Lisa White honored with Geological Society of America's first Bromery Award
Associate dean founded innovative program to introduce underrepresented minorities to geosciences
SAN FRANCISCO, October 6, 2008 -- Since happening upon geology as an undergraduate at San Francisco State University, Lisa White has championed opportunities for minorities in the geosciences.
For her work, White, the new associate dean of the College of Science and Engineering, will be honored by the Geological Society of America with its first Randolph W. "Bill" and Cecile T. Bromery Award for the Minorities at The Geological Society of America's annual meeting in Houston on Oct. 4. The award recognizes and supports minorities who have made significant contributions to research in the geosciences or those who have been instrumental in opening the field to other minorities.
White, who is also a professor of geosciences at SF State, founded SF Rocks in 2001 to help urban youth connect with earth and environmental sciences through hands-on learning and interaction with SF State faculty. The program, which earned a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, has been recognized as a leader in fostering opportunities for minorities in the geosciences.
As an undergraduate at San Francisco State, White initially studied art and photography before taking a prerequisite geology class. She connected with the subject and soon switched her major. An internship at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park gave her hands-on training and cemented her passion for the geosciences.
"With science, the more you're able to engage in a research context, the more you become enlightened," White said. "For a lot of students, they continue to see science as it's presented in the textbooks. I've seen students in our SF Rocks program change their attitudes about science when they engage in the field."
White said undergraduate students entering the geosciences benefit from attentive mentors, research experience with professionals and support from friends and family, something that must continue to occur more frequently with minority students, who White said choose geosciences less frequently than other scientific disciplines. "For an African American young person, these kinds of experiences in science continue to be more unusual and much needs to be done to increase the pipeline of underrepresented minorities to the geosciences," she said.
White credited her parents with showing her the importance of access to education. Her father, Joseph White, was a former dean of undergraduate studies at SF State who helped found the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP), which grew into a statewide program providing supportive pathways for disadvantaged students to study at CSU campuses. He was also influential in establishing the Black Studies Program, the first of its kind on an American four-year campus.
SF State is the only master's level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The university enrolls more than 30,000 students each year. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communications arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 140,000 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.
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