Iris R. Wagstaff, Ph.D., is a STEM Program Director in the Education and Human Resources Department of AAAS. She is a former 2015-2017 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow that served at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences. At NIJ, she led an agency-wide strategic diversity and inclusion initiative to expand NIJ’s pool of STEM graduate research fellows, peer reviewers and R&D grant applicants to broader audiences in the scientific community.
She is a native of Goldsboro, NC and has a BS and MS in Analytical Chemistry from the University of NC at Greensboro, and NC A&T State University respectively. She has over 20 years of STEM outreach and advocacy in the community developing informal science programs, mentoring STEM majors, equipping parents with tools and resources to encourage their children in STEM, and providing culturally relevant science education pedagogy to teachers. She has advocated for students at the K-20 levels and built strategic partnerships between industry, educators, researchers, and community activists. She worked as an analytical chemist at the Rohm and Haas Company (now Dow Chemical) for 15 years where she led project teams to reverse-engineer competitive products and solve customer problems. She obtained a PhD in STEM Education research and Policy Analysis from North Carolina State University where her research focused on examining factors that predict science self-efficacy, science identity, and STEM career intent.
She is the founder of the SMART Scholars initiative for middle school girls that provides hands-on STEM outreach, role models, and parent resources in NC and the DMV. She is a long time member and serves on the Executive Board of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). She has received numerous awards for her STEM advocacy that include the 2015 NOBCChE Henry McBay Outstanding Teaching Award, and a 2016 nomination for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).