A statement from President Peter Goodwin on UMCES’ commitment to diversity

UMCES celebrates first virtual commencement ceremony May 29

May 29, 2020

Watch the 2020 Commencement Ceremony here

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES)’s seventh annual Commencement ceremony was held virtually for the first time this year, and featured Lisa Palmer, award-winning environmental and science journalist and author of the book “Hot, Hungry Planet,” as keynote speaker.

“There are many people out there who know exactly what they want to be. And then there are people who know what they want to do,” said keynote speaker Lisa Palmer, the inaugural National Geographic Visiting Professor of Science Communication at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. “If you catch yourself daydreaming about what you want to be, stop and think instead about what you want to change, about how you want your work to enter into public discourse, about how you can use whatever it is that you do best to make things better.”

UMCES is a preeminent environmental research and educational institution that leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay from a network of laboratories across the state. As an environmental research and graduate institution, UMCES holds a unique and important place among the University System of Maryland’s 12 institutions, leading a nationally ranked graduate program in marine and environmental science.

Lisa Palmer, the inaugural National Geographic Visiting Professor of Science Communication at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, was UMCES Keynote speaker for our 2020 virtual commencement

“You are the smartest and best educated generation the world has known. But within this generation, you also now have a special identity that will remain with you for the rest of your career. You graduated during the Pandemic of 2020,” University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Peter Goodwin charged the graduating students. “You have demonstrated resilience and determination. You have demonstrated your ability to adapt and to cross the finish line. You graduate today from one of the most elite research institutions for environmental science in the world.”

Every year, more than 80 graduate students study and work alongside UMCES scientists and faculty members through the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences (MEES) Program, a nationally eminent interdisciplinary graduate program. Students on to become environmental leaders in both the public and private sectors, research, and environmental advocacy.

“You’ve had the benefit of an education provided by renowned environmental scientists, world-class educators, and a leading university system in environmental research,” said Regent Robert Rauch, bringing greetings from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. “The day you received your diploma may be remembered by the ceremony. Your education will be remembered by a lifetime of achievement made possible by the hard work you devoted to receiving your prestigious degree.”

Traditionally, each year UMCES gives awards for outstanding faculty accomplishments at our Commencement ceremony: the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Application of Science. This year, we introduced a new award, the President's Award for Outstanding Research Support.

Professor Michael Wilberg was awarded President’s Award for Excellence in Application of Science. A professor in fisheries science at UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, he works on understanding population dynamics and management of a range of fish and shellfish species, including oysters and blue crabs. He is recognized for his ongoing and impactful efforts on the science and outstanding communication of oyster management with stakeholders, partners, and policymakers. He led the first Oyster Stock Assessment for the State of Maryland in more than 135 years, resulting in estimates of the abundance and level of sustainable exploitation to help guide policy on oyster management. He was also lead modeler for the OysterFutures research program, an experiment in consensus building and testing a new approach for making regulations and policies. He is recognized as an international expert on stock assessment and has served as technical adviser to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the International Whaling Commission, and South Africa in developing their fisheries management plans.

Associate Professor Matthew Fitzpatrick was recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. He is a spatial ecologist studying the responses of ecosystems to global change UMCES’ Appalachian Laboratory. During his time at UMCES, Matt has made a clear mark as a mentor, making mentoring a priority within his lab and throughout the broader community. He often adopts “orphaned” students when their original advisors have had to leave UMCES, and he has also worked with and mentored students from neighboring Frostburg State University. He is broadly known around the Appalachian Laboratory to have an open- door policy for anyone on campus to discuss both science, as well as outside interests like astronomy and photography. He guides, while also allowing students to develop their own paths, supporting them “unreservedly in whatever their goals may be.”

Senior Faculty Research Assistant Janet Barnes was given the President’s Award for Outstanding Research Support. She been a mentor and a positive role model for UMCES’ faculty research assistants, exhibiting long-term commitment to excellence, a genuine scientific curiosity, analytical thinking, and always going above and beyond with support of research and the UMCES community. She started at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in summer of 1978 and was the first female mate on research vessel at UMCES. She helped start the Solomons Harbor Monitoring Project, worked with the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic program coordinating logistics and science support, and led the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation as Chief Operating Officer. She was brought on to help with the Alliance for Coastal Technologies and later the Marine Environment Resource Center to serve as research coordinator, where she does both hands-on science and management, coordinating with private sector and agencies to facilitate the development and adoption of green ship and green port innovations

Eighteen students received joint degrees from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) at the ceremony.

“I want to express my admiration that under these unimaginable circumstances, this time of utter uncertainty, you persevered.  The resilience, adaptability, and tenacity you have internalized will serve you well throughout your career . . . and your life,” said Joann Boughman, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, University System of Maryland. “And above all, I want to say ‘Congratulations!’ Nothing—not months of remote learning, not adjustments to lab work or field work, and certainly not a move to a virtual commencement—can diminish in the slightest what you have achieved here at UMCES or the value of the education you have received and the knowledge and experience that are now yours.”

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Class of 2020 includes:

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
Andrew Gougherty
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Science
Integrating Genetic Information with Macroscale Models of Species’ Distribution and Phenology: A Case Study with Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera L.)
Adviser: Dr. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Appalachian Laboratory
 

Ammar Hanif
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Diet and Stomach Microbiota of Juvenile Menhaden, a Key Forage Filter Feeding Fish Species
Adviser: Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology


Katherine Hornick
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Ecological Systems
Population Genetics of Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay
Adviser: Dr. Louis Plough


Hadley McIntosh Marcek
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Chemistry
Year-round Determination of Methane (CH4) Sources and Sinks in Arctic Lakes Using Continuous and Autonomous Sampling
Adviser: Dr. Laura Lapham, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

 
Aimee Renee Neeley
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Biological Oceanography
An Evaluation of Methods for Measuring Phytoplankton and Ecosystem Status in the Chukchi Sea
Adviser: Dr. Lora Harris, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory


Wenfei Ni
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Oceanography
The Long-term Change of Chesapeake Bay Hypoxia: Impacts of Eutrophication, Nutrient Management and Climate Change
Adviser: Dr. Ming Li, Horn Point Laboratory


Wencheng Katherine Liu Slater
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Oceanography
Surviving the Dead Zone: Interactions Among Jellyfish, Copepod, and Fish in the Chesapeake Bay
Adviser: Dr. James Pierson, Horn Point Laboratory


Vanessa Vargas Nguyen
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environment and Society
The Role of Socio-environmental Report Cards in Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Adaptive Governance for a Sustainable Future
Adviser: Dr. William Dennison, Horn Point Laboratory


Gregory Ziegler
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/ Environmental Science
Algal Toxicity and Formation of Halogenated Organic Compounds in Ballast Water after Oxidative
Treatment
Adviser: Dr. Mario Tamburri, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
 

MASTER OF SCIENCE
Stephanie Barletta
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Science
Spatial and Temporal Variability in Suspended Sediment Characteristics in The Surface Layer Of The Upper Chesapeake Bay
Adviser: Dr. Lawrence Sanford, Horn Point Laboratory


Nicole Basenback
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Earth and Ocean Systems
Phenology of Estuarine Response to Anthropogenic and Climate Drivers, a Study of the Chesapeake Bay and Chester River Estuaries
Adviser: Dr. Jeremy Testa, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory


Mathew Biddle
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Physical Oceanography
Modeling Impacts of Submersed Aquatic Vegetation on Sediment Dynamics Under Storm Conditions in the Upper Chesapeake Bay
Advisers: Drs. Cindy Palinkas and Lawrence Sanford, Horn Point Laboratory


Thomas Butler
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/ Ecological Systems
Assessing the Impacts of Non-point Source Freshwater and Nutrient Inputs on a Shallow Coastal Estuary
Adviser: Dr. Raleigh Hood, Horn Point Laboratory


Samantha Gleich
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/ Earth and Ocean Systems
Nutrient Effects on Phytoplankton Community
Composition in the Eutrophic Anacostia River and a Focus on Diatom Physiology
Adviser: Dr. Patricia Glibert, Horn Point Laboratory
 

Zachary Gotthardt
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Ecology
Quantifying the Ecosystem Metabolism of a Eutrophic Estuary as a Consequence of Engineered
Destratification
Adviser: Dr. Lora Harris, Chesapeake Biological
Laboratory


Edward Andrew Hobbs Jr.
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Earth and Ocean Systems
Investigating Controls on Nitrous Oxide Distributions and Air-sea Flux in Shallow Tidal Waters Using an Efficient, Non-toxic Sampling Method
Adviser: Dr. Jeremy Testa, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory


Ella Rothermel
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Ecological Systems
Seasonal Migrations of Atlantic Sturgeon and Striped Bass through the Maryland Wind Energy Area
Adviser: Dr. David Secor, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

 
Jessie Todd Long
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Ecological Systems
Evaluating Substrate Rehabilitation Techniques for Bottom Culture Of The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica) In Chesapeake Bay
Adviser: Dr. Jeffrey Cornwell, Horn Point Laboratory

 
Alana Todd-Rodriguez
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environment and Society
Co-Producing Environmental Knowledge with Community Stakeholders
Advisers: Drs. Michael Paolisso, UMCP and William Dennison, Horn Point Laboratory


Caroline Wiernicki
Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Ecological Systems
The Effects of Summer Storm Events as Disturbance on the Movement Behaviors of Black Sea Bass in the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight
Adviser: Dr. David Secor, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory