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Marina Micari

Marina Micari headshot

Marina serves as director of ASLA, leading Northwestern's efforts to provide high-quality, inclusive, and holistic academic support for undergraduates. She has been at Northwestern since 2003, previously with the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, where she led program evaluation projects and worked with faculty seeking to enhance their students' learning. Marina is also a lecturer in Northwestern's Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program within the School of Education and Social Policy. She is engaged in national and international conversations around academic success in higher education, particularly in STEM, and has authored numerous journal articles and two books on the college student academic experience. In her pre-Northwestern days, Marina worked for a decade in publishing and corporate communication, and taught courses in intercultural communication, multicultural education, and educational research methods. She received her B.A from Grinnell College in anthropology and French, and holds an M.A. in communication and a Ph.D. in education, both from the University of Minnesota.


  • What is most meaningful to you about your work?
    • The opportunity to contribute to building a culture of support and collaboration, within a broader national culture that can often be oriented very differently.
  • What’s some advice you would give to your college-age self? 
    • Engage in the things that genuinely interest you, and don’t worry about how smart you sound when you talk about them.
  • What is a prior life experience that you draw on in your work?
    • I once had a professor tell me, “If all you have at the moment seems like garbage, turn that in, and we can work with it.” This made a big impact on me, because it helped me see that my work didn’t have to be perfect in order to take it somewhere – and that the way to make something really good is to start with something that’s not perfectly formed.  This has really informed my orientation to innovating and to supporting student learning.
  • What’s something you enjoy when you’re not at work?
    • I love language/languages and spend a lot of time working on and thinking about this. Netflix is great for comprehension practice, because you can put the subtitles in the original language!