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Stanford Earth graduates: Stay engaged, remain hopeful, keep learning

Dean Graham encouraged the school’s 2022 degree recipients to use the knowledge and approaches they learned at Stanford to help address the immense challenges facing society.

Graduates seated on Mitchell Patio for Stanford Earth's diploma ceremony. (Photo credit: Javier Flores)

Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) gathered June 12 for what was both the school’s 75th and its final diploma ceremony. Next year, students will graduate from the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. It is fitting for this class to be part of the school’s diamond anniversary, Stephan Graham, the Chester Naramore Dean of the school, told graduates, since “diamond is among the hardest naturally occurring materials on Earth, and this class is similarly tough.”

“Your Stanford experience was significantly impacted by COVID, and yet you have demonstrated great perseverance and adaptability – traits that will serve you well as you come up against challenges in your lives and careers,” said Graham, the Welton Joseph and Maud L’Anphere Crook Professor in Applied Earth Sciences.

Graham encouraged the school’s undergraduate and graduate degree recipients to use the knowledge and approaches they learned at Stanford to help address the immense challenges facing society: meeting 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.

“You, more than any class before, are prepared to navigate uncertainties in your pursuit of a life that brings you both happiness and meaning,” Graham told the graduates. “I urge you to use your knowledge, stay engaged, remain hopeful and even optimistic, keep learning, and work hard on behalf of others as well as yourself.”

In the 2021-22 academic year, Stanford Earth awarded 208 degrees: 45 Bachelor of Science, 107 Master of Science or Master of Arts, and 56 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).

The diploma ceremony also honored graduates from the class of 2020 and class of 2021, who did not have an in-person ceremony at the time of graduation due to COVID-19. Krongrath Suwannasri, Geophysics PhD ’20, traveled from Thailand and served as Stanford Earth’s flag bearer during the university commencement ceremony at Stanford Stadium June 11. Lauren Abrahams, Geophysics PhD ’22, was the flag bearer at the university commencement ceremony at Stanford Stadium June 12.

“Many exciting discoveries lie just around the corner waiting for you,” Graham added. “There will be new challenges and opportunities at every turn and you’ll have to be agile and adaptive, and willing to learn new things and then go for it.”

Excellence in Teaching Award

During the ceremony, Earth systems science Professor Pamela Matson was presented with Stanford Earth’s 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award for her collaborative learning approaches, propagation of diverse forms of knowledge, and dedicated mentorship.

“She distills the insights of the literature with an eye toward how these insights can actually help people not only make better decisions, but drive the kind of change that has to happen,” a faculty colleague noted. “I think for students, that’s particularly inspiring because they’re not all going to be academics.”

As a mentor, Matson has guided countless students through her approach to systems thinking, exuding optimism and challenging them to dig deeper into complex problems. Additionally, she co-created the Change Leadership for Sustainability Program at Stanford Earth, which supports a coterminal master’s degree that is one of the fastest growing master’s programs in Stanford’s history, with 90 students from over 30 different undergraduate majors.

“As a CS student, SUST 210 was my first sustainability course at Stanford … and it has inspired my future endeavors at the intersection of AI and climate,” wrote a computer science coterminal master’s student who nominated Matson for the award. “I truly admire her strong effort to create a rich and fun learning environment.”

Service award

Graham also presented a service award to Amy Balsom, whose “deep knowledge of Stanford, unwavering professionalism, and dedication to the school have been critical for the success of three different deans, including myself,” he said.

Balsom, Senior Associate Dean of Finance & Administration at Stanford Earth, was recognized as a trusted colleague with 38 years of service to Stanford and 24 years at Stanford Earth.

Student awards

The Stanford Earth Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring was awarded to six students and postdocs who contributed to their research group and school communities: Seogi Kang, Meng Zhao, Meghan Shea, Nikki Seymour, Bianca Santos, and Leehi Yona.

The Centennial TA Awards were presented to nine graduate students who demonstrated outstanding contributions to teaching: Michael Hasson in Geological Sciences; Matt Lees in Geophysics; Amy Zou in Energy Resources Engineering; Bennett Kapili and Nicolette Meyer in Earth System Science; Kelley Courtney “KC” McKanna in E-IPER; Devin Hagan and Rachel Portillo in the Earth Systems Program; and Eunice Jung in Sustainability Science and Practice.

Forty-three students received the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement this year: Catherine Beck, Caroline Blythe, Jonathon Borja, Zachary Boyd, Nancy Chang, Erin Cole, Natalie Cross, Cole Dill-DeSa, Alexander Evers, Elinor Fajer, Lindsay Filgas, Anissa Foster, Leif Gonzales-Kramer, Chloe Gould, Myles Haigney, Sonja Hansen, Benjamin Hodder, Alisha Jani, Joshua King, Riley Lynch, Kendall Matsumoto, Javier Matta, Janica Mendillo, Patrick Monreal, Illinca Popescu, Elena Press, Benjamin Reade-Malgueno, Bless Romo, Fenella Scutt, Nuzhah Tarsoo, Ryan Treves, Jonathan Cook, Marshall Hartung, Daniel Izu, Paola Vega Jaquez, Kelyn Wood, Asia Zhang, Sebastian Perez-Lopez, Brian Amaro, Jared Isobe, Maxwell Meyer, Paco Poler, and Kelly Dunn

Earth System Science

  • Graduate Student Award for Scholarly/Research Achievement: Krishna Rao

Geological Sciences

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award: Sebastian Perez-Lopez
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Sandra Schachat
  • Harriet Benson Award: Jood Al Aswad, Sarah Hickernell

Energy Resources Engineering

  • Frank G. Miller Fellowship Award for High Academic Achievement: Justin Bracci, Ricardo Deucher, Asia Zhang, Geo Zhang, Andea Scott, Wenting Ma
  • Henry J. Ramey Fellowship Award for Outstanding Research: Kyle Pietrzyk
  • William H. Brigham Memorial Award for Best Departmental Citizen: Jeff Rutherford, Sindhu Sreedhara


  • Department Citizenship Award: Karissa Pepin, Lauren Abrahams
  • Exceptional Thesis: Emma “Mickey” Mackie
  • Best paper (undergraduate): Jared Isobe

Earth Systems Program

  • William W. Whitley Citizen Scholar Prize: Kendall Matsumoto
  • Miller-Marsden Prize for Innovative Research on the Environment: Benji Reade Malagueno
  • Earth Systems Award for Outstanding Research: Ryan Treves, Natalie Cross, TJ Francisco
  • Earth Systems Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Scholars Award: Nancy Chang, Rachel Portillo
  • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research & Honors Thesis: Patrick Monreal
  • Award for Outstanding Service to the Earth Systems Program: Erin Cole, Natalie Cross, Ilinca Popescu, Lindsay Filgas, Patrick Monreal
  • Excellence in the Senior Capstone: Chloe Gould, Joshua King, Lindsay Filgas, Bless Romo, Fenella Scutt

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