TO:                  University Senate

FROM:            Dennis N. Assanis, Provost

DATE:             March 5, 2012



Brookhaven National Laboratory Director, Samuel Aronson, has decided to step down and return to a research position. Dr. Aronson will continue to serve as Lab Director until a successor is identified and in place. The BSA Board is initiating an international search for his successor, and Dennis N. Assanis, Vice President for Brookhaven Affairs, will Co-Chair this search.

Dr. Aronson was named in 2006 as Brookhaven Lab's eighth director after serving in the Nuclear and Particle Physics Directorate for nearly 30 years in positions of increasing responsibility. During his five-plus years as Director, Aronson oversaw a period of remarkable scientific achievement, significant expansion, and enhanced operations at the Laboratory. For example, the Lab announced major discoveries at its Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), including: determining a measurement of the temperature produced in RHIC's collisions of gold ions that showed this "perfect liquid" to be the long-sought quark-gluon plasma that existed microseconds after the Big Bang; finding evidence consistent with bubbles of "broken symmetry" that may help explain the matter/antimatter imbalance in the universe; and the discovery of the heaviest antinucleus ever observed.

Under Aronson's direction, the Lab won approval for, and started construction of, the National Synchrotron Light Source II, which will be one of the world's most advanced light sources when complete in 2015. During his tenure, the Lab also established an Energy Frontier Research Center dedicated to exploring the underlying nature of superconductivity, helping to move energy-saving materials into real-world applications. Under his leadership, the Lab significantly expanded its partnerships and collaborations within New York State, especially in the area of energy-related research and development. For example, Brookhaven has taken on a major role in the NY State SmartGrid Consortium and the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, and is working closely with upstate corporations—including General Electric and SuperPower—to develop and test new energy technologies.


On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in the Wang Center Theater, we will host a lecture by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone entitled “Animation: Embodied Minds or Mindful Bodies?” Maxine Sheets-Johnstone is a philosopher whose research remains grounded in the basic realities of animation. A courtesy professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon, Sheets-Johnstone is a prolific author, with numerous articles in humanities, science and art journals to her credit, as well as books such as “The Phenomenology of Dance and The Primacy of Movement.” In this lecture, she will discuss animation’s role in answering the core 21st-century challenge posed in the title of her lecture, citing observations by evolutionary thinkers, artists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, psychologists and phenomenologists.

On Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in the Wang Center, Lecture Hall 2, we will co-host, with the College of Business, a lecture by William C. Dudley entitled “Economic Outlook for the U.S. and Long Island.” William C. Dudley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In this capacity, he serves as the Vice Chairman and a permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)—the group responsible for formulating the nation's monetary policy. Mr. Dudley will talk about the economic outlook for the U.S. economy, what he views as the most likely path for economic development, the headwinds that could derail the economy from this path, as well as the economic outlook for the region.
On Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 4:15 p.m. in the Humanities Building, Room 106, we will co-sponsor a lecture with the Humanities Institute on “What Is Memory Studies?: Intellectual and Institutional Conditions for Interdisciplinarity.” Jeffrey Olick is a Professor of Sociology and History at the University of Virginia. In this lecture, Olick will ponder the extent to which the waning of a "memory boom" in public culture will alter the landscape of scholarly memory studies. Secondly, he will inquire into the conditions—intellectual and institutional—that hinder the consolidation of memory studies as a relatively coherent field. Olick will also explore possible solutions, as well as the desirability, of such a consolidation. His publications include In the House of the Hangman: The Agonies of German Defeat, 1943-1949; The Politics of Regret: On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility; and The Collective Memory Reader.


We are hosting the 16th Annual Swartz Foundation Mind/Brain Lecture at Stony Brook University on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. on the Staller Center Main Stage. Our featured lecturer is John P. Donoghue, Ph.D., the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of Neuroscience and Engineering, and Director of the Institute for Brain Science, at Brown University. Dr. Donoghue is also a Senior Research Scientist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this lecture, he will discuss his research on how the cerebral cortex computes commands for voluntary movements. His laboratory is translating advances from this fundamental research into a human neural interface system, called BrainGate, which is designed to restore useful functions for people with paralysis. BrainGate physically reconnects the brain to the outside world through a baby aspirin-sized sensor that is implanted into the motor cortex. In the BrainGate pilot clinical trial, persons with long-standing paralysis have used their own neural signals to operate external assistive devices, including computers and robotic limbs.  


On Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. in the Wang Center Theater we will hold the 17th Annual Leadership Symposium at Stony Brook University. This symposium is a unique national forum which engages higher education leaders and other national experts in a panel presentation on a topic strategic to positive campus community growth and development. In addition to Stony Brook faculty, practitioners, students, staff and alumni, the event attracts a broad audience of educators from other colleges and secondary schools in the greater New York area.

This year’s symposium, co-sponsored with the Office of Student Affairs and the School of Social Welfare, will feature a talk by Jennifer Engle entitled “Closing the Gaps: Promoting College Access and Success for Low-Income Students.” Jennifer Engle is the Director of Higher Education Research and Policy at The Education Trust where she directs the research agenda of the Higher Education division. She was previously the Interim Director and Senior Research Analyst at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.

In her talk, Engle will discuss the ways in which current economic stresses place additional burdens on low-income students seeking access to institutions of higher education. As economic disparities widen, achieving access becomes more challenging and, once admitted, additional barriers emerge that may hinder student success. Stony Brook University is cited in “Crossing the Finish Line” by Bowen, Chingos and McPherson (2010) as being unique among its peers in this context; our low-income students are more likely to graduate than other students. SBU respondents and a panel of students will engage in a dialogue to increase our understanding of the challenges we face in our efforts to further promote access and success of our low-income students.