UMCES graduates next generation of environmental leaders

May 19, 2023
Commencement speaker Dr. Kandis Boyd, Dr. Kandis Boyd, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) held its annual Commencement May 19, featuring the conferral of master's and doctorate degrees, distinguished speakers and university awards, and keynote speaker Dr. Kandis Boyd, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are all leaders. Each and everyone of us is a leader in our own way, and we can effectuate change,” said commencement speaker Kandis Boyd. “Don’t wait until you’re the director or the CEO to start thinking about what you can do to change the world around you. You are in charge of your future and the future starts today."

Boyd, Senior Advisor at US EPA Region 3, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a trailblazer, an advocate, and renowned expert in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). She has nearly 30 years of experience leading, teaching, advising, and mentoring students and early-career enthusiasts in environmental and atmospheric science. 

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 and providing unbiased science to assist Maryland policymakers as its mission.

Every year, close to 100 graduate students study and work alongside UMCES scientists and faculty members through the nationally eminent Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences (MEES) graduate program. Students go on to become environmental leaders in both the public and private sectors, research, and environmental advocacy. Twenty-seven students received graduate degrees this year.

“You are about to join a special cadre of scientists that make significant contributions to fundamental discoveries about the environment,” University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Peter Goodwin told graduates. “You are the environmental leaders our world needs so desperately. You have the power and leadership to shape a thriving world in harmony with nature.”

For a complete list of graduates, visit Commencement 2023

The ceremony included recognition of faculty, student, and staff accomplishments and excellence.

Ming Li was awarded President’s Award for Excellence in Application of Science for exemplary applications of science that have had a positive impact on environmental protection. Professor Ming Li, an expert in the regional impacts of climate change, sea level rise, storm surge, and estuarine and coastal dynamics, was recognized for his outstanding contributions and global leadership in applying the best available science to guide managers and policy-makers in making decisions for communities. He is one of the most influential thought leaders of his generation in the field of environmental fluid mechanics, spanning coastal resilience and the vulnerability of our coastal ecosystems to changing climate.

Senior Faculty Research Assistant Jerry Frank was given the President’s Award for Outstanding Research Support to recognize rising above the norms of research responsibilities to include unique leadership, mentorship, and service roles during his more than 30-year career at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. He has played an essential role in building and leading the Nutrient Analytical Services Laboratory, now a nationally certified research laboratory sought out by federal, state and local organizations to conduct water quality analyses.

Graduate student Isabel Sanchez-Viruet, a Ph.D. candidate with a research focus on birds, was awarded the UMCES Student Service Award for a high level of engagement and service to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, UMCES, and the broader community. As chair of the Graduate Student Council, she is active organizing and advocating for the UMCES student body, as well as for student needs and improvements to student life at her home campus. She is a SEAS Islands Alliance mentor, serving as a role model for undergraduate students from non-continental U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam. She also serves on the committee for the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation that connects new students from underrepresented groups with mentors.

Associate Professor Ryan Woodland, an ecologist whose research focuses on food web ecology, was selected by the graduate student body to receive the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award for his dedication to both science and his students. Students say his energy for his work is infectious and despite managing numerous and diverse projects, and he has continuously made his students a clear priority. He is supportive and amicable and, even when delivering criticism, leaves students with a sense of inspiration, encouragement, and confidence in their work. One of his most significant contributions to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Southern Maryland community has been his involvement in organizing an internship program with the College of Southern Maryland

Mary Ann Manley  was recognized for receiving the UMCES Staff Excellence Award for providing exemplary service to UMCES and the Horn Point Laboratory community through her work as a Program Management for 36 years. She was a leader in demonstrating teamwork among her colleagues, and her exemplary performance consistently demonstrated a high level of commitment to UMCES.  Her knowledge of the system of managing grants has been unparalleled.