Emlyn Koster: Biography

With an Honors BSc from the University of Sheffield in England and PhD from the University of Ottawa in Canada, both in geology, his career began with faculty appointments at Montreal’s Concordia University and the University of Saskatchewan. Interest to engage the public in global sustainability issues grew while conducting fieldwork in UNESCO World Heritage Sites in western Canada and in China’s Gobi Desert. Choosing the vehicle of major nature and science museums for its greater potential, CEO appointments followed at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Liberty Science Center next to New York, and since 2013 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Emlyn Koster

Founded in 1879 and becoming the State’s most visited museum, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences is maximizing the dividends from 2000 and 2012 expansions through its mission to illuminate the interdependence of nature and humanity. In 2014, it was recognized for outstanding community service with a national medal presented at the White House. In 2015, it was recognized by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau with its top annual award for economic impact through attracting conferences. Visit Raleigh’s website features him as an innovative ambassador and he is an invited consultant to assist with the vision of Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy.

A proponent of Aristotle’s philosophy that leadership is ideally about the harmonious pursuit of positive consequences in the world, he integrates new concepts such as the Anthropocene, the human- shaped epoch in Earth history, into his outlook. This has also been shaped by experiences in landscapes and cultures of five dozen countries; executive education at the Harvard Business School; assistance to the next-of-kin of World Trade Center disaster victims; and topical events integrating science, society and the environment. Organized in 2009 with the Dutch Government to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson sailing into the future New York area, for example, a multidisciplinary conference on coastal city management turned out to be three years before tropical storm Sandy caused $70 billion of damage.

Honored by the University of Ottawa as a Distinguished Alumnus, his educational, scientific and civic contributions have been recognized by awards including the Humanitarian of the Year by the American Conference on Diversity, presented by the President of The New York Times Company, and the Chevalier Medal of France’s L’Ordre des Palmes Académique. Conference keynote invitations have come from Australia, the Asia-Pacific Rim, Central and South America, western Europe, and across Canada and the United States. Advisory, board and committee appointments have assisted the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Challenger Center for Space Science Education, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and the Getty and Noyce Leadership Institutes. He has been invited to testify before the United States Congress and the United Nations.

Past president of the Geological Association of Canada and the global Giant Screen Theater Association, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at NC State University and a board member of the Committee on Museums and Collections of Natural History of the Paris-based International Council of Museums. In an article about the future of science museums, The Informal Learning Review opined that “the word relevancy is irrevocably connected to [Emlyn Koster]”. The first museum CEO to address a TED Conference, the future of nature and science museums has been a recent focus. The 70th anniversary book of the International Council of Museums on Museums, Ethics and Cultural Heritage in summer 2016 includes his invited chapter on these institutions in an externally responsible context; and a book in press by Routledge on The Future of Natural History Museums includes his invited chapter on their need to focus on a holistic ethos and the Anthropocene.


Emlyn Koster: From the Director | The Naturalist

Emlyn Koster: Museum Field Publication Highlights

  • Koster, E., Dorfman, E. and Myambe, T., In press. A holistic ethos for nature-focused museums in the Anthropocene. In: The Future of Natural History Museums, Dorfman, E. (Ed.), Routledge.
  • Koster, E. 2017. Citizen science: a needed movement for the Anthropocene. In: Citizen Science, Deutsch, J. (Ed.), Special Edition of The Affiliate, Smithsonian Affiliations, 8.
  • Bell, J., Chesebrough, D., Cryan, J., and Koster, E. 2016. Museum-university partnerships as a new platform for public engagement with scientific research. Journal of Museum Education, v.41, no.4, p.293-306.
  • Koster, E. 2016. Foreword. In: Fostering Empathy in Museums, Gokcigdem, E. (Ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, p.vii-xi.
  • Gaffney, D. and Koster, E. 2016. Learning from the challenges of our time: The Families of September 11 and Liberty Science Center. In: Fostering Empathy in Museums, Gokcigdem, E. (Ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, p.239-263.
  • Koster, E. 2016. From Apollo into the Anthropocene: the odyssey of nature and science museums in an externally responsible context. In: Museums, Ethics and Cultural Heritage, Murphy, B. (Ed.), Routledge and International Council of Museums, p. 228-241.
  • Koster, E. and Cryan, J. 2015. Next generation museum-university partnerships. Center for the Advance of Informal Science Education. http://informalscience.org/perspectives/blog/next-generation-museum-university-partnerships.
  • Koster, E. and Pendergraft, L. 2015. Bringing the mission to the community: state museum opens a satellite in an underserved rural region. The Informal Learning Review, no.131, p.11-15.
  • Koster, E. 2013. New needs for new times. In: Museums and the Paradox of Change. Janes, R. (Ed.), 3rd edition, Routledge, Chapter 5, p.205-215.
  • Koster, E. 2012. The relevant museum: A reflection on sustainability. In: Reinventing the Museum: The Evolving Conversation on the Paradigm Shift. Anderson, G. (Ed.), AltaMira, Chapter 17, p.202-211.
  • Koster, E. 2012. Broadening the reflections on science center attendance. The Informal Learning Review, no.113, p.26-28 (literature references fully listed in no.114, p.27).
  • Koster, E., Yalowitz, S. and Watson, B. 2012. Natural history: past, present, future. The Informal Learning Review, no.113, p.22-24.
  • Koster, E. 2010. Evolution of purpose in science museums and science centers. In: Hot Topics, Public Culture, Museums. Cameron, F. and Kelly, L. (Eds.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Chapter 4, p.76-94.
  • Koster, E. 2009. Sail and bail: navigational tips for museums during economic turmoil. Hand to Hand, Association of Children’s Museums, Spring, p.1-2, 11-13.
  • Trautmann, C., Grinell S., Cavendish, K, and Koster, E. 2009. Global warming: next steps for the science center field. Dimensions, Association of Science-Technology Centers, September/October, p.16-17, 19.
  • Koster, E. 2008. Still in search of relevance. Dimensions, Association of Science-Technology Centers. September/October, p.6-8.
  • Koster, E. 2007. The public value of science museums: past, present and future. Museum Communication, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, February 23-24, Program and Abstracts, p.6-7.
  • Koster, E. 2007. The reinvented Liberty Science Center. LF Examiner, The Independent Journal of the Large Format Picture Industry, v.10, no.7, p.1, p.6-9.
  • Koster, E. and Falk, J. 2007. Maximizing the external value of museums. Curator: The Museum Journal, v.50, no.2, p.191-196.
  • Koster, E. and Schubel, J. 2007. Raising the relevancy bar at aquariums and science centers. In: In Principle, In Practice. J. Falk, L. Dierking and S. Foutz (Eds.), AltaMira, p.197-120.
  • Koster, E. 2006. The attendance treadmill: best gauge of science center fitness? Dimensions, Association of Science-Technology Centers, May/June, p.19.
  • Koster, E. and Baumann, S. 2005. Liberty Science Center in the United States: a mission focused on relevance. In: Looking Reality in the Eye: Museums and Social Responsibility. Janes, R. and Conaty, G. (Eds.), University of Calgary Press, p.85-111.
  • Davis, J., Gurian, E., and Koster, E. 2004. Timeliness: a discussion for museums. Curator: The Museum Journal, v.46, no.4, p.353-361.
  • Koster, E. 2003. The relevancy-sustainability linkage for museums. Hand to Hand, Association of Children’s Museums, Fall, p.3, 7.
  • Koster, E. 2002. A disaster revisited. MUSE, Canadian Museums Association, v.20, no.5, p.26-27.
  • Koster, E. and Peterson, J. 2002. Difficult experiences: a museum forum on the lessons of September 11. Dimensions, Association of Science-Technology Centers, May/June, p.3.
  • Koster, E. 2001. Statement, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and The Internet of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, US House of Representatives, 107th Congress, First Session, Serial No.107-18, March 8, p.64-67.
  • Libeau, R., Gyamfi, P., Koster, E. and Wizewich, K. 2001. Supporting and documenting choice in free-choice learning environments. In: Free-Choice Science Education: How we learn Science outside of School. Falk, J. (Ed.), Teachers College Press, New York, p.133-148.
  • Schiele, B. and Koster, E., 2000. Science Centres in this Century. Éditions MultiMondes, Québec, 651p.
  • Koster, E. 1999. In search of relevance: science centers as innovators in the evolution of museums. In: America’s Museums. Graubard, S. (Ed.), Daedalus, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, v.128, no.3, p.277-296.
  • Schiele, B. and Koster, E., 1998. La Révolution de la Muséologie des Sciences. Presses Univérsitaire de Lyon, France, and Éditions MultiMondes, Québec, Canada, 493p.
  • Koster, E. 1997. Presidential Address: The human journey and the evolving museum. Geological Association of Canada, Geoscience Canada, v.24, no.2, p.73-76.
  • Koster, E. 1996. Science culture and cultural tourism. In: Culture as the Tourist Product. Robinson, M., Evans, N. and Callaghan, P. (Eds.), Tourism and Culture towards the 21st Century, Conference Proceedings, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, England, p.227-238.
  • Koster, E. 1995. The human journey and the evolving museum. In: Museums, Where Knowledge is Shared. Coté, M. and Viel, A. (Eds.), Sociétés des musées québecois and Musée de la civilisation, Canada, p.81-89.
  • Einseidel, E., Koster, E., Schiele, B., and Williams, R. 1994. Science culture in Canada. In: Schiele, B. (Ed.), When Science becomes Culture. Éditions MultiMondes, p.85-118.
  • Koster, E. 1988. Field Station of the Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology: research and public programmes in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Alberta: Studies in Arts and Sciences, v.1, p.86-108.

Emlyn Koster: Geoscience Field Publication Highlights

  • Koster, E. 2011. The Anthropocene: an unprecedented opportunity to advance the unique relevance of geology to societal and environmental needs. Geological Society of London, Geoscientist, v.21, no.9, p.18-21.
  • Jerzykiewicz, T., Currie, P., Eberth, D., Johnston, P., Koster, E. and Zheng, J-J. 1993. Djadokhta Formation correlative strata in Chinese Inner Mongolia: an overview of the stratigraphy, sedimentary geology, and paleontology and comparisons with the type locality in the pre-Altai Gobi. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.30, p.2180-2195.
  • Stott, D., Caldwell, W., Cant, D., Christopher, J., Dixon, J., Koster, E., McNeil, D. and Simpson, F. 1993. Cretaceous; Subchapter 4I. In: Sedimentary Cover of the Craton in Canada, Stott, D. and Aitken, J. (Eds.), Geological Survey of Canada, Geology of Canada, no.5, p.358-438.
  • Hitchon, B., Sauveplane, C., Bachu, F., Koster, E. and Lytviak, A. 1989. Hydrogeology of the Swan Hills Area, Alberta: Evaluation for Deep Waste Injection. Alberta Research Council Bulletin 58, 79p.
  • Koster, E. 1987. Vertebrate taphonomy applied to the analysis of ancient fluvial systems. In: Ethridge, F. and Flores, R. (Eds.), Recent Developments in Fluvial Sedimentology, Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 39, p.159-168.
  • Koster, E. and Currie, P.J. 1987. Upper Cretaceous coastal plain sediments at Dinosaur Provincial Park, southeast Alberta. In: Beus, S. (Ed.), Decade of North American Geology Commemorative Field Guide, Rocky Mountain Section, Geological Society of America, v.2. p.9-14.
  • Thomas, R., Smith, D., Wood, J., Visser, J., Calverley-Range, E. and Koster, E. 1987. Inclined heterolithic stratification: terminology, description, interpretation and significance. Sedimentary Geology, v.53, p.123-179.
  • Koster, E. and Steel, R. (Eds.) 1984. Sedimentology of Gravels and Conglomerates. Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, Memoir 10, 441p.
  • Rust, B. and Koster, E. 1984. Coarse alluvial deposits. In: Walker, R. (Ed.), Facies Models, 2nd edition. Geoscience Canada Reprint Series 1, p.53-68.
  • Koster, E. 1983. Sedimentology of Campanian paleochannels, Dinosaur Provincial Park, southeast Alberta. Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, Reservoir, v.10, no.10. p.1-2.
  • Koster, E., Rust, B. and Gendzwill, D. 1980. The ellipsoidal form of clasts with practical applications to fabric and size analyses of fluvial gravels. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.17, p.1725-1739.
  • Koster, E. 1978. Transverse ribs – their characteristics, origin and paleohydraulic significance. In: Miall, A. (Ed.), Fluvial Sedimentology. Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, Memoir 5, p.161-186.

emlyn.koster@naturalsciences.org March 31st, 2017