Swimming for Science!

The Challenge
"We learn by going where we have to go." 
- Theodore Rothke

Science is more than lab coats and microscopes. Our team knows that connecting science to everyday places and people can help change the world. That's why six scientists are swimming across Lake Tahoe - from Nevada to California - to raise awareness for water research in an immersive way. With no wetsuits.


The 2019 Team
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

For the third consecutive year, a team of UC Davis professors, researchers, and students will participate in the Trans Tahoe Relay. We are:

Ann Willis - team captain
Professional researcher, graduate student at UC Davis, mother to two little girls, and a fellow with the National Science Foundation, John Muir Institute for the Environment, and Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. First water research experiment was jumping into her uncle's pool to see if she could touch the bottom - before she could swim. She did.

Heather Bischel
Assistant professor, UC Davis Civil  and Environmental Engineering, and founding team member of the Women for Water Research Swim team. Research interests focus on safe and efficient reuse of water resources and sustainable sanitation to improve environmental and human health.

Veronica Morales
Assistant professor, UC Davis Civil  and Environmental Engineering, and founding team member of the Women for Water Research Swim team. Previous outreach activities include assistant to after -school Science Club for schoolchildren and instructor of university level chemistry for inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility

Kelly Neal
Junior Specialist, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, swimmer, recent graduate in environmental science and management. Second-year team member, despite the fact that she had to swim an extra 30 minutes in the 2018 Trans Tahoe relay because her team couldn't find her.

Melanie Gentles
UC Davis Campus Arborist, 10-year member of the Davis Aquatic Masters swim club, bagel connoisseur, and mother of three adventurous kids. First time Trans Tahoe swimmer.

Irene Engilis
Museum scientist in the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology and long-distance swimming fanatic. Research interests are understanding, documenting, and conserving vertebrate biodiversity.  The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology is a resource for the students, researchers, state/federal agencies, private sector biologists, and the public.  We have a robust education and outreach program that provides experiential learning to undergraduate students in the fields of museum curation, specimen preparation, and wildlife monitoring methods.  We also hold tours and workshops for public schools and community groups where visitors explore our research collections and learn about vertebrate biodiversity with our scientists.First time Trans Tahoe swimmer.

Boat support by UCD's Tahoe Environmental Research Center's director, Geoff Schladow (an expert on water quality in Lake Tahoe) and TERC's official research vessel, the Bob Richards.


Our Fundraising Goal:
"A challenge for...dealing with complex science issues: Say something brilliant simply."
- Gianna Savoie

Good scientists make important discoveries. Great scientists know how to talk about them without boring you.  While research money funds our work for discovery, less is available to help us talk about it in a way that's accessible, engaging, and influential.

It's our goal to raise $2,000, which would cover this year's event fees and expenses ($1,000) and provide $1,000 to fund science communication and outreach training for our team members and other UC Davis professors, researchers, and students. As team captain, Ann Willis will be responsible for managing and disbursing funds.

Our first priority is to cover event expenses. She'll then oversee the distribution of remaining funds for science communication and outreach opportunities. Previous support has resulted in things like our AR sandbox video, which attracted NPR's Science Friday team to design an entire show around UC Davis water research; and our Mobile Science Fair, which we've used to bring science to schools that don't have the resources to come to us. We've also participated in science communication and media training with the amazing people at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, which participants described as one of the most moving and memorable experiences they've ever had. 

We appreciate any support you can give, and can't wait to share the magic of science with you!
  • Roberta Millstein 
    • $50 
    • 28 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 28 mos
  • Greg Kucharo 
    • $100 
    • 28 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $10 
    • 28 mos
  • Adam Pollack  
    • $25 
    • 28 mos
See all


Ann Willis 
Woodland, CA
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more