Five Stony Brook University faculty members — promoted to the rank of Distinguished Faculty at the April 11 State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees meeting — were recognized at the Distinguished Academy dinner and induction ceremony, held June 20 at the Crowne Plaza in Albany.
The honored faculty members were appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor, a prestigious honor bestowed upon professionals of the highest caliber. They include:
- Distinguished Professor Bettina Fries, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology at the Renaissance School of Medicine
- Distinguished Professor Richard Mathias, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the Renaissance School of Medicine
- Distinguished Professor Sharon Nachman, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Director of the Office of Clinical Trials and Professor of Pediatrics at the Renaissance School of Medicine
- Distinguished Professor Christopher Gobler, Endowed Chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation, Director of the Center for Clean Water Technology and Professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
- Distinguished Service Professor Susan Brennan, Professor of Cognitive Science in the Department of Psychology at the College of Arts and Sciences
In her congratulatory letter to the honored faculty, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said, “Such recognition is a true testimony to your professionalism, leadership, and commitment to excellence. As a member 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.”
SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. said, “Your dedication to the highest principles of our profession and your continuing contributions to SUNY are a source of pride and inspiration for us all.”
SUNY’s 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 SUNY’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.”
The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon faculty who have achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within the individual’s chosen field through significant contributions to the research and scholarship, or through artistic performance or achievement in the fine and performing arts.
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.
The academy dinner recognized all those appointed to the Distinguished Faculty Rank for academic years 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, including several from Stony Brook who attended in person.
About the Faculty
Bettina Fries is nationally recognized as a physician-scientist in the field of microbiology. She is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society, a member of the Academy of Microbiology of America, and currently serves as the President of Medical Mycological Society of the Americas. Fries has received 20 straight years of support by the National Institutes of Health. The primary focus of her research is on the pathogenesis of chronic fungal infections as well the development of monoclonal antibodies against multidrug-resistant bacteria.
Fries has led the Division of Infectious Diseases on new ways to combat the coronavirus through several clinical trials launched at Stony Brook. She has been the principal investigator on COVID-19 related trials including a trial on sarilumab efficacy, and is an advisor to the Stony Brook University Hospital’s Hospital Incident Command System (HICS).
Richard Mathias‘ research has focused on the lens and the heart, and has made important contributions both theoretically and experimentally into how the renin-angiotensin system controls contractility across the cardiac ventricular wall. Mathias has also postulated a circulating current in the lens, which has led to increased understanding of the physiological basis of cataracts, and is now considered a dogma in the field.
In 2017, he was awarded the Kinoshita Lectureship for career accomplishments in Lens Research. Mathias has achieved international recognition for his scientific research, and has enhanced both the international scientific community and Stony Brook University with his efforts.
Sharon Nachman is an international leader in the area of pediatric infectious disease and the treatment of children with AIDS, flu and measles. She has been the principal investigator of more than 30 clinical trials of promising medicine for patients treated at Stony Brook University Hospital and conducted international trials in the areas of new vaccines, Lyme disease, and AIDS. She also directs the Maternal Child HIV/AIDS Program.
With the COVID-19 pandemic epicenter in New York, and as Chair of the Stony Brook Medicine’s COVID Research Committee, Nachman has been at the front lines of care and research for patients with COVID-19.
Christopher Gobler‘s research focus is investigating how activities such as climate change, eutrophication, and the over-harvesting of fisheries alters the functioning of coastal ecosystems. Major research efforts include the study of harmful algal blooms caused by multiple classes of phytoplankton in diverse ecosystems as well as the effects of coastal ocean acidification on marine life.
Over the past 20 years, his research has identified the key role excessive nitrogen loading has played in the degradation of Long Island’s fisheries and water quality. With the Center for Clean Water Technology, Gobler sees the promise of discovering the solutions to Long Island’s nitrogen problems as well as the creation of an industry that can create jobs for Long Islanders.
Susan Brennan is a cognitive scientist who studies the psychology of language use — in particular, interactive spoken dialogue. Some of her current studies use eye-tracking, either as a measure of language processing or as a mode of communication. She also studies the human use of technology, especially speech and language interfaces to computers. Previously, she developed a computational model of caricature.
Brennan has a joint appointment with the Department of Computer Science and is an affiliated faculty with the Department of Linguistics. In 2017, she was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).