Dr. Elizabeth Mulkerrin
Vice President of Education
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Dr. Elizabeth Mulkerrin is retiring president of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). Her term began on June 1, 2023, and concludes on June 1, 2024. A desire for lifelong science learning and a passion for the natural world brought high school science educator Mulkerrin to the Omaha Zoo and Aquarium, where she has served as Vice President of Education since 2000.
In this position, Mulkerrin creates and designs zoo exhibits and associated educational materials, works to provide positive visitor experiences, partners with local leaders to engage the community, develops unique partnerships to drive the zoo’s mission, raises funds through donors and corporate relations, and has crafted a five-year strategic plan for the zoo. In 2020, during the pandemic, she created and implemented innovative events and programs that generated revenue during the zoo’s closure from March to August 2020.
She leads the team that provides quality STEM education programming to 158,000 students annually, and is co-founder of the Omaha STEM Ecosystem, a grassroots organization that brings business and education together in developing Omaha’s STEM workforce.
Mulkerrin is also the driving force behind the zoo’s collaborative partnerships and innovative informal education programming with local Omaha school districts and universities. These partnerships created several academies that provide students with knowledge and career explorations relating to life sciences through authentic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experiences at the zoo.
In addition, Mulkerrin served on the executive board and as president of the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA). She was a division director for informal science for both the NSTA and NSELA Board of Directors. She also completed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Executive Leadership Development Certificate Program in 2019.
Mulkerrin is active with a number of national science and informal education associations, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the National Science Olympiad, and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE).
In Nebraska, Mulkerrin works with districts on curriculum development and strategic planning. She has served in leadership roles for the Nebraska Junior Academy of Science; the Nebraska State Science Olympiad Board; the Nebraska Next Generation Science Standards Review Committee; the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science; the Metro Science and Engineering Fair Advisory Board; and the Nebraska Building a Presence for Science/Science Matters Advisory Board.
She has received numerous honors from both formal and informal education groups, including the AZA Innovative New Exhibit Award; the NSTA Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award; the University of Nebraska Distinguishing Alumni Promising Professional Award; the Nebraska Academy of Science Friends of Science Award; the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science Business Partner “Catalyst” Award; the Phi Delta Kappan “Outstanding Service to Education” Award; and the Nebraska Career Education “Outstanding Business/Industry Partnership” Award.
Currently, as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, she teaches a graduate course in science education and an administrative leadership course. Mulkerrin has also published works on a myriad of topics including STEM careers, job shadowing, professional learning, and collaborative initiatives between informal and formal education. She received her master’s and EdD degrees from the University of Nebraska Omaha, and her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Before joining the Omaha Zoo and Aquarium, she taught high school biology and zoology for six years in Omaha Public Schools.