Instructor, Department of Management; Florida Partnership Director, Blackstone LaunchPad
Dr. Mike Lynch is an avid Marvel comic collector, social golfer, bullpen catcher for his daughter and serves as the Florida Partnership Director at the Blackstone LaunchPad as well as instructing in the Department of Management. Helping students through the LaunchPad keeps each day feeling new and exciting for Mike and he has a passion for merging the theoretical, empirical and practical aspects of life and business. Find out more about Mike below!
How long have you been a Knight? I have been at UCF for eight months.
What’s your favorite memory so far? My favorite memory has repeated itself a few times lately when I’m in front of a class on my own – or with our team with an orientation group, the first day of the semester, guest lecturing, a new student-athlete meeting, etc. – and we suggest the students grab the QR code for the Blackstone LaunchPad on the projection screen and nearly everyone does and signs up. It reminds me of the scene at the end of “The Martian” when Matt Damon’s character is back on Earth teaching at the space academy and asks if there are any questions and everyone’s hands eagerly shoot up. It’s truly awesome every time. UCF students seem to appreciate an education grounded in scholarship, but connected intimately to the real world.
What is your area of research at UCF? At UCF, our team focuses on developing innovation and entrepreneurship skills that are believed to have generalizable impact that employers seek out and that can be taught even though they are difficult to define. It’s a pretty cool synthesis of cognitive psychology, learning theory, organizational behavior, and interdisciplinary business strategy among other disciplines. My first go in higher education was 1989-1996 and my research focused on quantitative and experimental study of musical characteristics of prelinguistic vocalizations in infants and development of music cognition also in infants, but through the adult lifespan to older adults and effects of aging as well. In that work, we discovered a couple lasting phenomena.
What awards or honors are you most proud of? I have been awarded the NIH FIRST Award, First National Bank of Chicago Fellowship at Chicago Booth, been named Outstanding Young investigator by the International Conference on Infant Studies, and to the Who’s Who in Science & Engineering and was also presented the Journeyman Mentorship Award at Boston Consulting Group.
What do you love about what you do? When I left higher education in 1996, I wrote in my business school applications that I planned to return to higher education and contribute very differently than I would have if I had stayed the traditional path. Returning to higher education here at UCF, in my current roles, and with room to grow could not be more perfect. It truly brings me full circle. Who wouldn’t love that?
What do you find most exciting and rewarding about your field of study? The merging of the theoretical, empirical, and the practical. We practice theory every day in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) at UCF and in the Blackstone LaunchPad. We’re grateful to the trust the Blackstone Foundation has placed in UCF to allow us to help expand the LaunchPad in Florida. We are also really excited about a new NSF grant to UCF supporting interdisciplinary translational work to help enable groundbreaking science to reach the marketplace. All of these efforts are about creating new value-generating jobs, companies, and highly-skilled innovators in Florida. It’s fun and exciting work.
When you’re not in the LaunchPad, what can we find you doing? I love golf, even though it’s an incredibly frustrating game. It’s a social exercise, so even a bad day is a good day with friends on the course. As BF Skinner found, intermittent reinforcement is powerful and golf is nothing if not intermittent reinforcement along the lines of how AI can keep you addicted to social media. I also spend a lot of time catching bullpen for our daughter who is aiming to play college softball. She was one of the top high school freshmen in Florida last year and is already being recruited to play in college. It’s exciting to work with her and watch her develop in to a scholar-athlete.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m still really into collecting Marvel comic books. I started when I was six-years-old. Among other books, I have the very first appearance of the Black Panther, which was actually in “Fantastic Four #52” in 1961! I hadn’t even been born yet. I purchased it at a Comic-Con around 1977. Black Panther has been around a lot longer than most people realize, which is cool to think about Chadwick Boseman made Black Panther truly great in movies and brought the character to life like no one else could have.
What is your best advice for Business Knights? Instead It’s a great time to be a Business Knight and a UCF student in general. The long-term option value of your degree is visibly climbing, as is obvious from recent gains in reputational and national standing of the University and Business programs, and now being a member of the Big 12. I talk a lot with students about personal option value. Work hard. Achieve your best. Be open to acquiring new skills, even if that is a little uncomfortable sometimes. Extract every ounce of value you can from your experience while you are here. Build real relationships. Focusing on those things will keep your options open in a dynamic and exciting future.