Darkened by the backdrop of one of the biggest environmental disasters in U.S. history, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, nonetheless celebrated former students who have risen to positions of importance and new graduates who promise to transform their fields of science during the third annual Scripps Day on June 11.
U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt, who received her doctorate from Scripps in 1978, addressed a filled auditorium at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment (Scripps Seaside Forum) on her agency’s role in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The USGS is playing a support role in the effort by helping to create a scientific assessment of the spill and strategy recommendations.
“It has happened before that from the depths of environmental despair we find the courage and resolve to change our course of actions,” McNutt said. “If this oil spill becomes the event that causes Americans to embrace clean energy from the ocean, such as wind and wave, then 20 years from now we will be in a better place.”
The event drew about 500 current and former students, their parents and families as well as researchers and staff members. As in years past, visitors to campus were given access to some of Scripps’ most popular spots including the Scripps Pier, the original classrooms of the Old Scripps building and Scripps’ collections of marine life and geological samples.
Some visitors began the day taking in a lecture by Scripps alumnus Dudley Chelton, a physical oceanographer at Oregon State University. Chelton was the 2010 recipient of the Robert L. and Bettie P. Cody Award, which recognizes achievement in oceanography, marine biology, and Earth science. The award ceremony and lecture coincided with Scripps Day activities to which Chelton brought his wife and children.
Scripps Director Tony Haymet individually recognized the 37 graduate students who this year received their doctorates as well as students who received master’s degrees from the institution.
“Submitting the final version of the dissertation was a subdued affair given the enormous effort that went into its preparation,” said newly minted Ph.D Steven Smriga. “The commencement during Scripps Day helped provide a sense of accomplishment and I enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate this milestone with my friends and family.”
Afterward Scripps Day participants took in a lively afternoon with food, drink, and music, the last supplied by local jam band Guava Belly, which includes Scripps students in its lineup.
This year’s was the first Scripps Day held at Scripps Seaside Forum. McNutt, who took part in weekly TG celebrations at the original Surfside house that once occupied a portion of the forum site, recognized some of the participants in the day’s happy hour from her student days.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” McNutt told Haymet, who promptly offered her a discounted rate for weddings or any other events she cared to book at the new venue.