Former Carnegie museum director will lead national science outreach program
February 22, 2013 5:00 AM
Samuel M. Taylor
By David Templeton Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The former director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will remain in Pittsburgh as director of the National Academy of Sciences' and the National Academy of Engineering's Science & Engineering Ambassadors Program.
Samuel M. Taylor begins Monday as director of the pilot program that already is busy establishing a network of ambassadors in Pittsburgh to help educate and interact with the public about science issues, with the initial focus on energy.
Working as a consultant since leaving the museum in September, the marine biologist and science educator by training has served in an advisory capacity as director of Samuel Taylor Museum Consulting; chairman and curator of the education department at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; director of exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History in New York; and biology director for the New York Hall of Science.
"I'm glad to take the position now in Pittsburgh and expand it into something very visible and useful in Pittsburgh," he said. "Pittsburgh is the pilot city, and energy is the topic in Pittsburgh, but we envision expanding to other cities and focus on other science topics of importance to them."
The program already has selected 28 local science and engineering ambassadors who will interact with the public and explain scientific and engineering concepts involved in energy issues, states the program website, www.scienceambassadors.org. Seven special advisers also have been selected to help coordinate the program.
The Pittsburgh region was chosen for the pilot National Academies project, the website states, as "the center of the energy conversation, with companies and activities in several relevant areas of the industry," including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and wind. The city also is "home to an impressive number of eminent scientists and engineers in some of the nation's top universities."
"Dr. Taylor was chosen for a number of reasons," said Terrell Smith, who is senior communications officer for the National Academies and the person overseeing the program in Pittsburgh.
"He's a dedicated advocate of science and science education; he's a top-notch communicator; and he's able to speak comfortably on a broad range of scientific topics."
Others described him, she said, as "a community person with bold ideas who thinks strategically and would be a good fit" for the position.