Hon. Ioannis N. Miaoulis, PhD
President and Director
Museum of Science, Boston
Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis has been President and Director of the Museum of Science, Boston since 2003. Originally from Greece, Dr. Miaoulis came to the Museum after a distinguished association with Tufts University. There, he was Dean of the School of Engineering, Associate Provost, Interim Dean of the University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. In addition to helping Tufts raise $100 million for its engineering school, Miaoulis greatly increased the number of female students and faculty, designed collaborative programs with industry, and more than doubled research initiatives. At Tufts, he created courses based on students’ and his own passions for fishing and cooking: a fluid mechanics course from the fish’s point of view and Gourmet Engineering, where students cook in a test kitchen, explore heat transfer, and eat their experiments.
An innovative educator with a passion for science and engineering, Miaoulis championed the introduction of engineering into the Massachusetts science and technology public school curriculum in 2001, making the Commonwealth first in the nation to develop a K-12 statewide curriculum framework and assessments for technology/engineering. He has positioned the Museum of Science — one of the world’s largest science centers and New England’s most attended cultural institution — to take the lead in bringing interested parties in government, industry, and education together to advance the goal of educating a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry.
Introducing about 1.4 million visitors a year to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) via hundreds of interactive exhibits and programs, the Museum has been recognized by Boston and Cambridge for its energy and sustainability efforts; ranked #3 of the 10 best science centers in 2008 by Parents Magazine, one of the top two most visited hands-on science centers on Forbestraveler.com’s “America’s 25 most visited museums” list in 2008, one of the top two science museums in the Zagat Survey’s “U.S. Family Travel Guide” and Yankee Magazine‘s “Best of New England — Readers’ Choice” for Cultural Attraction in Science and “Best of New England — Editors’ Choice” for Best Sky Show.
In 2004, Miaoulis spearheaded creation of the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) at the Museum. Supported by corporate, foundation, and federal funds, the NCTL aims to enhance knowledge of engineering and technology for people of all ages and to inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors, and scientists. The Museum of Science is the country’s first science museum with a comprehensive strategy and infrastructure to foster technological literacy in both science museums and schools nationwide. Its NCTL received the National Science Board’s 2015 Public Service Award and the 2010 Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) Innovation Award.
The NCTL advances technological literacy in schools by helping states modify educational standards and assessments, by designing K-12 engineering materials, and by offering educators professional development. The NCTL’s curricula have reached an estimated 99,700 teachers and 9.4 million students in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its Engineering is Elementary® curriculum is the model for a European Commission-funded initiative to introduce engineering in primary schools and museums in nine European countries and Israel. The Museum’s national touring exhibition, Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, created with Lucasfilm Ltd. and funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has promoted technological literacy to over 3 million people. Museum educators have engaged more than 600,000 young visitors in Design Challenges, conceived by Miaoulis, involving the engineering design cycle since 2003.
In 2004, the Museum began to explore a campaign to build new exhibits integrating the natural and engineered worlds, upgrading its public spaces, and greening the facility. Over 11,000 donors, 53 of whom made gifts of $1 million or more, contributed $150 million — the Museum’s single largest individual gift being $20 million from Sophia and inventor Bernard Gordon. With this success, the Museum’s trustees approved a campaign in 2011 to raise $250 million. The Museum raised $288 million in 2015.
Since 2005, the Museum of Science, with the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, has led the $41 million NSF-funded national Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE® Network) of science museums and research institutions. The Museum also features the Butterfly Garden, 4-D Theater, the nation’s first rooftop wind turbine lab, a renovated Mugar Omni Theater, and a transformed Charles Hayden Planetarium, New England’s most technologically advanced digital theater.
In 2013, the Museum unveiled the Hall of Human Life, an ever-evolving 10,000-square-foot exhibition showcasing breakthroughs in biology and drawing on New England’s research community. In 2015, The Science Behind Pixar made its world premiere. This 10,000-square-foot exhibition explores the science, technology, engineering, math and computer science concepts used by Pixar Animation Studios to create their award-winning films. On the horizon: the Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River, a three-story gallery and exhibit using the river to engage visitors in understanding the natural and engineered worlds, and Tech and You, to help visitors understand what technology is as they use engineering skills to solve problems.
A frequent speaker on science and technology literacy, Miaoulis has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees and served as keynote speaker at education reform conferences worldwide. He also built support for the first Engineering Education for Innovation Act, which was crafted by the NCTL and introduced in both chambers of Congress in 2010 and 2011, and for the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act in 2013 and 2015.
His many honors include the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) President’s Award (jointly with the NCTL), the 2012 Science Club for Girls Catalyst Award, the 2011 ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Ralph Coats Roe Medal, NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2009, the 2003 Tufts University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award, the William P. Desmond Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Education, the Allan MacLeod Cormack Award for Excellence in Collaborative Research, and the Presidential Young Investigator Award.
A former Wellesley College and WGBH Trustee, Miaoulis has co-chaired the Mass. Technology/Engineering Education Advisory Board. He has also served on the NASA Advisory Council, the NASA Education and Public Outreach Committee, and the National Museum and Library Services Board from 2006 to 2012. A member of Mass. Governor Deval Patrick’s Commonwealth Readiness Project Leadership Council, he also serves on the Executive Committee of Gov. Patrick’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Advisory Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Committee on Science & Technology Engagement, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board.
Miaoulis has published more than 100 research papers and holds two patents. He has three degrees from Tufts University, a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1983, an M.A. in economics in 1986, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1987. He also received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. He was elected to the Tufts University Board of Trustees in 2006.