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Todd R. Boyette, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Todd R. Boyette, Ph.D. Todd R. Boyette, Ph.D.

Director, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center | UNC-Chapel Hill


Todd Boyette is an expert in university-based informal science education and a co-founder of the North Carolina Science Festival.





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Vehicle for the Vision: Todd Boyette, Stephen Saucier and Sam Houston




North Carolina native Todd Boyette has built a lifelong career in science education, beginning as a high school chemistry teacher and as a project coordinator for NCSU's Science House and later serving as chief executive officer for three of North Carolina's informal science education centers across the state — Imagination Station in Wilson, The Health Adventure in Asheville and Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill.

He has been a catalyst for expanding Morehead's outreach programs, which now serve all 100 counties in North Carolina. He is also a founder of the North Carolina Science Festival, the first statewide science festival in the United States. In its first five years, the Festival delivered science programming to more than one million North Carolinians through a network of community-based organizations.

Boyette led efforts to convert Morehead's historic planetarium from an outdated analog projection system to a state-of-the-art fulldome digital system, one of the largest in the United States. Morehead now produces fulldome planetarium shows that have been leased by more than 60 different planetariums in the U.S. and in seven countries internationally.

Boyette serves as president of the Association of Science Museum Directors and is a former president of the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Global leadership in university-based science outreach

Working with scientists to engage the public

Astronaut training at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Informal science education

Science centers and museums in North Carolina

Building support for a science festival

Accomplishments (3)

Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award (professional)

The 2014 Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dr. Todd Boyette at the 25th Anniversary Celebration held in Chapel Hill on April 12th, 2014. This award is named for Michael C. Jackson for his many contributions over the years to science education in North Carolina. The award is generously sponsored by Fisher Scientific.

Founder of North Carolina Science Festival (professional)

The North Carolina Science Festival is a month long celebration of science every April. An initiative of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, the Festival highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in this state. This Festival cultivates a positive environment that inspires children to pursue science-related careers and encourages businesses to invest in North Carolina.

President of Association of Science Museum Directors (professional)

Served from 2016-2018. A community of science museum leaders that gathers to share experiences and discuss issues related to the advancement of our respective organizations to benefit society and the planet.

Education (4)

NC State University: Ph.D., Science Education 2002

NC State University: M.S., Science Education 1995

NC State University: B.S., Science Education 1988

NC State University: B.A., Chemistry 1988

Media Appearances (4)

How NC aided the ‘One Giant Leap’: Museum and planetarium celebrate Apollo 11

News and Observer  print

As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon this week, North Carolinians are paying special attention to the state’s role in the historic achievement. The Apollo 11 astronauts trained for their celestial navigation at Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill. The idea was to foolproof the astronauts’ mission — even if their navigational systems failed, the astronauts could use the stars to stay on course.

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Science Expo breaks down scientist stereotypes for children

The Daily Tarheel  online


“Since we were the ones producing the whole festival, it made sense for us to highlight all the science happening on campus at UNC. That’s why we started the expo,” said Todd Boyette, the director of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and co-founder of the Science Expo. Boyette said for the first Science Expo, the booths and displays were scattered throughout McCorkle Place, but organizers found that people were not making their way to the science buildings for the lab tours. “The big change was the decision three years ago to close Cameron Avenue,” Boyette said...

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Q&A with director of the Morehead Planetarium

Daily Tar Heel  online


Director of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center Todd Boyette was recently appointed president of the Association of Science Museum Directors. Staff writer Harris Wheless spoke to him about his work as director of the Morehead Planetarium and his feelings about his new appointment.

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Dr. Todd Boyette Receives 2014 Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award

North Carolina Science Leadership Association  online


The 2014 Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dr. Todd Boyette at the 25th Anniversary Celebration held in Chapel Hill on April 12th, 2014. This award is named for Michael C. Jackson for his many contributions over the years to science education in North Carolina. The award is generously sponsored by Fisher Scientific. Nominated by the senior management team of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Dr. Boyette has dedicated the last 25 years to improving science education in North Carolina. He has served as the director of three science centers across the state that include Imagination Station in Wilson, The Health Adventure in Asheville, and presently as director of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina...

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Event Appearances (4)

A View from the South: Communicating Science in an Age of Denialism

Canadian Association of Science Centres Annual Conference  Prince George, British Columbia


What Makes a Science Festival?

Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science  Kuwait City, Kuwait


"Go Big or Go Home: Large-Scale Spectacles"

Association of Science-Technology Centers conference  Raleigh, NC


Leveraging Your Local University at Your Science Center

Association of Science-Technology Centers conference  Chapel Hill, NC



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Author Appearance

Research Grants (4)

Hidden No More: Shedding Light on Science Stories

National Science Foundation $2,861,646

Principal Investigator As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. The project will develop transportable, interactive exhibits focusing on light: how we perceive light, sources of light from light bulbs to stars, uses of real and artificial light in human endeavors, and past and current STEM innovators whose work helps us understand, create, and harness light now. These stories will provide needed role models for adolescent learners, helping them learn complex STEM content while showing them how scientific research is conducted and the diverse community of people who can contribute to STEM innovations and discoveries.

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WILD BLUE: Using fulldome technology to illustrate aeronautics principles

NASA $687,649

Project Investigator. This project funded research and development of a fulldome planetarium show and related curricula for elementary school students, focusing on aeronautics and encouraging students to pursue STEM careers.


National Science Foundation $1,922,969

Principal Investigator EvalFest (Evaluation Use, Value, and Learning through Festivals of Science and Technology) will test innovative evaluation methods in science festivals that are being held across the country and assess in what ways and how effectively they are used. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) and the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with over twenty science festivals, will (1) investigate whether a multisite evaluation approach is an effective model for creating common metrics for informal STEM education, (2) develop common methods to measure the effects of Festivals, (3) create a query-able database of 50,000 Festival attendees to share with the informal STEM learning field, and (4) document whether these efforts also result in new knowledge related to informal STEM education.

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COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: Broad implementation of Science Festival Alliance

NSF $449,588


Co-Investigator in partnership with PI John Durant of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum. This project facilitates a strong network of science festival producers through identifying and sharing best practices and other collaborative activities.

Articles (4)

Does the messenger matter? Studying the impacts of scientists and engineers interacting with public audiences at science festival events

Journal of Science Communication

Boyette, T. and Ramsey, J. R.


Abstract: Over the past decade, science festival expos have emerged as popular opportunities for practicing scientists to engage in education outreach with public audiences. In this paper, a partial proportional odds model was used to analyze 5,498 surveys collected from attendees at 14 science expos around the United States. Respondents who report that they interacted with a scientist rated their experiences more positively than those who reported no such interaction on five categories: overall experience, learning, inspiration, fun, and awareness of STEM careers. The results indicate that scientists can positively affect audience perception of their experience at these large-scale public events.

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World Biotech Tour Final Report

Association of Science and Technology Centers

Todd Boyette, Aliki Giannakopoulou and Karen Peterman


Effective communication with the public about biotechnology’s role in current and future scientific breakthroughs is critical for addressing many of the world’s most pressing science-based issues. The World Biotech Tour (WBT) project was developed to promote science literacy worldwide and to increase the impact, visibility, and importance of biotechnology in improving standards of living, quality of life, and a better future for the world’s population. These are global problems that must be addressed on a global level. To achieve greater awareness about biotechnology in communities around the world, the Biogen Foundation and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) partnered to create the WBT. The project leveraged the unique position of science centers and museums as trusted Students from 12 countries in the 2015–2017 World Biotech Tour represent the Ambassador program at the Science Centre World Summit 2017 in Tokyo.

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Interaction and Learning Outcomes in Live, Public Planetarium Presentations

American Astronomical Society

2013 ABSTRACT: Although formative assessment has been shown to help teachers cultivate stronger positive student outcomes in traditional classrooms, it has not been well researched in planetariums. We studied the impact of formative assessment—as measured by the interactivity between presenter and study participants—on learning success in mixed-audience, live planetarium constellation programs. Audio recordings of ten programs given by five experienced planetarium educators in late 2009 were transcribed and analyzed...

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An In-Depth Analysis of Personality and Other Participant Characteristics in a Web-Based Course for Science Teachers

NCSU Libraries

2002 ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to analyze the role students' personality and other characteristics play in their experience and achievement in a web-based course for teachers. Participants in the study were 17 inservice teachers enrolled in Technology Tools for Science Teachers in the 2002 spring semester. 'Tech Tools' is a web-based class designed to teach teachers how to use various technology such as digital cameras in the science classroom...

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