As 2019 draws to a close, so does another decade of Making Scientific Research Count. The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences accomplished much in the years between 2010 and 2019, recording $82 million in research expenditures, and over 1,300 degree completions across our undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. We’ve grown our faculty and staff and celebrated sending our graduates #FarBeyond!
It would be impossible to cover everything, so we wanted to recap the decade with a few highlights:
2010 continued our interest in climate change as we hosted a symposium on the topic with Brookhaven National Lab that featured a host of speakers from across both campuses. It was also the year our Marine Conservation and Policy Master of Arts program began, offering an MA in 18 months to students interested in marine conservation and policy. The program now offers that same degree in 12 months!
In 2011, Minghua Zhang appointed Dean of SoMAS, where he oversaw the school’s involvement in the SUNY2020 Initiative that provided the opportunity to grow the faculty at SoMAS. Over the next five years, SoMAS added almost 20 faculty to the school. Our Semester by the Sea program at Southampton started during the fall semester.
2012 marked the beginning of the now-annual Photo Competition, which showcases the talented photographers at SoMAS, and highlights the incredible work done at the school. In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast, and SoMAS faculty were in the News providing their expertise. That expertise made SoMAS an important partner in the New York State Resilience Institute for Storms and Emergencies (NYS RISE), established in 2013 by Governor Cuomo to assist the state with storm recovery efforts and to make the state more resilient to future storms in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
2013 was also a year for our facilities and vessels. The Marine Sciences Center opened at the Southampton Marine Station. The new building provided running seawater to the lab, expanded classroom space, a beautiful conference room overlooking Old Fort Pond Bay and a great waterfront facility for hosting various events and press conferences. The Research Vessel Seawolf had a busy year as well, assisting the Riverhead Foundation with the release of Roxanne, a Risso’s dolphin. The boat was also featured on an episode of Storage Wars New York!
In 2014 the NAno-RAMAN Molecular Imaging Laboratory was established.
2015 saw the establishment of our first Endowed Professorship. Dr. Carl Safina was installed as the inaugural Safina Endowed Research Professor. We have since added three more. Dr. Bassem Allam is the first Marinetics Endowed Professorship in Marine Science, Dr. Chris Gobler is the Endowed Chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation and Dr. Ellen Pikitch is the inaugural holder of the Endowed Professorship of Ocean Conservation Science. The Center for Clean Water Technology was established.
In 2016, Larry Swanson became Interim Dean and officially welcomed the Sustainability Studies Department to SoMAS. The school added 5 additional undergraduate majors: Ecosystems and Human Impact, Environmental Design, Policy and Planning, Environmental Humanities, Coastal Environmental Studies, and Sustainability Studies. The Geospatial Center also moved to SoMAS, bringing the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Sciences to our graduate program.
2017 was the year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary at Stony Brook University. The celebration culminated at Homecoming in October with our event, “The Risk of Saying Nothing.” We were joined by alumni and welcomed back Jerry Schubel as our keynote speaker. The Radar Observatory at the South P Lot was also established.
In 2018, Paul Shepson becomes Dean and College Magazine ranked Stony Brook University fourth on its list of “The 10 Best Colleges for Marine Biology,” the only university in New York State to make the top 10 list.
In 2019, our Flax Pond Marine Laboratory began a renovation will add a shellfish hatchery to grow clams to help restore water quality and ecology around Long Island. SoMAS was also the recipient of a substantial natural history collection of unpublished biological and water quality data for 43 years of Hudson River sampling, including preserved specimens. And our Teaching Lab in Discovery Hall underwent a renovation thanks to the support of the SoMAS Dean’s Advisory Council.
Our alumni have been off in the world doing amazing things, as well! In 2013, Tom DiLiberto was named “America’s Science Idol,” Erica Cirino, ‘15 has crossed the ocean several times and documented the impact of ocean debris. David Stark, ‘12 became a Lead Meteorologist of the National Weather Service New York Office that is responsible for over 20 million people in the NYC metropolitan area. Christine O’Connell, ‘13, a speaker at our 50th Anniversary, is a 2018 Women In Power Fellow. Geoff Bansen, ‘10 is a familiar face on News12 broadcasts. His work is a perfect example of the importance of the connections initiated by Michael Colbert, ‘15 between SoMAS and the School of Journalism that helped our Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences students add another talent to their resume. Kelly Lombardo, ‘11 is on the faculty at PennState and Lucy DiBenedetto ’19 is utilizing her skills as a GIS instructor as a solutions architect for PSEG-Long Island. At last May’s commencement ceremony, Greg Marshall, ’88, ’19 returned as a recipient of an honorary doctorate!
Our mission is to advance knowledge and solve critical global and regional problems through the study of human and natural systems. And our research from the decade reflected this, from finding new strategies for protecting the biosphere to discovering the minimal health risk of Fukushima-derived radioactivity in seafood. Our experts are frequently showing up in news coverage–in 2016 that included coverage regarding brown tide, the Fire Island Breach and the effects of Superstorm Sandy. And our students discovered the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish is reproducing without sex in the wild and documented the legacy of Long Island Planner Lee Koppelman. Some of these research projects take our faculty and students all over the world. Our students have had the opportunity to explore the Long Island region or take their studies abroad, visiting Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ireland, Fiji and Tanzania.
This has been an incredibly busy decade, and the momentum carries us into 2020 ready to continue Making Scientific Research Count!
Don’t miss the Top 19 photos of 2019 from Stony Brook University photographer John Griffin!