Back to the Future—The History of the San Francisco Bay


Jere H. Lipps, Professor of Integrative Biology and Curator in the UC Museum of Paleontology, teaches paleontology, geology and marine biology, areas in which he also does research. He works on modern coral reef organisms, the history of coastal California and the early evolution of animals. His work takes him all over the globe, as the subjects require first-hand study. Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Moorea, Bimini, Enewetak, the Australian outback as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Siberia, the Russian Arctic, and the mangrove swamps of coastal Mexico are among the places he has done research.

Lisa White is a Professor of Geology and Chair of the Geosciences Department at San Francisco State University. She received her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz in 1989. Dr. White has extensive experience with science outreach programs for urban students and she is active in efforts to increase diversity in the geosciences. She is the principal investigator of a five-year grant recently awarded to the SFSU Geosciences Department by the National Science Foundation to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students in the geosciences. She 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 recently appointed (2000) to chair the Geological Society of America (GSA) Committee on Minorities and Women in the Geosciences.

Doris Sloan is an Adjunct Professor in Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. Her research interests include the dynamic geologic history of San Francisco Bay, the distribution and impact of introduced invertebrate species in Pacific Coast estuaries, and glacial processes in the White Mountains of eastern California. Her studies have focused particularly on microscopic invertebrates that dwell in the muds of San Francisco Bay and provide a record of changes in the Bay over the past several hundred thousand years in response to the rise and fall of sea level. She is also interested in geoarchaeology and the natural history of desert regions around the world, but particularly in the Southwest. One of her great pleasures is interpreting geology to the lay person. The other is travel.

David Lindberg is a professor of Integrative Biology and Director of the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from UC Santa Cruz in 1983. Dr. Lindberg’s research interests include evolution in the rocky, nearshore marine biome, with a focus on the evolution of select organisms (mostly Mollusca), the changing habitat, and the resultant interactions between organisms and between organisms and the habitat through time.

Kent Lightfoot is currently a Professor in the Anthropology Department at UC Berkeley. As an archaeologist who has spent the last 25 years working in New England, the American Southwest, and the Pacific Coast of North America, he specializes in the study of coastal hunter-gatherer peoples, culture contact research, and the archaeology of colonialism. Since joining the Berkeley faculty in 1987, much of his research has focused on prehistoric Native Californian peoples and their later encounters with early European explorers and colonists. He works primarily in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. His recent archaeological investigations have focused on the Russian Colony of Fort Ross, where a collaborative team of UC Berkeley, California State Park, and Kashaya Pomo scholars are considering the long-term implications of multi-ethnic interactions between Russians, Native Alaskans, and Native Californians in this colonial community.

Janet Kay Thompson has a Masters degree in Marine Biology from San Francisco State, and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford. She began working for the U.S. Geological Survey in 1972, and for the past 30 years has spent most of her time looking at the San Francisco Bay and Delta ecology and water quality issues. Her specific area of expertise is the study of organisms that live on and in the bottom of aquatic systems and how these organisms can be used to indicate changes in water quality. Her primary areas of research are how these bottom-dwelling organisms respond to human-induced and natural stress and how this stress is then reflected through the ecosystem. This includes research on the stress to the ecosystem due to exotic (non-native) species, pollutant inputs, excess sewage input, and freshwater diversion.

Frances Malamud-Roam is a Ph.D. candidate in the Geography department at UC Berkeley and is studying the response of estuary wetlands to changes in salinity and sea-level rise over the long term. Her research has focused on the recent history (the last 2,000 to 3,000 years) of the northern reaches of the San Francisco Bay Estuary, including four tidal marshes. By analyzing stable carbon isotopes and fossil pollen preserved in the marsh sediments, she is able to produce long-term records of vegetation change. Many of the marshes surrounding the Estuary are relatively new phenomena and vegetation records from them show dynamic responses to changing environmental conditions. She is also interested in human responses to climate change in the past and ephemeral wetlands (naturally ephemeral, that is); in particular, vernal pools in the Central Valley.

David G. Howell received his B.A. from Colgate University and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since joining the U.S. Geological Survey in 1974, his research has involved studies on the growth and shaping of continents, the worldwide distribution of oil and gas, the impact of crowding on the Pacific Rim and the role of art in communicating science. During his USGS tenure he has taught at Stanford University, the University of Otago, University of Paris, and Nanjing University.

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