President and Chief Executive Officer, The New York Academy of Sciences
Ellis Rubinstein is an innovator and change agent. As a science journalist, his work merited three National Magazine Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes of the American periodicals industry. As a leading editor at IEEE Spectrum, Science 86, and Newsweek – and as Editor of the renowned journal Science for a decade – Rubinstein increased impact and circulation through landmark articles and special issues, redesigns and re-conceptualizations, internationalization in coverage and circulation, and innovation in Web publishing. Now, as leader of a unique global academy of sciences, he has created a series of unprecedented initiatives that are powered by an extraordinary network of the world’s leading experts and academic and industry institutions.
Since joining the 197-year-old New York Academy of Sciences in November 2002, Mr. Rubinstein has increased membership to more than 22,000 scientists in 100 countries. The President’s Council that he created has 27 Nobel Laureates and a score of CEOs and government leaders from across the globe. The Academy’s Board includes three Nobel Laureates, several philanthropists, the Presidents of six universities and academic medical centers, and the heads of research of IBM, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo.
Members of the Academy’s Board, Council and partner universities and companies are engaged in groundbreaking public/private partnerships in “smart” cities, under- and over nutrition, and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, the Academy has forged partnerships with government leaders and their agencies – notably, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the leader of the President’s Commission on Economic Modernization of Russia, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah of Qatar and the President for Research of the Qatar Foundation, and the Mayor of Barcelona – to drive innovation and economic development through science and technology. And novel New York-based pilot programs in STEM education involving thousands of children and science teachers, as well as career mentoring initiatives serving thousands of post-graduate students, are being adapted for use in other locations around the United States and across the globe.
Mr. Rubinstein came to the Academy after 13 years with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he served as Editor of Science magazine from 1993-2002, having previously been News Editor. Previously, Mr. Rubinstein was Editor of The Scientist and a Senior Editor at Newsweek. He also served as Managing Editor of Science 85/86, a high quality, mass-circulation magazine, and IEEE Spectrum, the principal magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
As a journalist and editor, he not only developed special issues that were honored by 3 National Magazine Awards, but he also conducted the first one-on-one interview with Chinese President Jiang Zemin granted to a Western magazine editor, and he garnered President Bill Clinton's first interview with a science magazine. In addition, he authored the most complete investigative report of the nuclear power accident at Three Mile Island, and he wrote a much-cited investigative report on the derivation of the cell line in which the AIDS virus was grown in the U.S.
Among his other signal accomplishments, Mr. Rubinstein developed at Science the world's largest network of science journalists and launched innovative online services such as a daily news service, ScienceNow, and Science's Next Wave, a global website for graduate students and post-docs. He also initiated a novel web-based service called SAGE KE (Science of Aging Knowledge Environment), creating a community of investigators pursuing the science of aging.
Mr. Rubinstein also negotiated the Chinese Government’s first national license for access to Western content. This revolutionized the Chinese scientific community’s access to Western scientific content when the service came to be used by hundreds of thousands in China.
At Newsweek, Mr. Rubinstein oversaw news coverage during one of the most intense periods in recent U.S. history—the Iran-Contra period—as well as specialty features in science, medicine, religion, and education. He produced a cover package entitled “The Search for Adam and Eve” that was the first description for the general public of the DNA-tracing of the origins of modern humans in Africa. It became the highest selling edition of Newsweek over a two-year period.
At Science 86 and at IEEE Spectrum, Mr. Rubinstein brought his employers National Magazine Awards—one for a four-part series, "Technology for Peace," developed for Science 85, and twice for special issues developed for IEEE Spectrum. In addition, three other special issues developed and edited by Mr. Rubinstein were named National Magazine Award finalists.
Throughout his career, Mr. Rubinstein has broken ground internationally. In addition to his path-breaking activities in China, he organized major international meetings, such as "Agents for Change," a gathering of European research VPs, foundation heads, university presidents and government leaders at Stockholm's Nobel Forum. He also pioneered in the creation of global partnerships with China's Ministry of Science and Technology; Japan's Society for the Promotion of Science; the United Kingdom's Ministry of Trade, the German Research Foundation, France’s INSERM, the European Science Foundation, the European Commission, UNESCO and the World Health Organization.
A 1967 magna cum laude graduate in English literature of the University of California, Berkeley, where he also attended graduate school, Mr. Rubinstein taught high school English before becoming a journalist. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and a member of the IEEE and the National Association of Science Writers. For 6 years, Mr. Rubinstein was a member of the World Economic Forum, moderating panels in Davos, Switzerland. Today, he participates on the Council of Japan’s prestigious Science & Technology in Society (STS) Forum, among other external activities. He has honorary degrees in communications from Hallym University in South Korea and in science from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Mr. Rubinstein was born in New York and lived in Greenwich Village during his teenage years, a period when the great American jazz musicians like Coltrane, Rollins, and Monk were breaking ground musically in Village nightspots and the folk and literary crowds including people like Dylan and Baez were in the cafes nightly.
He attended UC Berkeley precisely when the Free Speech Movement — and later the anti-war movement — exploded, electrifying the student population in universities across the United States and eventually in Paris and elsewhere.
President, The New York Academy of Sciences