As the Stony Brook Foundation prepares to celebrate the Annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala on April 11, it is with a keen eye toward the future. From the students who are forging a path toward sustainability to the researchers who are advancing discovery and innovation while guarding the environment, supporting the next generation is more important than ever.
This year’s Gala will honor Laurie Landeau, VMD, MBA, and Bob Maze, PhD, two dedicated environmentalists whose leadership and meaningful relationships with Stony Brook University have long embodied the idea of protecting future generations. Through their deep knowledge of and passion for marine environments, they are driving big ideas to address the most pressing real-world issues affecting water quality, fisheries, and aquatic animals and ecosystems.
Laurie Landeau, VMD, MBA, and Bob Maze, PhD
Laurie Landeau, a noted aquatic animal veterinarian, and Bob Maze, who holds a PhD in ecological parasitology, have a long and meaningful relationship with Stony Brook University, beginning when Landeau brought the AQUAVET® program in aquatic animal medicine to the university’s Southampton campus.
Since that initial connection, Landeau and Maze have supported the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) by helping to establish the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, establishing the Maze-Landeau Fellows Program and the Minghua Zhang Early Career Faculty Innovation Fund, and originating the Dean’s Fund for Success.
Their relationship with SoMAS and Stony Brook has flourished over the years — Maze chairs the SoMAS Dean’s Council while Landeau is vice chair of the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees. Their leadership and support of the school are made even more meaningful by their deep knowledge of and passion for the field.
Landeau grew up in Northport, on Long Island’s North Shore, where she developed a love for the water and marine environments at a young age. After graduating from Princeton, where she did her senior research on predation behavior in fish, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and became the first U.S. graduate to receive a combined MBA and veterinary degree.
Maze also grew up with a strong interest in all things aquatic, so it was only natural for him to study marine biology at Texas A&M. He worked as a scuba diver to help put himself through college and co-founded the Galveston-based Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is still in operation.
In 1981, Landeau attended AQUAVET®, a program begun at the University of Pennsylvania that famously pioneered aquatic veterinary medicine. Landeau was searching for a way to apply her veterinary skills to the well-being of aquatic life, and she became the program’s assistant director in 1988 and then associate director in 1993. Over the years, she has been an adjunct associate professor at the Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania veterinary schools.
As a leader at AQUAVET®, Landeau has helped to identify and bring together individuals and institutions who believed the veterinary profession could contribute to increased knowledge of the health issues facing animals in the aquatic environment. She also helped carve out an important niche in the burgeoning aquaculture industry.
As an undergraduate at Texas A&M, Maze began studying ctenophores, a phylum of invertebrate animals that live in marine waters around the world, and the parasites that infect them. He went on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in ecological parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Landeau and Maze met, fittingly enough, at a research station in Maine, where Landeau was studying migratory bird patterns and populations and Maze was involved in a harbor porpoise census. Their interests in marine science converged when Maze became involved in AQUAVET® in 1994; he is currently an associate director of the program and adjunct associate professor at Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Together, in 1996, they founded Marinetics Inc., now known as the Choptank Oyster Company. The company has evolved into a thriving oyster farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and produces for sale an average of 1 million oysters per year, with 3-4 million in the water at any given time.
Maze used his research in ecological parasitology to solve a real-world problem: Parasites were destroying oyster populations on the East Coast. The Choptank Oyster Company has been significant in demonstrating a successful way of growing oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, given the degradation of the Chesapeake’s ecosystem, which at one point had a virtually wiped-out wild oyster population.
Landeau currently serves as president and director of the Laurie Landeau Foundation, LLC and the Ralph Landau Foundation, both of which specialize in supporting science and technology.
Maze is the vice president and director of the Laurie Landeau Foundation, LLC and the Ralph Landau Foundation, and the chair of Stony Brook’s SoMAS Dean’s Advisory Council.
Landeau has served on the boards of both the University of Pennsylvania and its School of Veterinary Medicine (where she was chair of its Board of Overseers); as a trustee of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts; and as vice chair of the boards of the Long Island Museum (when it was the Museums at Stony Brook) and the American Farmland Trust. She currently serves on the boards of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery; the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, where she spent an earlier stint as the chair; and Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Landeau’s most rewarding positions, however, are serving as vice chair of the Stony Brook Foundation Board and as a founding member of the Stony Brook University Women’s Leadership Council and long-time member of the SoMAS Dean’s Council.
Landeau and Maze’s interests in Stony Brook University extend to Centre ValBio and its community health team on the island nation of Madagascar.
Their steadfast and generous support of SoMAS includes funding for graduate students and faculty research projects that help elevate the school’s national and global leadership in discovery and innovation.
The Maze-Landeau Fellows Program, the Minghua Zhang Early Career Faculty Innovation Fund, the Dean’s Fund for Success, the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program and the Marinetics Endowed Professorship are among these programs.
Their biggest investment has been in the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, an initiative that is using science, outreach and partnerships to develop novel evidence-based methods of restoring Long Island’s water quality and fisheries, with a particular focus on Shinnecock Bay.
With over 9,000 acres of open water, salt marshes and intertidal flats, the aquatic environment of Shinnecock Bay provides essential habitat for fish, shellfish and waterfowl.
Returning the Bay to its former healthy and productive state will not only rehabilitate the waterway but also serve as a model for other communities experiencing similar decline and the resulting environmental and economic impacts.
Landeau and Maze first became aware of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project when AQUAVET® found a home for its 2010 editions of the advanced two-week course and introductory four-week course at Stony Brook Southampton, which had only recently become part of Stony Brook. They were already familiar with the university, with it being in Landeau’s backyard while she was growing up, and having had several Stony Brook faculty members and graduate students in the advanced AQUAVET® pathology course in the past.
In Southampton, they learned about the research and work of renowned marine scientists Christopher Gobler, PhD, and Ellen Pikitch, PhD, and their teams of marine science faculty, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates and how they were making an impact on the marine estuary environment – both locally and across the world. The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project was the “Big Idea” that came forward in 2011, after a pilot project proved promising. Landeau and Maze quickly recognized the potential for a revolutionary and comprehensive new approach that was science-centered and could prove to be a model for similar projects globally.
With their establishment of the Marinetics Endowed Professorship, Landeau and Maze have also been able to support a Stony Brook researcher who is collaborating with other researchers around the world to show how clams respond to infection and thereby advising farmers on breeding practices to improve the clam population’s resistance to parasites.
As a result of the restorative efforts of Stony Brook’s talented researchers and the incredible philanthropic support of Landeau and Maze, Shinnecock Bay has been designated as a “Global Hope Spot” by Mission Blue, an organization founded by Sylvia Earle, famed marine biologist and first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Bay is the first Global Hope Spot in New York State, the only one near a major metropolitan region and one of just three along the Eastern Seaboard.
Now in its 24th year, the Stars of Stony Brook Gala has raised more than $67 million in support of academic programs and scholarships.