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Stanford Earth dean urges graduates: Turn challenges into opportunities

Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences have the knowledge and skills to create an environmentally just and sustainable world for everyone, according to Dean Stephan Graham.

Weathering the stresses of a pandemic that sent students to a foreign online learning environment followed by police brutality and systemic racism, 2020 graduates of the School of Earth Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) are a resilient bunch.

In a virtual recognition of their efforts and accomplishments, Dean Stephan Graham expressed optimism that the challenges the world has faced in recent months have opened the doors for new opportunities in research and innovation.

A few years ago, some of our students bemoaned the seeming diminishment of science and society. Well, now science is front and center,” Graham said, referring to the vital role of scientific research in helping people emerge safely from the COVID-19 pandemic. “You are living in the midst of a revolution driven by new data collection technologies and computational power.

In the 2019-20 academic year, Stanford Earth awarded 181 degrees: 33 Bachelor of Science, 91 Master of Science or Master of Arts, and 57 Doctor of Philosophy degrees, from the departments of Geological Sciences, Energy Resources Engineering, Geophysics and Earth System Science, and from three programs: the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), the Earth Systems Program and the Change Leadership for Sustainability Program. 

In addition to the dean’s remarks and video slideshows from the departments and programs, the university organized a virtual celebration for 2020 graduates.

Very few of us take linear paths in our careers,” Graham added. We're living in disruptive times and our world is incredibly complex and rapidly changing. You'll have to be agile and adaptive and willing to learn new things.

Excellence in Teaching Awards to Dustin Schroeder, Thomas Hayden

Stanford Earth honored two instructors with Excellence in Teaching Awards: Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics, and Thomas Hayden, professor of the practice and director of the Master of Arts in Earth Systems, Environmental Communication Program.

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Excellence in Teaching Awards


The honorees were selected based on nominations from students, faculty, and alumni.

Read about their exceptional teaching and personal impacts on students in the full story.

Student Awards

The Stanford Earth Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring was awarded to 11 students who contributed to their research group and school communities. They include Nina Brooks, Cansu Culha, Michael D’Antonio, Emily Lacroix, Rebecca Miller, Josheena Naggea, Sudatta Ray, Shannon Switzer, Tianmei Wang, Leehi Yona, and Yuran Zhang.

The Centennial TA Awards were presented to seven graduate students who demonstrated outstanding contributions to teaching: Aaron Steelquist from Geological Sciences, Karissa Pepin from Geophysics, Anirudh Allam from Energy Resources Engineering, Colette Kelly from Earth System Science, Shannon Switzer Swanson from E-IPER, and Alex Ngyuen-Phuc and Natasha Batista from the Earth Systems Program.

Twenty-seven students received the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement this year. The recipients include Nancy Chang, Niza Contreras, Osanna Drake, Lucy Edy, Chris Escobedo, Michael Espinosa, TJ Francisco, Deirdre Francks, Leif Gonzales-Kramer, Katie Holmes, Kendall Kissel, Mehr Kumar, Maggie McGraw, Sabrina Mengrani, Casey Mullins, Lexi Neilan, Fiona O’Keeffe, Lilla Petruska, Elena Press, Gabriel Saiz, Hannah Shabb, Ashley Song, Laura Spielman, David Tattoni, Jacqueline Vogel, Andea Scott, and Kelyn Wood.

Additional awards, presented by departments and programs, follow.

Geological Sciences

  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Malcolm Hodgskiss
  • Harriet Benson Fellowship Award: Sandra Schachat, Lijing Wang

Energy Resources Engineering

  • Frank G. Miller Fellowship Award for High Academic Achievement: Kongphop Wongpattananukul, Youssef Aitousarrah, Kelyn Wood
  • Henry J. Ramey Fellowship Award for Outstanding Research: Joseph Bakarji, Olga Fuks
  • William H. Brigham Memorial Award for Best Departmental Citizen: Elliott Kim


  • Department Citizenship Award: Roger Michaelides
  • Best Thesis Award: Meredith Goebel

Earth System Science

  • Stanford Community Impact Award: Emily Cardarelli, Colette Kelly
  • Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship 2021: Frances Davenport

Earth Systems Program

  • William W. Whitley Citizen Scholar Prize: Devon Berger
  • Miller-Marsden Prize for Innovative Research on the Environment: Manisha Rattu
  • Earth Systems Award for Outstanding Research: Niza Contreras
  • Earth Systems, Senior Capstone Excellence Award: Lexi Neilan, Chris Escobedo, Katie Holmes
  • Award for Outstanding Service to the Earth Systems Program: Jacqueline Vogel, Lilla Petruska, Riccard Sanchez Romero
  • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Honors Thesis: David Tattoni
  • Earth Systems Recognition Award for Outstanding Contributions on behalf of our Teaching Assistants and Course Assistants: Kaylee Beam, Madeleine Bouton, Andrea Contreras, Adam Ellner, Samantha Faul, Julia Goolsby, Tony Moller, Erin Pang, Hanna Payne, Madison Pobis, Manisha Rattu, Talia Trepte, Michaela Elias

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