Stanford University
Dean Stephan Graham

Dean's Desk

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Photo by Steve Castillo

My summer reading and more

ClockJune 24, 2021

For those who may not know the reference, allow me to share a definition from my field of study: Mélange. It’s a geologic term used in plate tectonics. When Earth’s plates shove and grind over each other in the process of subduction, it creates a mixing of rock types. These complicated, jumbled masses of rock are widely found in California, particularly in the Coast Ranges.    

Graduate waving school flag in stadium
Commencement returned to the stadium this year. Above, Heidi Hirsh carries the Stanford Earth flag for our cohort.

Similarly, this month’s blog is a mélange – a mix of things I want to convey as we start summer.

My first item is to mark graduation. As a faculty member, this was my 40th commencement. And it was so wonderful to return to the stadium for live events. Our 2021 graduates have now gone – with all our very best wishes for them. I know they will do great things as so many of our alumni have done before them.

My sincere thanks also go to the professional staff who made our ceremonies and department or program celebrations go so smoothly. We couldn’t make these things happen without you.

Rest and reading

Second, it's summer. And for staff, faculty, postdocs, and continuing students, now is the time to slow down a bit, gather our thoughts, and prepare for a normal but dynamic year ahead during which we return to campus and continue to shape the new school. A report containing draft options for department structures and cross-cutting themes for the new school, along with recommendations about education and outreach,  has been submitted to the president and provost and shared with faculty and staff. Stay tuned for more communications this summer about which of the options the leadership chooses and how we will transition to that new structure.

summer reading
Find 29 books recommended by faculty and senior staff on our annual Stanford Earth Summer Reading List.

As we enjoy next month’s Independence Day holiday, I urge everyone to keep meetings and email requests to a bare minimum during the week of July 5-9. Or take the week off with PTO or vacation. Use the time for personal reflection, family, or rest.

One way to relax is with a little summer reading. It’s been such a busy year, I have not had much chance to read anything beyond the 1200-page Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, considered by many to be the finest memoir by a U.S. President. Our Stanford Earth Summer Reading List, compiled from recommendations by faculty and senior staff, has some appealing titles. I hope you will take a look. Personally, I aspire to dive into Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci, suggested on this year’s list by Julia Novy-Hildesley. It has been sitting on my shelf beckoning and now I hope to make the time.

Faculty and staff achievements

Third, as I look back over the academic year, I want to give a shout out to our faculty and staff who are all so accomplished in their fields. Each year, our faculty are honored with recognitions, but since September alone, they have garnered a remarkable number of awards of various kinds – along with staff members who also have received special recognitions.  

In Geological Sciences, Gordon Brown, professor of geology emeritus, was elected to the 2020 Class of AGU fellows, an honor given to fewer than 0.1% of its members. Elizabeth Miller won the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award for faculty, voted by students and colleagues. David Pollard, professor of Earth sciences emeritus, was awarded the Wollaston Medal, the highest honor of the Geological Society of London. And Jane Willenbring received the Marguerite T. Williams Award recognizing research and community building by a mid-career scientist in Earth and planetary surface processes.

In Geophysics, The Seismological Society of America gave William Ellsworth their top honor, the Harry Fielding Reid Medal. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists conferred their highest award, the Maurice Ewing Medal, on Rosemary Knight. And Sonia Tikoo-Schantz was recognized with the Inspiring Early Academic Career Award by the Stanford Faculty Women's Forum.

In Earth System Science, the Geochemical Society named Karen Casciotti their John Hayes Award recipient for her innovative research on the marine nitrogen cycle. Noah Diffenbaugh received AGU’s William Kaula Award for extraordinary contributions as editor of the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). Noah also was elected to the 2020 Class of AGU fellows. Lecturer Sibyl Diver received the annual Stanford Earth Excellence in Teaching Award to recognize non-tenure line faculty, voted by students and colleagues. The Stanford Faculty Women’s forum honored Pamela Matson with the Deborah Rhode Lifetime Achievement Award. ESS research scientist Dave Mucciarone won a 2021 Amy Blue Award for his dedicated work with students in the lab and field. And Gabrielle Wong-Parodi received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. 

In Energy Resources Engineering, Margot Gerritsen has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. Simona Onori won the U.S. Clean Energy & Empowerment Initiative (C3E) Midcareer Award for Women for her outstanding leadership in clean energy.

And in the dean’s office, Associate Dean for Human Resources and Faculty Affairs Sue Crutcher received the 2020 Cuthbertson Award for campus-wide contributions to the Office of Community Standards, the Sexual Harassment and Policy Office, and the Title IX program; as well as for creating the first transgender guide for a Stanford workplace. Today I will participate in a virtual Staff Recognition Celebration which honors the work they do year after year. As a Stanford veteran myself, I look forward to recognizing those who have worked 5, 10, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years or more. Our staff’s professionalism and know-how are an integral part of our students’ and faculty’s success.

This is my last blog until we greet new students in September. Have a wonderful summer!


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