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Celebrating Major Accomplishments at the Graduate School

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The week of commencement, May 15-19, included several opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of graduate students across campus at Stony Brook University.  

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Left to right: Suparna Rajaram, Tori Peña and Celia Marshik

The Graduate School held its annual colloquium on May 15, where five students were recognized for receiving the President’s Award for Distinguished Doctoral Students. Four of the students attended and had the honor of presenting a synopsis of their research in layman style to a diverse audience. Awardees invited their advisors as well as close family and friends to commemorate this accomplishment with them.  

From the Department of Psychology, PhD candidate Tori Peña shared her findings on the perception of the future of the United States and whether it is possible to influence individuals to feel more positively. Her advisor, Suparna Rajaram, who was present for the colloquium, shared, “Tori is an excellent mentor — During her graduate training in my lab, she has supervised the research training of 20 undergraduate research assistants, hailing from diverse backgrounds, and she has helped them with their future academic and professional pursuits.”

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Left to right: Turhan Canli, Brianna Gonzalez, Chelsie Burchett, Tori Peña, Suparna Rajaram, Bonita London and Brenda Anderson

Zhihengyu (Woodrow) Chen, who was selected as the student speaker for this year’s Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, was also honored at this event. Working out of the Department of Chemistry, Woodrow’s research focused on using advanced X-ray tools to monitor the kinetic behavior of porous materials, which enhances the understanding of their functions in catalysis, nanomaterials synthesis and decarbonization. “Woodrow’s scientific superpower, beyond his deep knowledge of chemistry, is the fearless enthusiasm and energy with which he faces new research challenges,” shared his advisor, Karena Chapman.  

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Zhihengyu (Woodrow) Chen

This event was followed the next day by the 2023 Grad Awards hosted by Dean and Vice Provost for the Graduate School, Celia Marshik. Recipients, which included students, faculty and staff, had their awards presented by advisors, mentors and other individuals they worked closely with. Each award presenter had the opportunity to share their experiences with the individual receiving the award. This gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the winners and their contributions to the university in regard to research and the impact they had on other students.  

Several of the students who were being recognized for their artwork were able to have the pieces they created on display at the event. Emma Fiona Jones, a graduate student and instructor in studio art, received the Dorothy G. Pieper Memorial Purchase Prize for her vintage glass beads piece. Her advisor, Margaret Schedel, presented the award sharing, “Emma’s artistic vision finds inspiration in the realms of ecofeminist theory, exploring the fascinating relationship between the body and the material and natural world.”

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Emma Fiona Jones with her art piece, “Persephone”

Several students were recognized for their dedication to teaching and the experience they provided for students in their courses with the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. Anna Thonis, a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, received this award based on her ability to provide an engaging environment for students. Her advisor, Resit Akcakaya, shared, “What stands out most in Anna’s teaching is the enthusiasm she conveys to the students about the subject matter, coupled with the high standards she expects of herself and her students. She demonstrates that one can be a “fun” TA while also being a tough TA with high academic standards and expectations.”

Brianna Gonzalez, a PhD candidate in the Integrative Neuroscience program, was back for her second time at this ceremony to be recognized for her commitment to teaching at Stony Brook. Her advisor, Turhan Canli, was extremely proud to share that Brianna is his first student in 20 years to go straight from a graduate program to a tenure-track faculty position. “Our students were lucky to have her for the last five years as an instructor, as was I to have her as a junior colleague in my lab,” he shared.  

The week continued on May 17 with the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, where candidates were hooded by their advisors and celebrated all the hard work it took to complete this monumental accomplishment. On May 19, students gathered at the Main University Commencement to officially conclude their journey as graduate students at Stony Brook University.

For more information visit the Graduate School website, Twitter and Facebook

2023 Graduate Award Recipients

Alumni Association’s Dean’s Choice Award for Leadership
Daphne Hudson, Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences 

Alumni Association Doctoral Summer Fellowship
Robert Wuagneux, Music 

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring by a Faculty Member
Daniel O’Leary, Psychology  

Chair of the Graduate Council Special Recognition
Brenda Anderson
Award Presented by Marcia Simon 

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Education by a Graduate Program Director
Jackie Collier, Marine, Atmospheric and Sustainability Sciences
Award Presented by Gordon Taylor, SoMAS 

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Education by a Graduate Program Coordinator
Lisa-Beth Platania, Philosophy
Award Presented by Robert Crease, Philosophy 

The Madeline Fusco Fellowship
Urmi Poddar, Ecology and Evolution
Award Presented by Rafael D’Andrea, Ecology and Evolution 

The Mildred and Herbert Weisinger Dissertation Fellowship
Annu Daftuar, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies
Award Presented by Liz Montegary, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies 

The Faculty-Staff Dissertation Fellowship Award
Donal Thomas, History
Award Presented by Eric Beverley, History 

Dorothy G. Pieper Memorial Purchase Prize
Emma Fiona Jones, Art
Award Presented by Margaret Schedel, Art 

Honorable Mention as part of the Dorothy G. Pieper Memorial Purchase Prize
Sehee Kim, Art 

The John Marburger III Fellowship for Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Veena Krish, Computer Science 

Joyce Turner Dissertation Fellowship Award
Chelsie Burchett, Psychology/Social Health
Award Presented by Bonita London, Psychology 

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student
Alec Cali, Sociology 

Brianna Gonzalez, Psychology/Integrative Neuroscience
Award Presented by Turhan Canli, Psychology 

Danielle Lucksted, Sociology
Award Presented by Tim Liao, Sociology 

Scott Nelson, Linguistics
Award Presented by Lori Repetti, Linguistics 

Anna Thonis Ecology and Evolution
Award Presented by Resit Akcakaya, Ecology and Evolution 

Hannah Waterman, Music
Award Presented by Christina Dahl, Music and Erika Honisch, Music 

President’s Award to Distinguished Doctoral Students
Zhihengyu Chen, Chemistry
Award Presented by Karena Chapman, Chemistry 

Marcy Ekanayke-Weber, Anthropological Sciences
Award Presented by Andreas Koenig, Anthropology 

Michael Martinez, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Award Presented by Markus Seeliger, Pharmacological Sciences  

Tori Peña, Psychology/Cognitive Science
Award Presented by Suparna Rajaram, Psychology 

Yiming Wan, Biomedical Engineering
Award Presented by Yi-Xian Qin, Biomedical Engineering 

Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees Dissertation Completion Endowed Fellowship
Jose Moscoso Nunez, Ecology and Evolution
Award Presented by Robert Thacker, Ecology and Evolution 

Lindsey Pelucacci, English
Award Presented by Andrew Newman, English 

Jamilah Silver, Clinical Psychology 

Carlos Vicéns, Hispanic Languages and Literature
Award Presented by Katy Vernon, Hispanic Languages and Literature 

Nicolás Wiggenhauser, Anthropological Sciences
Award Presented by Jeroen Smaers, Anthropology 

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