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Emlyn KosterDirector, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

With a BSc from the University of Sheffield in England and PhD from the University of Ottawa in Canada, both in geology, his career began with faculty appointments at Montreal’s Concordia University and the University of Saskatchewan, then as a project manager at the Alberta Geological Survey. Driven by his growing interest to engage the public in science and sustainability issues, CEO appointments followed at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Liberty Science Center next to New York, the Institute for Learning Innovation in Maryland, and since 2013 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Founded in 1879 and becoming the largest institution of its type in the southeast USA, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is focused on maximum dividends from public and private sector investments and new collaborations to propel its mission to illuminate the interdependence of nature and humanity. The first museum with a free mobile app (NC NatSci) enabling all visitors―including those with impaired vision and hearing―to navigate all exhibitions, this institution was recognized in 2014 at the White House for its outstanding community service with a national medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The economic impacts of attracting international conferences among science museums and on evolution, wildlife and citizen science have been recognized by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau with its top annual award: the Bureau’s new campaign includes the Museum among its innovative ambassadors.

Past president of the Geological Association of Canada and of the global Giant Screen Theater Association, he is currently also an adjunct professor in Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University and a global working group member of the International Council of Museums to update the definition of museum. A proponent of Aristotle’s philosophy that leadership should ideally be about the harmonious pursuit of positive consequences in the world, he seeks to apply holistic concepts such as the Anthropocene, the human-shaped epoch in Earth history, to his outlook. This has also been shaped by experiences in landscapes and cultures of four dozen countries; executive education at the Harvard Business School; assistance to the next-of-kin of World Trade Center disaster victims; and organization of trans-disciplinary conferences and events which integrate science, society and the environment.

Honored by the University of Ottawa as a Distinguished Alumnus, his educational, scientific, humanitarian and civic contributions have led to awards in Canada, France and the USA. Among these are the Chevalier Medal in L’Ordre des Palmes Académique, Humanitarian of the Year Award by the American Conference on Diversity and presented by the President of The New York Times Company, and the John Cotton Dana Award from the New Jersey Association of Museums. Conference keynote invitations have come from Australia, the Asia-Pacific Rim, Central and South America, Canada, Europe, and the US. Advisory, board and committee appointments have assisted the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Challenger Center for Space Science Education, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and the Getty and Noyce Leadership Institutes.

In an article about the future of science museums, the Informal Learning Review opined that “the word relevancy is irrevocably connected to [Emlyn Koster]”. Science Centers in This Century, which he co-edited, was published in English and Mandarin. The first museum CEO to address a TED Conference, his work is featured in Reinventing the Museum and cited in Museums and Public Value, recent benchmark compilations in the museum field. The University of Chicago Press and Routledge have requested his cover endorsements for their new books. The 70th anniversary book by the International Council of Museums in 2016 on Museums, Ethics and Heritage includes his invited chapter on nature and science museums.