TSRI Holds Tenth Commencement

By Mika Ono

"So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect..."

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance, 1841, quoted by Professor Paul Schimmel in TSRI's 2002 commencement address

For students receiving their doctoral degrees, The Scripps Research Institute's (TSRI) commencement on May 17 provided moments to remember—the handshake with their advisor, the donning of the ceremonial blue and black hood, the grasp of the diploma in their hand. These were small acts that symbolized the culmination of years of work and as well as the new opportunities that lay ahead.

For others, the commencement marked an important moment in the institute's history—TSRI's tenth commencement, the first class to graduate from the newly named Kellogg School of Science and Technology, and the conferral of honorary degrees to philanthropists Janet ("Jean") Kellogg and W. Keith Kellogg II. With this commencement, the institute also celebrated past accomplishments and looked toward a promising future.

The commencement ceremony officially began at 10 AM with the march east from The Skaggs Institute, through the tunnel under North Torrey Pines Road, to the Neurosciences Institute auditorium. Led by TSRI President Richard Lerner, faculty, graduating students, and current students processed solemnly along the walkway.

Once in the auditorium, Lerner welcomed the group. Jeffery Kelly, vice president for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies, also gave introductory remarks.

"In ways that the founders of this program could not have anticipated, the graduate program has brought a spirit of vitality, inquisitiveness, and innovation to the institute that is apparent to everybody who works in this environment," said Kelly. "The students continue to fine-tune the senses of those of us who, in principal, have more experience. They frame new and challenging questions about issues that we thought were fully clarified. They allow us to see science through their own eyes. And they remind us why we choose to make education and research our life's venture."

He continued, "It is important to note that many of the scientific discoveries that are made at The Scripps Research Institute involve work of graduate students—something that makes us feel enormously proud."

Later is his address, Kelly officially announced the naming of the TSRI graduate college the Kellogg School of Science and Technology in "recognition of Jean and Keith Kellogg's commitment to education and science and their generous support of science education at The Scripps Research Institute, in California, and in the state of Illinois... Their endowment of the graduate program provides us with the resources to continuously innovate—something that is absolutely essential in the fast-moving environment in which we find ourselves today."

Paul Schimmel, Ernest and Jean Hahn Professor of Molecular Biology and Chemistry at TSRI, took up this theme in the commencement address.

"The graduate program at The Scripps will probably go down as one of the all-time success stories in American graduate education," he said. "The achievement I'm talking about is not the achievement of numbers. It's the achievement of quality, acclaim, and recognition."

However, Schimmel advised TSRI, its graduate program, and its 2002 graduates to continually reinvent themselves to remain successful over the long-term.

"You've got to go 'back to the future', over and over, throughout your life—as an individual as well as an institution—if you are going to maintain success," he said. "You're not going to win by leaving things to chance and just extrapolating to the future what you did in the past."

After Schimmel's speech, the graduating students' thesis advisors said a few words about the students and their contributions to science, and students accepted their diplomas. K.C. Nicolaou, chair of the Department of Chemistry, set a TSRI record by graduating four Ph.D. candidates this year, the most ever from one lab.

Honorary degrees were then conferred on Jean Kellogg and W. Keith Kellogg II. Carolyn McGunn, the daughter of Jean Kellogg, accepted the honorary degree on behalf of her mother. General Packaging Products President William Keith Kellogg III, the son of W. Keith Kellogg II, accepted an honorary degree on behalf of his father.

"This is a great achievement for the Kellogg family—to be honored by such an outstanding scientific academy," said William Keith Kellogg III, upon accepting the degree. "It emphasizes our family's consistent commitment to science and education."

Jean Kellogg is a philanthropist and friend of both science and higher education. She is a current member of the TSRI Board of Trustees and an emeritus member of the Foundation Board for The Scripps Institutions for Medicine and Science. She has been involved with California State University, San Marcos, from its beginning stages a decade ago, and the Kelloggs have been long-time benefactors of Cal Poly Pomona, providing funding for its 4,000-square-foot W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery. Jean Kellogg is also an active community volunteer in local organizations, such as the Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild.

Keith Kellogg is the retired chairman of General Packaging Products, a small, Chicago-based company founded by his father, John Kellogg, who pioneered the use of waxed paper in 1915. General Packaging prints protective packaging materials, like candy and frozen food wrappers. Keith Kellogg spent many of his formative years in a cereal factory, working for his grandfather, Will Keith Kellogg, inventor of the corn flake and founder of Kellogg Company, today the world's leading cereal producer.

In the past 10 years, TSRI's Ph.D. program has produced 140 graduates, 21 of whom graduated this year. The institute's first commencement in 1993 graduated a single student. Since then, the program has grown rapidly in both size and reputation. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked TSRI's graduate program ninth in the biological sciences, sixth in chemistry, and second in the specialty of organic chemistry.

TSRI alumni hold positions in both academia and industry. Some of this year's graduates will work at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Uppsala University (Sweden), University of Minnesota, University of California at San Diego, the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), Pharmacia Corporation, and Attenuon, L.L.C.

As TSRI's tenth commencement ceremony came to a close, the students, faculty, honored guests, and new alumni filed out of the auditorium to the future that lay waiting.





TSRI Professor Paul Schimmel gave a commencement address entitled "Back to the Future" in which he emphasized that responding to change is key for long-term success. Photo by Kevin Fung.



Clips from the commencement:
Real Media | Quicktime






Twenty-one students received Ph.D. degrees from The Scripps Research Institute on May 17. Photo by Jason Bardi.











News&Views article "Keith and Jean Kellogg: An Uncommon Couple with the Common Touch.";

News&Views list of graduating students;

News&Views article "U.S. News & World Report Ranks TSRI Among Top Graduate Schools";

TSRI Office of Graduate Studies web page.