member and Associate Dean for Research Steps into Retirement

Ashley Brister

September 6, 2021


Michael O’Boyle looks back on his years of service in the College of Human Sciences

Appointed as Associate Dean for Research in 2009, Michael O'Boyle, Ph.D. brought a wave of innovation and expertise to the College of Human Sciences (COHS). Having served as a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences and as adjunct professor of pharmacology and neuroscience at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, O'Boyle helped shape the college's research efforts across the board.

Before coming to Texas Tech, O'Boyle served from 1982-1999 as a professor of psychology at Iowa State University and professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia from 2000-2004. As Associate Dean for Research in the COHS, O'Boyle led the research office in providing faculty research support on grant submissions and various collaborative research projects.

In addition to the establishment of new internal grant programs and developing research agendas for the COHS, one of the initiatives O'Boyle said he is most proud of is bringing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) capability to Texas Tech through the creation of the Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute (TTNI), where he also served as its interim director. 

“The TTNI is a world-class facility that has brought much prestige to TTU and helped to generate cross-disciplinary research into brain imaging, as well as helping to recruit many faculty across campus who have interests in neuroimaging,” O'Boyle said. “In my role as Associate Dean and as Interim Director of the TTNI, I am also proud of assisting faculty in further developing a high-profile research culture in the college by creating innovative internal support programs (e.g., Come N Go grants program) as well as promoting a cross-disciplinary research atmosphere within the college and the university.”

Looking back on his time in the college, O'Boyle says that receiving the Barney Rushing award for outstanding researcher and the President's Academic Achievement award stand out as a few of his favorite memories. Additionally, “being awarded the Hutcheson Professorship, and particularly, assisting the COHS in receiving the University's Global Vision Award from the Office of International Affairs for outstanding contributions and commitment to internationalization, both stand out for me,” O'Boyle said.

Other memorable aspects of his career include working with Drs. Alan and Beatrice Gardner on the original ‘Washoe Project' – teaching sign language of the deaf to chimpanzees, thus allowing them to converse with humans and with each other. And later in his career,  collaborating with Drs. Camilla Benbow, David Lubinski, Gary Egan, Rex Jung (and others at Iowa State, Melbourne University, and TTU) using fMRI to investigate the unique brain characteristics of mathematically gifted children. Notably, this research work was featured on the NOVA Science series (WGBH Boston) and on Australian ABC- TV.

O'Boyle is looking forward to traveling, hiking, and playing golf in retirement. He looks forward to continuing his passion for playing guitar at local venues and performing at hospitals and homes for the elderly in his free time.