Michael Wagner’s interest and expertise lies in the study of microorganisms at the places where they actually occur. He is specifically concerned with nitrifiers and their impact on the environment. These microorganisms play an important part in the Earth's nitrogen cycle.

Wagner, the 2019 winner of FWF's Wittgenstein Award, has also provided his expertise to the fight against the pandemic with the development of the gargle test. Whenever Wagner is not in the lab, he can be found recharging his batteries in nature. This is another reason why he finds the destruction of the environment disconcerting.