Stony Brook University received a $400,000 gift from an anonymous donor to support graduate education in the Department of Chemistry matched by the Simons Foundation Challenge Grant, creating a total impact of $800,000. The gift will be targeted to creating more fellowships to help recruit and retain the nation’s brightest students, and provide funding for student research and professional development to broaden today’s chemistry graduates’ career opportunities.
Vice President for Research Benjamin Hsiao explained that supporting graduate students on the frontier of research is crucial to furthering scientific discovery. He said that the added benefit and value of this fund is that it empowers the University with the funding and flexibility to send its students to conferences, which often helps advance research and interdisciplinary collaborations underway in Stony Brook labs and elsewhere. “Even veteran professors like me will come back from these conferences reinvigorated by the experience of sharing, learning and creating new ideas,” said Hsiao.
Chemistry Chair Nicole Sampson says the gift will also complement research funding for graduate students by training them in scientific writing, public policy, intellectual property, regulatory affairs or chemical information systems. “Our students need to be prepared for training in more diverse career paths than in the past,” said Sampson. “This gift will enrich our graduate students’ training, enabling them to pursue broader-based professional training outside the laboratory.
Hsiao stressed the importance of private philanthropy saying it helps recruit both the most talented students and the leading researchers who rely on top students to help in their labs. Thanks to private support, for example, Stony Brook Department of Chemistry has recruited two members of national academies to its faculty in the last couple years; Ken A. Dill, the founding director of the Louis and Beatrice Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology and Esther Takeuchi, an inventor of the battery system for pacemakers, winner of the National Medal of Technology, and one of the world’s leading energy storage researchers.
“We compete with the Ivy League schools,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Nancy Squires, “so if we want to be a top tier university, we have to carry on top-tier research activities and the backbone of this is done by students with faculty.”