Ellis Rubinstein is president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, founded in 1817, the third oldest scientific society in the United States. Under Rubinstein's leadership, the Academy's network of renowned experts, brilliant young scientists, and scores of partner organizations has not only expanded dramatically but has become engaged in high-impact global partnerships that address many of the planet's grand challenges.
Rubinstein came to the Academy from the world's largest circulation scientific journal, Science, where he was Editor for a decade. During that period, he increased impact and circulation through landmark articles and special issues, redesigns and re-conceptualizations, internationalization in coverage and circulation, and innovation in Web publishing.
Prior to his tenure at Science, Rubinstein was Editor-in-Chief of The Scientist, a Senior Editor at Newsweek, and Managing Editor at Science 85 and IEEE Spectrum, the flagship journal of the engineering profession. As a journalist and editor, Mr. Rubinstein brought his employers three National Magazine Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes of the periodical industry.
Education and early career
Rubinstein grew up in New York City, earned a B.A. in English literature, with Great Distinction at the University of California, Berkeley spent one year in that university's doctoral program and then taught high school English for three years before entering the world of publishing. In 2006, Rubinstein received an honorary doctorate from Hallym University in South Korea and from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
It was at IEEE Spectrum that Rubinstein's work won a National Magazine Award for his definitive journalistic account of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (TMI) and the special issue on TMI which he edited. Under the mentorship of Spectrum Editor-in-Chief, Donald Christiansen, Rubinstein organized and edited a second National Magazine Award-winning issue on the role of science and technology in war and peace. In addition, three other special issues developed and edited by Mr. Rubinstein for Spectrum were named National Magazine Award finalists.
From Spectrum, Rubinstein went to Science 85, an innovative magazine translating the advances of science for a highly educated lay audience. Within months of his arrival as Managing Editor, Rubinstein brought the magazine yet another National Magazine Award for a four-part series "Technology for Peace."
In 1987, Mr. Rubinstein joined Newsweek as one of two Senior Editors overseeing general news coverage. This turned out to be one of the most intense periods in recent US history for newsweeklies. Mr. Rubinstein edited investigative articles for many cover stories: on the Iran-Contra controversies besetting President Ronald Reagan, on the sinking of the Stark, and much more. During the second half of 1987, Rubinstein took over a section of the magazine devoted to feature articles in science, medicine, religion, and education. His signal achievement was a cover package entitled "The Search for Adam and Eve." This was the first description for the general public of the then novel DNA-tracing of the origins of modern humans in Africa. With the exception of editions featuring the Iran-Contra news, this issue became the highest selling edition of Newsweek over a two-year period.
In 1988, Mr. Rubinstein was hired to take over what was then a novel tabloid format newspaper for scientists called The Scientist. Only 2 years old, it was experiencing difficulty attracting readers and advertisers. Under Mr. Rubinstein's leadership, it became so highly read within a year that it became regarded by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science, as unwelcome competition. Consequently, he recruited Rubinstein to join Science as News Editor.
From 1993-2002 Rubinstein was Editor of Science magazine. During his tenure there, he conducted the first one-on-one interview with Chinese President Jiang Zemin granted to a Western magazine editor, and President Bill Clinton's first interview with a science magazine. In addition, Rubinstein authored an investigative account of the cell line in which researcher Robert Gallo grew the AIDS virus. This article prompted an inquiry by the National Institutes of Health and was the basis for a chapter in a government report.
Other landmarks of Rubinstein's tenure at Science included the launch of innovative online services such as a daily news service, ScienceNow, and a unique, global Web site for graduate students and post-docs, Science's Next Wave. In addition, Rubinstein initiated a novel Web-based service called SAGE KE (Science of Aging Knowledge Environment), creating a community of investigators pursuing the science of aging. And he negotiated the first national license to be paid for by the Chinese government for access to Western content. The service later came to be used by hundreds of thousands of Chinese investigators.
CEO of New York Academy of Sciences
Since joining the 198-year-old New York Academy of Sciences in November 2002, Mr. Rubinstein has tripled the Academy's revenues by developing a series of novel initiatives that address many of the planet's grand challenges. Examples include the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science, a global public/private partnership to devise and catalyze interventions that can help the 2 billion people on the planet suffering from under- and over-nutrition as well as other projects in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, smart and sustainable cities, and innovation policy.
Novel New York-based pilot programs in STEM education involving thousands of children and science teachers in the city's most underserved areas has now been replicated in 8 cities including in Spain and Malaysia with many more cities joining in. And to rapidly scale this transformational approach to inspiring children in science, math and technology, Mr. Rubinstein is overseeing the creation of the "Global STEM Alliance," a partnership of over 100 institutions in 50 countries who are committed to playing a part in the Academy's unprecedented pair of social networks—the "Junior Academy" and "1000 Girls 1000 Futures—which are being developed to provide gifted 15- to 19-year-olds the world over with brilliant mentors from academia and industry.
These innovative activities have attracted an extraordinary network of supporters to the Academy. The President's Council created by Mr. Rubinstein has 27 Nobel Laureates and a score of CEOs and government leaders from across the globe. The Academy's Board includes several philanthropists, the Presidents of 4 universities and academic medical centers, and the heads of research of IBM, Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo. And among the 20,000 Academy Members in 100 countries, experts are engaged in projects that are directly helping such government leaders as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the leader of the President's Commission on Economic Modernization of Russia, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah of Qatar, the President for Research of the Qatar Foundation, and the Mayor of Barcelona and former Mayor of Mexico City.
Academy programs have also been endorsed by the President of the United States, his Science Office and the US Department of State, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Moreover, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the heads of the UN agencies including the International Telecommunications Union, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Health Organization have all endorsed Academy initiatives.
Even the home of the Academy is unusual for an organization that is two centuries old. Mr. Rubinstein oversaw the Academy's move to 7 World Trade Center, where it was the pioneer tenant in the first building to be rebuilt after 9/11/2001 on the former World Trade Center site.
Mr. Rubinstein 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 and Technology in Society (STS forum), among other external activities.
1. "Ellis Rubinstein, President, NY Academy of Sciences: Catalyst for Excitement About Science in Schools.” Education Update, August 2005. 
2. "China's Leader Commits to Basic Research, Global Science." Science. June 16, 2000: Vol. 288. no. 5473, pp. 1950–1953.
4. "New York Academy of Sciences Signs Lease At 7 WTC: Preeminent Scientific Institution to Take 40,000 SF on 40th Floor."