SB Foundation Trustees Faculty Awards Recognize Early-Career Achievements

To foster and support promising early-career faculty, the Office of the Provost offers the Stony Brook Foundation Trustees Faculty Awards to recognize the exceptional trajectory of research, creative activities, and scholarly achievements of early-career faculty members. This year, five faculty members have been honored with this $20,000 award, highlighting their contributions and potential in their respective fields.

This year’s recipients are Stanley Bak, Department of Computer Science; Theodore Drivas, Department of Mathematics; Ruobing Li, School of Communication and Journalism; Carrie Mongle, Department of Anthropology; and Shanshan Yao, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Their work reflects the high standards of research, creativity, and scholarship that the university values, and their contributions will have a lasting impact on their fields and on Stony Brook University.  

The Stony Brook Foundation Trustees Faculty Awards are specifically targeted at full-time second-term assistant professors. Those who have successfully completed a review process after being in residence at Stony Brook University for at least three years are eligible. This criterion ensures that the awards go to faculty members who have demonstrated a solid foundation of research and academic excellence during their initial years at the university.

“Early career awards are such a critical means of support for faculty, acting as a catalyst to propel innovative research to new heights,” said Carl Lejuez, provost and executive vice president. “I’m grateful to the Stony Brook Foundation for investing in research excellence through this award, and I congratulate each of this year’s awardees for this recognition.”

Stanley bak
Stanley Bak

Stanley Bak
Bak’s proposed one-year project aims to supplement his existing five-year CAREER Award focused on developing the safety verification methods for AI systems that act in the real world. This supplemental funding will specifically investigate methods to enhance one of the phases of the process, reachability analysis, which propagates sets of states through differential equations. The goal is to develop efficient algorithms and operations for a set representation called constrained polynomial zonotopes, which support complex mappings for high dimensional sets. The work will involve two main tasks: developing efficient methods for intersection checking, and creating complexity reduction methods to simplify these representations using overapproximations. While advances in AI like deep reinforcement learning are able to create generally effective controllers for complex systems like emergency braking scenarios or aerospace maneuvers, Bak’s research strives to prove these systems behave correctly in all circumstances.

Drivas theodore
Theodore Drivas

Theodore Drivas
Drivas’ proposal presents a plan to advance our understanding of two-dimensional (2D) fluids from the perspectives of both geometry and dynamical systems, and to bridge the gap between these disciplines through the training of junior researchers, including multiple PhD students, undergraduates and postdocs. Many geophysical and astrophysical systems such as oceanic currents, large-scale weather patterns and planetary atmospheres are described, to good approximation, by 2D fluid equations since the vertical extent of these systems is typically much smaller than the horizontal. Understanding the long-term dynamics of 2D fluids is fundamental to weather prediction, climate science, and astrophysics. Drivas’ proposal centers around the study of the prototype of all such systems, the 2D incompressible Euler equations. 

Li ruobing
Ruobing Li

Ruobing Li
Li’s proposal addresses vaccine hesitancy, which poses a significant challenge to global public health, despite the availability of vaccines for diseases like influenza, HPV, and MMR. A considerable portion of the population remains reluctant to vaccinate, hindering herd immunity. This issue is pronounced in certain communities, such as among African Americans, who show lower vaccine uptake despite higher risks. The proposed research aims to address vaccine hesitancy by systematically reviewing existing interventions and identifying effective components across various vaccines and populations. Key objectives include evaluating intervention efficacy, determining influential factors, conducting a meta-analysis, and offering tailored recommendations for specific populations, especially those facing health disparities. This research will also analyze science communication strategies and provide insights for mass media campaigns to promote vaccine acceptance.

Carrie mongle
Carrie Mongle

Carrie Mongle
Paleoanthropologist Mongle’s research aims to reconstruct the major trends that have characterized evolution in the human lineage and our close relatives over the past six million years. Her study aims to establish variation in geochemical characteristics through microscale geochemical mapping, which can link fossil and sediment profiles. The ultimate aim is to undertake detailed geochemical analyses of known hominin fossils, together with analyses of associated faunal elements and sediments from their find sites, in order to gain insight into the level of geochemical variation that is expressed by these specimens. Systematically relating geochemical variability of fossil elements composed of dentin, enamel, and bone to geologic history (e.g., paleoenvironment, pedogenesis, burial diagenesis, weathering) will enable a new framework to be built for fossil discovery and association. Successful initial analyses will support a larger National Science Foundation proposal to examine other associated hominin specimens in the future.

Shanshan yao
Shanshan Yao

Shanshan Yao
The goal of Yao’s project is to reintroduce haptic feedback in robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery (RMIS) by equipping surgical tools with multi-degree-of-freedom tactile sensors and providing surgeons with multimodal haptic feedback interfaces. These sensors will collect real-time force and torque data during interactions with tissues, which will be transmitted to surgeons via haptic actuators. These actuators can convey normal force, shear force, and torque, enhancing the surgeon’s tactile perception. Expected outcomes include improved surgical accuracy, reduced operation durations, and the ability to perform complex tasks without damaging tissues, thus addressing a critical need in RMIS and potentially reducing healthcare costs.

 — Beth Squire and Robert Emproto

Related posts

The latest On Social Media

Article Categories

Subscribe to SB Matters