Get to know a scientist: rebecca r. hernandez


If asked to describe the types of people who do science, chances are you may think of someone from a textbook, television shows and movies, to websites, news articles, and advertisements, among other information the media conveys about scientists. Often, these depictions are not wholly representative of those who actually practice science.

As such, we would like to give you an opportunity to explore the lives and works of real scientists to better understand who they are and how they contribute to our communities. In this series of “Get to Know a Scientist” assignments, we will feature scientists that perform work related to what you are learning in the course.

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Hernandez_R.jpgThis week, you have explored some solutions to climate change. Solar energy is one of these solutions; however, there may be some unintended effects. In the first “Get to Know a Scientist” assignment, you’ll be exploring the work of Rebecca R. Hernandez. Her work is focused on examining energy sustainability and biodiversity.

Dr. Hernandez is a first-generation college student who started her academic career as part of the California Community College system at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA. She then went on to earn a Bachelor’s from UCLA, a Master’s from Cal State Fullerton before completing her Ph.D. in Earth Systems Science at Stanford.

Dr. Hernandez now leads a team of researchers (Links to an external site.) at UC Davis toward finding sustainable energy solutions in the face of a globally changing environment. One of the biggest goals of Dr. Hernandez’s research is to support energy alternatives that minimize the negative impact on the local environment. This requires both a dedication to environmental research projects and encouraging changes in regional and local energy policies so that the most sustainable path can be taken. In the sections below, you will find examples of how Dr. Hernandez works toward changing environmental policies through her research and public outreach.  Pick any two of the resources below to learn more about Dr. Hernandez’s work and then complete the reflection. 

  1. Read this short article For The Love of Wild Things (Links to an external site.) about Dr. Hernandez and the work her lab is doing. 
  2. Read this summary (Links to an external site.) of a collaborative project from 2017 involving labs from UC Riverside, UC Berkley, and Dr. Hernandez’s lab at UC Davis. The full research article can be found here (Links to an external site.) as well, but you are only required to read the summary.
  3. Listen to this short interview with Dr. Hernandez and read the short article (Links to an external site.) on solar panels and their impact on Scientific American.
  4. Listen to this four-minute (Links to an external site.) interview where Dr. Hernandez speaks about the importance of encouraging new policies related to building sustainable energy resources. To hear the interview, go to the website in the link and click on the blue play arrow in the upper left-hand corner of the webpage. There is a written article below the interview recording, but you are not required to read the article for this assignment. 

Assignment Details

After reviewing the videos and articles, write a 300 word or more reflection with your responses to what you saw. Some topics you might wish to discuss include but are not limited to:

  • What was most interesting to you in reviewing these resources?
  • What are some of the strategies researchers are using to help maintain healthy populations in arid environments?
  • What new questions do you have after reviewing these resources?
  • What do these resources tell you about the types of people that do science?


To see how this assignment will be graded, scroll down to view the grading rubric. If no rubric is visible, click on the three dots in the upper right corner of this page, then click “Show Rubric”. If you’re reviewing this assignment using the Canvas mobile app, the rubric is included in the Grade tab.


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