The end of every school year is an opportunity to highlight the work, honors, and accomplishments of our students, and this year we are celebrating their success again!

The SoMAS Undergraduate Environmental Essay Award recognizes and rewards Sustainability Studies and SoMAS undergraduate students who demonstrate outstanding research, originality, and writing in a scholarly paper.  Each spring semester three awards will be given: first place, $300; second place, $200; third place, $100.  Students must be a major in Sustainability Studies or SoMAS and write their research papers as part of their coursework in Sustainability Studies or SoMAS.  The intent of this award is to foster outstanding undergraduate writing and research skills in sustainability and environmental fields.  This year’s winners were:

    1. First Prize – Cassidy Bell, Implementation of Non-Invasive Observation Systems for the Discovery of Potential Pupping Grounds of the Reef Manta Ray, Mobula alfredi
    2. Second Prize – Hogyeum Joo, Did you know? An awareness assessment of Stony Brook University’s hidden gem, Ashley Schiff Park Preserve
    3. Third Prize – Alexandria Orlassina, Climate Change & Shifting Vegetation in Temperature & Tropical Biomes

The Pikitch Family Endowed Student Research Award supports research projects for MS students whose research proposal has been approved by their committee and PhD students who have passed their qualifying exam. The 2019 award was given to John Bohorquez.

Sydney Bell

Sydney Bell

Sydney Bell, a Marine Vertebrate Biology major, class of 2022 was the recipient of The Bergman Family Foundation Prize in Memory of Roberta Richin for Student Initiatives for Social Good. This Award annually recognizes a student or group of students at Stony Brook University who have increased tolerance, promoted intercultural dialogue, or improved quality of life through social entrepreneurship. Sydney is the founder, designer, and salesperson for Tidal Tees Apparel, a sustainably-driven company which donates 100% of profits to marine conservation organizations, as well as the President of the newly revived Marine Science Club. She will be awarded the prize at the annual Jerrold L Stein Student Life Awards ceremony.

URECA student Courtney Stuart is in the SoMAS program.

Courtney Stuart

On April 22, 2019, Courtney Stuart received the Academic Excellence Award in recognition of her passion for learning which extends beyond the classroom demonstrated by her excellence in research and internship. Courtney has also been recognized by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Golden Key International Honour Society.  She is a Research Assistant in SoMAS, participated in an REU at Bigelow Laboratory last summer conducting geospatial analyses of sea grasses and was recognized as a URECA Researcher of the month!  She received a travel grant to conduct research in the Peruvian Amazon this past February and will present her findings at URECA on April 24th and on May 8th for her Honors research paper.  Courtney is also the recipient of the Jeffrey Eng and Evan R. Liblit Memorial Scholarships.

Sara Cernadas-Martin

Sara Cernadas-Martin

After consideration of several outstanding nominees, Sara Cernedas-Martin was selected as the recipient of the 2019 Nuria Protopopescu Memorial Teaching Award.  This award is presented annually to a SoMAS graduate student based on demonstrated excellence in teaching, innovation and creativity in instructional plans and materials, and engagement with and dedication to their students.

Sara has been involved in teaching since her senior year of high school, when she was a summer course instructor for elementary and middle school students at the Barcelona Zoo. Since coming to Stony Brook she has taught undergraduate classes both here and at Suffolk County Community College.  In letters of recommendation, students and colleagues alike noted Sara’s instructional effectiveness, infectious enthusiasm, and devotion to her students.

In addition to formal classroom instruction, Sara has advised students in the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Program.  On two successive years, students mentored by Sara have received Evan R. Liblit Memorial Scholarships, a highly competitive award based on academic merit and contribution toward conservation efforts.

The Timothy Magnussen Memorial Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students in their junior and senior year pursuing their B.S. degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.  The 2019 recipients of the award are Justin BettenhauserBridget Hyland and Magdalena Wrobel.

The Petra M. Udelhofen Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to an undergraduate entering their senior year of study in Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology.  The 2019 recipients of the award are Skyler Graap and Anna Smith.

At Convocation, Matt Colson, the Executive Director of Alumni Relations from the Stony Brook University Alumni Association, presented the Dean’s Choice Awards to the following students:  Katherine McKeown from Atmospheric Sciences, Stephanie Sforza from Environmental Studies, Courtney Jansen from Marine Sciences, and Lindsey Hughes from Sustainability Studies. The recipients are pictured in the photo at the top of this page.

SoMAS students are eligible to graduate with Honors when they have stellar academic records and have completed a research project during their senior year. This year, five students are graduating with honors.  The students, their research projects and their advisors are listed below:

  • Mary Bertschi The Use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Rarefaction Curves to Quantify Fishery Degradation in the Peruvian Amazon. Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Karim Hanna The Impact of Roundup® on Earthworm Reproductive Systems. Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Hogyeum Joo Campus Forest as a Target of Urban Open Space Preservation: A Case Study. Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Riley Pena The Effect of Crumb Rubber Exposure on Earthworm Mitochondrial DNA. Dr. Sharon Pochron, Advisor
  • Courtney Stuart Peruvian piranhas—All Bark and No Bite? Examining a Novel Mandible Condition in the Amazon Basin. Maria Brown, Advisor

Even our alumni are earning awards!  Greg Marshall (MS, 1988) was granted an honorary doctorate at the 2019 Stony Brook University Hooding Ceremony.  SoMAS celebrated his award with a reception on Thursday, May 23, and Greg was also our Convocation keynote speaker on Friday, May 24.

Brian Gallagher (BS 2012) was recently announced as a Fulbright Scholar. The Fulbright Program, which was created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, provides grants annually for international research and teaching to foster global partnership and cultural exchange.  This year Brian was part of a record-setting number of recipients from Stony Brook University.  He will study climate change adaptation across multiple populations of brook trout in Newfoundland, Canada. He hopes to understand the primary factors that are responsible for successful adaptation, and produce a population model that can be applied to other species of salmon and trout throughout the United States and Canada. Such knowledge and tools will be crucial for conserving these socioeconomically important coldwater fishes as warming continues in the coming decades.

Savannah LaBua

Savannah LaBua

Savannah LaBua (BS, Marine Vertebrate Biology, 2016) was among 11 Stony Brook University students who received Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF GRFP) by the National Science Foundation.  Currently working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), LaBua studies Pacific herring, a critical component of the eastern Gulf of Alaska ecosystem, providing a viable food source for humpback whales, sea lions, seabirds, other fish, etc. Stocks have experienced significant declines in abundance since the development of industrial fishing. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed fishing for eight of the ten stocks managed in Southeast Alaska but most have failed to recover since the 1980’s. Data and knowledge gained from this study would be of great interest in marine ecology because it directly addresses questions of what factors maintain and distribute variability in marine populations and the importance of their influence.

Savannah plans to “start graduate school this Fall at Florida International University under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Boswell.” She met Dr. Boswell through her participation in the National Student Exchange program at Stony Brook University. Savannah credits her participation in the program for providing “me with an opportunity to build my scientific network, acquire new skills and expand my ecological toolbox.”

Congratulations to all of our award winners and the entire class of 2019.  Students, keep your eyes open for your chance at these awards next year!

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