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Without social mobility — the ability to rise from a low-income background to a financially secure future — the American Dream could be at risk. In an era of growing income inequality, families have fewer opportunities to better their children’s future. Meanwhile, we endanger a national tradition of innovation and discovery when many of our best and brightest minds are left by the wayside. For many lower-income and first-generation students, attending college can seem like a pipe dream, with few people guiding them toward higher education. At Stony Brook University, a committed community of scholars, administrators and students is igniting…

Two prominent leaders in their respective fields — Jonathan Oringer and Michael J. Fox — accepted honorary degrees and provided encouragement to 6,991 students at the University’s 57th Commencement ceremony, held May 19, 2017. Fox is an actor and philanthropist. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, recognizing a career that has brought international acclaim, as well as a dedication to charitable endeavors best exemplified by the founding and stewardship of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “Every single one of you has the power within you to impact the world, if you choose to…

There are few words one can hear that are as devastating as “You have cancer.” Tonya Lafler received that life-changing diagnosis in June 2015 at age 41, shortly after finding a lump in her breast. But she said from the moment she arrived at the Stony Brook University Cancer Center for her first mammogram and ultrasound and met with the “warm and outgoing” technician, she knew she was in good hands. Lafler was diagnosed with a stage III triple negative tumor and underwent bilateral surgery. “But because of the care I was getting, not once did I feel like I…

Treading in the footsteps of Andrea Bocelli, Stony Brook’s Ju Hyeon Han made history this past spring, becoming the first blind singer to be cast in a leading role in an American conservatory or University opera production. Soprano Han headlined Stony Brook Opera’s production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at the Staller Center Main Stage in April. While studying for a Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance degree, she took on the challenging role of the Female Chorus, which “speaks” throughout Britten’s opera for the women characters. Less than a month later, Han sang for 7,000 graduating…

Virologist Eckard Wimmer looked inside a refrigerator-size virus incubator that held several small transparent boxes that biologists call “well plates.” “This is where we grow our viruses,” explained Wimmer, a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. “These are live cultures.” The plates, behind locked glass doors, contain animal cells, inside which dangerous viruses are growing and replicating, creating copies of themselves. Eventually, the multiplying viruses will destroy the cells and invade more cells, which is what they do when they infect humans. As the incubator, located in Stony…

From the beginning of their partnership in 1976, the Emerson String Quartet understood that it was going to take more than musical talent to bring them to stardom. That year, founding members Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker (violinists, now joined by violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist Paul Watkins), pooled the proceeds from their first tour ($300 each, Setzer recalled) to commission photos by Christian Steiner, known for his portraits of opera divas and conductors. “They were interested in relating to their peers in and out of music,” their longtime publicist Shirley Kirshbaum said, recalling how the young quartet sought an…

As a globally recognized research institution, Stony Brook University takes pride in the international diversity of its campus. Its community benefits from the many international students and faculty who enhance the life-changing research within so many disciplines, performed within its walls. But its sense of inclusiveness has been challenged by recent immigration policy changes, the impacts of which are felt in its own backyard. After the first executive order affecting refugees and visa holders from designated nations was signed by President Donald Trump in January 2017, there was an aura of uncertainty in the SBU community. Then the order hit…

THOMAS ALLISON WINS 2017 DISCOVERY PRIZE Postdoc receives $200,000 to unravel mysteries of movement within molecules How do electrons move within molecules? Thomas Allison, an assistant professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, posed this elemental question on the way to winning the 2017 Discovery Prize. In a presentation delivered April 13 at the Charles B. Wang Center Theatre, Allison persuaded a panel of three distinguished scientists to fund his postdoctoral research. The $200,000 award will purchase equipment that will help scientists see how molecules move and behave…

When a local domestic violence organization needed a new way to reach teens in potentially abusive relationships, and a crisis intervention hotline wanted to optimize call response, they found willing partners in a unique undergraduate class at Stony Brook University. CSE/ISE 391 Benevolent Computing, offered by the Department of Computer Science within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, explores the phenomenon of software applications that leverage social and interactive technology and mobile computing to effect positive social outcomes. Appealing to the civic-minded undergraduate has worked well for the longevity of this computer science elective, which has attracted close to…

The Stony Brook campus is a proud, diverse community — the collegiate home for thousands of students to learn and grow together while representing a wide variety of cultures, identities and ethnicities. To build on this, we emphasize and encourage multiculturalism by creating and maintaining specialized centers on campus for everyone to come together through cultural celebration, and for underrepresented student groups to find support, explore identities and break down social barriers. “Our cultural centers serve a crucial role in both representing and supporting our multicultural community and the many diverse groups of people on our campus,” said President Samuel L.…

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