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Commencement: June 12, 2020

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Jun 12 2020 | 10:00AM PST Online

Graduates throwing mortar board caps into the air

This year the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management's commencement ceremony will be held online on Friday, June 12, 2020, at 10:00am PST.


PRESIDING — Sarah Anderson, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Bren School

KEYNOTE ADDRESS Dawn J. Wright, Chief Scientist, Environmental Systems Research Institute


STUDENT ADDRESS — Daphne Virlar-Knight



2020 Commencement Speaker: Dawn J. Wright

Headshot of Dawn Wright

Dawn Wright is Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), a world-leading geographic information system (GIS) software, and spatial data science company. Core to Esri’s mission is to inspire and enable people to positively impact their future by connecting them with the geoanalytic knowledge needed to make the critical decisions shaping the planet. She was appointed to this post in October 2011 after 17 years as a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University. As Esri Chief Scientist, Dawn reports directly to the Esri CEO with a mission of strengthening the scientific foundation for Esri software and services, while representing Esri to the national and international scientific community. She maintains an affiliated faculty appointment in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State.
As part of her UCSB PhD dissertation research, Dawn participated on several oceanographic research expeditions while a graduate student, including one expedition to the East Pacific Rise where she became the first African-American woman to dive to the ocean floor in the deep submersible Alvin. In addition, she was a member of the UCSB Cycling Team that raced at the 1993 Collegiate Road Nationals and placed 3rd overall. Prior to that she was a 1980 Olympic hopeful in the long jump.
Overall, Dawn has participated in over 20 oceanographic research expeditions worldwide, and as specialist in seafloor mapping her fieldwork has taken her to some of the most geologically active regions of the planet, including the East Pacific Rise, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Juan de Fuca Ridge, the Tonga Trench, and volcanoes under the Japan Sea and the Indian Ocean. She has authored or co-authored more than 150 articles and ten books on marine GIS, hydrothermal activity and tectonics of mid-ocean ridges, and coastal/ocean informatics.
Dawn also serves on several scientific advisory boards including the Science Advisory Boards of NOAA and the EPA, the US National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directors Council, the Board of COMPASS Science Communication Inc., the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, and many journal editorial boards.
She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the California Academy of Sciences, and Stanford’s Leopold Leadership Program, as well as a former Oregon Professor of the Year. Dawn holds an Individual Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physical Geography and Marine Geology from UCSB, an M.S. in Oceanography from Texas A&M, and a B.S. cum laude in Geology from Wheaton College (Illinois).

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