Close Close

Planetary Scientist Carolyn Porco and Technology Entrepreneur Krish Ramakrishnan to Address Monmouth University Graduates

A photo of Carolyn Porco taking at a conference.
Photo by Elliot Severn

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (April 29, 2019)— Award-winning planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, Ph.D., will deliver the address at Monmouth University’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 15 at 12:30 p.m. at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. The university expects approximately 980 students to participate in the ceremony.

Porco, who will be awarded an honorary doctorate of science at the commencement ceremony, is a planetary scientist who explores the outer solar system by studying and interpreting images and data from NASA space missions. She was the imaging science team leader on the Cassini mission to Saturn, an international mission that successfully placed a spacecraft in orbit around Saturn from 2004-2017. Porco was also an imaging scientist on the celebrated Voyager mission to the outer solar system in the 1980s.

A leading expert in the study of planetary ring systems and spacecraft exploration of the outer solar system, Porco has co-authored 130 scientific papers in the planetary sciences, including a large suite of findings on Saturn as a result of her leadership of the Cassini imaging experiment. Her team was responsible for discovering lakes and seas of hydrocarbons on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan; 100 geysers of water and organic materials erupting from Saturn’s small moon, Enceladus; and new moons and rings of Saturn.

Porco is a regular public commentator on science, planetary exploration, and the future of humanity, and has appeared many times in media interviews and TV documentaries.  She served as a science consultant for productions including the 1997 movie “Contact” and the 2009 film “Star Trek.” Her lasting contributions to the exploration of the outer solar system were recognized with the naming of Asteroid (7231) Porco in her honor. In 2012, she was named one the 25 most influential people in space by Time magazine.

Porco received her Ph.D. in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. In the fall of 1983, she joined the faculty in the Department of Planetary Sciences within the University of Arizona. She was the director of CICLOPS, the center of imaging operations at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, from 2003-2018. She is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

Graduate Commencement

 Monmouth University will hold a separate commencement ceremony for students earning graduate and doctoral degrees on Thursday, May 16 at 1 p.m. at the OceanFirst Bank Center on campus. Approximately 422 graduate students and 13 doctoral students are expected to be awarded degrees.

Krish Ramakrishnan ’83M, executive chairman and chief innovation officer at BlueJeans Network, a cloud-based video conferencing service, will deliver the May 16 commencement address. He will be awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration at the ceremony.

Ramakrishnan co-founded BlueJeans Network in 2009 and served as the CEO for the first eight years. During his tenure, BlueJeans pioneered video communications with cutting-edge innovations and customer-focused engagement.

A serial entrepreneur, Ramakrishnan has held the role of founder and CEO for several successful startup ventures. Prior to BlueJeans, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel Partners, where he explored high-definition video technologies including the technology behind BlueJeans. Before that, Ramakrishnan was the general manager for the Server Virtualization Business Unit at Cisco Systems, responsible for architecting Cisco’s datacenter and desktop virtualization solutions.

Prior to his work at Cisco, Ramakrishnan was the CEO of Topspin Communications. Under his stewardship, the company re-invented itself as a datacenter virtualization business and executed strategic partnerships with IBM, Dell, HP, and Sun. Topspin technology was used in building some of the world’s top 500 supercomputers and was acquired by Cisco in 2005.

Before joining Topspin, Ramakrishnan was the vice president and general manager for the Content Business Unit at Cisco Systems. Under his leadership, Cisco developed products for scaling websites. Ramakrishnan joined Cisco in 1995 when they acquired his first startup, Internet Junction. Earlier in his career, Krish worked for NET, PeerLogic, Bell Labs, and Perkin-Elmer. He has a master’s in computer science from Monmouth University and a bachelor’s in physics from Madras University, India.

“We are honored to have such distinguished commencement speakers joining us this year,” said Monmouth University President Grey Dimenna. “Both Carolyn and Krish are not only incredibly successful, but also innovative, inspiring thinkers. Our 2019 graduates will undoubtedly benefit from hearing about their experiences, values, and advice.”