Who's on Board
by Suzanne Ullensvang, Executive Director
Representing a range of professions from scientist to accountant to attorney, seventeen men and women currently serve as Explorit's Board of Trustees. They meet formally together four times a year and serve on committees or other project task forces between meetings.

Collectively the board has a number of important responsibilities to assure Explorit's continued growth and success. These responsibilities include policy-making, planning, fiscal oversight, fund development and ambassadorship.

Explorit is actively seeking new individuals to join this dynamic group of people. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at suzanne@explorit.org. We encourage candidates who have an interest in science and/or education issues, connections in the regional philanthropic community and/or business community, and the desire to contribute as part of a team to the strategic growth of a dynamic organization. Will you get on board?
AndersonLars Anderson
Years on board: 22
Occupation: Aquatic Weed Scientist, USDA
Favorite Quote: "All things are one thing and that one thing is all things-plankton, as shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time." – John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts:  Sea of Cortez: A leisurely Jounral of Travel and Research

Why am I passionate about science:
My budding passion in science started with watching the fascinating animals I encountered on bare-foot walks at low tide along California beaches when I was only 7 years old. From sea slugs to sand crabs, what made these things tick? What were they doing there? The best part was that I could hold them- hands on observations! As these, and many other questions persisted, I learned that there was way to find the answers: Careful observations, Experimentation, and Thinking: the essence of Science! It was so exciting and fun, it's been my career for over 30 years, though it shifted to freshwater plants and toward practical problems caused by destructive invasive weeds. Science constantly opens new doors to our world, to ourselves as humans, and to our relationship with our surroundings. Perhaps most revealing of what makes science so engaging are the results of a recent analysis of language used in scientific publications: the words " surprising" and " unexpected" are far more commonly found than in writings on other academic subject areas.

A memorable science experience:
Science discoveries are often serendipitous, and new insights are revealed unintentionally. I was fortunate to experience this early in my career while conducting experiments designed to determine the effect of a plant growth regulator (" plant hormone" ) on dormancy in an aquatic weed. Much to my surprise was the unexpected discovery that the plant growth regulator caused the leaves to shift their structure (and function), an effect no one had noted before, but which was later found to be quite universal on many aquatic plants.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
My own excitement as a small child, and watching my own children's joy at discovery has firmly convinced me that we all start out with a fearless, natural curiosity and interest in everything. Yet, somewhere along the K-12 " pathway" , so many young kids loose this beautiful gift, or it gets discouraged through a disconnection from our real world experiences. As a nation, we have neglected to invest carefully in the human spirit of exploration, discovery, and learning. The result is now threatening our ability to cope with important technical, economic and political issues, and threatens our chances to sustain a viable, productive and free society in the future.  Since my first encounter with the effective, hands-on and life-connnecting approach of Explorit's programs over 20 years ago, my initial excitement and support has continually been reinforced. Explorit has evolved and matured, but the essence of it's mission has remained steadfast, true to science, open to change and ready to expand further.
BakerRick Baker
Years on board: 4
Occupation: Pediatrician, Kaiser Permanente

Favorite science discipline: chemistry Chemical reactions are much like our relationships with each other and I have found over my lifetime that it is the relationships with family and friends that have truly enriched my life.

Favorite scientist: "Mr. Wizard." His radio show was my first contact with science education as a child.

Why I am passionate about science: Science provides the discipline for developing critical thinking and problem solving. The scientific method exercises our brains and science knowledge gives the framework for understanding the world, ourselves and our place in the world.

Favorite science experience: My favorite science experience is the daily use of scientific knowledge I experience in the interactions I have with children and families I care for as a pediatrician.

Why I'm involved with Explorit: I became involved with Explorit helping with the development of the outreach program, Health in Your World. I was initially invited to give input on the program concept and was so impressed with its aim of providing science-based health education for children and with the creativity and enthusiasm of the Explorit staff that I asked if I could join with them. I became physician advisor to the program and have worked with Mackenzie Yamamura and Gwendolyn Casazza as Explorit has successfully launched both the original Health in Your World program as well as a remarkable, complementary school assembly program, Journey through the Human Body. My time spent at Explorit has been joyful and rewarding. The joy comes from working with the dedicated, creative and fun staff and board members. The reward comes from seeing the children respond to Explorit's hands-on approach to science.
BennettAlan Bennett
Years on board: 1
Occupation: Associate Vice-Chancellor, UC Davis Office of Research

BickSteve Bick
Years on board: 16
Occupation: CPA, Partner, Landucci, Bick, Matter & Johnston
Favorite science discipline: astronomy
Favorite scientist: Albert Einstein

Why I'm passionate about science:
One former staff member gave a particularly memorable and enthusiastic presentation some years ago when I first became associated with Explorit that helped spark my passion for science generally. Secondly, my wife is a soil scientist so I have seen some applications of science through her in the real day to day world. Thirdly on a less personal basis, having members of society who are interested in and knowledgeable about science certainly has helped make our lives less labor intensive, more productive, and more enjoyable in many ways.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
Factors that keep me involved are an interest in various fields of science, enthusiasm for the mission of Explorit and a general desire to help the community.
BuddenhagenEvelyn Buddenhagen
Years on board: 9 (non-continuous); ex-officio since 2003
Occupation: Retired educator, museum program director
Favorite science discipline: all things knowable
Favorite science quotation: "Accumulate learning by study, understand what you learn by questioning." - Cha'n Master Mingjiao

Why I'm passionate about science:
I must have a gene for joy that is activated when I seek to find or understand the basis for things that happen, that are, that might be, or that were. When that joy is absent, there is a decided emptiness in my soul and mind; thus, I seek it at every opportunity. I thrive on all the aspects of observing, questing, challenging, testing, or rejecting. If in the process I learn a truth, so much the better. The process itself gives me joy, however, much like the extreme adventurer who is thrilled by the ride when it's happening as well as at the end, knowing it was done.

A memorable science experience:
Many, many years ago, as I was walking along the edge of the waves on a beach in Hawai'i, I noticed that bubbles formed in the sand right after a wave retreated back to sea. I wondered how the bubbles were formed but I had no ready answers. My walking companion, a scientist, asked me a couple of questions on what I observed and we talked about my responses. As we talked, I imagined myself going into one of the bubbles and seeing it form around me! Then it was I who posed new questions from within my bubble! I do not know whether my conclusions were correct or not, but, that experience is indelibly etched into my way of thinking and reasoning things out.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
I was very fortunate to have had research as well as teaching experiences in science before coming to Davis. I was also a mom to two young, inquisitive, bright daughters; together we reveled in the wonders of learning and understanding about everything that we encountered. Someone once asked me what kind of science I teach; I replied that I teach children to be good thinkers. The pioneer organizers of the Davis Science Center (now Explorit) invited community members to an open meeting to recruit volunteers with ideas and skills for the benefit of our children. The enthusiasm of the group was electrifying and I was enthralled by the vision and dedication of people like Mark, Esther, Judy, Anne, Flo. What a lure that was! As a relative newcomer to Davis, I saw a perfect niche, a confluence, where my own rich science experiences and education could be creatively shared with eager, curious children. I signed up that very night in early 1982 to be part of that energetic endeavor!
ElzufonBetsy Elzufon
Years on board: 8
Occupation: Associate, Larry Walker Associates
Favorite science disciplines: chemistry, microbiology
Favorite scientist: My son is one of my favorite scientists. He said after a particularly inspirational Explorit class: "Mom, did you know that without bacteria there would just be dead things lying around everywhere but bacteria turn them into soil!"

Why I'm passionate about science:
I work as an environmental consultant and use science and scientific principles everyday to try to reduce the impact of people on the natural environment while still allowing people to take advantage of technologies that make our lives easier. I find it very rewarding to use science in a practical manner.

A memorable science experience:
When my daughter was 6 she attended a conference session with me that talked about mercury, its effect on the environment. We talked about dentists, hospitals, mercury-containing equipment and atmospheric deposition of mercury. I was not sure if she got anything out of this or if she was even paying attention. As we were leaving, she asked me, "Mom, why didn't they talk about any of the other planets?"

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
A big part of my job is explaining science related issues to the general public. In a world where the benefits (and in some cases, disadvantages) of science are an integral part of most aspects of our everyday lives, I think a comfort with science is critical, and making science education a priority. The longer I am involved with Explorit, the more I see how well their programs fit this need of promoting science education and engaging people in science activities. This is such an effective organization. I am constantly amazed at how the staff just makes things happen and turns abstract ideas into great and effective programs.
GaborBeth Gabor
Years on board: 6
Occupation: Public Information Officer, Yolo County
Favorite science discipline: medicine
Favorite science quotation: My dad. When I was a child I asked him if he thought we knew too much. His answer was "We don't know enough." That's stuck with me throughout my life and has shaped a lot of my science-based decisions.

Why I'm passionate about science:
We are asking our elected leaders, and in some cases, voters to make science-based decisions every day that effect all our lives, whether that be about genetically modified organisms, stem-cell research or land use policies influencing our quality of life. I think it is increasingly important we be able to think critically and holistically as we vote and as we plan for the future. I'm concerned that we are making emotional decisions on science-related issues in the absence of a comprehensive understanding required to fully evaluate today's complex issues. I'm also concerned that the next generation, especially in California, is not getting the science education required to make complex decisions which will effect many generations to come.

A memorable science experience:
Holding "Connie" the ball python snake at Explorit sure is fun!

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
I got involved with Explorit years ago as a member of the Corporate Science Challenge committee, a committee devoted to organizing Explorit's premier annual fundraising event. I eventually became an Explorit trustee and took on the responsibility of chairing the Corporate Science Challenge. As a member of the community I value the work that Explorit does and am happy to support that mission. I suppose though, it is the staff of Explorit that keeps me involved. Their commitment and creativity is awe-inspiring and never-ending. I'm eternally grateful for all that they do
GruysKen Gruys
Years on board: 2
Occupation: Site Director, Calgene Campus

HanceAnne Hance
Years on board: 12 total (non-continuous); ex-officio since 2002
Occupation: Retired teacher, museum director
Favorite science discipline: life science
Favorite science quotation: "A scientist must be freely imaginative and yet skeptical, creative and yet a critic. ... There is poetry in science, but also a lot of bookkeeping." - P. B. Medawar,  British zoologist, Nobel Laureate (1960)

Why I'm passionate about science:
Being curious about things, asking questions and searching for answers are human characteristics; they enrich individual lives and enrich society. For me, curiosity (or inquiry) is key. By this I mean willingness to notice or observe, to think about things in a questioning way and to take time to look for explanations. But simply being curious is not sufficient. Factual knowledge is critical too. It is particularly important in our modern world where people have to make daily decisions based on their understandings of the dramatically expanding social and technological world around them.

A memorable science experience:
Struggling to decide upon my favorite science experience I tried to choose from: scrambling down a railway cutting at age ten to gather lumps of clay, compiling a nature diary (at age twelve) for a school summer holiday assignment, identifying (at age eighteen) collected specimens at the marine research center on the Isle of Man, teaching (at age twenty-one) teenagers about science using hands-on methods in well-equipped labs, or the rewarding experience of seeing the effect of Explorit programs on children, their teachers, parents and grandparents. I was unable to choose; I have no one favorite science experience. Instead I have a steady stream of inspiring experiences all of which I treasure.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
I believe strongly that people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests should have many and varied opportunities to encounter science in non threatening, low-key ways so that they can be comfortable that science is not just for scientists but is a process and a body of knowledge that is relevant and important in their everyday lives. Explorit was founded by a group of people who were deeply involved in children's education but who believed passionately in lifelong learning so the place they envisioned and launched had the ambitious goal of being valid for all ages. I remain involved with Explorit because I believe so strongly in its goals and know that stresses and strains in an evolving organization can sometimes cause it to lose sight of its core beliefs. I hope that the continuity I help to provide allows Explorit to keep to its core beliefs while being flexible and creative as it matures.
HarcourtSandy Harcourt
Years on board: 8
Occupation: Associate Professor of Anthropology, UC Davis
Favorite science discipline: evolution
Favorite scientist: - Charles Darwin 

Why I'm passionate about science:
Science is finding out about the world. What could be more fun than that? Read the newspapers each day, and scientific discoveries are about the only good news reported. There's another reason too. Science is fundamentally democratic. Democracies depend on citizens who are prepared to question, prepared to judge, and know how to do both. Become a good scientist, and you'll have learned to be the sort of citizen that democracies need, a citizen prepared and able to question.

A memorable science experience:
Discovering an association out there in the world that nobody has discovered before; producing the graph that beautifully shows the association when I had no idea whether the association was going to exist or not; and having the discovery and the graph lead to yet more questions.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
If people don't know about science, a huge opportunity for excitement is missing from their lives. If people don't understand science, they will not as citizens be able to make informed judgments. I'm not talking technological understanding - I'm still not sure what a 'blackberry' is. No, I'm talking about a way of thinking, a way of questioning, a way of understanding.
HauckOliver Hauck
Years on board: 2
Occupation: Director, Siemens Transportation Systems
Favorite science discipline: physics
Favorite science question: Why is time only going in one direction?

Why I'm passionate about science:
Scientific probing and understanding of the world around us is one of the fundamental needs in our life, helping us to improve the way we live and the way we use and replenish resources and answer the questions of who we are and where we are going as a species and as part of nature in total.

A memorable science experience:
[Editor's note: Don't try this at home!] My first teacher's science experiment explaining how a gas engine works ... taking a cardboard document tube, taping one of the covers shut, cutting a small hole into the tube, sprinkling some lighter fluid into the tube, closing the second lid and holding a flame to the small hole in the tube. The air/gas mixture will ignite and the lid will fly off. This experiment is still vividly imprinted in my mind.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
From my own childhood experience I still remember how much an early exposure to science influenced me for the rest of my life. I want to give as many young children as possible the possibility of an introduction to science. Since I personally and our company (Siemens) are always looking for opportunity to get involved in the community and having a scientific professional background myself, Explorit provides the perfect fit for an engagement in this area. This is why I am enthusiastically supporting this wonderful organization.
JonssonMark Jonsson
Years on board: 7
Occupation: Architect
My favorite science discipline: anything about space
Favorite quotation: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" - Albert Einstein

Why I am passionate about science:
I loved science ever since I was a young boy and I am still fascinated by the subject as an adult. As a kid I owned and read every Tom Swift Jr. book ever written including the original series published in the 20's. I fancied myself an inventor because of those books. My favorite magazine is Discover, and I am a charter subscriber to the Smithsonian's Air and Space magazine. When I have a spare minute I love to go onto the NASA Web sites and watch the pictures of our robotic exploration of the solar system. How about those Martian rovers! It's truly amazing what we can do now with science and technology. I guess there is still a little boy inside me that wants to be an astronaut and explore the universe.

A favorite science experience:
12th grade physics with Mr. Layton. He was such a good teacher I wanted to major in physics in college. A great teacher can change your whole view of the world, and what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
I was drafted! However, once on the board I became very interested in the expansion of the facility because I never much liked the limited exhibit space in the old ranch house. My kids love to come to Explorit, but they are growing up now, and so is Explorit. It's time to move to larger quarters to handle the demand. I can't wait to see how the new building works.
McConnellDennis McConnell
Years on board: 1
Occupation: Director of Information Technology, Nolte Associates
Favorite science discipline: unified theory (what is gravity?)
Favorite scientist: Burkhard Heim

Why I'm passionate about science:
I hope one day through the efforts of the scientific community to vacation in an orbiting space hotel, or even travel to other planets (unlikely in my lifetime).

A memorable science experience:
My work on "The Covariant Theory" with a group of scientists from around the world for many years in the 90's until the founder passed away.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
The outreach to children. With all of the focus on math and english children are no longer being exposed to the wonders of the universe to inspire them to be a part of it.
OwensWilliam L. Owens
Years on board: 10
Occupation: Attorney, Law Offices of William L. Owens

PostBeth Post
Years on board: 3
Occupation: Psychology Lecturer, UC Davis
Favorite science discipline: animal behavior
Favorite science quote: "The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living." - Jules Henri Poincaré, French mathematician

Why I'm passionate about science:
Science gives you glasses to see clearly the universe in and around you. It guides your seeking and brings you to the face of mystery. More prosaically, I'm passionate about science education because I believe a scientifically literate population is a necessity in the survival kit of a functioning democracy. I also just plain love sharing the wonders of our existence with young people.

A memorable science experience:
My first conscious awakening to the wonders that science could reveal occurred in seventh grade reading articles in both Scientific American and Psychology Today about the nature of language in animals other than humans. Reading about the scientists who were studying bees, moths, dolphins, horses, and chimpanzees, and finding out amazing things about all those creatures, made me want to be a scientist. I followed that dream for 25 years, until I found it even more exciting to share in the learning of science by teaching it.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
Explorit's mission is unchallengeable in today's weary science education milieu: Bring science to people and people to science in a way that is meaningful and useful and exciting. Wow! Who could argue with that?
RobinsonDavid Robinson
Years on board: 7
Occupation: Owner, Aspen Pest Management
Favorite science discipline: natural sciences
Favorite scientist: William James

Why I'm passionate about science:
Science opens many doors to understanding. Without the tools that science gives us, we are ignorant of much of the natural world.

A memorable science experience:
I have especially enjoyed seeing kids and their parents at Explorit and at our traveling programs. The sparks of interest and enthusiasm that are so clearly visible at those events are extremely exciting to see.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
The need for early science education, beyond what the schools provide. Even the familiarization with hands-on science in a well-rounded education is vital.
SchwedlerCarl Schwedler
Years on board: 8
Occupation: Patent Attorney, McDonough, Holland & Allen
Favorite science discipline: astrophysics
Favorite science quotation: "All men by nature desire to know." — Aristotle

Why I'm passionate about science:
Science promotes human progress and understanding. Science helps individuals know and understand their world better.

A memorable science experience:
Having dinner with a family of strict vegans 25 years ago, I inquired about the apparent lack of protein in their diet. They were unconcerned. The mother was pregnant, and I became obsessed with the thought that she was endangering her unborn baby's health. Simultaneously, I admired their two beautiful, healthy and very happy older children. I then worried some more about the unborn baby. Then smiled at their healthy children. Being proved wrong about something you strongly believe is bracing, good science.

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
I am proud of the important job Explorit does in developing a better understanding of science among individuals.
Sharon Shoemaker
Years on board: 7
Occupation: Executive Director, CA Institute of Food & Agricultural Research
Favorite science discipline: biochemistry
Favorite scientist: Louis Pasteur

Why I'm passionate about science:
My high school chemistry teacher inspired me to pursue chemistry and with her encouragement I entered my high school science fair and went through local, regional and international science fairs. As a result, I was invited to many events, and finally landed a scholarship to college, making me the first in my family to graduate from college. Over my career I have had the opportunity to contribute to further understanding of enzyme systems and fermentation processes, experience different points of view and parts of the world, and develop friendships with people from essentially everywhere.

A memorable science experience:
Mrs. Martha Walsh, McLean High School chemistry teacher. I am very fortunate to have had such good teachers and mentors along my path through life!

Why I'm involved with Explorit:
Explorit inspires young minds with critical, unbiased thinking. Explorit lights up young people and people of all ages with their interactive programs and great staff. Explorit also serves a critical need of providing assistance and resources to science teachers, something they might not otherwise have. Indeed, I connect on a personal level with Explorit's mission and the need it serves, and try to give back, as I can in time and money, for the sake of our future generations. I know firsthand that the field of science is important, fun and rewarding-a great career all around!

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