Meet Alan Ray

By Jan Whitmer
for the March 2012 newsletter

Alan Ray
’s path to the Environmental Volunteers is an interesting one. Although his vocation is in industry in the physical sciences, he has always been drawn to the field of teaching, perhaps because his parents were both teachers.

Growing up in Rockford, Illinois, Alan graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Applied Physics. He went on to earn an MS and PhD in Physics from Cornell University, and it was there that he met his wife, Lydia Young, who was a graduate student in Nuclear Science. The couple decided that the first job offer for either of them would dictate where they would live. Alan’s offer from Fairchild Semiconductor meant that home would be the Bay Area.

After working for a time in research at Fairchild, Alan decided to take a year off to earn a teaching credential. He taught both high school and middle school in San Francisco, but his experience teaching in summer school dampened his enthusiasm for the job, as it became mostly a disciplinary task rather than a teaching opportunity. So, Alan put aside his teaching aspirations and accepted a job at Hewlett Packard in 1989. Now a Systems Engineer at Agilent Technologies, Alan researches, develops, and markets new technologies.

After settling in the Bay Area, Alan and Lydia’s family grew to include Hannah and Katie, who have both followed in their parents’ footsteps by entering science-oriented careers, one in materials science and the other in mechanical engineering. Lydia is currently employed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

While at Cornell, Alan grew to love its surroundings. The glaciated landscape of Ithaca NY, lush with gorges and waterfalls, gave Alan a passionate appreciation of nature, especially after living in the flat cornfields of Illinois. Now, in his spare time, Alan loves walking in nature. It was on one of his hikes at the Baylands that he noticed the EcoCenter in progress and saw a flyer for the fall training class! So Alan’s path to the EV has us benefitting from his expertise in the physical sciences, and lets him pursue his interest in teaching young people about our natural world. He even uses vacation time to volunteer with us. Thank you, Alan, for your commitment!