Lisa White grew up in San Francisco, near the California Academy of Sciences, where she spent much of her time as a child; it was here that her initial interest in geology and paleontology was sparked. As the Director of Education at the Museum of Paleontology at University of California, Berkeley since 2012, she credits her career in the earth sciences to taking a geology class to satisfy a core requirement.  Her passion resulted in an internship with the US Geological Survey where she studied microfossils from Menlo Park. White obtained her BA in Geology at San Francisco State University, which she returned to as faculty after earning her PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1989. For 22 years, she was a professor of geosciences, specializing in micropaleontology and particularly fossil diatoms, teaching paleontology and historical geology, and eventually becoming Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at the SFSU.


In addition to her academic contributions, White has coordinated a number of notable outreach efforts, ranging from professional organizations to projects involving school-aged children. From 1988 to 1995 she coordinated the Minority Participation in the Earth Sciences program (MPES) with the US Geological Survey and has been involved in programs to help bring science to minority groups ever since. She supervised the NASA Sharp-Plus program at San Francisco State in 1994, which allowed for high school students to work with SFSU and NASA to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in the math and science fields. She was also appointed Chair of the Geological Society of America (GSA) committee on Minorities and Women in the Geosciences in 2000. The SF-ROCKS program, a five-year grant on which White was PI, was designed to bring science to kids in San Francisco. She even made an appearance on Bill Nye the Science Guy as one of the “way cool scientists” to prove to even more students that science can be fun and interesting. Currently, White continues her efforts to educate and nurture a passion for science in all students through her work at the UC Museum of Paleontology.

We couldn’t find any footage of the Bill Nye episode, but! here are a few other instances where Dr. Lisa White “rocks” the camera:

Jurassic Park in Real Life?! Fact or Fictional with Veronica Belmont 

How to Make Gold (Nova’s Making North America)

Written by Jessica Mintz

Edited and posted by Suzie

Image of Lisa White provided by photographer Diane Fenster and used with permission. The landscape background image of diatoms is from Wikimedia Commons (user Wipeter) and reproduced under CC-BY-SA.




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