California Academy of Sciences Annual Report
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Want to know where the Academy is going—and where we’ve been? Start exploring: Learn how our chief stewards see the future in their Welcome Letter. Discover Perspectives from members of the Academy’s extended family and meet the partners that make it all possible, including our Donors, Fellows, and Leadership. And see how we are sustaining the Academy for adventures ahead with a look at our Financials.
CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF TRUSTEES
William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
Each of us encounters the natural world in different ways – through the wonder of childhood or the intellect of scientists; under a microscope or on a planetarium dome; deep in a Madagascar rainforest in our own backyard.
At the California Academy of Sciences, we offer unique perspectives on the nature and future of life on Earth through our distinctive combination of engaging public-floor exhibits, education programs, explorations by citizen-scientists and Ph.D. scientists, award-winning digital productions and a growing array of online channels that share the Academy with the world. Through these lenses on life, one view comes into sharp focus: there simply is more wonder in nature than any of us can comprehend, and even after centuries of exploration, we have barely begun to understand the awesome mystery and diversity of life on Earth.
The mission of the Academy – to explore, explain, and sustain life – is more fascinating and urgent than ever. We've come a long way since moving into our reinvented Golden Gate Park home – a home built to deliver the message that sustaining life on Earth is everyone's responsibility. In the years ahead, the Academy will take that message to an ever wider audience, within and beyond Academy walls, through some of the most innovative and accessible science programming and outreach on the planet.
As Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Executive Director of the Academy, we both are deeply honored to steward a vision that will define this institution long beyond our time as its leaders. This summer, Greg will retire from the global enterprise he did so much to set in motion and the Academy will welcome a new exective director. Thanks to your support for the mission we share with you, our new leader will inherit an Academy poised to explore nature and engage visitors – in Golden Gate Park and worldwide – for generations to come.
Meet ten members of the Academy community with ten world views: Randi Fisher shares a vision of people and nature in harmony. Marc Leviste talks about saving coral reefs. Maya Walton says thanks for her career in science. Elizabeth Blackburn explains how an Academy field trip shapes lives. Mollie Cueva-Dabkoski shares her experience as a Student Science Fellow. Andrea Williams explores the intersection of science and citizenship. Don Johanson reveals what makes us human. Russ Mittermeier applauds the Academy’s work in Madagascar. Susan and Bill Oberndorf honor a friend and colleague. Luis Valentino talks teacher training.
Vice Governor of Batangas Province in the Philippines
Academy Trustee and co-founder of the Pisces Foundation
Former Academy Careers in Science Intern
Academy Trustee and Nobel Prize winner
Former Academy Student Science Fellow
Plant ecologist at the Marin Municipal Water District
Paleontologist and Academy Fellow
Chief Executive Officer of Conservation International
Volunteer Academy Leaders
Associate Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer for SFUSD
The Batangas Provincial Government is so pleased to be partnering with the California Academy of Sciences in developing a sustainable coastal management plan for the province. The Academy has an international reputation as a scientific institution and together we will develop a plan that will ensure the unique marine biodiversity of the Philippines will be preserved for future generations.Marc Leviste
Marc Leviste is Vice Governor of Batangas Province in the Philippines. In 2013, the Batangas provincial legislature voted unanimously to create a Coastal Ecosystems Development Plan in order to protect their vital marine habitats and asked the Academy to help guide these efforts.
The Philippines have been an important site of Academy research and community outreach for more than a century. And although Academy scientists have discovered and described hundreds of new species in this hottest of biodiversity hotspots, they’ve barely scratched the surface: on every visit, including a recent expedition of unprecedented scale made possible through the generosity of Margaret and Will Hearst, the Academy found dozens of new species. Understanding and protecting diverse and threatened life isn’t the only outcome. Academy educators work with teachers, groups, and museums in the Philippines to share research findings, raising awareness of the value of this unique environment and its benefits to local communities. The Academy’s work focuses on coral reef and mangrove ecosystems that support hundreds of thousands of local families and protect coastal communities against hurricanes and typhoons.
Our Foundation’s vision is people and nature thriving together, and when I walk the floor at the Academy I see this vision coming to life around me. The Pisces Foundation believes environmental literacy is a critical component of a more sustainable world. We made a significant gift to the Academy as our partner in this important work because of the institution’s creative and exciting efforts to expand the reach of environmental education.Randi Fisher
Academy Trustee Randi Fisher is a dedicated advocate for the planet. In addition to her service to the Academy, she also serves as Trustee of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and has played leadership roles in a variety of other nonprofit organizations advancing environmental literacy.
With its renowned global research, enlightening education programs, eye-opening exhibits, and many distinctive features – coral reef, indoor rainforest, living roof – the Academy is so much more than a building. It’s a destination for discovery. And it is increasingly becoming not just a physical destination but a virtual one, thanks to a gift from the Pisces Foundation, an environmental philanthropy co-founded by Academy Trustee Randi Fisher. This generous gift is fueling a departure from museum tradition that will extend the Academy’s reach far beyond San Francisco. Innovative new online learning initiatives; productions by the Academy’s award-winning planetarium distributed to domes and universities around the world; engaging science content translated into several languages; “Science Today” videos and stories shared through diverse digital media outlets—these are just a few global initiatives that are turning the Academy into a museum without walls, a resource not just for Bay Area audiences but for science enthusiasts around the world.
My interests in marine ecology, climate change, and biodiversity were seeded when I was a high school intern at the Academy. The mentorship I received through the Careers in Science program benefitted me in so many ways, professional and personal. Thank you for continuing to support such a meaningful and successful program.Maya Walton
Former Academy Careers in Science intern Maya Walton is a graduate student in the Zoology Department at the University of Hawaii. Her first scientific paper, about future climate change scenarios, was published in the journal Nature in October 2013 and was covered in The New York Times.
What does it take to make a scientist? Inspiration, education, experience, confidence – and opportunity. With generous support from a number of donors, including San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families and Wells Fargo Foundation, the Academy’s Careers in Science program provides them all, with an emphasis on opportunity for young women and minority students, who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Recruited primarily from San Francisco public high schools, interns receive immersive training in science and sustainability concepts, engage in lab and field study, collaborate on team projects, and teach on the Academy’s public floor. Their mentors – working Academy scientists and educators – coach interns as they consider college and career. Learning in a paid work environment, interns develop career skills and confidence through a program that isn’t just changing young lives; it’s shaping the next generation of scientists.
Exposure to science outside of the classroom is critically important for students to become personally engaged with science. A school field trip to the Academy is an ideal way to nurture the interest and natural curiosity of the children who will be our future scientists. It provides valuable resources and experiences that are not available in their classrooms.Elizabeth Blackburn
Academy Fellow and Trustee Elizabeth Blackburn is the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2009, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how telomeres and the enzyme telomerase protect chromosomes.
If you remember your first encounter with the Academy, you are in good company. For many young visitors, a school field trip is an unforgettable first encounter with science and the wonders of the natural world. And it can transform youthful curiosity into a lifelong interest in sustaining life on Earth. In 2013, the Academy’s School and Youth Field Trips program engaged 150,000 young people, grades pre-K through 12, with real-life science through eye-opening Academy exhibits, hands-on laboratory experiences, and immersive planetarium shows. Back in the classroom, Academy online resources helped teachers extend the learning. The Academy also piloted a virtual field trip program in 2013, allowing students in the Sierra foothills and beyond to experience the Academy through live streaming video. Thanks to Academy friends like E. Richard Jones Family Foundation and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, this extremely successful program will reach even more schools in 2014.
The Student Science Fellows program has taught me what my high school science classes and textbooks could not. The program has gifted me with increased scientific literacy, inspired me to pursue the sciences, and motivated me to use biological research to support conservation efforts in my home country of Ecuador.Mollie Cueva-Dabkoski
Mollie Cueva-Dabkoski, a 2013 graduate of the Academy’s Student Science Fellows program, is a science undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University. She’s working on her first scientific paper, with Academy entomologist Dave Kavanaugh, describing a new species of beetle. Learn more.
The journey from curious kid to working scientist can be challenging. Through a variety of integrated programs, the Academy is committed to blazing a pathway that lets budding scientists pursue an evolving passion. Designed for young people who show strong science aptitude and a serious commitment, the Student Science Fellows program combines immersive training in all aspects of research – lab and field work, data analysis, computational work, sharing results – with personal coaching and the opportunity to be part of an active museum community. In their first year, fellows are matched with an Academy mentor working in their area of interest. The next year, fellows launch their own research projects. Inspiring lectures, team-building activities, and skill-building workshops round out the experience, made possible by Brewster Kahle and Mary Austin and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
The Academy’s citizen science work on Mt. Tamalpais creates a clearer picture of the plants in our watershed, including invasive species that have come in and native species that may be in decline. The work has helped us build both a knowledge base and a cadre of interested, better-informed people united across ages and skill levels by their connection to the natural world.Andrea Williams
Andrea Williams is a plant ecologist at the Marin Municipal Water District. She is actively involved in the Academy’s citizen science project at Mt. Tamalpais, where she is helping to shape watershed management plans.
Combine a love of the natural world with an understanding of science. Then translate both into action, and you have one of the most powerful conservation forces on the planet: a science-empowered citizen. Through the Academy’s citizen science program, amateur scientists have the unique opportunity to participate in authentic biodiversity research. In 2013, the program mobilized 245 citizen scientists to document plant life at Mt. Tamalpais and intertidal invertebrates at Pillar Point Harbor. Both projects, in partnership with the Marin Municipal Water District and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary respectively, document shifts that may correlate to climate change, introduced species, and habitat loss. In addition to building the science- and eco-literacy of participants, continuing citizen science projects provide a baseline-in-time for biodiversity work that will guide conservation and policy into the future.
Humans are profoundly fascinated by their origins. The Academy’s Human Odyssey exhibit offers an engaging and highly informative introduction to the fossil evidence of our origins, showcasing such landmark discoveries as the 3.3 million year old Dikika child unearthed by the Academy’s own Zeray Alemseged.Don Johanson
Paleontologist and Academy Fellow Don Johanson is founding director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. In 1974, working in Ethiopia, he discovered the famous hominid australopithecine fossil known as Lucy.
With its commitment to exploring the nature and future of life on our planet, the Academy unearths and shares new discoveries about the origins of human life. Anthropologist Zeray Alemseged has made some of his field’s most important recent finds, including Selam, the well-preserved fossilized remains of an Australopithecus afarensis child. Zeray also uncovered the earliest evidence to date of tool use by humans. In 2013, he published findings, based on carbon isotope data from early human teeth, that revealed a dramatic shift in our ancestors’ diets some 3.5 million years ago. Thanks to support from the Tusher family, Zeray’s fascinating findings are showcased in the interactive exhibit Human Odyssey, a dramatic new addition to Tusher African Hall, where visitors can explore milestones in human evolution.
The Academy's work in Madagascar over the past 15 years has provided critical data to inform our conservation strategies. By documenting and mapping the distribution of small – often overlooked – animals like ants, Academy scientists are helping us create a more accurate picture of the country's biodiversity and establishing a better baseline from which to make conservation decisions that will protect the highest number of species. In addition, their work in training the next generation of scientists in Madagascar is helping to ensure a sustainable future for this truly unique biodiversity hotspot.Russ Mittermeier
A renowned expert in the biodiversity of Madagascar, Russ Mittermeier is Chief Executive Officer of Conservation International. Often described as the Indiana Jones of conservation, he is the only working field biologist at the head of a major international environmental organization.
When it comes to the diversity of life on Earth, studying small things is essential to understanding the big picture. In Madagascar, one of the world’s most unique and threatened biodiversity hotspots, Academy scientists are studying some of the island’s smaller life forms – including insects – to create a more accurate picture of biodiversity on which to base future conservation decisions. Over the past 15 years, Academy entomologists, botanists, herpetologists, and invertebrate zoologists have identified more than a thousand new species from the island and its surrounding waters. With partners, they have collaborated on comprehensive biodiversity maps that will guide conservation organizations and Madagascan government officials in their work toward a sustainable future for all of the island's inhabitants, including humans.
We wanted to make a donation to remember Bill Patterson, and we felt the Academy was the perfect place to do so. When we were approached with the idea of funding the Academy's scientists through an endowed fund, it seemed like the perfect expression to fulfill Bill's vision for the Academy as a place of scholarly, scientific inquiry.Susan and Bill Oberndorf
Bill Oberndorf was one of three founding partners, including former Academy Board Chair Bill Patterson, in investment firm SPO Partners. With a generous gift in memory of their friend and colleague, Bill and his wife Susan Oberndorf – an Academy Trustee – founded the Patterson Scholars in Science and Sustainability.
Bill Patterson didn’t just believe in science. He believed in the scientist in each of us – from kids, naturally curious about the world; to researchers, professionally dedicated to answering urgent questions; to adults of all ages, responsible for stewarding the planet. Most important, Bill believed in the Academy, with its team of active science heroes, as a place uniquely equipped to inspire and empower the scientist within. Thanks to Susan and Bill Oberndorf, the vision Bill Patterson embraced as Board Chair continues to shape the Academy’s future. In 2013, renowned entomologist Brian Fisher became the Academy’s first Patterson Scholar in Science and Sustainability, a chair generously endowed by the Oberndorfs. Fisher’s discoveries about the world of ants enhance our understanding of biodiversity, fascinate Academy visitors, and open minds to a deeper understanding of Earth’s life forms – achievements Bill Patterson would applaud.
The best way to inspire students to engage with science is to give them a great science teacher. The Academy helps to build capacity in our teachers by providing valuable and much-needed resources and professional development opportunities that strengthen their science teaching.Luis Valentino
Luis Valentino is Associate Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer for San Francisco Unified School District. His district is the seventh largest in California, educating more than 55,000 students each year.
National and international surveys in recent years show American students in dire need of effective science education, and that need is particularly profound in California elementary schools. The Academy is dedicated to narrowing the science – learning gap, and teachers are an important part of the solution. In 2013, the Academy’s Teacher Education program offered 20 unique workshops in the natural sciences, covering everything from coral reef ecology to astronomy and bridging science, art, and literacy. Sold-out summer sessions explored Next Generation Science Standards. The Academy’s most intensive professional development program for educators—a two year offering through the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability works with teams of teachers recruited from San Francisco Unified School District and other Bay Area schools to raise science and sustainability literacy in grades 3-5. Generous support from donors such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Union Bank Foundation and an anonymous donor make it all possible.
Every gift enables the Academy to open eyes and minds to the natural world and the role we all can play in sustaining it. Generous supporters make new perspectives possible and inspire our great gratitude.
This list represents donors who made gifts between January 1
and December 31, 2013 including gifts to the building campaign.
Diverse viewpoints on the natural world, advanced by our Fellows, make the Academy a powerful contributor to science and sustainability. In 2013, ten new members, nominated by their peers and selected by the Academy Board of Trustees, joined this illustrious community.
University of California, San Francisco
Genomics, Molecular Biology, Parasitology, Virology, Computational Biology
University of California, Santa Cruz
Geobiology & Paleobiology
Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
University of Southern California
Molecular & Computational Biology
University of California, Berkeley
Conservation Biology & Entomology
University of California, San Francisco
Evolution & Computational Biology
University of California, Berkeley & San Francisco State University
Invertebrate Physiology & Molecular Biology
Gladstone Institutes & University of California, San Francisco
Medicine, Cell Biology, Genetics
Former Trustee and Docent, California Academy of Sciences
Former Trustee and Docent, California Academy of Sciences
Former Senior Collections Manager, California Academy of Sciences
Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
Professor of Marine Sciences and Biology Williams College – Mystic Seaport
Dr. Carlton is a Professor of Marine Sciences and Biology at Williams College and Director of the Williams College – Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program. His research focuses on the environmental history of coastal marine ecosystems, including invasions of non-native species and modern-day extinctions in the world’s oceans. His research sites include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Hawaiian Islands, Argentina, and South Africa. He is the only scientist to receive the Interagency Recognition Award from the U.S. federal government for his national and international work to reduce the impacts of exotic species invasions in the sea.
Careful stewardship of financial resources is key to growing the Academy’s impact at a time when science—advancing it, understanding it, sharing it—is essential to life on Earth.
|Exhibits & Public Engagement||$19,784,831.00||$21,654,145.00|
|Education & Outreach||$12,521,005.00||$11,324,195.00|
|Biodiversity Science and Sustainability||$11,247,817.00||$11,420,356.00|
|Development & Membership||$6,698,402.00||$5,679,765.00|
|Management & General||$5,370,780.00||$5,410,250.00|
|Property & equipment, less depr.||$389,073,152.00||$403,590,796.00|
|Other Long-term Liabilities||$253,320.00||$329,583.00|
|Unrestricted Net Assets||$429,857,969.00||$436,742,654.00|
|Total Net Assets||$557,783,836.00||$538,978,222.00|
|Total Liabilities & Net Assets||$851,009,466.00||$830,687,480.00|
Forward-looking leaders keep the Academy on track in its mission to explore, explain, and sustain life. Their vision guides us. Their enthusiasm inspires us. Their commitment carries us into the future.