Michael is an archaeologist and biological anthropologist.
He undertook his undergraduate training at the Australian National University (1992) and Honours year at the University of Sydney (1994) investigating the question of megafauna extinctions. Michael’s career has covered many diverse roles: consultant archaeologist in Queensland; state archaeologist with the Heritage Services Branch of Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria ; manager and biological anthropologist at the National Museum of Australia with the repatriation unit; Executive Officer with the NSW National Parks Service for the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area; archaeologist with the NSW National Parks Service at Yanga National Park ; and curator of archaeology at the Queensland Museum. Michael joined the Archaeology Department at Flinders University in 2010. In August 2010 he returned to the Queensland Museum to take up the position of Head of Cultures and Histories.
Michael completed his PhD in 2009. His thesis explored the question of Aboriginal biological origins. This was done through a phylogenetic analysis of the earliest fossils of modern humans from Africa and the Levant, and comparing them with the Willandra Lakes fossil series and the Ngandong Homo erectus sample. The thesis also incorporated excavation at Ngandong, Java and the Willandra lakes. This was to help establish the most probable antiquity of the fossil human remains. One of the outcomes of the thesis was to produce a new model to explain human variation found within Pleistocene Australia. This model complemented existing models arguing for a single founding population.