Issues and Science for California, Grade 8


Geerat Vermeij

Vermeij is a Professor at the University of California, Davis. Blind since birth but with an acute sense of touch, he is an evolutionary biologist who studies structure and function in different kinds mollusks, from snails to squid.

Scott V. Edwards
Edwards studies the genetics and evolution of birds to study patterns of speciation and the process of adaptation. His work bridges the Reproduction and Evolution units.

Lisa White
White is Director of Education and Outreach at the University of California’s Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley. She develops programs on teaching and learning of evolution, especially the fossil record, through hands-on experiences and online resources.

Hopi Hoekstra
Hoekstra is a professor of evolutionary biologist at Harvard University. She uses natural populations of mice to study the genetic basis of adaptation – from physical traits to behavior. She received an award from the National Academy of Sciences for her extraordinary achievement in biology.

Earth’s Resources

Andy Hong
Dr. Hong is a environmental engineer whose current research focuses on developing clean technology for oils sands extraction. He has received four patents for his development of treatment processes for contaminated water and soil.

Ellen Swallow Richards
Chemist Richards was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and later pioneered work in the field of sanitary engineering, a branch of engineering focused on maintaining public health (such as a clean water supply and proper waste disposal).

Chandrani Prasad Verma
In 1999, Dr. Verma went to court to become India’s first female mining engineer. She is interested in developing more efficient methods for mineral extraction from deep underground.

David Armstrong
Biochemist Dr. Armstrong works with a team of scientists to develop new technologies for use in oilfield technology, such as engineering enzymes for use in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Solar System and Beyond

Ellen Ochoa
Ochoa was the Hispanic woman to go to space when she served as an astronaut on the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She is currently the Director of the Johnson Space Center.

Amy Williams
Williams worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which sent the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars. Her research focuses on evidence of microbial life captured in the rock record.

Mae Jemison
Jemison was the first African American woman to go to space when she served as an astronaut on the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992.

José M. Hernández
Hernández grew up working in the fields of California with his family, where he dreamed of a career in space exploration. His dream came true in 2004, where served as an astronaut on the crew of the Space Shuttle mission STS-128.

Force and Motion

Ken Washington
Ken Washington is an engineer accelerating innovation through product development and technology strategies.

Lynett Rock
Lynett Rock is a math and physics teacher and the Division Chair of the Math and Science Department at Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma.

Fields and Interactions

Dan Ludois
Dan Ludois is a physicist who is working on a new electrostatic motor.

Sonia Tikoo-Schantz
Sonia Tikoo-Schantz is a resarcher who investigates magnetism in rocks and the magnetic field of the Moon.

Carolina Eyck
Carolina Eyck is a professional musician whose main instrument is the theremin. Theremins, unlike most musical instruments, are controlled by changes to the electric field surrounding the theremin’s two antennas. By simply moving her hand around the theremin, Carolina Eyck is able to change the pitch and volume of her theremin.


Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath was working as an ophthalmologist when she invented the Laserphaco Probe. The Laserphaco Probe is a device that uses lasers to help treat cataracts.

Valerie Thomas
Valerie Thomas was a NASA engineer who created technology still used by NASA that uses concave mirrors to create optical illusions.

Mark Ballora
Mark Ballora is a music technology professor. He turns datasets into sound to help people hear data in a way that can aid their analysis.

Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson is a physicist whose research focused on optics and optoelectronics. In 2002, Johnson became the first African American to serve as president of the Optical Society of America.