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Four SBU Faculty Are Named 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows

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Michael Airola

Four members of the Stony Brook University faculty have been selected as 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows.

Michael Airola, Eszter Boros, Jennifer Cano and Prerana Shrestha were among 118 early-career scholars from across the United States and Canada to be recognized by the Sloan Research Fellowship Program, which rewards outstanding early-career faculty who have the potential to revolutionize their fields of study. The fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by scientists and scholars of outstanding promise.

These two-year, $75,000 fellowships are awarded yearly to early-career researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.

“Over the years, Stony Brook University has seen several faculty receive the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship, and this is the first time four of our remarkable junior faculty have earned this honor,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “My warmest congratulations to Drs. Airola, Boros, Cano and Shrestha for being recognized for their outstanding early career performance. We are fortunate to have these rising stars among our community, each of whom has made significant contributions to their respective fields and have proven to be valuable additions to their departments and our university. I look forward to seeing their scholarly efforts evolve over the next several years.”    

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Eszter Boros

“A Sloan Fellowship is one of the most prestigious and competitive awards available to early-career researchers,” said Interim Provost Mónica Bugallo. “We are extremely proud of Drs. Boros, Cano, Shrestha and Airola and their well-deserved achievements and recognition by the Sloan Foundation of their potential to make significant and groundbreaking contributions to their fields. These faculty members are setting new standards of excellence and represent what our great university stands for.”

Learn more about the fellowship winners at the Faculty Pathways website.

Michael Airola, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named a Fellow in Chemistry.

The Airola lab at the Stony Brook Cancer Center studies lipid metabolism with a specific focus on enzymes that modify lipids and are relevant to cancer, cardiovascular disease and fungal infections. The goals of this research are to understand how the shape of these proteins determines their function and to develop small molecule inhibitors that can be used to treat disease. Notable achievements include the determination of the first structures of human phospholipase D, which is a therapeutic target for cancer, and a lipin phosphatidic acid phosphatase that regulates fat storage as triglycerides.

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Jennifer Cano

Eszter Boros, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named a Fellow in Chemistry.

Boros won the 2021 Stony Brook Discovery Prize for her presentation on “Activation of anticancer drug molecules with a radioactive light switch,” which explained her goal to make diagnostics and therapeutics more specific to cancer cells. She was also named a Moore Inventor Fellow in 2020. Research in the Boros lab explores the structural and chemical diversity of metal complexes paired with their versatile luminescent and radioactive properties as metal-based imaging probes and therapeutics for cancer and infection.

Jennifer Cano, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named a Fellow in Physics.

Cano studies the classification, signatures and material discovery of topological phases of matter. She developed the theory of Topological Quantum Chemistry to classify topological insulators and semimetals by their crystal symmetry. This transformative theory unified the real and momentum space descriptions of crystalline topology, leading to the prediction of not only new topological invariants, but completely new types of topological phases. In 2019, she received an NSF Early Career Award for her project, “Topological crystalline insulators and semimetals: Beyond the bulk-edge correspondence.”

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Prerana Shrestha

Prerana Shrestha, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the Renaissance School of Medicine, was named a Fellow in Neuroscience.

Shrestha joined Stony Brook University as a tenure-track faculty in January 2021. She and her team work on elucidating protein synthesis dynamics in functionally coherent cell populations in healthy brains and in the diseased brain state of tuberous sclerosis complex. Her lab is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular basis for learned and innate emotional behaviors, and how these may be dysregulated in neuropsychiatric disorders. Her lab takes a multidisciplinary approach of combining mouse transgenesis with state-of-the-art chemogenetics, pharmacology, biochemistry, proteomics, histology, imaging and behavior.

Awarded annually since 1955, Sloan Fellowships honor researchers whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders. Renowned physicists Richard Feynman and Murray GellMann were Sloan Research Fellows, as was mathematician John Nash, one of the fathers of modern game theory.

Recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics have included three former Fellows: Andrea Ghez (2020), James Peebles (2019) and Donna Strickland (2018). In fact, 51 Fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 17 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 69 have received the National Medal of Science, and 20 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007.

 

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  • You’d have to spend time embedded in the homes of families living with TSC in order to really make the connections needed between presentation of this condition and all the infinite variables that influence behavior. It is NOT something that is going to be understood through research and science unless one is willing to put the time in and understand the core traumas that start very early with medical interventions and for which the TSC affected have no adequate way to express any of it. It is my belief that this condition IS one of generations of emotional suppression that has become solidified in the physical in the form of these tubers and other hardenings within organs. I have experienced the visceral impact of how the medical and other systems deal with this condition and have witnessed the utter strength of those affected, their deep competence not measurable or visible in ways most could understand due to our dense programming as to what we “see” and are looking for when doing research and science and in society in general. Anyway, I am glad you are researching these topics but it irritates me to a deep level that never is there any need to do more than tap those affected for their data and promise or work for a cure. The cure is from the inside out, no matter what you find with research. And one would have to live with a family for months to understand the intricate joys and deep traumas and their ripples that rip a hole in the fabric of their lives due to our societal refusal to truly try to integrate science with lived expertise no matter what it “looks like” and try not to prey on the master level souls that incarnate with this condition, to stand in our inverted systems and represent the human heart and the capacity for unconditional love at large. ~Jill Woodworth, case manager of three souls with TSC

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