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Four SBU Faculty Rise to Rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor

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Axel Drees and Peter Stephens from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Claude LeBrun from the Department of Mathematics and Stella Tsirka from the Department of Pharmacology have been elevated to the rank of Distinguished Professor — a prestigious honor bestowed upon professionals of the highest caliber by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

“Your broad-ranging achievements as prolific researchers and scholars are to be commended — you have made major contributions to the field and are considered pioneers with your groundbreaking and innovative research. Your commitment to professional excellence is reflected in your appointment to the State University’s highest academic rank,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

“Congratulations on your recent appointment as Distinguished Professors at the State University of New York,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “This prestigious honor is bestowed upon professionals of the highest caliber. Such recognition is a true testimony to your professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence. As members of the SUNY Distinguished Academy, your impressive work is also celebrated throughout the SUNY system. This is a wonderful and well-deserved distinction that brings great esteem both to you and our great university.”

Axel Drees
Axel Drees

Axel Drees received his doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1989 for pioneering work on experiments seeking to create the quark gluon plasma (QGP). He joined the Stony Brook faculty in 1998 and since then has been a member of the PHENIX collaboration. He and his team continue research with PHENIX, in particular studying thermal radiation emitted by the QGP. In the future he plans to actively participate in the new sPHENIX experiment, which will start data taking at Brookhaven National Lab in 2022. Drees is chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and in his 20+ years at Stony Brook he also served as vice provost, acting dean and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Peter Stephens
Peter Stephens

Physics Professor Peter Stephens joined the Stony Brook faculty in 1980 and has taught courses ranging from The Physics of Musical Sound to Graduate Electrodynamics, and has supervised eight PhD theses. He previously served as associate dean for Academic Affairs and Facilities in the College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Stephens is a recipient of the Barrett Award, a biennial award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of powder diffraction. His research interests center on crystallography, a very powerful technique for determining the atomic structure of almost anything, from minerals to enzymes.

Claude Lebrun
Claude Lebrun

Mathematics Professor Claude LeBrun received his D.Phil in 1980 from the University of Oxford, England, and then joined the Stony Brook faculty that same year. He has also held positions at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Institute for Advanced Study. He is the namesake of the LeBrun manifolds, a family of self-dual manifolds that he discovered in 1989, and his research interests include differential geometry, algebraic geometry, differential topology, complex analysis and mathematical physics. LeBrun was an invited speaker at the 1994 International Congress of Mathematicians and is a 2012 fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a 2018 Simons Fellow in Mathematics.

Stella Tsirka
Stella Tsirka

Stella Tsirka received her BS and PhD degrees from the University of Thessaloniki and then pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of California San Francisco and at Stony Brook University. She was appointed a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook in 1998 and joined the Pharmacology faculty in 2000. Her research is on neuro-immune interactions: cross-talk between the nervous and immune systems in health and disease. At Stony Brook she has served as vice provost for faculty affairs, director of the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology graduate program and the Scholars in Bio-Medical Sciences program. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

About the SUNY Distinguished Professorship

The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon individuals who have achieved national and/or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within their chosen field. This distinction is attained through extraordinary contributions to, and impact on, the candidate’s field of study, often evidenced by significant research and/or creative activity. Moreover, the candidate should be a role model for students and other faculty and their work must be of such character that it has the potential to elevate the standards of scholarship or creative activity of colleagues both within and beyond their academic fields. Their work must be of such quality that students and scholars on other SUNY campuses would benefit from lectures and seminars, or other appropriate presentations the faculty members might provide. Further, to be eligible for nomination, a faculty member must have attained and held the rank of full professor for five years, and must have at least one year of full-time service at the nominating institution.

The SUNY Distinguished Professors will be inducted as a virtual event that will be held in Spring 2021. More information about SUNY’s faculty award program is available online.

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