School of Earth & Environment holds first Commencement ceremony

School of Earth & Environment holds first Commencement ceremony

School of Earth & Environment holds first Commencement ceremony

In the School of Earth & Environment’s first standalone Commencement ceremony, graduates received some reassuring, if unexpected advice: opportunities abound, and don’t trust the naysayers.

That advice came from keynote speaker Dr. Anne A. Madden, a microbiologist, inventor and science communicator who, after earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wellesley College, realized, as many new graduates do, that she didn’t know what comes next.

Results from a Google search for jobs in science fields was less than encouraging – that opportunities for graduates with undergraduate degrees in the sciences are limited. Fortunately, she told graduates, their families and friends in Rowan’s Pfleeger Concert Hall Tuesday, “it’s an absolute lie!”

Madden went on to a career in research and development in which she's studied food, insects and developed environments. Her work has led to the discovery of a new fungal species, novel antibiotics, patented brewing technology, commercially produced beer, DNA-based methods for detecting arthropod communities, licensed technology for the manufacturing of improved breads and a greater understanding of the microbial world.

Now a three-time TED/TEDx speaker, Madden, who holds a Ph.D. in biology from Tufts University, said career opportunities for graduates with baccalaureate science degrees are plentiful whether one pursues a graduate degree or not.

“The question, ‘What careers are available in environmental studies?’ is not the right question,” she said. “A better question would be, ‘Where is my education, drive and ability valued?’”

Today the chief scientific officer and a founder of biotechnology company Lachancea LLC of Raleigh, N.C., she said students develop invaluable skills earning their undergraduate degree in the sciences. These include the ability to analyze and assess information, to design and run an experiment, to be intrinsically motivated and to nurture a love of problem solving, skills that will always be in great demand.

Even more significant, said Earth & Environment Founding Dean Kenneth Lacovara, the skills students developed in attaining their degree can help save the planet.

He noted that the planet is irrefutably warming, that humankind is directly responsible for that warming, but that it’s not too late for smart, educated, dedicated men and women to help reverse the damage.

“We created the School of Earth & Environment to do our part, to do the right thing,” Lacovara said. “The situation is dire, but I have hope because of you, our graduates. I know that whether you are entering the workforce or going to graduate school, you will make this world a better place.”

The school, which was founded four years ago, had about 50 students participating in its first standalone Commencement program and graduated students in Environmental Studies, Geography, Community & Environmental Planning, Geographical Information Science, and Planning.









Did you miss Rowan’s main Commencement 2019 ceremony? Read and see all about it!