SoMAS Conovocation

2020 SoMAS Virtual Convocation

Congratulations to the graduates of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Class of 2020!


Message from Dean Paul Shepson

Greetings! Welcome to the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s virtual convocation ceremony for 2020. We are delighted to be celebrating with you today, and yet of course we share in your deep disappointment that this cannot be an in-person celebration.

But, our celebration cannot be deterred! SoMAS graduates – congratulations!!! You did it!!

Let me start out by saying I think I know how you feel, something like “Hey! What just happened?” But in fact, you will certainly remember this for the rest of your life. And I hope that it is starting to register with you what you have accomplished. This is a time to celebrate your years of hard work and determination! The last few months have required much effort, adaptation and commitment – you stuck it out, you adopted very new ways of learning, you achieved what you needed to in this surreal semester, and met your goals in the face of considerable adversity. Way to go! You have expressed a great deal of what SoMAS is all about – resilience. So, while we are all disappointed that we are not having a traditional celebration experience, you have had an experience in dealing with adversity and developing a resilient and creative orientation that will contribute in big ways to your personal tool set that you will use to your benefit, and problem-solving, for the rest of your life. Things that may have otherwise seemed like big challenges in your future may now seem smaller to you, and you will be more likely to think – “hey, I can do that, I can deal with that!” There is always a silver lining in the tough experiences that make you who you are and contribute to your wisdom. You might be thinking – ‘Hey, I’m only 21! I’m too young for wisdom!’ Ah, but here you are.

I have taken strength from the spring, the return of life, and the hope that it brings, that the natural world is coming alive in a way that has largely ignored us, or at least tried to. But this also reminds us of your passion, to understand the natural world, the interaction between species, and, as Carl Safina has taught us, how other species think and feel about themselves, and their families, how they teach each other, and the importance of their world, and our responsibility to protect it. Indeed, I feel that you have chosen your career paths very wisely. We sure do need you right now, the planet needs you, right now. Paraphrasing Sylvia Earle, “Taking care of the oceans and the atmosphere is taking care of ourselves.” Thank you for doing your part.

Before I turn it over to our guest speaker, I want to ask our graduating students to take the time to thank those who gave of themselves so that you could succeed, and be celebrating today. Let’s acknowledge your parents, grandparents, family and friends who have helped you along your path. They have given you their unconditional love, so give it back! And let’s thank the professors who have led you, mentored you, and shown you that you can do difficult things, and do them well. And thanks to all in SoMAS who have helped you reach this wonderful goal! We all celebrate with you!

And to you, let me say that you are powerful. You can change the world, in the most positive ways. You can make a difference on our planet, so, I am urging you, be unique, be special, and give of yourself to others. And give back to the Earth that has so effectively and wonderfully supported humanity. And in this spirit, remember that you will always be part of the SoMAS family. Stay healthy and stay connected, we want to hear about your future adventures!

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Carl Safina

It is a great honor for me to introduce our keynote speaker, Dr. Carl Safina. Carl holds the Carl Safina Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity in SoMAS, and is the founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center, which supports all life on Earth. Dr. Carl Safina’s work explores how humans are changing the living world, and what the changes mean for non-human beings and for us. His work fuses scientific understanding, emotional connection, and a moral call to action.

Dr. Safina has won a MacArthur “genius” prize in support of his work, numerous book awards, and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He earned a PhD in ecology from Rutgers studying seabirds, and then went on to devote his life to protecting the world’s oceans and associated life. Carl has written many books about our relationship with the living world, and how to make that better, for them. His book Song for the Blue Ocean has been dubbed the “Silent Spring” of our time. His latest works, Beyond Words and Becoming Wild explore what animals think and feel, how they teach each other survival skills, and the importance of culture to individual species, and to evolution. Through his books, he taught me a great deal about empathy. Carl and his wife Patricia live here on Long Island, with their dogs, and a variable number of owls.

View the video On YouTube

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Sylvia Earle

It is a great honor for me to introduce our second speaker, Dr. Sylvia Earle.  Dr. Earle is an American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998.  Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998. She is also part of the group Ocean Elders, which is dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife.

She is an Ocean conservation scientist and President and Chairman of Mission Blue. Dr. Earle is the first woman to become chief scientist for NOAA.  Author of more than 200 publications and leader of more than 100 ocean expeditions with well over 7,000 hours under water, she holds a doctorate degree from Duke University, plus 27 honorary doctorates.  Among her distinctions and honors is that she is the only person here today referred to as “Her Deepness”.

View the video on YouTube.

Awarding of Undergraduate Certificates

B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Presented by Dr. Brian A. Colle

Benjamin Bacon, Justin Bettenhauser, Matthew Conticchio, Michael Cooke, Michael Dimaiuta, Skyler Graap, Bridget Hyland, William Rong, Robert Schmidt, Anna Smith, Magdalena Wrobel

B.S. in Coastal Environmental Studies Presented by Dr. Kate Aubrecht

  • Christopher Biondi, Adam Dean, Yakut Karali, Jesenia Laureano, Kyle Walter

B.A. in Ecosystems and Human Impact Presented by Dr. Sharon Pochron

  • Miranda Gonzales, Brianna Michel, Alyssa Mikesh, William Moore, Adam Peretzman

B.A. in Environmental Design, Policy and Planning Presented by Dr. Donovan Finn

  • Elizabeth Aranguiz, Alaaddin Baskurt, Tess Kelly, Brandon Morgan, Esthela Ocampo, Francis Tomasso, Dong Xia, Nancy Yang, Joie Yee, Ziai Zhou

B.A. in Environmental Humanities Presented by Dr. David Taylor

  • Hongyu Fan, Taylor Larson, Krislyn Rodriguez

B.A. in Environmental Studies Presented by Dr. Kamazima M.M. Lwiza

  • Alexis Bashta, Andrew Boardman, Karyn Cassidy, Arthur Cody, Samantha Dequarto, Lijia Gao, Frank Griffo, Tea Grzanov, Katelyn Hill, Kyle Huhn, Jade Killean, Jessica Klassert, Michael Langer, Shelby Layton, Sarah Martin, Erline Martinez, Angela Minelli, Alex Montalvo, Joseph Murphy, Jacalyn Padilla, Mia Ramirez, Julianna Russo, Gina Marie Schultz, Emily Stevenson, Alisson Vera

B.S. in Marine Sciences Presented by Dr. Kamazima M.M. Lwiza

  • Peter Austin, Kaitlyn Carr, Katelyn Castler, Nicole Cruz, Tiffany Cui, Flynn Delany, John Dimarzo, Kimberly Marko, Christopher Mikolaitis, Samantha Mislinksi, Jennifer Repp, Angelo Macapagal San Pablo, Marcella Wallace

B.S. in Marine Vertebrate Biology Presented by Dr. Kamazima M.M. Lwiza

  • Hannah Abbott, Cassidy Bell, Laura Bonilla, Christina Cloutier, Corrin Da Silva, Alfredo Esposito, Julia Lopez, Delphine Mossman, Kallen Muste, Camilla Piechocki, Tessa Reynolds, Mateo Rivera, Ana Shore, John Thraen

B.A. in Sustainability Studies Presented by Dr. Arlene Cassidy

  • Orlando Avellaneda, Benjamin Lahood, Anthony Otters, Kevin Peterson, Elyssa Torres, Shannon Wright


Undergraduate Research Honors presented by Dr. Paul Shepson, Dean

  • Flynn Delany, Infection presence of Phytophthora in current and historic Zostera marina beds of eastern Long Island Bays, Dr. Bradley Peterson, Advisor
  • Mia Ramirez, The response of earthworms (Eisenia fetida) and soil microbes to Crumb Rubber Leachate,  Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Catherine Sander, The Implications of BPS as a substitute for BPA,  Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Robert Schmidt, Modeling Ridge-and-runnel formation on Long Island’s ocean shoreline, Dr. Henry Bokuniewicz, Advisor
Stony Brook Alumni Association Dean’s Choice Awards Presented by Matthew Colson, Executive Director of Alumni Relations

Undergraduate Environmental Essay Awards

  • First Prize, Mei-Lynn Stout
  • Second Prize, Laura Osa
  • Third Prize, Kallen Muste
Timothy Magnussen Memorial Scholarship Award Presented by Dr. Brian A. Colle

  • Grace Ahn (junior MVB major); Timothy Skula (senior ATM major)
Petra M. Udelhofen Memorial Scholarship Award Presented by Dr. Brian A. Colle

  • Austin Reed

Jerry Schubel Graduate Fellowships 

  • Noah Strycker, Adelle Molina, Christopher Brianik, Kimberly Lato & Xiaoning Wu

Award of Graduate Certificates

Master of Arts in Marine Conservation and Policy Certificates Presented by Dr. Glenn Lopez

  • Kayla Clauson, Dylan Corbett, Hope Dickens, Allegra Ervin, Jane Feng, Jonathan Gaare, Amanda Gorman, Karine Kleinhaus, Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Salzman, Nolan Slattery

Master of Science and Doctoral Certificates in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Presented by Dr. David Black
Master of Science in Marine & Atmospheric Sciences

  • Michelle Barbosa
    Physiological and Molecular Traits Associated with Resilience to Ocean Acidification in Crassostrea virginica
    Dr. Bassem Allam, Advisor
  • Ashley Braunthal
    Studying Paleo-Redox Conditions Recorded in Laminated Sediments of Bowers Ridge, Bering Sea (IODP Expedition 323, Site U1342)
    Dr. Laura Wehrmann, Advisor
  • Timothy Curtin
    Effects of buffering muds with calcium carbonate on the growth, survival, and behavior of juvenile hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria)
    Dr. Christopher Gobler, Advisor
  • Elizabeth Najman
    Stochastic Parameterization in the Zhang McFarlane Deep Convection Scheme
    Dr. Kevin Reed, Advisor
  • Samantha Nebylitsa
    Snow Particle Properties Estimation Using Surface-Based and Remotely Sensed Measurements by the Stony Brook Radar Observatory
    Dr. Pavlos Kollias, Advisor
  • Sarah Nickford
    Mechanisms Controlling the Summertime Inter annual Variability of summertime sea surface temperatures and Chlorophyll-a in the Northwest Atlantic
    Dr. Kamazima M.M. Lwiza, Advisor
  • Kaitlyn O’Toole
    Development of a Bio-optical Model For Application Towards Seagrass Restoration Within the Peconic Bay estuary (Long Island, NY)
    Dr. Bradley J. Peterson, Advisor
  • Jacob Segall
    Storm-scale Polarimetric Radar Signatures Associated with Tornado Dissipation in Supercells
    Dr. Michael French, Advisor

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine & Atmospheric Sciences

  • Diego Cardeñosa
    Development and Application of DNA Forensics to Global Shark Conservation and Law Enforcement
    Dr. Demian D. Chapman, Advisor
  • Megan Hahn
    The role of microbes in the interaction between the cestode parasite Schistocephalus solidus and its Threespine stickleback host
    Dr. Nolwenn Dheilly, Advisor
  • Lisa Herbert
    Trace Metal Cycling and Fluxes in Glacially Influenced Fjord Sediments
    Dr. Laura Wehrmann, Advisor
  • Evan Ingram
    Movement ecology of juvenile and sub-adult Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson River and New York Bight
    Dr. Michael Frisk, Advisor
  • Seanna Mallon
    Multiphase Oxidation and Photochemistry of Biomass Burning Aerosol Proxies: Kinetics and Products
    Dr. Daniel Knopf , Advisor
  • Maren Mitch
    Impact of Diet on Three Commercially Important Long Island Species
    Dr. Robert M. Cerrato, Advisor
  • Samantha Nyer
    The Influence of Plants on Nitrogen Biogeochemical Cycling in Constructed Wetlands
    Dr. Roy Price, Advisor
  • Matthew Siskey
    Implications of partial migration, redefined stock structure, and depleted age structure for stock assessment of winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus)
    Dr. Michael Frisk, Advisor
  • Abigail Tyrell
    Separating the effects of seawater viscosity and temperature on copepod biology and ecology
    Dr. Nicholas Fisher, Advisor
  • Ryan Wallace
    Coastal ocean acidification: Dynamics and potential to affect marine mollusks
    Dr. Christopher J. Gobler, Advisor
  • Hang Yin
    Cable bacteria and their influence on the sulfur cycle in bioturbated sediments
    Drs. Qingzhi Zhu and Robert Aller, Advisors

Best Thesis/Dissertation Awards Presented by Dr. David Black

  • Best MS Thesis: Evan Horowitz, advised by Kirk Cochran.
  • Best PhD Dissertation: Yang Zhou, advised by Hyemi Kim.


Minor in Coastal Environmental Studies

Nicholas Cormier, Robert Schmidt, Magdalena Wrobel

Minor in Ecosystems and Human Impact

Flynn Delany, Lijia Gao, Tea Grzanov, Samantha Murphy, Clara Tucker

Minor in Environmental Design, Policy and Planning

Dominique Tjondro

Minor in Environmental Humanities

Anna Smith

Minor in Environmental Studies

Tiffany Cui, Emelie Einhorn, Sila Gecir, Kellie Gunning, Phoebe Ma, Isaiah Momplaisir, Margaret Osborne, Sophia Wang

Minor in Geospatial Science

Cassidy Bell, Lauren Bunce, Michael Cooke, Flynn Delany, Emelie Einhorn, Skyler Graap, Alina Lance, Christopher Mikolaitis, Jennifer Repp, Angelo Macapagal San Pablo, Francis Tomasso, Joie Yee, Zachary Zysberg

Minor in Marine Sciences

Thomas Boskamp, Arthur Cody, Emelie Einhorn, Claire Garfield, Alicia Gonzalez, Alyson Hall, Phoebe Ma, Qingyang Ma, Amy Okano, Joshua Porta, Lynne Richardson

Minor in Sustainability Studies

Tomer David, Elizabeth Doscher, Maximillian Kitaychik, Emma Morse, Seema Ramjit, Joseph Woltering

Dean Shepson’s Closing Remarks

Well, we have come to the end of our program for the day, and we hope that it has been meaningful and enjoyable for you.  The end of today’s program, but, we hope for us, the beginning of a longer term professional relationship with you, and the beginning of your own professional journey.  We hope that the adversity you have overcome this year will give you the strength and self-confidence to tackle even bigger challenges in the future.  We have tremendous confidence in you!  Thank you for being part of the SoMAS family, we will always be here for you!  Congratulations, graduates!  Take care, stay in touch, be safe and healthy, and go do good for the world.

The SoMAS Class of 2020 is featured in the inaugural set of SoMAS Trading Cards! Check out your pack below and use the numbers at the top to fan out your cards, or the arrows, keyboard or mouse wheel to change the card at the front of the pack. Click on a card to enlarge it.

Introducing the SoMAS Class of 2020!

Congratulations to the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Class of 2020!

Benjamin Bacon, ATM
Jesenia Laureano, COS
Robert Schmidt, ATM
Tess Kelly, EDP
Jade Killean, ENS
Kyle Walter, COS
Krislyn Rodriguez, EHM
Hongyu Fan, EHM
Flynn Delany, MAR
Taylor Larson, EHM
Jacalyn Padilla, ENS
Catherine Sander, The Implications of BPS as a substitute for BPA,  Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
Emily Stevenson, ENS
Peter Austin, MAR
Samantha Mislinksi, MAR
Alfredo Esposito, MVB
Delphine Mossman, MVB
Kayla Clauson, MCP
Diego Cardeñosa, PHD
Michelle Barbosa, MS
Samantha Nyer, PHD
Evan Ingram, PHD
Best PhD Dissertation: Yang Zhou, advised by Hyemi Kim
Michael Cooke, ATM
Magdalena Wrobel, ATM
Elizabeth Aranguiz, EDP
Joie Yee, EDP
Adam Peretzman, EHI
Brianna Michel, EHI
Miranda Gonzalez, EHI
Alexis Bashta, ENS
Tiffany Cui, MAR
Angelo Macapagal San Pablo, MAR
Kallen Muste, MVB
Hannah Abbott, MVB
Tessa Reynolds, MVB
Camilla Piechocki, MVB
Orlando Avellaneda II, SUS
Jane Feng, MCP
Robert Rodriguez, MCP
Liz Najman, MS
Samantha Nebylitsa, MS
Michael Dimaiuta, ATM
Chris Biondi, COS
Alaaddin Baskurt, EDP
Francis Tomasso, EDP
Ziai Zhou, EDP
Alex Montalvo,ENS
Arthur Cody, ENS
Michael Langer, ENS
Erline Martinez, ENS
Mia Ramirez, ENS
Kaitlyn Carr, MAR
Cassidy Bell, MVB
John Dimarzo, MAR
Ana Shore, MVB
Shannon Wright, SUS
Elyssa Torres, SUS
Karine Kleinhaus, MCP
Amanda Gorman, MCP
Justin Bettenhauser, ATM
Skyler Graap, ATM
Adam Dean, COS
Brandon Morgan, EDP
Dong Xia, EDP
Frank Griffo, ENS
Lijia Gao, ENS
Katelyn Hill, ENS
Shelby Layton, ENS
Angela Minell, ENS
Christopher Mikolaitis, MAR
Jennifer Repp, MAR
Nicole Cruz, MAR
Corrin Da Silva, MVB
John Thraen, MVB
Kevin Peterson, SUS
Dylan Corbett, MCP
Allegra Ervin, MCP
Ashley Braunthal, MS
Jake Segall, MS
Matthew Siskey, PHD
Matthew Conticchio, ATM
Anna Smith, ATM
Yakut Karali, COS
Esthelo Ocampo, EDP
Nancy Yang, EDP
Julianna Russo, ENS
Tea Grzanov, ENS
Jessica Klassert, ENS
Sarah Martin, ENS
Joseph Murphy, ENS
Marcella Wallace, MAR
Kimberly Marko, MAR
Julia Lopez, MVB
Mateo Rivera, MVB
Ben Lahood, SUS
Hope Dickens, MCP
Elizabeth Salzman, MCP
Tim Curtin, MS
Megan Hahn, PHD
Hang Yin, PHD

Photos of the Class of 2020 are available on Google Photos. Student slides are also available on Google Photos.

The Class of 2020 was featured in the inaugural set of SoMAS Academic Trading Cards. The set is available on Google Photos.

This event would not have been possible without the assistance from Christina Fink, David Black, Ginny Clancy, Kurt Bretsch, Nancy Black, Paul Shepson, Carl Safina, Mark Wiggins, Donna Selch, Brad Peterson, Kamazima Lwiza, David Taylor, Chris Paparo, Tara Rider, Katherine Aubrecht, Ellen Pikitch, Brian Colle, Arlene Cassidy, Donovan Finn, Sharon Pochron, Glenn Lopez, Steve Beaupre, Anne McElroy, Nils Volkenborn, Brittney Scannell. Jackie Collier, Edmund Chang, Michael French, Robert Cerrato, Matt Colson, Robert Aller, and Chris Gobler.

Digital Convocation compiled by Mark Lang.

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