Tags Posts tagged with "Stony Brook University"

Stony Brook University

Sacre bleu! Incoming Stony Brook researcher studies mind control in ladybugs

Nolwenn M. Dheilly photo from Dheilly

Mind control may not be unique to scriptwriters, hypnotists or even, as it turns out, humans. A parasitic wasp may have teamed up with a virus to turn an unsuspecting ladybug into a meal ticket and a sentry for its developing larva.

Wasps inject their larva into a ladybug where they turn the insect’s body fat into food for their young. When the larva extracts itself from the abdomen of the ladybug and spins a cocoon in which it pupates into an adult wasp, the ladybug remains in place on top of the cocoon, deterring predators by twitching.

These parasitized ladybugs often recover from the invasion, repairing the external and neurological damage.
Nolwenn M. Dheilly, who specializes in studying host-parasite interactions and is interested in the role of associated microorganisms, discovered the presence of the virus in this convoluted story of parasite and host.

Dheilly showed that the virus is transmitted to the ladybug during parasitism and the virus copies itself in the nervous system of the ladybug, whose immune system is suppressed during the invasion.

Dheilly, who will join Stony Brook University as an assistant professor in August from her native France, is part of a six-person multidepartment hire in genomics led by Bassem Allam, a professor at Stony Brook in the School of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (SoMAS) and Jackie Collier, an associate professor at SoMAS.

“The search committee and my colleagues at SoMAS were impressed by the quality of [Dheilly’s] work and the forward thinking of her ideas,” explained Allam. She “brings state-of-the-art research tools to answer questions pertaining to the evolution of symbiotic associations.”

Lessons in middle school and high school biology classes often include a discussion of symbiotic relationships, which come in three different types: parasitism, like the wasp and the ladybug, mutualism, where both organisms benefit, and commensalism, where one benefits and the other neither benefits nor is harmed. Dheilly said the classification of symbiosis does not account for the inherent complexity in nature, where there is much more of a continuum from mutualism to parasitism.

Dheilly’s work suggests that other organisms, like the virus for the parasitic wasp, may affect the output of the infection.

“Many other parasites may use other microorganisms, including viruses, as partners,” Dheilly said. Many protozoan parasites, including human pathogens such as Plasmodium, are associated with viruses, she said. When a parasite infects its host, it can become co-infected with the virus.

“It remains to be demonstrated if these viruses are used as biological weapons,” Dheilly said.

To be sure, in the case of the wasp, the ladybug and the virus, Dheilly cautioned that other studies are necessary before completing a relationship diagram that specifies the way the virus and wasp might work together during parasitism.

“Many complementary studies are now necessary to demonstrate who between the wasp and the virus” is responsible for the particular effect on the ladybug,” she said. “We believe that the virus alone would be eliminated by the [ladybug’s] immune system and wouldn’t be able to induce the paralysis. We have no idea if the parasitoid wasp would be able to infect the [ladybug] without its associated virus.”

When Dheilly arrives on Aug. 12, she and Allam plan to work together to study disease susceptibility in oysters. They would like to study the role of mucosal secretions in early host-symbiont interactions.

Dheilly attributes some of her interest in marine science to her upbringing in Brest, Brittany, in northwestern France, which, she said, is much like Long Island. When she was young, Dheilly competed in windsurfing competitions and, later, worked for several summers as a windsurfing instructor. In her windsurfing days, Dheilly was the only girl at most competitions. Her windsurfing experience “made sure I had the right personality to be involved in an environment surrounded by men and not feeling as if I didn’t fit in.”

Dheilly explained that understanding viruses and microorganisms extends beyond the world of invertebrates.

“The co-evolution of host and parasites with microorganisms is applicable to any biological system, including humans,” she said. Even though she will focus most of her work at Stony Brook on marine organisms, she said she “would be happy to collaborate with researchers in other fields to verify my hypotheses.”

Builds upon revitalization efforts and Connect LI

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, along with regional leaders, announced a new regional plan on Tuesday. Photo from the county executive’s office

As the percentage of youth on Long Island declines, regional leaders are determined to entice young people to move in and stay, but their plan comes with a price.

On Tuesday, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and several regional leaders, including Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), announced they are seeking $350 million to fund the Long Island Innovation Zone, I-Zone, plan. I-Zone aims to connect Long Island’s transit-oriented downtown areas, like New Village in Patchogue, the Meadows at Yaphank and the planned Ronkonkoma Hub, to institutions like Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The I-Zone plan emphasizes the use of a bus rapid transit, or BRT, system  that runs north to south and would connect Stony Brook University and Patchogue. There will also be a paralleling hiking and biking trail, and the system will serve as a connection between the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Montauk Long Island Rail Road lines.

The goal is to make Long Island more appealing to the younger demographic and avoid local economic downturns.

According to the Long Island Index, from 2000 to 2009, the percentage of people aged 25-34 decreased by 15 percent. The majority of these individuals are moving to major cities or places where transportation is readily accessible.

“We must challenge ourselves because if we don’t, we have an Island at risk,” Romaine said. Government officials acknowledged that without younger people living on Long Island the population will be unable to sustain the local economy. Fewer millennials means there are less people who will purchase property and contribute to the success of businesses in the area.

The proposal comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) call for regional planning.

The plan also builds upon the Ronkonkoma Hub plan, with the installation of sewers and a new parking area. The I-Zone proposal claims to improve Long Island’s water quality, as funding will help connect sewers through Islip downtown areas to the Southwest Sewer District.

Additionally, the plan calls for the construction of a new airport terminal on the north side of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip and for the relocation of the Yaphank train station in closer proximity to Brookhaven National Laboratory.

“We have all that stuff [access to recreational activities, education center and downtown areas] here but we don’t have a connection. We don’t have any linked together,” said Justin Meyers, Suffolk’s assistant deputy county executive for communications.

Bellone and Romaine, as well as Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter (R), Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Long Island Regional Planning Council Chairman John Cameron, Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, Vice President of Development and Community Relations at CSHL Charles Prizzi, Chief Planning Officer of the Long Island Rail Road Elisa Picca, Director of BNL Doon Gibbs, and founder of Suburban Millennial Institute Jeff Guillot, were involved with the I-Zone proposal.

If funding for the project is received, construction could begin in approximately two years, Meyers said, adding that constructing the BRT and the hiking and biking trial would take as few as five years.

Bellone said that without younger people moving in, the trend could lead to the Island’s economic stagnation.

“We are aging faster than any other region in our country,” he said. “The inevitable result of that will be an ever-growing population that naturally is pulling more social services infrastructure.”

by -
0 407

Focusing on clinical and population improvements for our communities

By Joseph Lamantia

Whether or not you’ve already heard of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program, one thing is for certain: it’s about to change health care in our state.

In April 2014, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York had finalized terms with the federal government for a groundbreaking waiver enabling the state to reinvest $6.2 billion in federal savings generated by Medicaid Redesign Team reforms. Known as DSRIP, the program promotes community-level collaborations, with a focus on improving health care for patients covered by Medicaid and those who are uninsured.

The main goal of the program is to reduce avoidable emergency room visits and avoidable hospital admissions among Medicaid and uninsured populations by 25 percent over a five-year period. The plan is to accomplish this through enhanced collaboration among providers, improved electronic and direct communications, and ready access to primary care and behavioral health services.

For example, offering after-hours appointments can help patients who work full-time; translation services can assist those for whom English is a second language; and transportation to appointments can help patients who don’t have access to a vehicle or public transportation.

The DSRIP initiative for Suffolk County and its network of providers is called the Suffolk Care Collaborative.

The Office of Population Health at Stony Brook Medicine is administering the SCC and is responsible for coordinating more than 500 countywide organizations, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term home health care providers, behavioral health professionals, community-based organizations, certified home health agencies, physician practices and many other integral health care delivery system partners.

Some of the 11 focus areas of the SCC are diabetes care, pediatric asthma home-based self-management, cardiovascular care, behavioral health access and substance abuse prevention programs. Central to all programs is a coordination-of-care effort using care mangers embedded in the community to support health care providers and patients to achieve individual health goals. Connecting with patients at the point of care, identifying needs and providing appropriate support in the community will help prevent unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and support a healthier population.

Suffolk County has approximately 150,000 uninsured residents and 240,000 Medicaid enrollees who can benefit from the program’s initiatives. And, because improvements made will affect the overall health care delivery system, they have the potential to benefit everyone — enhancing the patient experience and outcomes. When providers collaborate on patient care, information can be shared, test duplication can be avoided and preventive measures can be put in place to help all patients stay healthier.

Visit www.suffolkcare.org to learn more about the Suffolk Care Collaborative.

Joseph Lamantia is the chief of operations for population health at Stony Brook Medicine.

by -
0 629
Daniel Zamora hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo from SBU

Stony Brook baseball sophomore pitchers Ryley MacEachern and Daniel Zamora were each selected on the final day of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Ryley MacEachern pitches in a game earlier this season. Photo from SBU
Ryley MacEachern pitches in a game earlier this season. Photo from SBU

MacEachern, a right-hander, was taken by the Miami Marlins in the 33rd round as the 986th player selected. Zamora, a lefty, was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round with the 1,207th overall selection.

MacEachern pitched in 13 games with nine starts for the Seawolves in 2015. He posted a 2-2 record with a 5.83 ERA in 41.2 innings of work.

Zamora, a first team America East Conference selection, appeared in 15 games with 13 starts. He was 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 81 innings. The sophomore also struck out 80 batters.

Both MacEachern and Zamora would have two years of eligibility left with Stony Brook if they do not sign with their respective MLB organizations.

Suffolk officials discuss environmental issues facing Long Island after thousands of dead fish washed ashore in Riverhead. Photo by Alex Petroski

The estimated nearly 100,000 dead bunker fish that have washed ashore in Riverhead may seem astounding, but it wasn’t all that surprising to the panel of experts brought before the Suffolk County Health Committee on Thursday.

In late May, the thousands of dead bunker fish, formally known as Atlantic menhaden fish, began appearing in the Peconic Estuary, an area situated between the North and South Forks of Long Island. According to a June 2 press release from the Peconic Estuary Program, the bunker fish died as a result of low dissolved oxygen in the water. This shortage of oxygen is called hypoxia.

Walter Dawydiak, director of the county’s environmental quality division, who serves on the panel, which was organized by the health committee chairman, Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), testified that the number of dead fish was at or approaching 100,000.

“This one is bigger and worse than any,” Dawydiak said.

According to the PEP, which is part of the National Estuary Program and seeks to conserve the estuary, bunker are filter-feeding fish and an important food source for many predatory fish, including striped bass and blue fish.

Alison Branco, the program’s director, said the fish are likely being chased into shallow waters by predators, but are dying because of low dissolved oxygen levels in the waters. In addition, an algae bloom is contributing to the low levels and is fueled by excess nitrogen loading. Much of that nitrogen comes from septic systems, sewage treatment plants and fertilizer use.

“We’ve reach a point where this kind of hypoxia was run of the mill. We expect it every summer,” Branco, who also served as a panelist, said following the hearing.

While magnitude of the fish kill was astounding, the experts said they weren’t so surprised that it happened.

“I definitely thought it could happen at any time,” Christopher Gobler, a biologist at Stony Brook University, said in a one-on-one interview after the panel hearing. “There’s been an oxygen problem there all along.”

Gobler called it largest fish kill he’d seen in 20 years.

According to panel members, the worst of the fish kill occurred between May 27 and May 30.

Branco did suggest that this shocking environmental event could be turned into a positive if the right measures are taken sooner rather than later.

“It’s always shocking to see a fish kill,” she said. “As much as we don’t want to have things like that happen I think the silver lining is that it did capture the public’s attention.”

Prevention of a fish kill this large is possible, according to Branco. While preventing the harmful algal blooms is not possible, reducing the frequency and severity can be done if the amount of nitrogen in the coastal water supply is controlled.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an environmental policy advocacy group, agreed that curtailing the amount of nitrogen in the water is the easiest and most impactful way for prevention of a fish kill of this magnitude.

“The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step,” Esposito said in response to a question about the daunting task of fixing the Island’s sewage treatment techniques and facilities on a limited budget.

Esposito described the roughly $5 million from New York State, which was allotted to Suffolk County to deal with cleaning the coastal water supply, as seed money. Esposito and Branco both said they believe the commitment of time and money required to solve the nitrogen problem in the water supply will be vast.

“We can do this,” she said. “We have to do it. We have no choice.”

by -
0 1404
From left, Isaac Carrico with Cannon, 5, and Elizabeth Boon with Sheridan, 16 months, at a beach in North Carolina. Photo by Jim Hinckley

When bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, they enter a category that spurs scientists and doctors to search for alternative remedies.

Bacteria can live singly, in what’s called the planktonic state, in groups or colonies, in which case they form a biofilm, or in numerous possibilities in between. In the biofilm state, they become more resistant to antibiotics, which increases the urgency to find a way to break up the bacterial party.

Elizabeth Boon, an associate professor of chemistry at Stony Brook University, has worked with a gas that, in some species of bacteria, appears to affect biofilm formation. While the details vary from one species to another, scientists have found that low concentrations of nitric oxide most often cause bacteria to leave biofilms.

Boon has discovered nitric oxide-sensing proteins in several strains of bacteria, which might help shed light on how this gas acts as a trigger for bacteria.

Boon’s discoveries are “innovative because they provide a previously important missing link between how bacteria behave in the human body and how the human system fails to counteract bacterial infection and the inflammation it causes,” explained Nicole Sampson, professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry.

Sampson, who called Boon a “rising star in chemical biology,” said her colleague’s work is “providing a much needed molecular explanation for the communication that occurs between bacteria and animals.”

Biofilms have implications for human health, Boon said. While they can be positive, generally speaking, she suggested, they are negative.

“A lot of diseases are caused by biofilms,” while biofilms may play a role with others as well, Boon said. “Open wounds that won’t heal are thought to be the result of biofilm injections around the wound, while people with cystic fibrosis get infections around their lungs.”

Biofilms also may play a part in hospital-borne infections. In a biofilm, bacteria are up to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics, Boon said. The exact concentration at which the bacteria switches between a signal from the gas to a group defense varies from one species of bacteria to another.

Similar to hemoglobin, which binds to oxygen in red blood cells and carries it around the body, this protein attaches to nitric oxide. The sensor protein usually causes a change that alters the concentration of cyclic di-GMP, a common bacterial-signaling molecule.

“The iron-containing protein we discovered has a sensitivity to nitric oxide” in low concentration, she said. In terms of a possible treatment of conditions that might improve with a reduction in biofilms, Boon explained that simply blocking the receptor for nitric oxide would cause considerably more harm than good because “anything we could think of to bind would interfere with our own nitric oxide or oxygen-binding protein,” she said.

Still, after the gas binds to the bacteria, there are reactions later on that are exclusive to bacteria.

Boon has also discovered a second protein that binds to nitric oxide, which is called NosP, for nitric oxide-sending protein. This protein has a different architecture from the original HNOx protein and may help explain how those same bacteria without HNOx still respond to the same gas.

Boon recognizes the potential opportunity to use any information for biofilm infections.

Boon, who is working with scientists at Stony Brook, Columbia and at Justus-Leibig-Universität Giessen in Germany, is proposing to work with computational biologists to screen the library of virtual molecules against bacterial proteins.

Boon was nearing the end of her Ph.D. research when she started working with proteins. She did her postdoctoral research in a lab that was characterizing iron proteins. The lab was studying nitric oxide in mammals.

Boon’s lab is down the hall from her husband’s, Isaac Carrico, who is in the same department. The chemists met in graduate school at the California Institute of Technology. The couple lives in Stony Brook with their 5-year-old son, Cannon, and their 16-month-old daughter, Sheridan.

As for her work, Boon is eager to continue to find answers to so many unanswered questions.

“We’re constantly learning, which is subtly shifting the direction of our research,” she said. “That will continue for a long time [because] there’s a whole lot we don’t understand.”

by -
0 415
An exterior view of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. Photo from SBU

By L. Reuven Pasternak, MD

Thanks to major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment, many patients are enjoying longer lives and maintaining their quality of life, as the number of cancer survivors grows.

Anyone living with a history of cancer — from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life — is a cancer survivor, according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation. In the United States alone, there are more than 14 million cancer survivors. That’s cause for celebration, and for the past 10 years, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing at Stony Brook University Cancer Center at our annual National Cancer Survivors Day event.

Stony Brook’s 11th annual celebration will take place on Sunday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Cancer Center, and will feature a talk about the Cancer Survivorship Movement by inspirational speaker Doug Ulman. A three-time cancer survivor and a globally recognized cancer advocate, Ulman, with his family, founded the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to supporting, educating and connecting young adults who are affected by cancer. Ulman is also known for his work at LIVESTRONG and now as president and CEO of Pelotonia.

All cancer survivors are invited, whether they were treated at Stony Brook or not. In addition to Ulman’s talk, attendees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, musical entertainment and light refreshments. They can also participate in the very moving Parade of Survivors. To register, visit www.cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu/registration or call 631-444-4000.

Cancer Center staff members actively partake in the day’s events and look forward to reconnecting with patients. It’s gratifying for them to see the strides these survivors have made throughout the years to lead normal and productive lives after a cancer diagnosis.

National Cancer Survivors Day is just one of a number of ways Stony Brook reaches out to the community. The Cancer Center has created many initiatives and programs to help make life a little easier for patients with cancer, including support groups, cancer prevention screenings and the School Intervention and Re-Entry Program for pediatric patients.

As a leading provider of cancer services in Suffolk County, Stony Brook is constructing a state-of-the-art Medical and Research Translation (MART) building that will focus on cancer research and advanced imaging and serve as the home of our new Cancer Center. Located on the Stony Brook Medicine campus, this 245,000-square-foot facility will allow scientists and physicians to work side by side to research and discover new cancer treatments and technology.

The MART will double Stony Brook’s capacity for outpatient cancer services and enhance all cancer care for Long Island and beyond. And once it is completed in 2016, we’ll have one more reason to celebrate life after a cancer diagnosis.

L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, is the CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital and vice president for health systems, Stony Brook Medicine.

Studying parts of dinosaur bones that are smaller than the width of a human hair, Michael D’Emic specializes in sauropods, which includes the long necked Brontosaurus. Photo from SBU

They didn’t mark the wall in crayon or pencil with a date to monitor how they grew, the way parents do in suburban homes with their children. Millions of years ago, however, dinosaurs left clues in their bones about their annual growth.

Dinosaur bones have concentric rings, which are analogous to the ones trees have in their trunks.

A diagram represents the growth rings in dinosaur bones. Image from Michael D’Emic and Scott Hartman
A diagram represents the growth rings in dinosaur bones. Image from Michael D’Emic and Scott Hartman

Michael D’Emic, a paleontologist and Research Instructor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook, studied these bones and the size of these rings and concluded that dinosaurs were warm-blooded.

In a paper published in the journal Science, D’Emic demonstrates how the growth rates of these bones indicate dinosaurs were much more like birds than reptiles in their metabolism.

“This supports the idea that dinosaurs were warm-blooded,” said Holly Woodward Ballard, an Assistant Professor of Anatomy in the Center for Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University.

D’Emic re-analyzed data that appeared in a 2014 Science article, in which other scientists had suggested dinosaurs were mesothermic, which is somewhere in between cold blooded organisms, like reptiles, and warm-blooded creatures, like birds, three-toed sloths, and humans.

D’Emic was on a dinosaur dig in Wyoming when the paper came out last June. When he returned to Stony Brook in July, he took a closer look at the results. “When I read the paper, I thought they hadn’t accounted for a couple of factors that would bias the results,” he said. “I was curious how changing some of those factors” would affect the conclusions.

D’Emic studies the smallest parts of bones. Indeed, for creatures that lived millions of years ago and weighed as much as 40 tons, he looked closely at cells that were a fraction of the width of a human hair.

In his approach to the data, D’Emic adjusted for seasonal growth patterns. Typically, dinosaurs grow only half the year. In the other half, when food is scarce or the temperature drops enough, the dinosaurs would have needed that energy to survive. When he accounted for this, he said the rate of growth doubled.

Comparing his estimated growth rate for dinosaurs with the rate for mammals and reptiles of similar size suggested the dinosaurs  “fell right in line with mammals,” he said.

Michael D’Emic enjoys a Lord of the Rings moment in Beartooth, Wyoming, near an excavation site in 2010. Photo from D’Emic.
Michael D’Emic enjoys a Lord of the Rings moment in Beartooth, Wyoming, near an excavation site in 2010. Photo from D’Emic.

A dinosaur’s metabolism could affect life histories including how the dinosaurs raised their young, as well as elements to their physiology, he said. “Such a fundamental aspect of an organism has implications for the kind of animals we expect them to be,” he said.

D’Emic recognizes that some paleontologists will question his conclusions about dinosaur metabolism. When looking at a broad group of paleontologists, he “still finds a pretty big spectrum of ideas” about metabolism and the “debate is probably still open.” After this recent work, D’Emic reached out to partners from around the world to explore bone growth in other groups of dinosaurs.

Ballard, who studies the growth and development of Maiasaura (duck-billed) dinosaurs from hatchling to adults primarily in Montana, supports D’Emic’s conclusions. She said his analysis will reinforce some of the hypotheses she had about dinosaur metabolism. Ballard said D’Emic was “well thought of” and has“definitely made an impact in the histological field.”

When he was in high school, D’Emic had the opportunity to join a dinosaur dig in New York, where he found a mastodon tusk. He was living in Manhattan at the time and went to Hyde Park with a summer class. After two weeks at the site with the class, he asked if he could come back, and wound up returning regularly for months, until school started.

“I didn’t want to go back to high school when September rolled around,” D’Emic recalled.

D’Emic, who recently left a dig in Utah and was on his way to join other Stony Brook researchers in Madagascar, said he still feels inspired by the opportunity to learn about dinosaurs. When he came to the University of Michigan in 2006 to start his PhD program, he planned to focus on Titanosaurs. By the time he left, the number of species of Titanosaurs scientists had discovered and categorized had doubled.

“It’s a cool time to be a paleontologist,” he said.

by -
0 452
Billy Joel accepts his honorary degree at Friday’s graduation ceremony. Photo from Lauren Sheprow

Stony Brook University marked its 55th commencement ceremony Friday and doled out degrees to 6,298 students, joining more than 155,000 of the school’s forerunners around the globe.

The school also honored Long Island leaders Billy Joel and Charles B. Wang, who received an honorary doctor of music and doctor of humane letters, respectively.

State University of New York Trustee Cary Staller conferred the honorary degree to Joel, and in his acceptance speech, Joel told students to never compromise their ideals.

“I hope that by now you have found what it is you love and I hope that you have learned the skills you need to make what you love your life’s work,” he said. “I wish for you the stamina to continue that work when you encounter resistance and tough times … if you’re not doing what you love, you’re just wasting your time.”

Wang, during his acceptance speech, stated his beliefs in four points, “One — you can make a difference; two — integrity and loyalty are only words until tested; three — love life to the fullest; and four — have fun.” He also described his inspiration to create the Charles B. Wang Center, an Asian and Asian-American cultural hub at the university.

Stony Brook students field questions at their final project presentation. Photo by Phil Corso

Nick Fusco is still in college, but he already has a vision for the Three Village community’s de facto Main Street known as Route 25A. He and his classmates brought that vision to his neighbors Monday night to show what a little dreaming can do for the North Shore’s future.

“Our community could look like this,” Fusco said in front of a projected rendering of a reinvented Route 25A complete with greenhouse spaces, apartment housing, environmentally friendly landscaping and more. “We’ve come up with ways to improve safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, functionality.”

Fusco and about a dozen other Stony Brook University students presented at the Setauket Neighborhood House on Monday evening as part of a final project for Professor Marc Fasanella’s ecological art, architecture and design class under the college’s sustainability studies program. The conversation, “Keeping a sense of place in the Three Villages,” involved four students presenting PowerPoint slides showing off their reimaged Setauket and Stony Brook communities, utilizing existing infrastructure to help employ ecologically-friendly additions and make Three Village a community that retains young people.

A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso
A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso

“We looked at this as a tremendous opportunity for our students and for the community moving forward,” Fasanella said. “Are we dreaming? Of course we’re dreaming.”

The class built off the work of last year’s students, who brainstormed ways to bridge the gap created by the railroad tracks that separate the university from the greater Three Village community. Their proposals were met with great praise from residents, civic leaders and officials in attendance Monday. The ideas were bold, including anything from pulling buildings closer to the 25A curbside to make way for a greater “Main Street” feel to constructing a “green” multi-tiered parking garage near the train station for both retail space and commuter parking.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, applauded the students for daring the community to take a different look at the future of Three Village. His group helped to sponsor the event alongside the Three Village Community Trust.

In an interview, Nuzzo said the Route 25A corridor, especially near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, has a long and troubled history and could use a facelift to enhance safety for pedestrians, motorists and anyone living in the area.

Nuzzo, who also studied environmental design, policy and planning at Stony Brook University, was also once a student in Fasanella’s ecological urbanism course and underwent a similar exercise in which he dreamt up projects to connect the campus to the nearby community.

“We need to have this discussion over what we want for our de facto Main Street. If we don’t decide, the developers are going to decide for us,” he said. “What do we want as a community? It starts with stuff like this.”

And the students’ visions did not fall on deaf ears, either. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) sat attentively throughout four students’ presentations and ended the meeting with encouraging words.

She said she was working alongside Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to enact a comprehensive Route 25A study, which should be discussed in a community forum on June 30 in East Setauket.

“It’s our responsibility to engage and continue the visioning process,” she said, on behalf of civic leaders and lawmakers in the community. “We want to work on our ‘Main Street’ and put the community’s visions into planning.”

Social

4,854FansLike
5Subscribers+1
1,015FollowersFollow
19SubscribersSubscribe