Erika Shugart spent her early childhood in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (a national lab town), during which she developed the impression that everyone in the world either was or wanted to be a scientist. After leaving Oak Ridge she realized that she was mistaken. Once she recovered from the shock of this realization she has dedicated her career to helping society understand and use science.
Erika is the Executive Director of the National Science Teaching Association, which is a vibrant community of 40,000 science educators and professionals committed to best practices in teaching science and its impact on student learning. Until March 2021 she was the CEO and Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), which is a professional society for over 7,000 cell biologists worldwide. Prior to moving to ASCB, she was Director of Communications and Marketing Strategy at the American Society for Microbiology from 2013 to 2016. 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, she 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. She also conceptualized and managed the museum’s online presence including its award-winning website.
Prior to joining the museum staff, Erika directed the National Academy of Sciences’ Office on Public Understanding of Science, managing several projects including the article series Beyond Discovery. Erika began her career at the National Research Council as an intern with the Board on Biology. Erika also worked at the Office of Policy Analysis at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. She received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of Virginia.
Erika is an experienced non-profit manager and has been recognized as a leader in the field of informal science education. In 2010, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for distinguished contributions and leadership in public understanding and engagement in science. She was a Noyce Leadership Fellow from 2012 – 2013. In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences awarded her with an Individual Distinguished Service Award and she shared Group Distinguished Service Awards in 2004 and 2011.