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2023 Commencement Speakers: Marie A. Bernard '72 & Anne Thompson Ph.D. '78

March 14, 2023

Bryn Mawr's Commencement ceremonies for 2023 will be held on Friday, May 12, and Saturday May 13. Graduate degrees will be awarded on Friday, May 12, at 5 p.m., and undergraduate degrees will be awarded Saturday, May 13, at 2 p.m.

Addressing the undergraduate Class of 2023 will be Marie A. Bernard '72 who is the National Institute of Health's chief officer for scientific workforce diversity. Anne Thompson, Ph.D. '78, is senior scientist emerita at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and will give the commencement speech to the graduate degree recipients.

"Having such accomplished alums of our programs come back and address our graduates makes real the promise of this special moment," says Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy. "Dr. Bernard and Dr. Thompson are shining examples to our students as they look to the next phase of their lives. They provide inspiring confirmation of the ways that a Bryn Mawr education can be used to make a meaningful difference in the world." 


Marie A. Bernard '72

“I am honored and privileged to serve as a commencement speaker for the 2023 graduation. Never did I dream that the diversity of people and perspectives that I experienced at Bryn Mawr would be so applicable throughout my life’s journey. I look forward to sharing some of the lessons I have learned with the current group of graduates.”

As the National Institute of Health's chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, Marie Bernard leads NIH’s effort to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and equity throughout the biomedical research enterprise. She is an accomplished physician-scientist and has championed diversity and inclusion efforts over her entire career, including serving a leadership role in NIH’s efforts to end structural racism in biomedical research through the UNITE initiative.

Marie A. Bernard '72

Previously, Bernard served as deputy director of the National Institute on Aging, where she directed and supervised the NIA Office of Special Populations, which leads health disparities research and training for scientists from diverse backgrounds within the NIA.

At the NIA, Bernard also served as its senior geriatrician and principal advisor to the NIA director. Her research is focused on nutrition and function in older populations, specifically underrepresented minority populations. She has published and lectured extensively in this area, as well as served on national committees, including as chair of the Clinical Medicine Section of the Gerontological Society of America, chair of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Committee, board member of the American Geriatrics Society, president of the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, and president of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. Prior to joining NIH, she was the endowed professor and founding chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Oklahoma City, and associate chief of staff for geriatrics and extended care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

After graduating from Bryn Mawr, Bernard received her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, She trained in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital.

Anne Thompson Ph.D. '78

"I am delighted to be asked to speak at the May 2023 Graduate Commencement.  A post-graduate trajectory in earth science at the intersection of pollution and climate change seems to belie the roots of a “simple chemist,” but that’s Bryn Mawr training for you. I look forward to sharing insights from a career in service to the private sector, academia, and government."

Anne Thompson is senior scientist emerita at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the Atmospheric Chemistry Earth Sciences Division, where she worked for 26 years. In May 2021, she was elected in the category of Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Earth Sciences to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also served as a Penn State professor of meteorology from 2005 to 2013.

Anne Thompson Ph.D. '78

Thompson’s early work used models to characterize the earth’s oxidizing capacity and its relationship to the greenhouse gas methane. She and her team described a pre-industrial atmosphere using methane measured in ice cores and proposed mitigation strategies to curb methane growth looking forward. The latter is now part of the new national climate strategy. Her most recent field work was a 2019 oceanographic cruise that ground-truthed satellite data over the Gulf of Mexico, where coastal smog is driven by a mixture of gas well emissions, shipping traffic, and cities like New Orleans.

In 1998, Thompson initiated NASA’s SHADOZ (Southern Hemisphere Additional Ozonesondes). She has been principal investigator of this 14-station tropical network ever since, amassing nearly 10,000 ozone profiles while building capacity that enables nations like Kenya and Indonesia to meet obligations to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

In 2018, she received NASA Goddard’s William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Sciences for “fundamental contributions to the understanding of the interactions between tropospheric composition and climate.”

Thompson's Bryn Mawr Ph.D. in physical chemistry followed chemistry degrees from Swarthmore (BA with Honors) and Princeton (MA).

For more information on the 2023 Commencement Ceremonies, visit this page.