Dr. Heather McInnis is the Associate Director of the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program (RCP). In this role, she provides strategic planning, fundraising, and operational leadership to support implementation of RCP’s four core programs: program assessment, peer review, innovation and entrepreneurship, and workshops.
Since joining the AAAS in 2011, Dr. McInnis has provided subject matter expertise and project management leadership to the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program (RCP), developing cross-sector partnerships and mobilizing scientific expertise to improve the S&T research, innovation, and commercialization practices of academia, industry, and government agencies. Much of her work involves the design and implementation of independent, qualitative assessments of large-scale institutional and programmatic activities, scientific and technical advances, and public policy concerns to inform and foster strategic planning, portfolio development, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community discussion. In the last 6 years, she has led more than 40 external, programmatic assessments of large-scale, multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary, federally funded STEM programs for U.S. university consortia in 10 states. She recruits and leads science and technical advisory committees aimed at providing strategic guidance on research activities, and created a AAAS program for technical literature reviews, providing analysis of the current state-of-science in multi-disciplinary topics of concern to the scientific community. Her portfolio includes work with federal, state, private, and non-profit organizations and awardees engaged in research initiatives spanning basic to clinical and translational science, and focused on such diverse topics as ecosystems services, food science, biomedical science, and science policy.
Heather obtained her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oregon, and a M.S. in Quaternary Studies from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. Her interest in research capacity-building stems from her interdisciplinary training (climate change science, paleoenvironmental archaeology, and ethnography), and from her experience developing and leading international field research and training projects. Her doctoral research synthesized archaeological, paleoenvironmental, and ethnographic data to document and analyze the relationship between changing land and resource use, climatic fluctuations, and local environmental conditions at some of the earliest prehistoric coastal sites known in the Americas. Her M.S. research used analyses of animal bones from archaeological sites in the southern coastal Andes to help identify some of the earliest evidence for some maritime adaptations in the region: the results were published in the journal Science (Science 281: 1830-1832).
Prior to joining AAAS, Dr. McInnis worked for DePaul University in Chicago as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology where she taught undergraduate and post-graduate courses in environmental anthropology and archaeological science, and served as Faculty Adviser and Sponsor to several student organizations and honorary societies.