University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science graduates the next generation of environmental science leaders

May 31, 2024
UMCES 2024 Commencement Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Spinrad. Credit: Jill Jasuta.

BALTIMORE, MD (May 31, 2024)—The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) held its graduate commencement ceremony May 31 at its Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology campus in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The ceremony featured the conferral of 11 master's and doctorate degrees to the next generation of leaders in environmental science, distinguished speakers and university awards, and inspiring words from keynote speaker, Dr. Rick Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

"I encourage you to put yourselves under the microscope and know your passion," said Dr. Spinrad. "Get to know people and your community. Network. And know your risk tolerance and what you’re willing to try that’s different. Engage with people and be prepared to pivot. If you do those things, you will not only have a successful career, but a rewarding career."

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

"UMCES holds a special place among USM institutions—a leading research institution with a focus on managing the world’s environmental resources," said Michele Masucci, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development for the University System Maryland. "In so many ways UMCES represents what’s best about higher education. It’s how society moves forward to sold society’s intractable problems. Today you become part of that proud legacy."

2024 UMCES Graduates at IMET ceremony, Baltimore. Credit: Jill Jasuta.

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.

"UMCES was founded almost 100 years ago on the principle of not just great science alone but on developing an understanding of how society benefits from or is affected by the environment," said Interim President Bill Dennison. "Graduates, you are about to join a cadre of scientists that make significant contributions to fundamental discoveries about the environment – whether for sustainability, preservation, recovery or accelerating knowledge discovery of our world."

The ceremony included recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the UMCES community. Yantao Li, associate professor at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Application of Science and the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. Chelsea Fowler, a graduate student at the Horn Point Laboratory, received the UMCES Student Service Award. Alexandra Fries, Program Manager at the Integration and Application Network, received the President’s Award for Outstanding Research Support.