Judy Scotchmoor, UCMP's science educator, to retire
To Judy, with love
This tribute was assembled from contributions from Roy Caldwell, Caleb Cheung, Bill Clemens, Gerald and Buff Corsi, Roland Gangloff, Mark Goodwin, Sue Hoey, David Lindberg, Jere Lipps, Charles Marshall, Sheri Potter, Dave Smith, Mark Stefanski, and Anna Thanukos
Despite her frenetic schedule, Judy always has a ready smile for everyone who drops by.
Before her work with UCMP, Judy, a UC Berkeley grad, was a renowned middle school science teacher at Marin Country Day School. Her love of science was enormous and she dedicated herself to sharing that love and excitement with her students. This also meant experiencing science herself, not just teaching it, which led her to seek out opportunities to participate in science firsthand. She took a Museum of the Rockies paleontology course in Bozeman, Montana, in 1991, which she followed up by attending a teachers' workshop at UCMP. During the workshop, Judy met many UCMP scientists and decided to spend her upcoming sabbatical year at UCMP. She was welcomed into the UCMP preparation lab and spent that year volunteering, as well as working in the field at the late Miocene Blackhawk Quarry on the southwest slope of Mt. Diablo and in the Upper Cretaceous dinosaur-bearing formations of eastern Montana.
At the time, UCMP engaged in many outreach and education activities but had no formal position devoted to this mission. In the late 1970s–80s, UCMP developed a public lecture series and an annual open house the forerunner of today's yearly campus-wide Cal Day celebration and was involved in a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program providing paleo lectures and activities to local schools. UCMP curators began discussions on how to formalize UCMP's outreach and professional development programs and developed a job description. Judy applied. Because of her enthusiasm, dedication, and 25 years of experience in the classroom, she was selected for the job and left Marin Country Day School to take the reins at UCMP to the great disappointment of her students. The departure also proved traumatic for Judy when, in the elevator, she met one of her former middle school students (then an undergraduate at UC Berkeley) who exclaimed, "Mrs. Scotchmoor! You're still alive!"
Judy took on a tough job when she accepted the position at UCMP. She went from a secure and highly respected role as a middle school teacher in an environment that she fully understood, to a post that was technically unfunded and poorly defined. In addition, Judy had to deal with administrators and colleagues who questioned whether she, a middle school teacher, could survive in the university's demanding academic environment. However, Judy did more than survive; she excelled at her position and brought both financial support and honors to UCMP in the process.
[Click on any of these photos to see an enlargement] Top left: Top: Judy (behind the tarp) works with Kristi Curry (lower left), now an Assistant Professor at Macalester College in Minnesota, and other volunteers in 1995 during the earliest stages of excavation at the Mother's Day Site, Bridger, Montana. The site is an extensive Jurassic bonebed containing the bones of juvenile and sub-adult sauropods. Top middle: Judy and other volunteers take a break after jacketing dinosaur bones on a very hot day in Makoshika State Park, Glendive, Montana, 1997. Top right: In 1998, Judy helps excavate the bones of an early Cretaceous tenontosaur in Edgar, Montana. Bottom left: Judy (second from right) leads a group of Bay Area teachers on a hike at Point Reyes National Seashore as a warm-up for their Geosciences in Alaska trip, 2002. Bottom right: And here's Judy (bottom) with the teachers working in a dinosaur quarry by the Colville River on Alaska's North Slope.
UCMP's major transformation in outreach and education over the past 20 years is a result of Judy's skill at nurturing successful partnerships and creative networks both on and off campus. She developed an advisory board of partners, teachers, and educators to ensure that outreach materials provide contextual information, not just pretty pictures. She also assembled an outstanding team of writers, web designers, and graphic artists who have built some of the most valuable science education resources on the Internet. It is Judy's leadership that helps hone their skills and motivates this group. In all of these undertakings, Judy's passion and energy have been inspiring. She draws out the best in those around her and is never afraid of the scope of work undertaken or of pushing the envelope to get things done.
Over the years, Judy has intrepidly led the way in developing a wealth of creative and innovative ways to support the work of classroom teachers from organizing and promoting invaluable on-line resources, to leading a host of engaging professional development workshops and seminars. Because she possesses a deep understanding of the nature of science and because she is experienced with the day-to-day demands placed upon teachers and the challenges posed by the education system they work within, Judy has helped to develop ideas, lessons, and other resources that are genuinely useful and effective in meeting the needs of students.
The science websites
Judy is perhaps best known for her central role in developing Understanding Evolution one of the premier science education websites in the world. Initially designed to provide tools for K–12 teachers presenting evolutionary concepts, the site (which receives more than a million page accesses per month during the school year) has grown into what is widely recognized as the most comprehensive website available for obtaining information on evolution.
While developing Understanding Evolution, a recurrent question that surfaced was why so many people in the United States do not understand and/or accept evolution. Judy recognized that at least part of the problem was a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is and how science works. She took the lead in proposing to NSF that this problem could be addressed by a second website, modeled on Understanding Evolution, that would provide K–16 materials for teaching about the nature and process of science. Understanding Science was born. The site was developed through collaborations among science teachers, scientists from a diversity of disciplines, cognitive scientists, educational researchers, and philosophers of science. It presents a new perspective on how science works and how best to present this process to students while capturing the excitement of science. The site has received wide acclaim and support from the science education community and is endorsed by the California Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, among others. In 2010, Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science were honored as joint recipients of the The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE). These sites would not have been possible without Judy's vision, organizational skills, and talents as a science educator.
Top left: "I was at the San Jose Children's Museum on Friday and saw a quote from Judy on the wall of their new Mammoth exhibit. All I could think is wow, you know your work is significant when you're quoted in a museum exhibit!" says Caleb Cheung, Oakland Unified School District. Top right: Judy at the CalBlast event held at Bodega Bay, August, 2011. The CalBlast Project supports schools to improve both science and English language development. Middle right: Judy (center) runs a teacher workshop as part of UCMP's February 2006 "California on shaky ground" short course. Judy has organized annual short courses at UCMP since 1995. Bottom right: Judy and Sheri Potter, American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), represented COPUS at Biosphere 2, Tucson, AZ, earlier this year. Bottom left: Judy and Friend of UCMP Sue Hoey sell museum tee shirts on Cal Day, April, 2012.
At the same time that Understanding Science was under development, Judy was instrumental in conceiving a national organization known as COPUS, the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science. This project grew out of two NSF-funded workshops held in response to concerns from the scientific, education and business communities regarding U.S. leadership in science and public understanding of science. COPUS now serves as an umbrella organization that facilitates sharing of ideas and programs that promote science in this country. A direct product of COPUS was the designation of 2009 as the Year of Science. The Science@Cal program is a continuing product of this vision.
And that's not all!
On the national stage, Judy is in great demand to serve on a host of panels, working groups, and advisory boards. She is also sought out as a skilled writer, reviewer, and editor, and has a special talent in securing grants to fund her many activities. Because of her role in developing teaching resources, as well as her numerous other contributions to education, Judy was awarded the prestigious Education Award from The American Institute of Biological Sciences and was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow, as well as a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. This year, Judy received the National Center for Science Education's Friend of Darwin award for her service promoting evolution education.
Of course, Judy's contributions to UCMP go far beyond overseeing the creation of award-winning websites and developing new national organizations. Her duties also include juggling the operations budget for education and outreach, hiring graduate student assistants, supervising office staff, and serving on numerous committees involved in outreach, development, and computer infrastructure. She was heavily involved in the modernization of our computer databases within UCMP and has played a key role in the development of The Paleontology Portal, a website that provides resources for anyone interested in paleontology. While Judy made many contributions at the national level, she is just as much a driving force in the day-to-day operations of UCMP.
If there are hallmarks of Judy's service to UCMP, the University, and the broader science community, they are her quick smile and boundless energy, which engages people and encourages participation. One would be hard pressed to find a better motivator than Judy. Whether it is encouraging graduate students to teach in the public schools, engaging local museums to cooperate on the development of educational exhibits, or convincing national leaders to help develop ways to upgrade science education programs, Judy is always inspirational. Grand accomplishments aside, Judy is happiest when she is totally engaged with those who work in classrooms because Judy is, at heart, a teacher. Anyone who has observed her conducting a teacher's workshop with gusto and joy understands this immediately.
The nature lover
Judy's enthusiasm for science extends far beyond her profession. She also believes in experiencing nature and the natural processes that have shaped life on the planet firsthand. Judy relaxes on the trails of Pt. Reyes or watching her beloved pelicans. She is an avid kayaker and is totally at home in some of the most challenging environmental conditions. She has petted whales in Baja, tramped through the Amazon jungle in Peru, observed gorillas in Africa, and excavated dinosaur remains on Alaska's North Slope. In Alaska, she spent hours lying on her stomach or kneeling on permafrost while carefully excavating and documenting the fossils in three-dimensional space. There was never a frown or complaint no matter how bad the weather or swarms of mosquitoes were. The only time Judy is reported to have stopped smiling was during a treacherous flight in a small plane to the base camp!
[Click on any of these photos to see an enlargement] Top left: Judy and husband Roland Gangloff with a friendly cheetah at the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, 2004. Top middle: the closest Judy's ever come to being slothful—in the Amazon jungle near Iquitos, Peru, 2008. Top right: Judy, second from right, up close and personal with a gray whale, San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja, California, 2012. Bottom left: Judy and Sue Hoey kayaking at Coxe Glacier, Alaska, 2007. Bottom middle: Judy with Masai women in Kenya, 2004. Bottom right: Judy hosted the wedding of UCMP graphic designer Dave Smith and former UCMP webmaster Colleen Whitney at her own home in 1999. She also conducted the ceremony. Professor Kevin Padian was the master chef at the event.
Above all else, Judy is a friend. She has accomplished all that she has with a sharp intellect that is richly complemented by grace, humor, and good will. What one might gain from spending time with her in a workshop or seminar is amplified all the more by enjoying her company over a glass of red wine afterward.
Left: A grateful pelican. Right: Judy relaxing at one of her favorite places: The beach beyond Abbot's Lagoon at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Judy portrait, quote, and CalBlast photos by Caleb Cheung; selling tee shirts, pelican, and photos of Judy at the Mother's Day Site, Makoshika, Edgar, Pt. Reyes, and Abbot's Lagoon by Dave Smith; Judy on Alaska's North Slope by Chris Tolentino; Judy and Sheri photo by Sheri Potter; teacher workshop photo by Christine Blois; photos of Judy with cheetah, whale, kayak, and Masai women by Gerald and Buff Corsi; Judy with sloth photo by Dave Lindberg; wedding photo by Martin Pollard