Michael New was born and raised in New York City, specifically the Bronx and Queens. Tired of the fast-paced urban experience, he decamped to the wilds of New Haven, CT. After four years of experiments aimed at settling the age-old question of whether Pepe's or Sally's made the better pizza ended inconclusively, Yale University banished him from Elm City with a BS in chemistry. Undeterred, he returned home, where he earned a PhD in chemical physics at Columbia University in 1994. In search of the world's worst pastrami sandwich, he then relocated to the left coast, specifically to the People's Republic of Berkeley, where he held post-doctoral positions in the UC Berkeley chemistry department and the UC San Francisco department of pharmaceutical chemistry. He is quick to point out that, due to the presence of deer in his backyard, Berkeley is the most rural place he has ever lived.