University of California Seal

Michael Martinez


Michael Martinez

Professor of Education

UC Irvine
1956 - 2012


We sadly commemorate the death, but joyfully celebrate the life, of our friend and colleague, Dr. Michael Martinez, Professor of Education at the University of California, Irvine.


Dr. Martinez was a major scholar in the fields of learning, cognition, and intelligence. He is the author of many works on these issues, including two influential books, Education as the Cultivation of Intelligence, published in 2000, and Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind, published in 2010. His newest book, Future Bright: A Transforming View of Human Intelligence, is being published posthumously by Oxford University Press.


A former high school science teacher, Professor Martinez received his Ph.D. in educational psychology from Stanford University in 1987. He subsequently joined the research staff of Educational Testing Service in Princeton New Jersey, where he developed new forms of computer-based testing for assessment in science, architecture, and engineering.


Professor Martinez joined the UCI Department of Education in 1992 and played a critical role in the Department’s development. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences, he developed and studied innovative programs for improving education of diverse learners in mathematics and science. Most recently, he developed Brain Boost, a scalable model program designed to increase elementary and middle school students’ intelligence and motivation. He also founded and directed the Department of Education’s Center for Research on Cognition and Learning.


As a senior member of the UCI Education faculty, Professor Martinez played a central role in developing many of the Department of Education’s academic programs, including its Ph.D. in Education program. In the last years of his life, he served as both Director of the Department’s Ed.D. program in Educational Administration and Leadership as well as Vice-Chair of the Department. These efforts were critical to the development of the Department into a School of Education, a transformation that Professor Martinez contributed immensely to and which was finalized a few months after he died.


Professor Martinez was dedicated to national and international service. While a faculty member at UCI, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of the South Pacific in the Fiji Islands (1994-95). He served as a program director for the National Science Foundation (2001-02) where he managed the NSF’s role in the Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI). His honors include appointments as College Board Visiting Scholar (2002-03), Mellon Visiting Scholar at Columbia University (2003-04), Cambridge University Visiting Scholar (2009), and the APA Presidental Commendation for Contributions to Psychology (2003).


Professor Martinez was an inspiring human being who was deeply loved by students, colleagues, and friends. After diagnosis with stage IV lung cancer in 2003, he continued to live life to the fullest, constantly seeking new treatments to stave off disease, while fully continuing his scholarship and service, and even taking up new hobbies like snowboarding and paragliding. His strength, generous spirit, wisdom and warmth permeated his being. He was an inspiration and gift to all of us.


Professor Martinez is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 33 years, Stephanie Martinez, his four daughters, Lindy (Kris Stice), Kiely (Robert James), Amy (James Lajiness), and Hillary, and his six grandchildren, Josiah, Judah, Myah, Haleh, Jenah, and Tressan.


In Professor Martinez’s honor, the School of Education has established a Michael E. Martinez Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Research in Education.


Mark Warschauer

Professor of Education