Stanford University
Dean Stephan Graham

Dean's Desk

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

Photo by Steve Castillo

It's Happening Again...

ClockSeptember 26, 2019

A new academic year is in full swing.

It's great to see 75 new graduate students and post docs join our ranks and host them at our Sept. 20 BBQ. That event followed close on the heels of a well-attended Open House for freshmen who arrived on campus September 18. 

Geological Sciences professor George Hilley shares information about using drones to capture geoscience data with freshman at our Sept. 19 Open House. 
Kevin Arrigo at NSO 2019
Earth System Science Chair Kevin Arrigo engages a new student in conversation at the Open House.
Dee Tucker distributes T-Shirts at 2019 Open House
Associate Communications Director Dee Tucker signs up new subscribers for Stanford Earth Matters magazine and hands out t-shirts at  the Open House.


New faculty faces

And on the faculty side, we’ve had great success with our recruiting. This fall I am pleased to welcome Ines Azevedo from Carnegie Mellon to Energy Resources Engineering, Lucia Gualtieri from Princeton and Sonia Tikoo-Schantz  from Rutgers to Geophysics, and Mathieu Lapotre from Harvard, Andrew Leslie  from Brown, and Ayla Pamukcu from Woods Hole to Geological Sciences. Congratulations to Earth System Science’s Paula Welander, who just earned tenure!!

The 2019-2020 photo contest

Another thing happening again this fall is our second annual photo contest. We received more than 200 submissions last year, and I hope you will all look for great photos that inspire the rest of us, as well as prospective students thinking about entering the environmental and geological sciences.

This is also a great way to share what is happening in different corners of our community with each other. We are collecting submissions for three kinds of pictures: great close up photos of faculty and students at work in our labs, close in shots of people doing work in field (measuring, flying drones, taking samples), and, as always, those breathtaking landscapes we can’t resist capturing when we are out in the natural world.

Meredith Goebel in the lab
Geophysics PhD student Meredith Goebel took first place in the lab photo category last year with this self portrait while labeling calibration samples from a photometric tracer experiment. 
person hiking on ice cap
This 2018 field submission by Earth Systems MA co-term Ryder Kimball captured a hiking guide chipping away at ice to clear a path through the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang Yunnan China
This gorgeous landscape shot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang, Yunnan, China was submitted last year by ERE PhD candidate Hailun Ni. 

These photos help us tell the story of our young scientists at work along with faculty members who are with our students on every continent. Visuals are one important way to keep the critical work we do before influencers of all kinds – policy makers, corporate decision-makers, the general public – as well as future students who will one day be stewards of Earth’s natural resources.

Our communications team puts these to use on our website, which was designed to showcase visual aspects of the Earth we study and the work we do, as well as in social media, on our Spotlights page, in our printed material – and in a calendar we will produce at the holidays for next year.

I hope you will dig into your Flickr, Facebook and camera photo albums to look for worthy, well-composed photos. And take more over the coming months. Submit now through Nov. 7 here. The top prize winner in each category will receive a pair of Apple AirPods.

Our panel of judges is comprised of graduate students Noah Dewar (GP) and David Gonzalez (E-IPER), undergrad Andea Scott (ERE), Director of Educational Affairs Audrey Yau, Associate Communications Director Dee Tucker, and Social Media specialist Elenita Nicholas. Check out some of the top photos from last year.

Looking ahead

This is going to be a big year for Stanford Earth.

Among other things, we will be looking at our undergraduate curriculum to see what works well and how we can engage more undergrads in our coursework and field offerings – as well as examine how our majors can be made most appealing to students who are showing a surge of interest in natural resources, Earth science, ecology and sustainability.

The university Long Range Plan is still in process and moving forward with ideas. I will be presenting proposals gathered by the sustainability design team – incorporated with feedback from the President’s Office – on the Sustainability Initiative at the October 14 Stanford University Board of Trustees meeting. It will be interesting to hear their reactions and inputs, which I hope to share in a future post.

As if that all isn’t enough, next April will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – which I am old enough to not only remember but to have participated in. How far we have come! Yet there is so much more to do as we have been reminded by the recent youth Climate Strike and speakers at the UN Climate Action Summit in NY this week. This will be an important year to move the ball forward in sustainability and science for all of us.

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