Science museum president to discuss career, empowering roles for women

March 22, 2017 | Events, News, UToday
By Ashley Diel

Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, will speak Monday, March 27, at 6 p.m. in Nitschke Hall Room 1027.

Matthews was selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of the 100 most influential women in Michigan in 2016. Selections were determined by impact, diversity and proven leadership.


Since she was named president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center in 2013, Matthews has led an effort to take STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) programs into the community. The center also started offering adult programming and professional development for teachers; launched STEM Vision Awards to recognize students and adult leaders; and started the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress to spark STEMM spark interest among fourth- through eighth-grade girls.

“The talk will focus on Dr. Matthews’ experiences in the STEMM community as a woman and how she was able to incorporate her passion,” said Kelley Webb, a graduate assistant of the African American Initiatives in the Office of Multicultural Student Success. “Dr. Matthews is able to relate to many people on many levels. They will learn about grace and grit, how she got to where she is and why.”

According to the National Science Foundation, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important with benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. Students need to develop their capabilities in STEMM to higher levels than were needed in the past.

“Dr. Matthews is well-known in the STEMM community, and she is very down-to-earth,” Webb said. “I believe that she exhibits the qualities that many women, especially black women, desire to develop, and she is doing something positive in a growing field.”

Matthews received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She was a biomedical engineer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and worked at museums in Maryland and Ohio.

The free talk is sponsored by We Are STEMM, the Office of Multicultural Student Success, African American Initiatives and NaturalHAIRitage.

Matthews’ visit is one of the University’s events scheduled for Women’s History Month.

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