Tonya M. Matthews, PhD

  • Board of Directors
Published on:
Tonya Matthews Headshot

Tonya M. Matthews, PhD is Associate Provost for Inclusive Workforce Development and Director of the STEM Learning Innovation Center at Wayne State University (WSU). In this role, Dr. Matthews is part of the WSU leadership team setting a vision to address the challenge of an inclusive STEM student success pipeline and pathway from “preK-to-Gray.” Matthews is responsible for implementing the vision of the STEM Innovation Learning Center as an interdisciplinary learning center for WSU undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a hub for WSU K-12 outreach.

According to Matthews, “STEM is about science, technology, engineering, math – and any other letters we need to activate the curiosity and genius of all of our students and our entire workforce to drive innovation, spark invention, and create a world in which we all thrive.”

Prior to joining the WSU community, Matthews served as President and CEO of the Michigan Science Center (MiSci), leading its journey to reclaim Detroit’s science center legacy and become a STEM Hub for the state of Michigan. While at MiSci, Matthews founded The STEMinista Project, an international initiative that encourages and supports middle school girls’ interest in STEM and STEM careers. Previously, Matthews has served as Vice President of Museums for Cincinnati Museum Center and as Lead Biomedical Engineer for U.S. FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Known as a thought-leader STEM equity, education, and employability, Matthews has been recognized as one of the Most Influential Women in Michigan by Crain’s Business (2016) and honored as a Trailblazer by Career Mastered Magazine (2017).

Dr. Matthews received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University. Matthews is a board member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education. Nominated under both Democratic and Republican administrations, she is currently serving her second term on the National Assessment Governing Board as its Vice-Chair. Additionally, Matthews was recently appointed the Michigan STEM Advisory Council by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Matthews is an active mentor and community volunteer. She refers to herself as “Detroit on Purpose” and currently lives on the lower east side where she can keep an eye on progress.


“We are living in a time when the promise, power, and necessity of scientific research is clear – and BrightFocus Foundation’s support of research into Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma is critical and compelling. I am delighted by this opportunity to join in the work of the foundation.”