October 13, 2016

Looking Beyond Our Comfort Zone: Exploring the geosciences in new ways

Posted by smaguffin


As part of Earth Science Week, we’ll be highlighting different leaders in the geosciences – from research to education and community outreach. We are posting Q&A’s on The Bridge asking geoscientists about the work they do.

Today’s theme is Geoscience for Everyone Day and one of our featured AGU members is Lisa White, Director of Education and Outreach, Museum of Paleontology, University of California at Berkeley.  Lisa has a B.A. in Geology from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz.


Can you summarize your job for us in a sentence or two?

I oversee a range of public programs at the UC Museum of Paleontology and manage and develop learning materials on the fossil record, evolution, global climate change, and the nature and process of science.


What progress has been made / what more needs to be done to make the geosciences more inclusive?

I think the Earth sciences community is placing a greater awareness on the importance of increasing diversity in the geosciences. An increasing range of programs now exists to provide opportunities for individuals traditionally underrepresented in the geosciences to participate our field.


Lisa (left) with a student intern at the UC Museum of Paleontology.

Why is it important that we make the earth sciences more inclusive?

Having a variety of perspectives enriches the Earth sciences, especially during a time when global change affects individuals living in environments that are physically vulnerable. Drawing from the ecological knowledge that local communities hold to including different viewpoints from which we all can learn is critical to the progress of Earth sciences.


How do you see the role of science and earth science in society?

We are living in times where the fragility of many environments is on constant display.  All societies are affected by global climate change and the role of science and Earth science in informing especially vulnerable populations to global change is ever more important.

How, if at all, is your work supported/affected by federal/state funding?

Throughout my career as a geoscience educator I have been fortunate to receive funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the State of California to support programs providing greater access and inclusion in the geosciences.  These programs have included field and research experiences for urban youth, professional development for science teachers, the development of instructional resources in Earth science.


Pt. Reyes National Seashore with students during a summer field program for urban high school students.


Are there any social media or website links you would like us to promote?

Two of our most popular UC Museum of Paleontology websites are Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science: