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Meet the NSTA Leadership

Dr. Elizabeth Allan

President 2020–2021

Dr. Elizabeth "Beth" Allan is the president of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). She began serving her one-year term on June 1, 2020. Allan is currently Professor of Biology and Coordinator of the Secondary Science Education program at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.

A dedicated and passionate member of the science education community, Allan brings more than 35 years of leadership and teaching experience to NSTA. She began her professional career as a classroom teacher in the Moore Public Schools district in Oklahoma. After 16 years of teaching science in Oklahoma, California, and North Carolina, Allan accepted a position as an educational consultant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). In 2001, Allan left NCDPI and began working as the director of the Center for Math/Science Education at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. In 2005, Allan moved back to Oklahoma to join the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she has remained for the last 14 years. Allan has also served as president (2012–2013) and district director (2005–2008) of the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA), president (2012–2013) and college level representative (2006–2009) of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association. She is also currently the director of the UCO Central Oklahoma Regional Science and Engineering Fair and state tournament director of the Oklahoma Science Olympiad.

An NSTA member since 2005, Allan has contributed extensively to the association. She has served as a division director (college division) on NSTA's board of directors; worked on several committees, panels, and tasks forces; is an NSTA Press® author, was the post-secondary strand leader for the 2019 STEM Forum & Expo; served as a national judge for the Disney Planet Challenge; and has presented several sessions at NSTA national and area conferences.

Throughout her career, Allan has been honored for her contributions to science education. She most recently was named the Sigma Xi Researcher of the Year in 2018 (UCO chapter).

Allan earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Oklahoma in 1983, received a master's from University of California, Riverside (UCR) in 1990, and earned her Ph.D. from UCR in 1997.

Beth Allan

Dennis Schatz

Retiring President 2020–2021

Schatz is well known and respected for his many contributions over the last 48 years to science education in both the formal and informal settings, as well as for his passion and enthusiasm for science. A research solar astronomer by training, Schatz began his career working as an Associate Director of Astronomy and Physics Education plus Assistant Director, Science Activities for the Visually Impaired (SAVI) at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1977, Schatz moved to Seattle and accepted a position with the Pacific Science Center. At the Pacific Science Center, Schatz—where he was for more than four decades—held a broad range of positions, including Director of the Regional Astronomy Education Laboratory and Vice President for Education. He has lead several major initiatives, including co-directing the Washington State LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform), a program to implement a quality K–12 science program in all 295 school districts in Washington State; and directing the Portal to the Public Network, a collaboration of museums and science centers that work to connect scientists to public audiences. At the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), he is involved with a number of initiatives, many funded by the National Science Foundation, that mostly focus on scientist engagement with public audiences. He is also engaged in developing an Informal Science Learning (ISL) Framework that will assist science centers and other ISL practitioners with considering the competencies they need to be effective practitioners.

An NSTA member since 1973, Schatz has contributed extensively to the Association. He was elected to the NSTA board as Director of Informal Science (2015–2018). He also served as the program chair for the 2004 and 1994 area conferences, the conference chair for the 1998 area conference, and worked on several committees. Schatz is also an NSTA Press® author and has written several journal articles for the Association.

In addition to his work with NSTA, Schatz is extremely active with other state and national organizations and science initiatives. He was a board member (1997–2008) and the President (2005–2007) of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, was a charter board member (1980-83) and President (1982–83) of the Association of Astronomy Educators, and served as a board member for the Washington Science Teachers Association (2006–2011). Schatz currently serves as a member of the board for the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) and is a technical advisor for the Smithsonian Science Education Center. He also was an AAAS Fellow (2012), was a member of the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council (TAC), was a member of the National Research Council's Earth/space framework design team, was a field reviewer of the Next Generation Science Standards, and is the author of 25 science books for children.

Throughout his career, Schatz has been honored extensively for his contributions to science and science education. In 2017, Schatz had Asteroid 25232 renamed Asteroid Schatz by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in recognition for his leadership in astronomy and science education. In 2015, Schatz was designated a Fellow of the Sydney University International House, one of only three non-Australians to ever receive the award. His other accomplishments include receiving the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Robert Klumpke Award (2014), NSTA’s Faraday Science Communicator Award (2009), the ASTC Fellowship for lifetime achievement in service to the field and furthering the public’s understanding of science (2006), NSTA’s Distinguished Service to Science Education Award (2005), NSTA’s Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award (1996) and the Ohaus Exemplary Science Education Program Award (1980).

Schatz earned a B.S. degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a M.S. degree in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dennis Schatz

Dr. Eric J. Pyle

President-Elect 2020–2021

Pyle has been a committed teacher, educator, and member of the science education community for more than 30 years. He began his professional career as a science teacher at Monroe High School in North Carolina. While a secondary teacher, Pyle also worked as an instructor of physical geology and lead summer enrichment programs for high school students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After six years of classroom teaching, Pyle returned to school to pursue a doctoral degree in science education. While studying at the University of Georgia, Pyle worked as a graduate research assistant in the Department of Science Education. In 1995, Pyle accepted a position as assistant professor of science education at West Virginia University (WVU) and promoted to associate professor in 2001. While at WVU, Pyle served as a member of the board of directors (1996–2004) and president (2003–2004) of the West Virginia Science Teachers Association (WVSTA). In 2005, Pyle relocated to the College of Science & Mathematics at James Madison University in Virginia.

During his tenure at JMU, Pyle served as a board member (2006–2018) and president (2009–2010) of the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST), and teacher education division president (2019–2020) of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Pyle has also held various other leadership positions at the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA), and the Geological Society of America (GSA). Pyle also served as co-director of the JMU Center for STEM Education and Outreach from 2008–2016, and was promoted to full professor in 2011. He has also received funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education in support of his work. Pyle contributed directly to A Framework for K-12 Science Education as a member of the Earth & Space Science design team and was a primary reviewer for the Next Generation Science Standards.

An NSTA member since 1991, Pyle has contributed extensively to the association. He has served as a division director (preservice teacher preparation) on NSTA’s board of directors and as an NSTA council member (district director VIII). Pyle also chaired the NSTA committee drafting the position statement on teaching climate science and co-chaired the joint NSTA–ASTE committee revising the standards for science teacher preparation; has worked on several other committees and advisory boards; was a program committee strand coordinator for the 2018 Charlotte Area Conference; has authored several articles in Science & Children and Science Scope; and has presented numerous times at NSTA national and area conferences.

Throughout his career, Pyle has been honored for his contributions to science education. He received the Gustav Ohaus Award in 1999, the West Virginia University Outstanding Teaching Award in 2001, the JMU College of Science & Math Outstanding Service Award in 2015, JMU Provost’s Award-Assessment in 2016, and VAST Recognition in Science Education in 2016. Pyle was also named a Fellow by the Geological Society of London in 2016 and by GSA in 2019.

Pyle earned a bachelor’s degree in Earth science from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte in 1983, received a master’s degree in geology from Emory University in 1986, and earned his Ph.D. in science education from University of Georgia in 1995.

Eric Pyle

Dr. Erika Shugart

NSTA Executive Director

Dr. Erika Shugart is the executive director of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), the world's largest professional organization representing science educators of all grade levels.

Before joining the association staff in March 2021, Shugart served as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), a Maryland-based professional society for more than 7,000 cell biologists worldwide. During her time there she partnered with the board to achieve the Society’s mission through its strategic goals focused on the centrality of cell biology, the promotion on inclusiveness and transparency, leadership in science outreach, career development and enhancement, and financial stability.

Prior to joining ASCB in 2016, Shugart served as the Director of Communications and Marketing Strategy at the American Society for Microbiology, where she led the team that managed media relations, digital communications, marketing, and public outreach. During that time, she also ran her own consulting company, Erika Shugart Consulting LLC, which advised clients such as the Franklin Institute and Academy Health on increasing audience engagement.

Between 2003 and 2013, Shugart oversaw the development of new digital media exhibitions, online experiences and programs as Deputy Director of the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences. In this role, she managed the creation of several major exhibitions, including Life Lab, Earth Lab: Degrees of Change, Infectious Disease: Evolving Challenges to Human Health, Putting DNA to Work, and a virtual exhibition on Safe Drinking Water. Shugart also conceptualized and managed the museum’s online presence including its award-winning website.

Early in her career Shugart directed the National Academy of Sciences’ Office on Public Understanding of Science, managing several projects including the article series Beyond Discovery. Shugart also worked at the Office of Policy Analysis at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Shugart’s devotion to the science and education community is also evidenced by her involvement in numerous other professional organizations. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE), and the American Society for Association Executives. Shugart has also participated in a number of committees for the American Geophysical Union, the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, to name just a few.

Shugart has been recognized as a leader in the fields of informal science education and science communication. In 2010, she was elected as a AAAS Fellow for distinguished contributions and leadership in public understanding and engagement in science. Shugart was a Noyce Leadership Fellow from 2012-2013. In 2007, the National Academy of Science awarded her with an Individual Distinguished Service Award and she shared Group Distinguished Service Awards in 2004 and 2011.

Shugart has also published extensively for the science communities. She has authored scientific publications, contributed to dozens of scholarly journals, and presented at numerous conferences. Shugart holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William and Mary.

Erika Shugart

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