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Celebrating 50 Years With The Risk Of Saying Nothing

Photo above:  At the keynote for our “Risk of Saying Nothing” environmental media conference, five Deans stand with proclamations from local government officials.  From left, Valerie Cartright, Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman, Dr. Malcolm Bowman, Dr. Minghua Zhang, Dr. J. Kirk Cochran, Dr. Larry Swanson, Dr. Jerry Schubel, Kara Hahn, Suffolk County Legislature, and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine

Our 50th Anniversary celebration, “The Risk of Saying Nothing,” occurred on Friday October 13th and Saturday October 14th, 2017.  The event corresponded with Stony Brook University’s Homecoming Celebration, Wolfstock and provided SoMAS a great opportunity to partner with the Stony Brook University Alumni Association.  The two-day event highlighted the great accomplishments of SoMAS/MSRC over the last half century as well as provided an opportunity to look toward the next 50 years.
The morning session was held in the Seminar Room in Endeavour Hall and featured a wide variety of speakers from the University.

Interim Dean Larry Swanson kicked things off by welcoming everyone to the event and introducing the return of former Dean and Director Jerry Schubel and his wife Margaret.  Larry also took a moment to dedicate the event to Robert de Zafra, who “died peacefully in his sleep” on October 10, 2017 after fighting pneumonia.  He then introduced the first speaker, Dr. Malcolm Bowman.

Dr. Malcolm Bowman gave a brief history of SoMAS/MSRC with his talk “SoMAS: This Is Your Life!”  The complete SoMAS Timeline is available with all the details.  His presentation highlighted the key players who helped earn MSRC and SoMAS the reputation it now has.  He also discussed the origins of our buildings on South Campus–they are named after ships, not the space shuttles!

The Dean of the School of Journalism and close friend to many at SoMAS, Howard Schneider, gave a talk about the “Fake News Invasion” and how to fight fake news.  He highlighted several key items, including the Center for News Literacy’s online course on “Making Sense of the News” that helps fight the spread of fake news.  He also discussed how a joint collaboration between SoMAS and the School of Journalism started by students in the Stony Brook Meteorology Club gave SoMAS students in the ATM program an opportunity to gain broadcast experience.  One of the first graduates of this collaboration, Andrew Samet, went to WTOK TV in Meridian, MS as their TV meteorologist and stayed on the air through the recent hurricanes in the area!

Dr. Christine O’Connell, an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and a SoMAS alum, gave a talk on the “Communication and Connection in Science.” Her interactive talk had everyone out of their seats participating and highlighted the importance of making meaningful and appropriate connections to anyone listening to you speak about your science.

Dr. David Taylor, an Assistant Professor in Sustainability Studies at SoMAS, gave a talk on “The Curious Place for Poetry in Environmental Communication” and reminded the audience that poetry has been a part of our history and is still an important resource in the connections and communication of science.

Dr. Minghua Zhang, Professor and former Dean of SoMAS and currently the Editor-in-Chief of JGR-Atmospheres, gave a talk on “The Path Toward Open Access Publications.”  His talk highlighted the rise of fake and predatory journals and the efforts done to expose them, including Beall’s list.

Dr. Heidi Hutner, Director of the Sustainability Studies program and Associate Professor, gave a talk on “Environmental Communication – Writing, Media and the Arts” that showcased a variety of ways people have communicated environmental issues. Her talk highlighted activism through music and artwork as well as cinema and documentary film making.

The afternoon session moved to the Charles B. Wang Center on Main Campus, where former Dean and Director and current President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific Jerry Schubel gave the keynote talk.  His talk “Making Scientific Research Count for the Next 50 Years; Some Thoughts” highlighted the history of MSRC and touched on the work that Dr. Schubel has done in his time since his tenure at Stony Brook University.  A short film highlighted the variety of media utilized at the Aquarium of the Pacific to communicate science and engage visitors.

After Dr. Schubel’s talk, Interim Dean Larry Swanson accepted two proclamations from Kara Hahn of the Suffolk County Legislature, and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine.  Hahn, Romaine and Valerie Cartright, Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman gave remarks about the impact that SoMAS has had on the local community.  After the remarks, the group was joined by the other former Deans in the audience for a group photo.

The reception afterwards at Club Red was co-hosted by the Stony Brook University Alumni Association.  SoMAS Interim Dean Larry Swanson, Alumni Association Director Matt Colson and Stony Brook University Provost Michael Bernstein thanked everyone for joining the celebration of our 50th anniversary.

On Saturday morning, the crew of the R/V Seawolf, including Captain Chris Harter, Fleet Manager David Bowman and Mate Jason Schweitzer, hosted a dock-side breakfast on board the boat and allowed guests an opportunity to take a look around.  While the rain dampened the morning, it was still a great chance to connect.  Several alumni noted that they had always wanted to check out the boat and were gracious for the chance to visit and chat.

Back on Main Campus, Dr. Carl Safina, Endowed Professor at SoMAS, gave the Wolfstock Faculty Lecture, “The Ocean and You.” His lecture documented the aspects of his life that moved Carl in areas of environmental conservation.



Several exhibits were set up in the halls and offices of the buildings of SoMAS on South Campus.  The Dean’s Office hosted a collection of old navigational tools and charts, various artwork created by friends of SoMAS, along with a copy of the first book published that credits MSRC at Stony Brook:  Dr. Peter Weyl’s Oceanography: an Introduction to the Marine Environment.  Instrument Engineer Tom Wilson from the Instrument Lab had a collection of oceanographic equipment and samples to touch and feel and Dr. Sharon Pochron‘s Earthworm Toxicology Lab offered visitors the chance to touch and feel earthworms.

A variety of photo exhibits in Discovery Hall highlighted our current and former research vessels, the building and dedication of The Boathouse, a historical journey through possible expansion plans at the Southampton Marine Station when it was still Long Island University. and the original layout of the Fishing Vessel Bagatell before she was converted to the Research Vessel Seawolf.  The entrance of Challenger Hall, beneath the sculpture “Tofyk” by Barbara Miller, had a collection of old photos of the people at SoMAS.  In MASIC, the collections of Akira Okubo and Petra Udelhofen were available for browsing.

The Sustainability Studies office in Endeavour had a display of photos and products from the Graphic Arts Department, including Onrust brochures and plans, a variety of MSRC logo designs, drawings and stylized photos in the time before computer-aided software.  The Plotter Room had the “Rogues Gallery” collection, old MSRC TShirt designs, the newsletter archive and the archive of old cameras and videocameras.  In the hallway, old photographs of the Flax Pond Marine Lab and a series of brochures advertising our former educational programs filled the walls.  Around the corner, an archive of old name plates and a memorial to those we have lost offered a moment of pause.  On the opposite corner of Endeavor Hall, a collection of old MSRC-branded merchandise was on display.

The pride in our School was evident!  Endeavour 120 was filled with faculty, staff and students and many returning guests, friends and alumni gathered to celebrate our first five decades at Stony Brook!  Thank you for helping us celebrate!

The 50th Celebration program is available to download. Visit the links below to check out the photo albums:

Photos by Ginny Clancy, Malcolm Bowman, Tom Wilson and Mark Lang

Take a virtual tour of the exhibits from our 50th Celebration or check out our other spaces at Stony Brook University!
Map of exhibits at SoMAS 50th Anniversary
The Risk of Saying Nothing Flyer
Interim Dean Larry Swanson Welcomes Guests to the SoMAS 50th Anniversary
SoMAS Professor and former Dean Malcolm Bowman gives his talk "SoMAS - This Is Your Life!"
School of Journalism Dean and Friend to SoMAS Howard Schneider gives his talk about the Fake News Invasion
SoMAS Alum and School of Journalism Faculty Christine O'Connell has the crowd out of their seats as she provides a lesson on communicating science.
SoMAS Sustainability Studies Faculty David Taylor reminds the audience about how poetry has always played an important role in our scientific communication
SoMAS Professor and former Dean Minghua Zhang discusses open access publications
Sustainability Studies Director Heidi Hutner discusses the variety of ways to use media for environmental communications
Former Dean Jerry Schubel returns to give the SoMAS 50th Anniversary Keynote
SoMAS Endowed Professor Carl Safina gives the Wolfstock Faculty Lecture
Interim Dean Larry Swanson holds the Proclamations
Town of Brookhaven Proclamation
Town of Brookhaven Proclamation
Letter from Governor Cuomo
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