As the 2010s come to a close, we look back on a decade that saw Stony Brook University ascend to new heights. From its medical facilities, to its classrooms, to its athletic fields and arenas, the University left an indelible footprint not only in its Long Island, New York home, but also in the world at large. Following are some of the highlights of the previous decade.
Stony Brook Named Leading Engine of Social Mobility
In 2017, a study released by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research named Stony Brook University among the top 10 colleges and universities in the nation whose students begin college at the bottom fifth of income distribution and then go on to earn in the top one-fifth of income distribution. The comprehensive study, titled Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility, tracked 14 years of financial records for college students, aged 18-22, at all public and private U.S. colleges and universities from 1999 through 2013.
Commitment to Diversity Expands and Strengthens
Stony Brook has long been committed to ensuring a campus climate that is safe, accessible, welcoming and free from all forms of discrimination. During the past decade, the University showed leadership and made further strides in this area. Some highlights:
- 2014: Women’s Leadership Council founded
The Women’s Leadership Council, a mentoring program that pairs outstanding female undergraduates with accomplished female friends and alumni of the University, works to create outstanding mentor and peer networks to support participants and enhance their achievements throughout their career.
- 2015: Stony Brook Affirms Commitment to HeForShe
Stony Brook became one of 10 universities selected as HeforShe Impact Champions as part of the United Nations movement for gender equity. In 2015, the University leveraged existing support for HeForShe and worked with faculty, students and staff across the campus to build gender equality into every stage of the campus life experience. Since then, Stony Brook has integrated gender sensitization programming and gender equality themes into its mandatory freshman seminar class, today reaching 100 percent of its students.
- 2018: LGBTQ* Center Opens
In March, 2018, Stony Brook University officially opened its brand new LGBTQ* Center. The 1,967 square-foot center provides an open and inclusive environment for LGBTQ* people in the Stony Brook community. The LGBTQ* Center is one of several initiatives created by the University to support LGBTQ* communities, including the adoption of the Preferred or Chosen Name Policy (P400), the addition of and conversion to all-gender restrooms, and the creation of more gender-inclusive housing options on campus. SBU is ranked among the Top 50 LGBT-friendly campuses by College Choice.
Historic Stony Brook Campaign Raises $630.7 Million
In December 2011, Stony Brook University announced it had received a gift of $150 million from Dr. James and Dr. Marilyn Simons, and from the Simons Foundation. It was the largest gift ever to a SUNY institution, and one of the largest to any institution of public higher education. The gift launched what would become the most successful capital campaign in the history of the State University of New York. Over seven years, The Campaign for Stony Brook raised $630.7 million from 47,961 friends, alumni, foundations and corporations, funding 54 new endowed professorships.
Stony Brook Drives Long Island Economy and Beyond
In July 2019, an economic impact report compiled by Stony Brook University’s John A. Rizzo, PhD, Professor of Economics and Population, and supported by the University’s economic development office, found that Stony Brook University’s annual economic impact on Long Island totaled an impressive $7.23 billion in increased output, up from $4.6 billion in 2009. In addition, the University’s graduates increased aggregate economic output worldwide by $15.3 billion, supporting an impressive 99,815 jobs.
With almost 15,000 employees, Stony Brook is Long Island’s largest single site employer. The study found that when including additional jobs related to Stony Brook’s economic impact, the University’s economic activity supports eight percent of all jobs in Suffolk County and accounts for three percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Far-Reaching Research Makes Headlines
During the 2010s, Stony Brook research initiatives reached 200 million years back, and 200 million miles away, and continue today with an eye to the future. A few highlights:
- In 2013, Stony Brook geosciences professors Scott McLennan and Joel Hurowitz co-authored papers reporting compelling research that determined that the rocks preserved on Mars represented an ancient geological environment that was habitable for microbial life. The finding shed light on the possibility of life on Mars.
- In 2015, Stony Brook paleontologist Michael D’Emic re-assessed previous research to discover that dinosaurs grew as fast as the average living mammal, offering compelling evidence that dinosaurs were likely warm-blooded creatures, not cold-blooded or somewhere in between.
- In 2017, Stony Brook professor Patricia Wright, the world’s leading lemur expert, offered a study predicting a grim future for the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur, presenting proof of the impact of climate change on biological diversity.
- Also in 2017, chemistry professor Esther Takeuchi received a U.S. Department of Energy$10 million Energy Frontier Research Center award to drive her research in alternative battery systems that aren’t dangerous to the environment, but still boast high-energy, power and lifespan capabilities.
As we enter a new decade, professor Heather Lynch is leveraging high-speed computing to study penguin populations and climate change in the arctic.
Stony Brook Invests in Cancer Care, Children’s Hospital
The past decade saw Stony Brook commit more than $450 million to expanding the services of its Stony Brook Hospital system.
After breaking ground on its medical campus in 2013, the University opened the MART in November 2018, a state-of-the-art 240,000 Square Foot Facility. MART – an acronym for ‘Medical and Research Translation’, illustrates Stony Brook’s commitment to patient- and family-centered care and is devoted to imaging, neurosciences, cancer care and cancer research.
In October 2019, Stony Brook announced the completion of its new children’s hospital. The groundbreaking “kid-friendly” 71,500-square-foot facility was specifically designed to accommodate the special needs of children and their families, as well as to provide a comfortable space for families while their children heal and to reduce the trauma felt by hospitalized children.
Stony Brook Athletics: Seawolves Rising
Stony Brook’s Division I athletic program was marked by growth and achievement throughout the decade, highlighted by 28 Regular Season Conference Championships and 31 Conference Tournament Championships across the program. Highlights include:
- 2012: The baseball team captivated the nation during a “Cinderella” season by reaching the College World Series, led by First Team All-American and America East Player of the Year and future major leaguer Travis Jankowski.
- 2012: Future Olympian Lucy Van Dalen became Stony Brook’s first NCAA individual National Champion after winning the mile at the NCAA Indoor Track championship.
- 2016: The Seawolves earned their first trip to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament.
- 2018: Seawolves Women’s Lacrosse topped the national rankings for the first time in program history. The team was ranked Number One in all the polls most of the season before suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss to Boston College in the opening round of the playoffs, finishing the season 20-1 – the best season in the team’s history.
University Builds a World-Class College Experience
Stony Brook committed significant resources to creating a modern campus that would be able of serving a growing student base for decades to come. Throughout the decade, construction of new and refurbished residences, amenities and athletic facilities greatly enhanced student life. Meanwhile, exciting new scientific facilities like the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics and the Reality Deck and SMART Cluster at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) consolidated SBU’s status as one of the nation’s leading research institutions.
Stony Brook Establishes $200,000 Discovery Prize to Advance Pioneering Scientific Breakthroughs
Established with a generous donation from the Stony Brook Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2013, the Discovery Prize is a $200,000 prize awarded bi-annually to help advance pioneering scientific breakthroughs at a time when federal support – the primary source of support for basic research — is dwindling. The Prize is a pathway to capitalize on new technologies, new innovations, new and imaginative ideas, and the urgency to move discovery driven knowledge forward by investing private dollars in basic research that is free of commercial or political pressure.
- Laurie T. Krug, assistant professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University, named the Stony Brook University Discovery Prize Fellow in December 2014 for her project that researches herpes viruses that are associated with cancer and the idea of delivering molecular scissors to the site of virus infection using nanoparticles.
- Thomas Allison, an assistant professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics at Stony Brook University, was awarded the Prize in 2017 for research aimed at unraveling the mysteries of movement within molecules.
- Il Memming Park was awarded the 2019 Discovery Prize for his project which uses neurotechnologies and machine learning methods to better understand the brain trapped in unconscious states.
Honors Attest to Academic Excellence
The honors won by our students is powerful evidence of the value of a Stony Brook. Some especially notable examples:
- Claire Garfield was awarded theMarshall Scholarship in 2019 to pursue graduate education in the UK. She is only the second student in Stony Brook history to earn a Marshall Scholarship.
- Also in 2019, In a record-tying performance, 11 Stony Brook students – including nine women – were awarded prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF GRFP) by the National Science Foundation. Another six SBU students earned Honorable Mentions.
- Kevin Sackel was selected for the Churchill Scholarshipin 2013 for graduate study at Cambridge University. Kevin received his Bachelor’s in Math and Physics from SBU, Master’s from Cambridge, and PhD from MIT, and is now back at SBU as a postdoc in the Simons Center.
- Neha Kinariwalla earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology and was the first-ever SBU student selected for theGates Cambridge Scholarship in 2014. She studied at Cambridge University, where she received her Master’s, and is currently a medical student at Columbia University.
- Samuel Katz earned a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from SBU and received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Research Award to Germany in 2013. He then chose to pursue his PhD via theNIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program in 2015. He just completed his PhD.
- Erica Mukherjee received a PhD in History from SBU and was selected for the Department of State’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program in 2015, and the Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship in 2016, both to India. Erika has the distinction of being Stony Brook’s first-ever Fulbright-Hays.
- Yaseen Eldik received his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology and was the first-ever Stony Brook student selected for theHarry S. Truman Scholarship in 2011. He earned a JD from Harvard Law School and currently works for Yale Law School as Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
— Rob Emproto