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Dr. John Holdren to Give 2015 Joint Program Commencement Address

June 4, 2015

Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, will present the commencement address at this year’s graduation ceremonies of the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. Sixteen PhDs and 1 Masters degree will be conferred at this year’s commencement, which will be held on Sat., June 6, 2015, on the WHOI Quissett Campus.

Dr. Holdren was appointed Assistant to the President for Science and Technology in 2009, and serves as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

“John Holdren is passionate about the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to our national well-being and in meeting the challenges our society will face in the future,” said Jim Yoder, WHOI Vice President for Academic Programs & Dean. “His support for science funding at the highest levels of government is crucial, and he serves as a role model for our graduates – whether they pursue careers in research, academia, or the policy arena.”

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Dr. Holdren was Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as professor in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. Dr. Holdren and his wife maintain a residence in Falmouth, Mass.

Dr. Holdren holds advanced degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics from MIT and Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Volvo Environment Prize.

“President Obama promised to ‘restore science to its rightful place’ and selected John Holdren to help him fulfill that commitment. John has worked hard to strengthen cooperation and collaboration across academia, industry, NGOs/Foundations, and all levels of government, not only in R&D but also in STEM education,” said WHOI President and Director Susan Avery.

The MIT/WHOI Joint Program was established in 1968, with the new program’s first commencement occurring on the WHOI dock in 1970.  Commencement is held every five years in Woods Hole, allowing graduates from the previous five years to participate in the ceremony.

In the history of the Joint Program, 984 degrees having been granted. Many of its graduates are on the faculty at leading U.S. and international universities, research institutes, and colleges. Others work for companies involved in offshore petroleum exploration, are senior officers in the U.S. Navy, hold high positions in the federal government, work in private industry, or have founded successful companies.

In addition to the commencement ceremony, WHOI will also welcome alumni and their families for gatherings and special events over the weekend.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit