Teal bar of color

On the Ground: Extracurricular Endeavors

A glimpse at how some Rausser College students spend time beyond their studies.

Isaac Aguilar on a mountain

Isaac Aguilar

Fourth-year, molecular environmental biology

Whether in the Bay Area, traveling around California, or conducting research overseas, Isaac Aguilar always tries to make time for a hike. The fourth-year molecular environmental biology and ecosystem management & forestry double major most recently completed a 16-hour through-hike to the top of Ixtaccíhuatl, a dormant volcanic mountain in Mexico. At 17,160 feet in elevation, Ixtaccíhuatl is the third-highest peak in the country and the eighth-highest in North America. Read our recent interview with Isaac on the Rausser College website. 

Shelby O'Neill holding up Sesame Street characters

Shelby O'Neil

Third-year, Society & Environment

Shelby O’Neil is a National Geographic Young Explorer and the founder of both the No Straw November challenge and Jr Ocean Guardians, an organization committed to increasing ocean literacy and advocating for ocean conservation. She has collaborated with companies in the aviation, health care, and beverage industries to reduce single-use plastic pollution; so far these efforts have resulted in the reduction of over 40 million single-use plastic straws annually. Her work with California legislators also led to the 2018 designation of November as “No Straw November” in California. A third-year society and environment major, O’Neil appeared in Sesame Street’s “N is for Nature” episode at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2020.

Victor Reyes headshot

Victor Reyes

Graduate student, Energy & Resources Group

Victor Reyes is working to increase food safety and reduce waste in the food service industry. A graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), Reyes co-founded Recotrak, a startup that monitors the temperature of cooked food and the length of time it has been left out. That data, according to Reyes, will help caterers determine if their excess food can be recovered and safely donated.

Stella Singer playing synthesizer in her band, Chalk Talk

Stella Singer

First-year, Conservation & Resource Studies

Stella Singer plays keyboard and synthesizer in Chalk Talk, an all-female band based in San Diego. Formed in 2019 by Singer and three high school classmates, Chalk Talk is a way for her—a classically trained pianist—to express new musical ideas and concepts. When not in class, the first-year Conservation and Resource Studies major spends her time recording and sharing snippets of music with her bandmates. Listen to their debut album, “Just a Girl Band,” on Spotify and Bandcamp, and be on the lookout for their follow-up.

Hal Gordon, Hal the Hot Dog Guy

Hal Gordon

Graduate student, Agricultural & Resource Economics

Hal Gordon has mastered the art of the hot dog. When the Agricultural and Resource Economics PhD candidate isn’t researching solutions for pressing environmental issues, he can be found slinging sausages at Oakland A’s home games. Known as “Hal the Hot Dog Guy,” Gordon is something of a ballpark celebrity. His bright red vest and colorful antics—he hands out collectible baseball cards of him working at the Coliseum and often pranks unsuspecting fans with trick ketchup bottles—have won the hearts of A’s fans.

Read a full profile of Gordon on the SF Gate site and his recent interview with KQED's Alan Chazaro.

Drawing of a microbe

Zoe Netter

Graduate student, Plant & Microbial Biology

Plant and microbial biology PhD candidate Zoe Netter is amazed by the beauty and complexity of the microscopic world. Outside of her time spent researching the interactions between bacteria and their viral predators (known as bacteriophages), Netter draws colorful works of art inspired by her current research and old scientific textbooks. She shares her self-described “microbial fan art” on Instagram and has even produced illustrations for scientific journal articles.