After receiving a B.A. from Columbia and Ph.D. from M.I.T., I started out as a chemistry professor. However, my academic career took an unexpected turn with the bankruptcy of Antioch College, where I had just received tenure. Fortunately, it resulted in taking a newly created position at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. In response to public criticism of sponsor-designed exhibitions, a World’s Fair legacy, the Museum sought a scientist to begin developing content in-house. That became the start of my career in museums, consulting, and the federal government.
At the National Science Foundation, I served as Program Officer and Section Head for Informal Science Education (ISE), and then as Deputy Director and acting Director for the Division of Research in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). I had the opportunity to lead creation and funding of:
- Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)
- Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net)
- Learning Science in Informal Settings report (National Academy of Sciences)
- Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Informal Science Education Projects.
Appointed by an independent review board to the Senior Executive Service (civil service classification equivalent to military ranks of general officer or flag officer), I managed the largest division at NSF, overseeing review and recommendation for $200 million+ in annual grants.
As President of the Kansas City Museum and founding President of Science City at Union Station, I led development of a new kind of science center based on immersing visitors within 60,000 sq ft of interactive city-themed role-playing adventures. In addition to creating and implementing the concept, I worked with trustees to raise over $100 million in private funds and to help form the nation’s first bi-state cultural district, which generated an additional $118 million in tax funds.
As Vice President for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and Deputy Director of the California Museum of Science and Industry (now California Science Center), I produced major permanent exhibitions such as Technology: Chance or Choice? and Everyday Chemistry, and the traveling exhibitions My Daughter, the Scientist and Black Achievers in Science. In Chicago, I was able to transform a sponsor-controlled exhibition development process, a World’s Fair legacy, to one led by museum professional staff.
My consulting practice, Museums+more, has assisted more than 30 clients, including museums, professional organizations, government agencies, and universities. In that capacity, I developed strategies for new and renewing museums, recommended changes to strengthen draft grant proposals, advised education and evaluation projects, and created concepts for permanent and traveling exhibitions.
- Appointed by President, confirmed by U.S. Senate, to National Museum Services (IMLS) Board
- NSF representative on Federal Council on the Arts & Humanities and Nanoscale Science Education & Technology Subcommittee, National Science & Technology Council
- Testified on behalf of NSF before U.S. Senate and House subcommittees
- Co-chaired, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Communicating Chemistry in Informal Settings
- Chaired, Legislative Committee and Publications Committee, Association of Science & Technology Centers (ASTC)
- Appointed to AAM Museum Assessment Program Advisory Committee
- Elected by membership to Visitor Studies Association Board as Vice President for Organizational Development
- Designated Fellow by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); elected Member-at-Large by Section Y (General Interest in Science & Technology)
- Inducted into professional honorary societies Phi Lambda Upsilon and Sigma Xi
Over 75 publications, including museum and education articles, scientific research, and college chemistry textbooks.