Academy Leadership

Elizabeth Babcock

Chief Public Engagement Officer & Roberts Dean of Education

Elizabeth Babcock As Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts Dean of Education, Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D. is responsible for creating and implementing public engagement, outreach, and education programs for adults, families, teachers, and youth at the California Academy of Sciences, and around the globe through digital initiatives. She seeks to ignite a lifelong curiosity about—and love for—the natural world among all of the visitors, students and educators who come in contact with the institution.
The first person to fill the Academy’s newly-endowed Dean of Education role, Babcock is responsible for ensuring that the Academy's current and future exhibits remain fresh and engaging for approximately 1.5 million visitors of all ages each year from the Bay Area and around the world. The Academy is home to an aquarium with 38,000 live animals, a planetarium featuring award-winning shows produced by an in-house science visualization team, and compelling natural history exhibits on the evolution and sustainability of life on Earth.
In addition, Babcock's team of educators develop and deliver a variety of innovative programs within and beyond the museum's walls. Key education programs include the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability, the Careers in Science intern program, and the Enhanced Museum Visits for Students Program for 4th and 5th graders in San Francisco. Dozens of daily and monthly programs for museum visitors, and public lectures offer people opportunities to dive deeper into critical issues such as sustainability, conservation and human health on a person-to-person level. Babcock also guides the development of new digital learning initiatives which allow the Academy to reach audiences beyond the Bay Area, and to engage youth in creating their own science stories.
Babcock was recognized in 2011 as one of the Most Influential Women in Business by the San Franisco Business Times. Before joining the Academy in 2010, she was the Vice President of Education and Library Collections for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. She demonstrated her innovative approach to museum-based education by launching several digital learning initiatives, including “WhyReef” and “Animal Adventures,” virtual world projects for teens and tweens that leveraged museum collections and new technologies to engage these audiences in the topics of ecology and conservation.
Prior to joining the Field Museum in 2002, Babcock worked as a consultant and program developer, designing community outreach strategies and environmental education programs. She also worked for several years in the corporate sector, managing user experience research and design projects in the financial, consumer products, and technology industries.
Babcock has taught K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and adult students in a range of content areas, including music for special needs students, environmental anthropology, sustainable development, introductory anthropology, and adult literacy. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Indiana University, where she studied international migration and Belizean voluntary associations. She also holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.M. in Music Education from Northwestern University.