Grace C. Chang - Bio

Interests and Hobbies:

I recently completed an "exam" that evaluates one's talents. I scored the lowest on, of all things, body coordination. (Kind of ironic given my name is Grace!!!). The test claims I am strong in Music, Logic, Life Enhancement, and Spatial Understanding.

I learned my Music skills at age 4 when my parents (see photo) were wonderful enough to buy me a piano and sign me up for piano lessons. They stuck with me through the years - all the times I threatened to quit, all the weekly lessons and monthly "concerts". Now I just have to find the space in my house so that I can purchase a piano of my own. I haven't played in years.

My mother taught me how to sew when I was 8 years old. I used to design my own clothes, draw my own patterns, spend hours choosing the perfect textures and colors, and finally putting everything together in our basement sewing room. I still sew, but not as often.

My mother also passed on some of her other talents. She is a wonderful artist (her pastel and watercolor work is exquisite). I am not as good as she is, but I do all right with a pencil. I sketch from photos, mainly, and would consider myself a "realist", using shadowing to fill in details of the subject at hand (mostly animals, scenery, and flowers). One of these days, I'd like to branch out into colors but my mind doesn't seem to work that way. (A good friend of mine always accuses me of thinking in black and white and being too Logical - why not draw like it too??)

As far as Life Enhancement goes, I love to exercise, mostly in the form of weight lifting, hiking, and running on the beach. Living in Santa Barbara gives me plenty of opportunity to spend the afternoon in the front or back country mountains for a short or a long hike (see my Santa Barbara Hikes page). These hikes are always taken with my husband, dog and with friends. After summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, I have an urge to try more mountaineering. Aconcagua, perhaps???

My Spatial Understanding scores were pretty high - I'm good at reading and understanding maps, which helps out immensely when I am travelling. I travel domestically about once a month for work and go on a 6-week (at least) international trip every year.


I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the west bank of the University of Minnesota campus. I spent the first 18 years of my life in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota (in Brooklyn Park, where former MN governer Jesse Ventura started his political career as mayor, and Maple Grove). I attended the largest high school in the state (at the time), Osseo High School, in Osseo, MN. There, I was involved in many activities: senior class committee, cheerleading, school mascot (the oriole on the left), French club, school musical, Oddessy, ALP, Sno Daze, and of course, socializing. Being born into one of the two Chinese families in our school district helped teach me that being different is a good thing. It also taught my family and me how to balance between two almost opposite cultures.

High school was, at that moment, the greatest time in my life. It only got better when I moved to the big city of Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, I wasn't ever Goldie the Gopher. After four years of hard work (and fun!), I earned both a Bachelor's of Geological Engineering (they have since eliminated my degree and folded it into Civil Engineering) and a Bachelor's of Science in Geology. The highlight of my college career was Geology field camp in Dillon, MT in summer 1994. We "GeoGeeks" became great friends that summer; many of those friendships last today.

I moved to Santa Barbara, CA in summer 1995 to attend the University of Californa, Santa Barbara for graduate school. I received a Masters of Science in Mechanical and Environmental Engineering in June 1997. I then earned a Ph.D. in Marine Science in December 1999. My dissertation concerned physical processes and bio-optical responses in the coastal ocean. I am still living in Santa Barbara, CA and continuing to enjoy the milder winters and not miss snow, lakes, mosquitos, or the lack of topography. I am currently a researcher at the Ocean Physics Laboratory at UCSB.