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Stanford Earth graduates: Meet the planet’s challenges

Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences are uniquely prepared to deliver solutions for humanity’s critical challenges, according to Dean Stephan Graham.

Bagpiper Marty Cawthon leads the procession.
Bagpiper Marty Cawthon leads the procession at theStanford Earth diploma ceremony on June 16. Photo credit Stacy Geiken

The challenges facing humanity today – rising demands for energy, water, food, and livable land in the wake of a steadily growing global population – are critical. At a diploma ceremony June 16, Dean Stephan Graham told graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) that he is confident in their ability to deliver solutions.

Graham encouraged the school’s undergraduate and graduate degree recipients to make a positive impact on the “complex, rapidly changing, disruptive world” using the unique skill sets and knowledge they developed at Stanford Earth. With expertise in understanding Earth’s behavior, history, and sustainability challenges, graduates are prepared “to help meet the needs of people while preserving the life support systems of the planet on which we, our children and grandchildren, and the millions of species with whom we share this planet, depend,” he said.

Graham expressed optimism in their ability to tackle these challenges and is “confident that the future is secure in [their] hands,” even if that future is an unknown.

“Very few of us take a predictable linear path in our lives and careers,” said Graham, the Welton Joseph and Maud L’Anphere Crook Professor in Applied Earth Sciences. “The skills and knowledge and ability that you’ve gained at Stanford will remain with you and will make it possible to craft solutions for the changing world.”

In the 2018-19 academic year, Stanford Earth awarded 163 degrees: 38 Bachelor of Science, 80 Master of Science or Master of Arts, and 45 Doctor of Philosophy degrees, from the departments of Geological SciencesEnergy Resources EngineeringGeophysics, and Earth System Science, and from three interdisciplinary programs: the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), the Earth Systems Program and the Change Leadership for Sustainability Program (SUST).

Distinguished Alumni Award to Brad Mills

At the ceremony, Graham conferred the school’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award to Brad Mills, BS ’77, MS ’79. The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2015 to acknowledge highly significant, long-lasting contributions to the civil, government, business, or academic communities by members of the school’s alumni body.

Mills is the founder, managing director, and principal of Plinian Capital. He is an internationally recognized leader in mineral resources discovery and development and is widely respected for raising the bar on environmental and social responsibility.

“Brad is also a great friend to Stanford Earth,” said Graham, the Chester Naramore Dean of Stanford Earth, “regularly lending his expertise to faculty and students working on problems in economic geology and contributing valuable counsel as a member of our Advisory Board.”

Early- to Mid-Career Alumni Award to Xyoli Pérez-Campos

Graham then conferred the school’s Early- to Mid-Career Alumni Award to Xyoli Pérez-Campos, MS ’99, PhD ’02. The Early- to Mid-Career Alumni Award was established in 2017 to acknowledge alumni who have earned a degree within the past 20 years and made significant contributions to civil, government, business, or academic communities.

Pérez-Campos is a professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), as well as head of Servicio Sismológico Nacional, Mexico’s national seismological service. She has made outstanding contributions to seismicity research, earthquake preparedness, and public outreach in Mexico.

Xyoli is the public face of earthquake management in Mexico,” said Graham, quoting her advisor, geophysics professor Greg Beroza. “She has improved disaster communications and earthquake and tsunami preparedness across the seismically active country."

Excellence in Teaching Awards to Paula Welander and Emily Polk

The diploma ceremony also included special recognition of the mentors and educators who inspire students to deepen their knowledge and find their passions.

Two individuals were named recipients of the annual Excellence in Teaching Award. Paula Welander, assistant professor of Earth system science at Stanford Earth and, by courtesy, of biology, was nominated by students and alumni who praised her pedagogy and propensity for mentoring a new, increasingly diverse generation of young scientists.

“Paula has inspired me to care as deeply as she does in my future endeavors to teach, to put in the time and effort to select quality course materials, to expand my ideas of what types of materials should be discussed in a seminar, and to make a concerted effort to welcome and encourage students from all backgrounds,” one student wrote.

An additional Excellence in Teaching Award for a non-tenure-line faculty member was conferred this year to recognize the critical education and mentorship students receive both in and outside the classroom. Emily Polk, a lecturer in Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric who serves as Stanford Earth’s writing specialist, has helped countless students find their voices and zeal for learning.

“She develops students’ trust and fosters this sense of community in our classroom. As a result, students are willing to dig into the work, be vulnerable, and stretch themselves in ways that would simply not be possible otherwise,” one student wrote.

Student Awards

The Stanford Earth Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring was awarded to 19 students who contributed to their research group and school communities. They include Martin Almquist, Michael Burnett, Nathan Dadap, Katerina Gonzales, Heidi Hirsh, Ginny Isava, Chayawan Jaikla, Hannah Joy-Warren, Tobias Keller, Tyler Kukla, Eric Lebel, Alandra Lopez, Elisa Mantelli, Rebecca Miller, Caroline Muraida, Krishna Rao, Holger Teichgraeber, Bradley Tolar, and Ying Qi Wong.

The Centennial TA Awards were presented to teaching assistants Ettore Biondi, Bertrand Delorme, Adam Ellner, William Gearty, Elias Heimisson, Anna Lee, Rita Okoroafor, and Carolyn Rice.

Twenty-four students received the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement this year. The recipients include Khaled Aounallah, Jessica Clark, Sadie Cwikiel, Walter Dado, Hailey Deres, Annelise Dillon, Jessica Eggers, Whitney Francis, Maceo Hastings Porro, China Kantner, Aviva Klein Meyers, Gregory Ledingham, Madeline Lisaius, Victoria Mendez, Charlotte Mitchell, Anthony Moller, Neil Nathan, Ashley Overbeek, Madison Pobis, Grace Rainaldi, Judith Santano, Daela Tipton, Talia Trepte, and Meghan Wilson.

Additional awards, presented by departments and programs, follow:

Geological Sciences

  • Outstanding Senior Award: Maeve McCormick
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Danielle Ziva Shulaker

Energy Resources Engineering

  • Frank G. Miller Fellowship Award for High Academic Achievement: Mohammad Aljubran, Anthony Boukarim, Yuanlei “Yulia” Chen, and Hanqing “Hannah” Lu
  • Henry J. Ramey Fellowship Award for Outstanding Research: Jacques de Chalendar and Yuran Zhang
  • William H. Brigham Memorial Award for Best Departmental Citizen: Jihoon Park


  • Department Citizenship Award: Meredith Goebel
  • Exceptional Thesis Award: Ryan Smith
  • James W. Lyons Award for Service: Dulcie Head

Earth System Science

  • Graduate Student Award for Scholarly/Research Achievement: Ellen Ward

Earth Systems Program

  • William W. Whitley Citizen Scholar Prize: Ali Hoffer
  • Miller-Marsden Prize for Innovative Research on the Environment: Hailey Deres
  • Earth Systems Award for Outstanding Research: Sadie Cwikiel and Anthony Moller
  • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Honors Thesis: Madeline Lisaius
  • Award for Outstanding Service to the Earth Systems Program: Maceo Hastings Porro and Meghan Wilson
  • Earth Systems, Excellence in the Senior Capstone: Chinam Kantner and Neil Nathan
  • Tom Ford Fellowship in Philanthropy: Madeline Lisaius
Faculty assembled at the 2019 Stanford Earth commencement ceremony.

Faculty are assembled at the 2019 Stanford Earth diploma ceremony on June 16. (Photo credit: Javier Flores)

Media Contacts

Danielle T. Tucker

Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability

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