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Stony Brook University

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David Smith receives a medal for his finish in the inaugural Hercules on the Harbor 10K. Photo from Kara Hahn

David Smith will be remembered as a Stony Brook staple whose avid passion for action was as inspiring as it was endearing, close friends said this week.

Smith drowned while swimming in the waters he loved off West Meadow Beach on Aug. 28 despite the attempts of many to save him, witnesses said. He was 79.

A professor emeritus at Stony Brook University’s Department of Computer Science, Smith had noticeably appeared to be having difficulty while swimming near Aunt Amy’s Creek in East Setauket, spurring several onlookers to attempt to come to his rescue. Warren Smith, a resident who was at the scene, said there were many who helped in one way or another, but the professor emeritus did not survive.

“He was a well-known nature lover and often swam, ran and hiked,” Warren Smith said in an email. “The night of the day he died, owls came, and they hooted all night long.”

Smith received his doctorate from University of Wisconsin, Madison. He came to Stony Brook in 1966 and established the computer science department in 1970, the university said, adding that he will be remembered as “a staunch supporter of the department and an innovator in computer science.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) remembered Smith as a jack of all trades who was active in the greater North Shore community well beyond the university, participating in the Gallery North Wet Paint Festival and working as an advocate for Forsythe Meadow forest.

“He was an extraordinary individual, academic, artist, athlete, advocate, volunteer and overall great guy,” Hahn said.

Louise Harrison, of the Peconic-based Conservation & Natural Areas Planning and former co-chair of the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village, said Smith had recently taken up swimming as a substitute for running, since his knees were bothering him.

“Dave was with the coalition from the beginning and never missed a steering committee meeting or an opportunity to go to town planning board or legislative hearings in support of our cause,” Harrison said. “He volunteered to be our process server, a critically important role, for our original Article 78 against the planning board. This was an unfamiliar task and yet Dave was willing to give it a go and he made sure our petition was properly served within a very limited time period.”

Harrison said Smith never missed a coalition event and joined the group this July at the official opening of Forsythe Meadow County Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s walking trail at 52 Hollow Road in Stony Brook: “I am especially thankful Dave was able to attend that event because he was our strongest and most vocal advocate for restored access to the forest, which he once had enjoyed from the village center during his daily runs.”

Moving forward, Harrison said she was considering ways her group could properly remember Smith, which may include dedicating a trail or portion of the trail at Forsythe Meadow in his honor.

File photo

An animal rights group has a bone to pick with Stony Brook University.

The Beagle Freedom Project, a national laboratory animal advocacy group, has filed a petition in the state Supreme Court against Stony Brook University with hopes of compelling the school to provide documents relating to Quinn, a dog being housed at the university for animal testing and research. The group, alongside supporter Melissa Andrews, made a Freedom of Information Law request to Stony Brook for documents as part of their “identity campaign,” which allows individuals to virtually adopt dogs or cats being held or used in experiments.

The petition accused Stony Brook University of failing to provide a full response to the FOIL request, providing only five pages of heavily redacted documents. Among the five pages provided was a form appearing to indicate that Quinn and his littermates had been purchased from Covance Research Products, Inc., the group said.

Currently, most universities routinely euthanize all such “purpose-bred for research” animals, the group said. In a statement, a spokesman for the Beagle Freedom Project said the group hopes that the documents help to identify opportunities to provoke post-research adoptions of healthy laboratory dogs and cats.

The petition also challenged Stony Brook University’s claim that it has no further documentation relating to Quinn, pointing out that certain documents are required to be maintained by the Animal Welfare Act and that other publicly funded universities responding to similar requests had produced hundreds of pages of documents. In the petition, BFP and Andrews argued that Stony Brook University and the other respondents did not articulate a particularized or specific justification for denying access, as required, and that there is no such justification.

“Stony Brook is either lying about the records they are keeping or they are in violation of federal recordkeeping requirements,” said Jeremy Beckham, research specialist for the Beagle Freedom Project. “Either way this is troubling and the taxpaying public, forced to fund these experiments, have a right to hold this school to account.”

Lauren Sheprow, a spokesman for Stony Brook University, said the university was unable to comment at this time.

The petition asked the Supreme Court of the State of New York to compel Stony Brook University and the other respondents to provide complete, unaltered documentation concerning Quinn. The Manhattan-based law firm Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP is representing BFP and Andrews in connection with the petition, through its pro bono program.

Through the Identity Campaign, the Beagle Freedom Project has uncovered a troubling pattern of laboratories using animals redundantly or unnecessarily for research or experimentation, providing these animals with poor veterinary care, and other abuses, a spokesman for the group said.

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By Dexter A. Bailey

This fall, the Stony Brook Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary — five decades as a crucial catalyst during Stony Brook University’s transformation into one of the world’s leading universities (now ranked in the top 1 percent), helping advance globally significant research and innovation.

Since the foundation was created in 1965, Stony Brook University has grown from a school with 500 students into a prestigious institution of higher education with a diverse student body of more than 24,000.

Many donors helped lay the groundwork for Stony Brook’s evolution by providing scholarships to top undergraduate and graduate students, funding centers recognized around the world for learning and research, and attracting and endowing professors who are leaders in their fields.  These three factors have been instrumental to the university’s becoming a major economic engine for the region. It is the largest single-site employer on Long Island, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion.

In just 50 years, the foundation has raised more than $800 million in gifts — including more than $68.5 million in student financial aid, keeping college affordable for all students. Although New York State support is generous compared with other states, only 18 percent of the university’s total annual operating budget comes from Albany, making the foundation’s philanthropic partnership ever more critical.

“The Stony Brook Foundation, and the philanthropic funds it raises from our friends and alumni near and far, has been essential to the university’s incredible trajectory,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “This partnership has helped us to attract and retain the best students and faculty, push the boundaries in research, strengthen our signature STEM and liberal arts programs and ensure excellence in all we do.”

Philanthropy has funded world-renowned centers and institutes, including the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, the Global Health Institute, the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Advanced Computational Science, the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.

Next year, a new research facility, the Medical and Research Translation (MART) building, will open with support provided in part through the foundation. It will double the university’s capacity to deliver cutting-edge cancer care on Long Island, while generating an additional 4,200 jobs. In addition, donors from the community have supported construction of the future new home of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, which is expected to open in 2017.

Stony Brook would not be the university it is today without the generous philanthropic support from donors who recognize the incredible return on their investment in the deserving students, faculty and special academic community at Stony Brook. With the support of the Stony Brook Foundation, the university, Long Island and the state of New York will continue to prosper together.

Dexter A. Bailey is the senior vice president for advancement at Stony Brook University and the executive director of the  Stony Brook Foundation.

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A group of new Stony Brook medical students display their first stethoscopes, donated by the school’s alumni association. Photo from Stony Brook University School of Medicine

The 132 first-year students of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine Class of 2019 — the largest ever in the school’s history — officially began their training with the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony.

At the Aug. 23 event, the incoming medical students received their first physician-in-training white coats and took the Hippocratic oath for the first time. The Class of 2019 is a talented and diverse group coming from New York State, eight other states, and around the world.

Only 7.4 percent of the total 5,255 applicants were accepted. A larger portion of students in this class, compared to previous incoming classes, already have advanced degrees. A total of 23 hold advanced degrees, including one Ph.D., one Doctor of Pharmacy, 18 masters’ and three Masters in Public Health.

“Today is a celebratory and symbolic day for all of you. As you receive your first white coats, enjoy the honor and responsibility that comes with wearing the white coat,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “Medicine is a field unmatched in the range of emotions you will experience. You will be struck by many firsts — your first newborn delivery, your first sharing of a diagnosis of cancer, the first patient you will see cured, and your first patient death. And never forget that your journey will require lifelong learning, as you take part in many advances in the art and the science of medicine in the years to come.”

Among the many accomplished members of the Class of 2019 include Tony Wan, the son of Chinese immigrants, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps right after high school. He served two tours in Iraq — where his duties included providing first aid to fellow soldiers.

He then left the military and pursued college at CUNY-York College, where he graduated as class valedictorian in 2012. After seeing too many of his fellow Marines with life-changing injuries, he’s motivated toward becoming a neurologist specializing in traumatic brain injuries. Wan said he particularly wants to work to improve the care of veterans.

Persis Puello, a mother of two and the oldest incoming student, at 34 years of age, is also part of the 2019 class. She earned advanced degrees from Columbia University, a Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Nutrition; and from Stony Brook, a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics. Her career as an athletic trainer and nutritionist inspired her to work toward becoming an orthopedic surgeon and, eventually, a team doctor.

She credited support from her husband and her sister for enabling her to raise her two young children, ages 3 and 8, while pursing the challenge of a career in medicine.

Nicholas Tsouris, who grew up in Stony Brook and is a former professional lacrosse player, was part of a team of fellow students hailed by Popular Mechanics magazine as “Backyard Geniuses” for their invention of a spoke-less bicycle. After graduating from Yale, he worked on Wall Street while playing major league lacrosse, later deciding to pursue medicine.

The school has steadily increased its incoming class size over the past several years in order to address the significant shortage of physicians nationally, as cited by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

New to the ceremony this year was the presentation of a stethoscope to each student to accompany with their white coats. The school’s alumni association donated the 132 stethoscopes for the event.

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Barbara Chapman on the side of a pyramid during her trip to Egypt. Photo from Chapman

If the smartest people in the world gathered in a room, they might struggle to collaborate. An Australian astrophysicist might have a different way of solving problems from the Spanish sociologist. That doesn’t even address language barriers.

Similar principles hold true for the world’s best super computers. While each may have an ability to perform numerous calculations, gather information, and extrapolate from patterns too complicated to discover with a pencil and paper, they can be limited in their ability to work together efficiently.

That’s where a leader in the field of parallel computing comes in. Barbara Chapman, who has been at the University of Houston since 1999, has taught rising stars in the field, written textbooks and enabled the combination of supercomputers to become more than the proverbial sum of their parts.

And, this week, she is bringing her talents to Long Island, where she’s starting the next step in her career as a professor of Applied Math and Statistics, and Computer Science at Stony Brook, as part of the Institute for Advanced Computational Science and as an affiliate at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Calling Chapman a “pioneer in the world of parallel computing,” Sunita Chandrasekaran, who was a post-doctoral researcher in Chapman’s lab, predicted Chapman would “attract top graduate students from across the globe. Many students would love to do research under Chapman’s supervision.”

Lei Huang, an assistant professor in the computer science department at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, considers Chapman his “mentor,” and said she is “always patient with students,” making her a “valuable asset” to Stony Brook. Huang, who did his Ph.D. and worked as a post doc in Chapman’s lab, added that she proposed and implemented innovative language features to improve performance and productivity of programming on supercomputers.

Chapman, who grew up in New Zealand, said she left the more temperate region of Houston driven, in part, by the intelligence and personality of Robert J. Harrison, Stony Brook’s director for the Institute for Advanced Computational Science. Additionally, Chapman sees opportunities to work with local collaborators.

Chapman works to make it easier for scientists and other users to get computers to solve their problems and gain insights from massive amounts of data. She strives to get high-powered computers to work together efficiently.

Scientists need to give computers a way of telling the cores how to interact and collaborate. Dividing up the work and ensuring that these computers share data are among the challenges of her role.

The new Stony Brook scientist helped develop OpenMP, which can be used to program multicores and is an industry standard used in cell phones, among other things.

President Obama unveiled plans to build an exascale computer, which might be capable of performing a billion billion operations per second. Building this computer will have numerous challenges, including hardware, power, memory, data movement, resilience and programming.

Chandrasekaran, who recently joined the University of Delaware as an assistant professor, said software programming needs to be more intuitive, portable across platforms and adaptable without any compromise in performance. Chapman, she said, is a leader in these fields, bringing together national laboratories, vendors and academia.

As a part of a group of researchers asked to identify opportunities for collaborations between the United States and Egypt, Chapman also journeyed to Egypt. While it was a “wonderful experience,” Chapman said the efforts were put on hold indefinitely after the revolution.

Applications that exploit supercomputers range from astrophysics to the automotive industry to analyzing old texts, to determine if the works of classical scholars were written or translated by the same person, Chapman said.

Chapman and her colleagues work to design features to support the next generation of computers. In the next few years, Chapman expects computers to have more complex memory, while the cores will be more heterogeneous.

At the same time, hardware manufacturers are focused on green computing, enabling the same computing power while using less energy.

Chapman enjoys working in an academic setting, where she can inspire the next generation of computer scientists. She will start teaching at Stony Brook in 2016.

While Chapman’s work centers around helping computers get the most from their collaborations, she also believes the workforce would benefit from attracting, training and supporting people from a broader range of backgrounds, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and women.

“If we had a much more diverse group of people, how would our use of computers change?” she asks. “Would we find other uses of computers?”

Chapman is encouraged that her concern about diversity is a matter numerous people in Washington are discussing. “I chaired a small study on this last year for the Department of Energy,” she said. “There’s a lot of buy-in to the notion that it’s important to change that.”

Chapman said an early experience working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ignited her interest in computer science. She worked with people who were exploring what happens when a spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. They were designing materials that are better able to withstand the heat and speed of returning to Earth.

“People can use machines for finding out what’s going on in the universe in the big picture,” she said. “That got me hooked.”

This version corrects the title of Sunita Chandrasekaran.

Bill would limit cars allowed per bedroom

Supervisor Ed Romaine listens to resident concerns at the town meeting. Photo by Giselle Barkley

It’s a battle between the town and landlords as officials and concerned homeowners keep trying to combat illegal housing.

A proposed Brookhaven Town law aims to prevent overcrowding in rental homes by limiting the number of allowed tenants to four unrelated people — half as many as currently permitted — and restricting the number of permitted vehicles at a rental house to one car per legal bedroom plus one additional car. At a four-bedroom rental house, that translates to five allowed vehicles.

The proposal is the most recent in a string of initiatives to prevent illegal house rentals, including a measure that outlawed paving over front yards to make additional space to park cars.

“That’s how bad it was,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said during last week’s Brookhaven Town Board meeting.

The housing issue came to the forefront a few years ago with the help of Bruce Sander, the president of Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners. In Three Village and neighboring areas like Port Jefferson and Middle Country, residents have spoken against illegal and often overcrowded rental homes that are filled with Stony Brook University students, citing quality of life issues such as noise and overflowing trash.

Romaine said the rules detailed in the proposed law would make it easier for the town to identify rental homes that house more people than legally allowed.

“There are a number of people who have taken over foreclosed houses for sale with four bedrooms,” Romaine said. “They’ve carved it up and put around eight to 10 students in them.”

Sander said students aren’t the issue — landlords are.

“The law department and town investigators are on top of this all the time because the landlord never obeys the laws,” Sander said in an interview, referring to landlords who rent houses to more tenants than legally allowed. “It’s just the nature of the beast; it’s just what they do.”

Sander helped found Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners around three years ago, after he moved to Stony Brook and identified two illegal boarding houses across the street from him. As the boarding houses became disruptive, residents in the area became concerned.

“I saw the value of my house and the value of my property just go down the tank.”

Tracking the number of people living in one rental home has been difficult for the town, but officials hope counting cars will make the process easier. The town’s overall goal is to provide legal housing for students without disrupting their neighbors.

“Stony Brook is a middle to upper-middle income,” Romaine said. “People moving in with their kids expect a certain quality of life.”

One member of the concerned homeowners group said at the town board meeting that he would like the town to focus on property upkeep as well.

“We’d like [the homes] to stay at a level of cleanliness and order that the community has around [the home],” the man said.

While rental housing and landlord issues are not as bad as they once were, Sander said there is more to be done.

“We still have a lot of work to do; these houses are in disrepair,” Sander said during the board meeting. “Some of these landlords just believe that they’re immune and that our group is going to go away. Well no, we’re growing. We have 1,400 to 1,500 homeowners that are standing strong against these illegal houses.”

The public hearing on the latest proposed law is set for Thursday, Oct. 1, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall in Farmingville.

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Professor Allen Tannenbaum. Photo from Stony Brook University

It’s a dangerous enemy that often turns deadly. Worse than its potentially lethal nature, however, cancer has an ability to work around any roadblocks scientists and doctors put in its path, rendering some solutions that bring hope ineffective.

Researchers around the world are eagerly searching for ways to stay one, two or three moves ahead of cancer, anticipating how the many forms of this disease take medicine’s best shot and then go back to the business of jeopardizing human health.

Allen Tannenbaum, a professor of computer science and applied mathematics and statistics at Stony Brook University, has added a field called graph theory to some of the tools he knows well from his work in medical imaging and computer vision.

A normal, healthy cell is like a factory, with genes sending signals through proteins, enzymes and catalysts, moving reactions forward or stopping them, and the genetic machinery indicating when and how hard the parts should work.

Cancer, however, is like a hostile takeover of that factory, producing the factory equivalent of M16s that damage the cell and the individual instead of baby toys, Tannebaum suggested.

By analyzing how proteins or transcription networks interact, Tannenbaum and his colleagues can develop a model for the so-called curvature of interactions.

Looking at the interactions among parts of the genetic factory, Tannenbaum can determine and quantify the parts of the cell that are following cancer commands, rather than doing their original task.

Curvature isn’t so much a bending of a physical space as it is a change in the way the different proteins or transcription factors function in the discrete networks Tannenbaum uses in cancer and biology.

“The parts are not doing their job the same way,” Tannenbaum said. “We can look and see graphically how different things compare.” He and his collaborators recently published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

Using mathematical formulas to define a range of interactions, Tannenbaum can determine how quickly a cancer or normal cell can return to its original state after a disturbance. This ability is called its robustness.

The study “brings to light a new way to understand and quantify the ability of cancer cells to adapt and develop resistance,” explained Tryphon T. Georgiou, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota, who has known Tannenbaum for over 30 years and collaborated on this study. “It also provides ways to identify potential targets for
drug development.”

Tannenbaum studied cells from six different tumor types and supplemented the study with networks that contain about 500 cancer-related genes from the Cosmic Cancer Gene Census.

In treatments for cancers, including sarcomas, researchers and doctors sometimes try to pull the plug on cancer’s energy network. This method can slow cancer down, but cancer often resumes its harmful operations.

Using models of cancer on a computer, Tannenbaum and the five graduate students and four postdoctoral fellows can run virtual experiments. He can hand off his results to biologists, who can then run tests. Once those scientists collect data, they can offer information back to Tannenbaum.

“This is a team effort,” said Tannenbaum, who works with scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Georgiou described Tannenbaum as a “brilliant scholar” and a “mathematician with unparalleled creativity,” who has been a “pioneer in many fields,” including computer vision. Indeed, a computer vision program could assist nurses in the intensive care unit on different shifts assess the level of pain from someone who might not otherwise be able to communicate it.

Georgiou called Tannenbaum’s work on cancer a “mission” and said Tannenbaum is “absolutely determined to use his remarkable skills as a mathematician and as a scientist” to defeat it.

Tannenbaum, who recently took his grandchild to a Mets win at CitiField, said coming to Stony Brook in 2013 was a homecoming, bringing him closer to his native Queens. He cited two famous graduates from Far Rockaway High School: the physicist Richard Feynman, who helped develop the atomic bomb, and Bernie Madoff.

He and his wife Rina, who is a professor in materials science and engineering at Stony Brook, live in Long Island City.

Tannenbaum hopes to continue to build on his work applying math to solving cancer.

“There’s a lot of mathematical play left and then testing the predictions in a biological/medical setting,” he said.

Tommy the chimp looks through his cage upstate. Photo from Nonhuman Rights Project

The two chimpanzees housed at Stony Brook University will not be granted the personhood necessary to allow them to challenge their captivity, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in an animal rights advocacy group’s lawsuit against the school.

Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled in her July 30 decision that Hercules and Leo, the two male chimps used for research at Stony Brook University’s Department of Anatomical Sciences, would not be granted a “writ of habeas corpus,” as petitioned for in the Nonhuman Rights Project’s suit against the university. The animal rights group had petitioned the judge with hopes of forcing the university to move the chimps to the Florida-based Save the Chimps animal sanctuary.

“The similarities between chimpanzees and humans inspire the empathy felt for a beloved pet,” Jaffe said in her decision. “Efforts to extend legal rights to chimpanzees are thus understandable; someday they may even succeed. For now, however, given the precedent to which I am bound it is hereby ordered that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.”

Jaffe cited previous suits the Nonhuman Rights Project had headed up, including one referencing a chimpanzee named Tommy who was being held through Circle L Trailers in Gloversville, NY. In that case, the Fulton County Supreme Court dismissed the Nonhuman Rights Project’s appeal to have the chimp released.

Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, said his group was still looking forward to appealing Jaffe’s decision to the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division’s first judicial department.

“Unlike Justice Jaffe, [the first judicial department] is not bound by the decision of the Third Department in Tommy’s case,” Wise said in a statement.

Despite the judge’s ruling, Susan Larson, an anatomical sciences professor at SBU, previously said both Hercules and Leo will retire from the facility’s research center and be gone by September. Larson did not return requests for comment.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, however, said it would work to ensure the chimps are released to a sanctuary nevertheless.

“We applaud Stony Brook for finally doing the right thing,” Lauren Choplin of the Nonhuman Rights Project wrote on the group’s website. “We have made it clear that we remain willing to assist Stony Brook in sending Hercules and Leo to Save the Chimps in Ft. Pierce, Florida, where we have arranged for them to be transferred, or to have an appropriate member sanctuary of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, as we did in Tommy’s case. We have made it equally clear that, if Stony Brook attempts to move Hercules and Leo to any other place, we will immediately seek a preliminary injunction to prevent this move pending the outcome of all appeals, as we succeeded in doing in Tommy’s case last year.”

New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana owns the chimps, and their next destination was not clear.

The court first ordered the school to show cause and writ of habeas corpus — a command to produce the captive person and justify their detention — but struck out the latter on April 21, one day after releasing the initial order, making it a more administrative move simply prompting the university to defend why it detains the animals.

In an earlier press release from 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project said the chimpanzee plaintiffs are “self-aware” and “autonomous” and therefore should have the same rights as humans. Hercules and Leo are currently being used in a locomotion research experiment in SBU’s Department of Anatomical Sciences.

University launches geese control program to save Roth

A homemade vessel makes its away across Roth Pond in May. Photo by Phil Corso

An on-campus pond at Stony Brook University has been deemed unsafe, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The state DEC reported that Roth Pond, a roughly 200-yard body of water in the center of a Stony Brook University residential housing complex, had an excessive amount of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. It was listed as one of seven locations in the state known to pose the risk of harming anyone who might swim or wade within it, the state said.

“Cyanobacteria are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers,” the state DEC said in a statement. “However, they can become abundant, forming blooms in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. They may produce floating scums on the surface of the water, or may cause the water to take on paint-like appearance.”

A spokeswoman for Stony Brook University said the campus’s Environmental Health and Safety Department posted blue-green algae bloom advisory signs in several locations around Roth Pond, as recommended by the state Department of Health. She said the university has already taken preventative measures to reduce and eliminate the algae, including diverting runoff, installing fountains to aerate water and implementing a geese control program.

“Roth Pond, a man-made pond, is not used for bathing or swimming,” the SBU spokeswoman said. “Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are naturally present in lakes and streams. There are many environmental conditions that may trigger algae bloom, including nutrient loading, sunlight, calm water and warm temperatures.”

The news of the health risk came just months after the university’s annual coveted Roth Pond Regatta, which tasks students with launching makeshift vessels across the pond to blow off steam during finals week. This year’s event set sail on May 1.

School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Professor Christopher Gobbler is an expert on blue-green algae blooms and has been working with the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Department to test the water and formulate a plan for dealing with the algae bloom, the spokeswoman said.

The state said anyone who comes in contact with the water would in turn open themselves up to the possibility of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. In order to avoid such risks, the state DEC advised that anyone who comes in contact with water that appears scummy or discolored should rinse off with clean water immediately and seek medical attention.

Other areas that were also pegged for excessive amounts of blue-green algae included McKay Lake in Calverton, Fort Pond in Montauk, Kellis Pond in Bridgehampton, Wainscott Pond in Wainscott, Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton and Marratooka Lake in Mattituck.

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Kristen Fraas leaps over the hurdle for Ward Melville. Photo from Fraas

Athletes use different things for motivation. Some are fueled by a desire to be the best. Some are highly competitive. Some are driven by the fear of letting down their teammates. In a sport like track and field, where the main competitor is the clock as much as the opponent, it can be difficult to maintain a competitive edge. But Kirsten Fraas never had an issue with staying intrinsically motivated during her outstanding career with the Ward Melville track and field team.

“What got me out of my bed was the fear of disappointing my coaches,” Fraas said. “I always wanted to do my best because what’s the point of me going to practice if I wasn’t going to put my whole heart into it? I also wanted to be there for my team. I didn’t want to let any of them down, either. I got myself out of bed to be the best I could be and to be consistent for my team.”

Fraas’ former and future coaches said the track and field competitor has a relentless work ethic.

“She has an amazing work ethic,” Ward Melville junior varsity head coach J.P. Dion said. “She came to practice every day ready to work and gave 100 percent every day.”

Fraas was a key member of a team that won back-to-back League 1 championships. She was highly decorated in her four-year varsity career, winning awards for being a scholar athlete and a tri-sport athlete, and she also won the Gold Key award, which is given to athletes who letter in at least eight of the nine seasons between grades 10 and 12.

“Kirsten is highly motivated and she’s a hard worker,” Stony Brook track and field assistant coach Howard Powell said of Fraas, shedding light on what made her an attractive recruit for their program. “I’m hoping that she can bring some of her strong work ethic to our team. I’m looking forward to working with her over the next couple of years.”

Fraas competed in multiple events during high school, including 100 and 400-meter hurdles, the 400 run, and the 4×4 relay. Fraas said the 4×4 was her favorite event. Powell mentioned plans to use Fraas in a variety of different events during her time at Stony Brook.

“I think that the thing I’ll miss most is my team,” Fraas said, reflecting on her time at Ward Melville. “We’re all very close knit and we’ve spent so much time together that we’ve become a family, so it’s [going to] be difficult leaving that part of my life behind.”

Dion reflected on the mark his now former runner left on the highly successful program.

She is a great kid,” he said. “Thanks to her leadership skills, she helped make our jobs as coaches easy. She is a very talented athlete and I wish her the best at Stony Brook.”

Fraas credited her family as being a strong support system.

“It means a lot to me that they’ve invested so much of their time into my success,” she said. “I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

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