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About the Discovery Prize

The Discovery Prize was established in 2013 with a generous donation from the Stony Brook Foundation’s Board of Trustees as a way to advance pioneering scientific breakthroughs at a time when the primary source of support for basic research (i.e., the federal government) is dwindling.

It is 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.

In its inaugural year, the Discovery Prize was conferred on Dr. Laurie T. Krug  – one of four outstanding finalists – for her dynamic proposal researching herpes viruses that are associated with cancer. In 2017, the second Discovery Prize was awarded to Dr. Thomas Allison, whose exciting proposal focused on new techniques for examining the movement of electrons in molecules.

On April 23, 2019, this $200,000 prize, was awarded to Il Memming Park for his project which uses neurotechnologies and maching learning methods to better understand the brain trapped in unconscious states. 

This type of high-risk, high-reward research enhances all aspects of campus culture, creating an environment where the relentless pursuit of knowledge informs the classroom and laboratory.

Stony Brook has a history of encouraging untethered pursuit of scientific discovery, as demonstrated by the paradigm-shifting work of Nobel Laureate Professors Paul Lauterbur and C.N. Yang. In keeping with our goal of supporting early-career faculty, eligibility is open to faculty who, at the time of application, has a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment or is no more than five years beyond tenure and promotion at the Associate Professor level. The proposed research project may emerge from a single discipline or may be interdisciplinary involving multiple SBU faculty.  The lead PI, however, must fit the eligibility criteria described above.

The proposed work must be basic research that is discovery driven and creates new knowledge. Research that is primarily translational in nature (i.e., seeks to apply existing knowledge) or that has been funded in the past is not eligible.