Stanford University
Dean Stephan Graham

Dean's Desk

Posts for faculty, students, and staff from the desk of Steve Graham...

Photo by Steve Castillo

And the winners are...

ClockDecember 12, 2019

It’s simply irresistible to pick up the camera when you are out in the natural world sampling specimens, taking measurements, or surveying landforms. I love capturing special moments of the work or simply the beauty of the landscape so I can revisit it later and be inspired all over again.

Those of us working, studying and teaching in areas related to the oceans, mountains, Earth’s core, atmosphere, and other aspects of the natural world and how we relate to it, are very privileged to have this marvelous exposure. Photography is a vital communication tool that allows us to share with many others the things that only a few of us get to experience up close and personal.

So naturally, I love seeing others picking up a camera to capture what they see and do.  And I am thrilled to announce the winners of our second Stanford Earth Photo Contest. It is inspiring to see where everyone has been and what they have chosen to share. It was VERY difficult to choose only three winners across three categories from among 226 submissions. Here they are:

Category: LANDSCAPE - 1st place winner


The Milky Way rises above Nevado Salkantay in the heart of the Peruvian Andes. The glaciated mountain soars more than 20,000 ft above sea level, towering above Soraypampa where hikers spend the night awaiting to cross the mountain pass.

Photographed by Nora Hennessy, Energy Resources Engineering PhD student

Milky Way

Category: FIELD - 1st place winner

Back to school

E-IPER PhD candidate Shannon Switzer Swanson swims amongst a school of sardines in Luwak, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. A local tour operator took her to a secret spot of schooling fish, which recently recovered due to a new law limiting the types of gear allowed to catch them.

Photographed by Shannon Switzer Swanson, E-IPER PhD student

Underwater Fish

Category: LAB - 1st place winner

Say cheese

Earth Systems Program MS student Natasha Batista uses a microscope to photograph an insect specimen at Jasper Ridge for a community engaged learning project with Grassroots Ecology.

Photographed by Julia Goolsby, Earth Systems Program MA student

natasha batista at jasper ridge lab

Congratulations to Shannon, Nora, and Julia! They will each receive a pair of Apple AirPods as their prize.

Please see more photos in our 2019 story about the contest and find out who the runners up were! I find it intriguing that the first place landscape picture both this year and last year was a photo of the Milky Way.  Maybe we are all entranced by the magnificent sky!

Keep shooting those pictures as you travel over winter break, in your labs next quarter, and on field trips and field courses through spring and summer. We’ll be running the contest again in 2020.

As we approach the holidays, I hope you all prepare for a good rest and enjoy family and friends. Look forward to reconnecting with you all in January!  

Happy holidays,



Chile's Los Torres and Los Cuernos del Paine formations, carved by glaciers, rise out of a low fog hanging over the Rio Serrano at dawn. the granite monoliths reflect a deep pink, almost purple sunrise, characteristic of the far southern hemisphere.

Photo by Nora Hennessy, Energy Resources Engineering PhD student

View more of our runnersup

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