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Stanford Earth graduates urged to do good and be agile

Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences are poised to thrive amid a “scientific revolution” being driven by new technologies and computational power, according to Dean Stephan Graham. 

Diploma ceremony 2018
Dean Stephan Graham speaking to the Stanford Earth graduating class of 2018. Photo credit Stacy Geiken

Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences are poised to thrive amid a “scientific revolution” being driven by new technologies and computational power, according to Dean Stephan Graham. 

Photo credit: Stacy Geiken

Speaking at the diploma ceremony to the school’s undergraduate and graduate degree recipients, Graham expressed optimism in the graduates’ ability to tackle many of humanity’s major challenges, such as meeting growing demands for energy, water, food and livable land as the global population balloons to 10 billion and beyond. “Exciting discoveries lie just around the corner waiting for you,” he said, “from the nano-scale properties of materials, to what secrets will be revealed in exploration of planets and moons beyond our own.”

He urged graduates to be willing to learn new things, work on behalf of others as well as themselves, “find ways to lead happy and purposeful lives,” and take heart if the future looks uncertain. “You’ll have to be agile and adaptive and willing to learn new things and to go for it,” Graham said. 

In the 2017-2018 academic year, the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences awarded 114 degrees: 43 Bachelor of Science, 43 Master of Science or Master of Arts, and 28 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. 

Distinguished Alumni Award to Lawrence Funkhouser

At the ceremony, Graham conferred the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award to Lawrence W. Funkhouser, MS '48. 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.

Funkhouser is a petroleum geologist and longtime Chevron executive. He studied at Stanford with A. I. Levorsen, Stanford Earth’s founding dean, and earned his master’s degree here before beginning his career as a geologist on the Gulf Coast.

“Throughout his career,” Graham said, “he was well known for championing the integration of fundamental science in all relevant disciplines - from geology and geophysics to geochemistry and paleontology into the art of exploration.”

Excellence in Teaching Award to Steven Gorelick

At the diploma ceremony, the school also provided special recognition to faculty and students.

Steven Gorelick was named the recipient of the annual Excellence in Teaching Award. Gorelick, the Cyrus F. Tolman Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford Earth and a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, was nominated by students and alumni who praised his passion, commitment and ability to motivate students. “Steve has developed a collegial environment that allows students to learn from each other and develop key skills for their careers,” one student wrote. “This is not lecturing, but it is teaching through example and opportunity.”

“He’s a gifted teacher,” Graham said.

Professor Steven Gorelick receives the Excellence in Teaching Award. His research and teaching focus on groundwater management, water resources vulnerability in developing areas, optimal remediation design, hydrogeophysics, ecohydrology, and global oil supply and demand. (Photo credit: Stacy Geiken)


Student Awards

Photo credit: Stacy Geiken

The Stanford Earth Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring was awarded to 12 students who contributed to their research group and school communities. They include Rebecca Niemiec, Devin McMahon, Shersingh Tumber-Davila, Andrew Hennig, Meredith Goebel, Philip Brodrick, Jackson MacFarlane, Ellen Ward, Heidi Hirsh, Davide Castelletti, Hannah Naughton, and Laura Dafov.

The Centennial TA Awards were presented to teaching assistants Molly Witter, Dulcie Head, Matthias Cremon, Neil Tangri, Kara Matsumoto, and Jack Lane.

Thirty-four students received the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement this year. The recipients include Natasha Batista, Maddy Belin, Zachary Birnholz, Amy Bolan, Michael Burnett, Matthew Cohen, Adam Ellner, Samantha Faul, Lia Ferguson, Sierra Garcia, Jake Gold, Julia Goolsby, Songhee Han, Paloma Hernandez, Ali Hoffer, Blaire Hunter, Sierra Killian, Erika Kreeger, Jenai Longstaff, Nicholas Mascarello, Riya Mehta, Elise Miller, Alexandra Nguyen-Phuc, Chiamaka Ogwuegbu, Courtney Pal, Erin Pang, Carolyn Rice, Armando Rojas, Diego Sancho, Kira Smiley, Ada Statler, Patrick Perrier, Stock Sawasdee, and Janine Birnbaum.

Additional awards, presented by departments and programs, follow.

Geological Sciences

  • Outstanding Senior Award: Janine Birnbaum
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Michelle LaComb
  • Harriet Benson Fellowship: Claresta Joe-Wong and Molly Witter

Energy Resources Engineering

  • Frank G. Miller Fellowship Award for High Academic Achievement: Joseph Bakarji, Jie Yang, EJ Baik, and Ross Weber
  • Henry J. Ramey Fellowship Award for Outstanding Research: Zhi Yang Wong and Kyu Koh Yoo
  • William H. Brigham Memorial Award for Best Departmental Citizen: Khaled Aounallah and Joanna Sun


  • Department Citizenship Award: Sam Bydlon
  • Best Thesis Award (graduate):  Clara Yoon
  • Best Paper Award (undergraduate): Janine Birnbaum

Earth System Science

  • Graduate Student Award for Scholarly/Research Achievement: Daniel Ibarra

Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources

  • Extraordinary Service Award: Jennifer Wang

Earth Systems Program

  • William W. Whitley Citizen Scholar Prize: Sierra Garcia
  • Miller-Marsden Prize for Innovative Research on the Environment: Michael Burnett
  • Earth Systems Award for Outstanding Research: Kira Smiley and Diego Sancho
  • Award for Outstanding Service to the Earth Systems Program: Carolyn Rice and Natasha Batista
  • Earth Systems, Excellence in the Senior Capstone: Paloma Hernandez 

Media Contacts

Josie Garthwaite

Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
(650) 497-0947

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