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Distinguished Palo Alto Family to be Honored at Commonwealth Club

Google Senior VP, Stanford Physics Professor, UCSF Pediatrics Professor, Time Magazine's "Invention of the Year" founder... it runs in the family.

Distinguished Palo Alto Family to be Honored at Commonwealth Club Distinguished Palo Alto Family to be Honored at Commonwealth Club

Palo Alto Educators Esther Wojcicki, Palo Alto High School English Teacher and her husband Dr. Stanley G. Wojcicki, professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University, will be honored with the Commonwealth Club of California’s prestigious William K. Bowes Lifetime Achievement Award at their Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner on April 10, 2013.

The Distinguished Citizen Award recognizes individuals and their noteworthy contributions to local and global society. The Club will present its Distinguished Citizen Awards to Dr. and Mrs. Wojcicki's three daughters, Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President of Advertising, Google; Janet Wojcicki, Ph.D., M.P.H., Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF; Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founder, 23andMe.

Esther Wojcicki For the past 28 years, Esther Wojcicki has been a Journalism/English teacher at Palo Alto High School where she built the journalism program from a small group of 20 students in 1985 to the largest high school journalism program in the United States. The program currently has 590 students and is an example of the power and effectiveness of Project Based Learning, using journalism as a tool to get students engaged.

Wojcicki says, “Engagement is key to learning. Students learn critical thinking skills, writing skills, and Web 2.0 skills in the classes.”  Her program offers six award-winning journalism electives including  a newspaper, a news magazine,  an online site,  daily television show, and a sports magazine.

Esther Wojcicki is also V-Chair of the Board of Creative Commons and a strong advocate of the “Blended Classroom” and Open Education Resources (OER) using Creative Commons licensing. She is a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Research Award recipient for the Student Journalism 2.0 project. In addition to receiving numerous awards, she has consulted for the Carnegie Foundation and Hewlett Foundation and is a blogger for the Huffington Post.  In June, 2012, she was speaker at the G20Summit talking about the power of technology to transform teaching and learning. She has given multiple TED talks, the most recent of which is "Creating Classrooms That Work" that just came out in January 2013.

Dr. Stanley G. Wojcicki is a professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University. In 2010, he retired following a distinguished 44-year teaching and research career in the Department of Physics.  His work at the forefront of experimental particle physics has contributed to a deeper understanding of the evolution and structure of the universe.  He largely focused on the properties of subatomic particles called “neutrinos.” Despite their huge numbers, neutrinos are difficult to detect because they rarely interact with other particles—they can pass through Earth as if it were an empty space. Neutrinos have no electric charge, and they are much smaller than other subatomic particles such as the electron. They are important as they play a key role in the reactions that power the sun and other stars. Understanding them could explain the origin of protons, electrons, and neutrons that make up our everyday world.

A native of Poland, Dr. Wojcicki and his mother fled their homeland in 1949. He received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard and a doctorate at the UC Berkeley in 1961. Before joining Stanford, he held positions at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and at CERN in Switzerland. At Stanford, he twice chaired the Department of Physics.  Always a dedicated teacher, he inspired thousands of students to become passionate about science.

Susan Wojcicki In recognition of the outstanding achievements and contributions of exemplary California visionaries, the Club will honor businesswoman and Senior VP of Advertising and Commerce at Google, Susan Wojcicki, who was named one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes in 2012. She oversees the design, innovation and engineering of Google's advertising, commerce, and measurement platform products, including AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick, Offers, and Google Analytics. She graduated with honors from Harvard University, holds a master's in economics from UC Santa Cruz, and an MBA from UCLA.   

Janet Wojcicki The Club will also honor Janet Wojcicki, Ph.D., M.P.H., Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF, for her work in pediatrics. As a fellow in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and nutrition, Wojcicki has performed groundbreaking research on childhood obesity, HIV and nutrition. Her research analyzes the relationship between sociocultural background, behavioral practices and health outcomes. Wojcicki is involved with the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) at UCSF. There she has focused on factors that develop at an early age in specific populations which contribute to pediatric obesity.  She recently recruited a mother-child Latino cohort to evaluate the relationship between exposure to maternal prenatal and postnatal depression and risk for obesity at age 2, 5 and 7. In addition to obesity, Dr. Wojcicki is also interested in how pediatric malnutrition can contribute to HIV progression and infection with HHV-8. Currently, Dr. Wojcicki serves on the San Francisco Unified School District Physical Activity and Nutrition Task Force where she hopes to pursue research regarding student nutrition.   Dr. Wojcicki received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Stanford University, a master’s degree in African Studies from UCLA, another master’s degree in Public Health from Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from UCLA in anthropology.  She did her postdoctoral training at UCSF in epidemiology/nutrition, and also received a master of science degree from UC Davis.

Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe, the personal DNA analysis company, has led a distinguished career in the biotech industry. Through its use of genomics, the 23andMe kit she has developed, allows the individual to see personal ancestry, lineage, and gene data. The DNA analysis uncovers one’s likelihood of contracting certain genetic diseases.  The individual can then cater his/her health to specific genes.  In 2008, 23AndMe’s personal genome testing kit was named TIME’s “Invention of The Year.”  Through analysis, 23andMe have identified the gene associated with Parkinson’s disease, as well as, the discovery of the gene that reduces the risk of one contracting Parkinson’s. Wojcicki’s company brings this technology as means to inform and impact the world with groundbreaking discoveries in health research.  She received her B.S. from Yale University in biology. Anne is married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Editor's Note: This article was edited to clarify Susan Wojcicki's role at Google.


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