Iaonnis N. Miaoulis, Ph.D.

President and Director, Museum of Science, Boston
U.S. News STEM Leadership Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon
Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

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 more than 1.5 million visitors a year to STEM via hundreds of interactive exhibits and programs, the Museum recently received a $50 million gift, the largest in its 186-year history, from Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by entrepreneur, philanthropist and three-term New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The endowment supports and names the Museum’s Education Division the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Science Education Center in honor of Bloomberg’s parents. The gift ensures the stability of the education department and supports the creation of a computational thinking/computer science curriculum and food-science initiatives, while amplifying the Museum’s ability to create and export world-class exhibits, programs, and K-12 curricula globally. 

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 museums and schools nationwide and globally. 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, designing K-12 engineering materials, and offering educators professional development. The NCTL’s curricula have reached an estimated 128,900 teachers and 13 million students in 50 states. Its Engineering is Elementary® curriculum was the model for a European Commission-funded initiative introducing engineering in schools and museums in nine European countries and Israel. The Museum’s touring exhibition, Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, created with Lucasfilm Ltd. and funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), promoted technological literacy to over 3 million people. Museum educators have engaged more than 850,000 young visitors in Design Challenges, conceived by Miaoulis, involving the engineering design cycle since 2003. The Museum exports its K-12 curricula, traveling exhibits, Design Challenges, and Planetarium shows globally.

In 2004, the Museum explored 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 trustees approved a campaign in 2011 to raise $250 million, which the Museum exceeded by $38 million in 2015.

The Museum of Science, with the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, led the $41 million NSF-funded national Nanoscale Informal Science Education 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, a transformed Charles Hayden Planetarium, New England’s most technologically advanced digital theater, and the Hall of Human Life, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition showcasing breakthroughs in biology and drawing on New England’s research community.

In 2015, the Museum opened The Science Behind Pixar in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios to explore the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) involved in creating their award-winning films. The award-winning 13,000-foot exhibition has begun a 10-year national tour after transforming computer science into compelling experiences for 321,800 people, producing the Museum’s best summer attendance in 17 years.

The new three-story Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River is at the center of Miaoulis’s vision for the Museum which is to tell one all-encompassing story connecting the natural and engineered worlds by transforming the Museum’s two major wings. On the horizon: Tech Studio engaging visitors in the engineering process via Design Challenges and hands-on activities and Tech & You exploring the impact of technologies and our role in developing them.

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 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. He also championed the STEM provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, adopted by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015.

His many honors include an Honorary Doctor of Science degree, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, 2015, 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 former member of Mass. Governor Deval Patrick’s Commonwealth Readiness Project Leadership Council and the Executive Committee of Gov. Patrick’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Advisory Council, Miaoulis now serves on the Tufts University Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the International Space Station.

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.