Four young scholars are competing for the 2021 Discovery Prize, a $200,000 award given to a Stony Brook University faculty member in the STEM disciplines whose research project embraces risk and innovation and embodies the potential of discovery-driven research.
The Discovery Prize was established in 2013 by the Stony Brook Foundation to encourage promising basic research ideas across campus. It is described as a pathway to capitalize on new technologies, new innovations, new ideas and the urgency to move discovery-driven knowledge forward by investing private dollars in basic research that is free of commercial or political pressures.
The Discovery Prize is also a means to advance the career of a rising star on the Stony Brook faculty whose ideas may be so revolutionary and so contrary to convention that funding agencies would be unlikely to provide support.
Il Memming Park, an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the Renaissance School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences, won the 2019 Discovery Prize for his research on the “Personalized Landscape of Unconsciousness,” which used neurotechnologies and machine learning methods to better understand the brain trapped in unconscious states.
The finals of this year’s competition will take place virtually on April 28 at 1 pm.
The four finalists are:
Eszter Boros, assistant professor
Department of Chemistry
“Activation of anticancer drug molecules with a radioactive light switch”
Stony Brook University assistant professor Eszter Boros was trained in inorganic chemistry and radiochemistry at the University of Zurich, where she received her BSc/MSc, and at the University of British Columbia, where she earned her PhD, designing radioactive metal complexes for prospective biomedical applications. Following extensive training in chemistry, she moved to the Department of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital as a postdoctoral fellow, where she developed MRI and optical imaging probes and applied them for targeted imaging of fibrosis and cancer in animal models. In September 2017, Boros came to Stony Brook’s Department of Chemistry. She has courtesy appointments in radiology and pharmacology at Stony Brook Medicine.
Marrying her passion for the fundamental chemistry of metal ions and developing means to diagnose and treat disease, Boros has established a multidisciplinary research program that combines synthetic chemistry and radiotracer design with preclinical, rodent murine models of disease (cancer, infection) to develop the next generation of metal-based imaging probes and therapeutics.
Eric Brouzes, associate professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
“Enabling platform for high-resolution spatial -omics to reveal cell-cell interactions within tissue by sequencing”
Eric Brouzes joined Stony Brook University as a research assistant professor in 2010. After majoring in physics at ESPCI in Paris, he studied the effect of mechanotransduction on the development of fly embryos at the Institut Curie, where he received his PhD. He later pursued postdoctoral studies in the lab of Norbert Perrimon in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School. He subsequently worked as a senior scientist for start-up companies RainDance Technologies and Metagenomix, where he discovered the world of microfluidics, before returning to academia.
Brouzes is researching cellular heterogeneity and its role in healthy and diseased tissues, such as cancer. His lab focuses on developing novel microfluidic approaches to perform quantitative, functional and genomic measurements at single-cell resolution. Those platforms rely on droplet and single-phase microfluidic technologies to enable precise manipulation and processing of single cells at low and high throughput. Recently, Brouzes started exploring technologies to perform spatial genomics in which genetic information from single cells is obtained together with location in the tissue.
Gregory Henkes, assistant professor
Department of Geosciences
“A rare oxygen isotope recorder of continental aridity”
Gregory Henkes is an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences and is an affiliated faculty member at the Turkana Basin Institute and in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Prior to joining Stony Brook University in 2016, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, and before that received a PhD in geochemistry from Johns Hopkins University and a BS in biology from Bates College.
His research interests span a number of fields, including paleoclimatology, biogeochemistry, atmospheric science and human evolution. He and his research group maintain a state-of-the-art stable isotope geochemistry laboratory. There he and his team make measurements from samples collected along a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. In addition, the team regularly participates in fieldwork, most recently in Kenya, the midcontinent of North America and right here on Long Island. His approach to geochemistry combines natural observations with laboratory and mathematical models to uncover the underlying chemistry, physics and biology of the “Earth system.”
Kevin Reed, associate professor
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
“Attribution of the human influence on the 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons”
Kevin Reed is an associate professor in Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Prior to coming to Stony Brook, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and a science policy advisor in the U.S. Senate through the American Geophysical Union Congressional Science Fellowship. Reed received his PhD and MS in atmospheric science from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program Scientific Steering Committee and president-elect of the science and society section of the American Geophysical Union.
At Stony Brook, Reed founded and leads the Climate Extremes Modeling (CEM) Group, which is composed of a diverse team of undergraduate and graduate students and scientists. Using next-generation climate models and simplified and reduced complexity modeling frameworks to explore the link between extreme weather and the global climate, the CEM Group advances scientific understanding of climate change’s impact and develops methodologies to better translate state-of-the-art science for climate adaptation applications and policies.