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Four Stony Brook Professors Appointed to SUNY Distinguished Ranks



Highest Faculty Honor is “Reserved for the Best of the Best” says Chairman McCall

STONY BROOK, NY – May 20, 2014—Four Stony Brook University faculty have been approved by the State University of New York Board of Trustees for appointment to the distinguished ranks as recommended by campus colleagues and SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. Appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor are Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences;  Robert Harvey, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory in the College of Arts and Sciences;  and Vitaly Citovsky, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology in the School of Medicine. Patricia Chapple Wright, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences has been appointed to the Distinguished Service Professor rank.

“SUNY’s highest faculty honor, the distinguished ranking, is reserved for the best of the best,” said SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “Each professor to earn this distinction has advanced their field while teaching and mentoring their students, often collaborating and innovating with their colleagues, and serving society at large through their work. Congratulations to all of our new distinguished faculty.”

“We are deeply proud to recognize our faculty with these prestigious rankings, and to have the opportunity to honor the work they do on behalf of the students, campuses, and communities they serve throughout New York State and around the globe,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Many thanks and congratulations to this most recent class of distinguished faculty.”

“As a campus community, we are extremely fortunate to have such a high level level of academic caliber with these four distinguished scholars,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Their respective contributions, guidance and groundbreaking research are a true resource and asset to the institution and to our students,” he said. “On behalf of Stony Brook, I congratulate all four on this well-deserved honor.”

“Their excellent record of teaching, mentoring, scholarly publications, research and professional service have earned them these well-deserved distinguished ranks” said Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stony Brook University. “In addition to their noteworthy contributions to their respective disciplines, their dedication to our students helps to foster the intergenerational transmission of the passion and skills needed to further elevate scholarship and ground-breaking research inquiry at a great research university such as ours.” 

The State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Faculty Rank programs encourage ongoing commitment to excellence, kindle intellectual vibrancy, elevate the standards of instruction and enrich contributions to public service. They demonstrate the State University’s pride and gratitude for the consummate professionalism, the groundbreaking scholarship, the exceptional instruction and the breadth and significance of service contributions of its faculty. Appointment constitutes a promotion to the State University’s highest academic rank, and it is conferred solely by the State University Board of Trustees.  Stony Brook University’s three professors selected for this honor.


Professor Citovsky
is widely recognized for seminal contributions to the study of genetic transformation of plant cells by Agrobacterium, intercellular transport of plant viruses and plant cell proteins, and remodeling of plant chromatin by histone modifications. Dr. Citovsky’s notable research accomplishments have garnered him the F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award (2012), the Noel T. Keen Award (2012), and induction into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012). Professor Citovsky’s research also contributes substantially in areas beyond plant-pathogen interactions. For instance, he also studies the composition and biochemical activities of a plant histone demethylase gene repressor complex. Dr. Citovsky found that unlike similar complexes in animal systems, in plants this includes a histone deubiquitinase activity. Research in his laboratory also pioneered the production of autoluminescent plants by reconstituting a bacterial multigene biochemical pathway for autoluminescence within plant chloroplasts. Professor Citovsky has multiple editorial responsibilities, is an enthusiastic mentor, has maintained a well-funded program, and has published over 170 articles in high impact journals.

He is a member of the American Phytopathological Society, the American Society for Plant Biology, and the British Society for Plant Pathology.


With Stony Brook University for 26 years,
Professor Harvey
, is a pre-eminent presence in the field of cultural and literary studies and is widely known in the United States and Europe as a distinguished practitioner of such studies. His primary work is in 20th and 21st century literatures in French, critical theory, history of ideas, relations between philosophy and literature in an ethical context, and terror and surveillance. Dr. Harvey has authored seven books, edited 10 books, translated four books, and has written 59 articles and chapters in books; the books he has authored and articles published are recognized as ground-breaking, original contributions to a field he has created virtually single-handedly. His most recent book, Witnessness: Beckett, Levi, Dante and the Foundations of Responsibility, has revolutionized the understanding of what it means to be a witness of historically and personally significant events. His stellar international standing is evidenced by his recent distinction as the only American to be elected as Program Director at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. This international recognition is bestowed upon only the most distinguished scholars in literature and philosophy have achieved—Antonio Negri, Alain Badiou, Georgio Agamben, and Jacques Derrida. At Stony Brook, Dr. Harvey has been the moving force behind the creation of a promising new department, Cultural Analysis and Theory, which provides an innovative interdisciplinary approach to literature and affiliated fields. 


Dr. Kaushansky
is a leading hematologist whose seminal contributions to hematopoiesis, the basic biomedical science which has transformed translational research and clinical medicine in the way blood disorders are diagnosed and treated. His commitment to bridging basic science with the hospital bedside has already had an enormous impact on health care, medical training, and the interdisciplinary worlds of medicine and it has earned him leadership positions as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the American Society of Hematology. His work in this area is also marked by his election to membership in the most prestigious scientific and medical organizations including the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2007 was honored as a Master of the American College of Physicians. He has been a prominent advocate and mentor of young physicians and researchers considering careers that bridge the clinic and laboratory. Dr. Kaushansky has brought a palpable sense of optimism and self‐confidence to the faculty and students of the School of Medicine. In his four years as Dean and Vice‐President, Dr. Kaushansky has catalyzed transformative changes in basic and translational research, curriculum development, and the delivery of superb clinical medicine at Stony Brook. He is an extraordinary scientist who has made lasting contributions to the basic biomedical sciences, is a clinician of the highest integrity, and is a wonderful role model in his capacity as outstanding physician‐scientist and educator having mentored 25 fellows, visiting scientists and students who have gone on to achieve academic success.


Professor Wright
, currently a Distinguished Professor, has also been appointed as a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor which honors and recognizes extraordinary service. The Distinguished Service Professorship is conferred upon instructional faculty having achieved a distinguished reputation for service not only to the campus and the University, but also to the community, the State of New York or even the nation, by sustained effort in the application of intellectual skills drawing from the candidate’s scholarly research interests to issues of public concern. Professor Wright has earned her the reputation as one of the most internationally renowned translational researchers in the area of rainforest conservation. Dr. Wright has been conducting conservation work and research in Madagascar since 1986, when she made the groundbreaking discovery of the golden bamboo lemur. She secured funding to develop Ranomafana National Park, home to 114 species of birds and 12 varieties of lemurs – some of which are among the world’s most endangered animals – and founder and executive director of Centre ValBio, a modern research campus in the rainforest of Madagascar. Dr. Wright is an Indianapolis Prize winner (2014), MacArthur Genius Award winner (1989); in 1995 she was awarded the Chevalier d’ Ordre National (National Medal of Honor of Madagascar) and in 2004 the Officier d’ Ordre National from the President of Madagascar in recognition of her conservation work. Dr. Wright’s notable contributions to science and service have earned her membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Physical Anthropology, the American Philosophical Society, the American Society of Primatology, and the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 994 faculty to distinguished ranks, as follows, including these most recent appointments: 337 Distinguished Professorships; 296 Distinguished Service Professorships; 356 Distinguished Teaching Professorships; and 5 Distinguished Librarian Professorships. More information about SUNY’s faculty award program is
available online



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