2009 Commencment Speaker: Lisa D. White

Geologist and UC Santa Cruz graduate alumnus Lisa D. White will deliver the keynote address at UC Santa Cruz’s 43rd Graduate Commencement ceremony, which will be held on the East Field at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 12, 2009.

Dr. White is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering as well as Professor of Geosciences at San Francisco State University where she teaches courses in paleontology, the history of life, and oceanography.  A second generation San Franciscan, Dr. White, her parents, and one of her siblings, are all alumni of SF State where she was awarded a B.A. in Geology in 1984.  Dr. White went on to receive her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz in 1989. A Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Geological Society of America, she is a micropaleontologist by training specializing in fossil diatoms in the Monterey Formation and related siliceous deposits around the Pacific Rim.  Dr. White’s research has taken her all over the world, to countries such as Egypt, Israel, Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and Costa Rica.

Dr. White coordinated the Minority Participation in the Earth Sciences (MPES) Program at the U.S. Geological Survey from 1988-1995, supervised the NASA Sharp-Plus program at San Francisco State in 1994, and she was appointed to chair the Geological Society of America (GSA) Committee on Minorities and Women in the Geosciences in 2000.

Throughout her 20-year faculty and administrative career at SF State University, Dr. White has been active in efforts to increase diversity in the Earth sciences.  She is the director and founder of San Francisco State’s SF-ROCKS (Reaching Out to Communities and Kids with Science in San Francisco), an NSF and NOAA funded project that engages public high school students in the Bay Area.  SF-ROCKS has allows students to gain hands-on experiences in earth and environmental sciences through research projects and training since 2001.

In 2005 Dr. White expanded her efforts to increase diversity in the field of Earth sciences to New Orleans where she acted as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of New Orleans.  During her time there, she helped to promote opportunities for students of color to enter college as geoscience majors.

In October 2008 Dr. White was named as the inaugural recipient of the Geological Society of America’s Bromery Award for Minorities, an honor bestowed upon a geoscientist who demonstrates the commitment and drive to help minorities achieve success while maintaining a strong record of research and service to the geologic community.