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13 SBU Students Receive SUNY’s Highest Honor for Academic Excellence and Leadership

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Case awards 2022
President Maurie McInnis hosted a luncheon to celebrate the Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence winners. Pictured from left: Cassandra Skolnick, Alice Mo, Sydney MacGregor, Joshua Goodman, Lia Strait, Ethan Ertel, Abdullah Hassan, Maya Brown. Not pictured: Sam Escobar, Vicken Khazar, Sasha McKay, Shrey Thaker, Ashutosh Yaligar.

This year, 13 Stony Brook University students were honored by the State University of New York as part of the 2022 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence (CASE) — the highest honor awarded to SUNY students who have best demonstrated academic excellence and leadership. The awards ceremony was held on April 26 at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs, NY.

“Now more than ever, it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of our students who have helped one another get through this global pandemic and focus on getting the most out of their college education, and this year’s CASE winners are at the top of the class,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “It is my great honor to celebrate the fortitude, leadership, and achievements of this year’s winners, and I applaud their hard work and desire to do more for their campuses and fellow students. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do next.”  

“Winning the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence is a culmination of my experiences in college, acknowledging the struggles and hard work that I have put in along the way,” said Abdullah Hassan, one of Stony Brook’s CASE winners. ”It is an honor to have that recognized at such a level, and for that, I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way, from dedicated professors to my friends and family. After earning my degree, I plan to attend medical school to make an impact in this world as a physician. I hope to be a force of good in the world, seeking not only to improve my patients’ health but to also empower them through the knowledge to understand it on their own.”

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Ethan Ertel and Ashutosh Yaligar

“I was so honored to have the opportunity to spend the afternoon celebrating the  impressive achievements of our Seawolves,” said Elizabeth Newman, vice provost for curriculum and undergraduate education and associate professor of history. “All thirteen contribute to building our rigorous, diverse, and supportive Stony Brook community with their phenomenal achievements.”

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997, and acknowledges students for outstanding achievements that have demonstrated the integration of SUNY excellence within many aspects of their lives in areas such as academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, or the arts. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the University. This year, CASE includes five Student Veteran Service Awards in addition to special honors for overcoming the odds, mental health, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Congratulations, Stony Brook CASE winners:

Maya Brown, Journalism and Political Science, Freeport, NY
Brown is a journalism and political science double major pursuing a career in broadcast journalism with a passion for social justice. She has interned for NBC News, CNN, the Council on Foreign Relations and WSHU Public Radio. While at school, she is managing editor for The Statesman and president of the Stony Brook chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She is also vice president of the Latin American Student Organization, a member of the School of Journalism Student Advisory Board, and a University Scholar/Fellow who mentored freshmen in the program. 

Ethan Ertel, Biomedical Engineering and Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Dix Hills, NY
Ertel is an aspiring physician-scientist in University Scholars majoring in biomedical engineering and applied mathematics and statistics. He conducts neural respiratory control research in Irene Solomon’s lab and studies COVID-19 predictive modeling with Hassan Arbab. He served as a resident assistant in Roth Community for the past two years, where he promoted a welcoming living environment. Helping others in a classroom setting, he was a teaching assistant for genetic engineering and the organic chemistry series. He is also a medical assistant, on both the tennis and bowling competitive teams, and involved in Jewish life on campus.

Samuel Escobar, Biology, Deer Park, NY
Escobar is a first-generation college student majoring in biology who graduated summa cum laude in December 2021. He was involved in multiple avenues of teaching, research, and leadership and aspires to be a physician and researcher in the future. He participated in developmental biology research with two summers of funded research. He was also an executive board member for a non-profit fundraising organization to fund surgeries. He served as a teaching assistant for various science classes and as a peer educator for how to recognize alcohol overdoses. 

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Sydney MacGregor, Joshua Goodman, Ethan Ertel and Maya Brown at the CASE Awards ceremony.

Joshua Goodman, Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Biology, Mount Sinai, NY
Goodman double majors in biology and applied mathematics and statistics. He demonstrates his passion for medicine as the alumni chair of the Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity, serves as treasurer of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and is a University Scholars member and Fellow. He conducts research on crystal complex band structure, emphasizing transient electron conductance changes. Since he was 17, he volunteered at his hometown ambulance corps as an EMT and now serves as a field training officer guiding new members to learn to care for their community. He will be attending medical school in August 2022. 

Abdullah Hassan, Biomedical Engineering, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Hassan is an aspiring physician in the University Scholars Program who is majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in chemistry. He performs research and development with biotechnology and clinical applications in Clinton Rubin and Ete Chan’s immunology lab and serves as the current secretary (and former STEM coordinator) of the International Biomedical Engineering Honor Society, Alpha Eta Mu Beta. He also performed research at the University of Maryland, where he published his work on a genetic variant that causes congenital cataracts. He is the college coordinator of the Muslim Students’ Association and an organic chemistry head teaching assistant. 

Vicken Khazar, Biology, Deer Park, NY
A champion for science, reason and ethics, Khazar has always been driven by a natural curiosity to learn and the will to maximize the wellbeing of others. He earned his BS in biology from Stony Brook University and served as president of Watsi, a non-profit organization that raises funds to subsidize surgeries in developing countries. He applied his passion for teaching as a teaching assistant for six separate courses and is currently an adjunct lecturer for microbiology. Beyond academics, he conducts research on adenovirus, volunteers as an ER transporter and is a medical scribe at LI Urgent Care. 

Sydney MacGregor, Human Evolutionary Biology, Clifton Park, NY
MacGregor is an aspiring physician majoring in human evolutionary biology with a minor in health, medicine and society. She is a research assistant in Gabrielle Russo’s functional morphology lab, currently working on an honors thesis about the evolution of lumbar lordosis in humans. She works clinically as an EMT and field training officer with Port Jefferson EMS and as an emergency room technician at Saratoga Hospital. She volunteers on campus to educate students about alcohol and drug use and overdose in addition to serving as the president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Society as well as a member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity. 

Sasha McKay, Biochemistry and Sociology, New Rochelle, NY
An aspiring physician, McKay combines leadership, compassion and academics through her involvements on campus. She conducted research through the INDUCER program on the racial disparities of colorectal cancer in Mississippi and presented this research both on campus and nationally. She served as president of the Stony Brook College chapter of the NAACP and as vice president of her campus’ Minority Association of Pre-Health Students. She graduated summa cum laude with a double major in biochemistry and sociology and a minor in health, medicine and society. 

Alice Mo, Philosophy, Brooklyn, NY 
Fascinated by questions of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics in ancient philosophy as well as current-day local and global political issues, Mo has diligently pursued both during her time at Stony Brook. She is president of the Philosophy Club and a former tutor and teaching assistant for courses in philosophy and political science. She has also interned at New York City and Suffolk County governmental agencies. Upon graduation, she plans to go on to graduate studies in philosophy, with the goal of either pursuing a career in academia or government.

Cassandra Skolnick, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, East Patchogue, NY
Skolnick is a student leader and advocate who founded the nonprofit S.A.F.E., lobbying for progressive legislation and equal rights. She championed diversity and inclusion on campus as a supervisor for LGBTQ+ Services. She is a research assistant and teaching assistant, an alumni Leader of the Future, and an inaugural chairwoman for the Office of Multicultural Affairs Women’s History Month Committee. She is a member of the Social Justice League and is certified in Bystander Intervention trainings for the Center for Prevention and Outreach. She also helped launch SBUBrooklogue, Stony Brook’s undergraduate journal for the humanities and social sciences. 

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Ete Chan, research assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (center) with (from left) Joshua Goodman, Lia Strait, Ethan Ertel and Abdullah Hassan.

Lia Strait, Biomedical Engineering, Salt Point, NY
Strait is a dedicated undergraduate researcher majoring in biomedical engineering. She has conducted research for seven semesters under Mei Lin Chan and Clinton Rubin, was awarded a URECA research grant in Summer 2021, and was featured as a URECA undergraduate researcher of the month. She is a student leader on campus, serving as president and captain of the Stony Brook Equestrian Team and previously as a peer tutor and teaching assistant. She plans to intern at Regeneron before starting her PhD. 

Shrey Thaker, Biochemistry, Nesconset, NY
An aspiring physician-scientist who matriculated in the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook through the direct BS/ MD program, Thaker is a biochemistry major in the Honors College. He has conducted colon cancer racial disparity research in Jennie Williams’ lab for almost six years, mentored eight students in the lab, presented at two national research conferences, and is penning a co-first author manuscript. He is currently editor-in-chief of the Young Investigators Review and led scientific communication-based initiatives such as the Young Investigators Writing Competition and the SBYIR Undergraduate Research Symposium. His professional goal is to earn an MD/PhD. 

Ashutosh Yaligar, Neuroscience, Cohoes, NY
Yaligar is an aspiring physician-scientist pursuing a combined BS in biology and MBA in healthcare management. In addition to academics, he incorporates his inquisitive nature and passions for problem-solving by conducting research with the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stony Brook Medicine. His clinical research focus is regarding the incidence, treatment and outcomes of patients diagnosed with thoracic aortic aneurysms. On campus, he has also served as the co-founder and vice president of the SBU Golf Club, vice president of the SBU Tennis Club and vice president for Team HBV. 

A complete listing of all the SUNY CASE winners is available online.

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