Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook football closed its 2023 season on Nov. 11, finishing 0-10 overall after falling 38-20 to No. 18 UAlbany at LaValle Stadium. 

Redshirt freshman Daron Bryden led Stony Brook’s passing attack, finishing 21-of-31 for 208 yards through the air, tossing one touchdown without an interception, in his first start of the season.

Redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson reeled in six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, while classmate Jayce Freeman contributed in the receiving game as well, hauling in three balls for 51 yards. Redshirt junior Ross Tallarico added a pair of catches for 32 yards.

In the rushing game, redshirt junior Roland Dempster led all Seawolves rushers with 46 yards in the contest.

On defense, graduate student Aidan Kaler finished with 10 tackles, adding a tackle for loss. Graduate student Quenton Porter marked his final game in a Stony Brook uniform with a career-high eight tackles, and tied a career-high with two pass breakups. Redshirt junior Clarens Legagneur recorded a 49-yard pick-six to go with five tackles and two TFLs.

For UAlbany, Reese Poffensbarger completed 20-of-28 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns. Griffin Woodell led all rushers with 151 yards and a score. Brevin Easton caught six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown while Julian Hicks added six receptions for 62 yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns.

Before the game, three Stony Brook football student-athletes were honored for Senior Day – linebacker De’Aundre Cruz, offensive lineman D’Angelo McKinnie and defensive back Quenton Porter.

Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team got a 26-point performance from the bench on the way to an 82-61 win over the Le Moyne Dolphins on the road Nov. 11.

The Seawolves (2-0) had three players score in double figures, led by Khari Clark, who had 19 points and eight rebounds. Sherese Pittman tacked on 14 points, seven assists and two steals and Gigi Gonzalez helped out with 14 points, seven assists and two steals.

The Stony Brook offense was very productive from beyond the arc, making 10 threes on 24 attempts. Victoria Keenan paced the Seawolves behind the line by draining three treys in the contest.

Also, Stony Brook forced 17 Le Moyne turnovers in Saturday’s game. The Seawolves turned those takeaways into 16 points on the other end of the floor. Keenan led the way individually with three steals.

“I thought today was a total team effort. It was really nice to see some of our younger players out there on the floor gaining experience. I thought we got better defensively which will help us in the future,” said head coach Ashley Langford. 

The team hits the road again to take on Maryland Eastern Shore in Maryland on Nov. 15. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on 

From left, Joshua Rest and Jackie Collier. The blurred image in the background shows the genome structure of Aurantiochytrium limacinum, including the arrays of rDNAs at the chromosome ends, and the two mirusvirus elements that were discovered. Photo by Donna DiGiovanni

By Daniel Dunaief

They were trying for two years to solve a puzzle that didn’t make sense. Then, a combination of another discovery, some extensive analysis, and a deep dive into the past helped them put the pieces together.

Jackie Collier, Associate Professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University and Joshua Rest, also an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook, had been looking closely at the genetic sequence of a marine protist called Aurantiochytrium limacinum. A circular section and pieces at the end of the chromosome seemed inconsistent with the rest of the genes and with the specific type of single-celled organism.

But then, they saw a preprint of a paper in 2022 that the prestigious journal Nature published earlier this year that described a new type of virus, called a mirusvirus, which appeared to have genetic similarities and a signature that matched what they saw in their protist.

Mirus means “strange” or unknown in Latin, which was a way to describe the unusual evolutionary traits of these viruses.

Collier and Rest, working with a group of collaborators, found that a high copy circular structure and genetic elements that integrated at the end of one chromosome resembled this mirusvirus.

“From the perspective of the virus folks, ‘mirus’ was apt because the mirusviruses contain features of the two very distinct ‘realms’ of viral diversity,” Collier explained. “Our results confirm that strangeness, and add more strangeness in terms of two different ways to maintain themselves (circular episomes or integrated into a chromosome) in the same host genome.”

Researchers had discovered the mirusvirus by sequencing DNA they took from the ocean. “What our findings do is connect to a host and hopefully eventually prove that there is a protist that contains a mirusvirus genome,” said Collier.

The Aurantiiochytrium protist, which is part of the Thraustochytrids order, intrigues researchers in part because it produces essential omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids, which enhances its biotechnology potential. This protist also intrigues Collier because it is involved in decomposing dead mangrove leaves in mangrove forests.

Dormant virus

The Stony Brook scientists have been working on analyzing the genome for a paper they recently published in the journal Current Biology since 2019.

“We had been struggling to figure out what that was,” said Collier. “We had a lot of hints that it had some relationship to some kind of viruses, but it wasn’t similar enough to any known virus. We were struggling to figure out what to call this thing,” which they had tentatively designated CE1, for circular element one.

Identifying viral elements provided the “hook” for the paper.

Rest suggested that the different confounding elements in the protist genome came from two different viruses.

At this point, Collier and Rest think the virus may be something like the herpesvirus, which hides out in human nerve cells. That virus enters a latent phase, remaining quiescent until a host becomes stressed.

John Archibald, Lucie Gallot-Lavallee and others from Dalhousie University in Canada, who are collaborators on this study, are creating the kind of conditions, such as lower food or colder temperatures, that might reactivate the viral DNA, causing it to release viral particles.

The research team has detected similar mirusvirus proteins in other Aurantiochytrium isolates and in four other Thraustochytrid genomes. 

Focusing on this protist

Collier started working on thraustochytrids in 2002, after the first outbreak of QPX disease in Raritan Bay hard clams.

Bassem Allam, who is now the Marinetics Endowed professor in Marine Sciences at SBU asked Collier if she would help understand what was going on with the clams which had QPX disease. That was caused by another Thraustochytrid.

The organism that caused QPX is a relative of the protist that interested Collier.  She chose Aurantiochytrium in part because it was the easiest to grow.

When the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation started a program to develop molecular genetic methods for diverse marine protists about seven years ago, Collier approached Rest for a potential collaboration.

A key piece, half a century old

In her informatics work, Collier followed a path that Google or artificial intelligence might otherwise have missed.

Like traveling back hand over hand in time through older research, Collier pulled up the references from one study after another. Finally, she found an intriguing study from 1972 that had overlaps with their work.

Scientists had isolated a Thraustochytrid from an estuary in Virginia using the same kinds of methods Collier and Rest used to grow Aurantiochytrium. Using electron microscopy, these earlier researchers characterized its ultrastructure. Along the way, these 1970’s scientists noticed that starved cells released viral particles, which Collier and Rest believe might be the first record of a mirusvirus.

The researchers wrote a short paper that the prestigious journal Science published.

A cat connection

While Collier, who lives in Lake Grove, and Rest, who is a resident of Port Jefferson, are collaborators at Stony Brook, they have also have a feline connection.

In the beginning of the pandemic, a feral cat delivered kittens in Rest’s garage. Rest’s family initially tried to raise them, but allergies made such a pet arrangement untenable. 

A cat lover, Collier was searching for kittens. She adopted two of the kittens, bottle feeding them starting at three days old. When Collier and Rest speak by zoom, Rest’s children Julia, nine, and Jonah, five, visit with the cats virtually.

As for their work, Collier and Rest are intrigued by the possibility of gathering additional pieces to answer questions about this virus.

“For me, the most intriguing question is how common our observations will turn out to be — do many Thraustochytrids have latent mirusviruses?” she explained.

The Stony Brook Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and News 12 are partnering for a food drive in the month of November, benefiting the Stony Brook University food pantry. Bring non-perishable food items to an upcoming basketball or football game and receive one free ticket.

Bins will be located in the Island Federal Arena Lobby outside of the Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center and in the Pritchard Gymnasium Lobby.

Last year, the SAAC food drive generated over 650 items for the Stony Brook food pantry. This year, SAAC alongside News 12 aims to gather over 700 non-perishable items that can be donated to the Stony Brook food pantry.

SBU Coach Chuck Priore on right. Photo by Jim Harrison/Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook University Athletics Department announced on Nov. 13 that Chuck Priore will not return as the head coach of the football team next season. 

The Seawolves finished 0-10 this season after Nov. 11th’s 38-20 loss to Albany.

Chuck Priore

“I am grateful to Chuck for his 18 years of dedication to Stony Brook University and to the countless young men whose lives he has impacted,” said Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron. “Under his direction, our program earned multiple playoff appearances while sending our first wave of players into the NFL.”
The Seawolves will conduct a national search to find the third head coach in the program’s Division I history. 
“As we embark upon this transition, the search for the next leader of our football program begins immediately,” said Heilbron.

Effective immediately, offensive coordinator Andrew Dresner will serve as interim head coach.

Over 18 seasons, Priore ushered the program into a new era as he guided Stony Brook from 20 scholarships to a fully-funded program of 63 scholarships, the maximum allowed at the FCS level.

Under Priore’s leadership, Stony Brook posted a number of firsts – a win over a FBS team (defeated Army in 2012), a 10-win season (2012), an at-large berth to the Division I Football Championship (2011), and produced the Seawolves’ first NFL player when Will Tye joined the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.

He led the Seawolves to four FCS postseason berths (2011, 2012, 2017, 2018) and in 2011, he guided Stony Brook to its first-ever postseason win with a 31-28 victory over UAlbany. The Seawolves claimed at least a share of four Big South Conference Championships (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) while Priore was at the helm of the program. 

During his tenure on Long Island, his student-athletes totaled 113 conference awards, which included seven major award winners. Additionally, he coached 44 All-Americans, among them Stony Brook Hall of Famer Miguel Maysonet, who was the runner-up for the prestigious Walter Payton Award in 2012.  

Priore was a two-time Big South Coach of the Year (2009, 2011), was once tabbed the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year (2012), and was twice named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Award (2011, 2012). Priore led the Seawolves to a 97-101 record over his time as head coach.  

Stony Brook University: Entrance sign

By Mallie Jane Kim 

Stony Brook University is studying traffic and pedestrian safety, thanks to a $1 million grant from the New York State Department of Transportation. The study will assess road safety on and around university properties to prevent pedestrian and cyclist traffic deaths, according to Heather Banoub, SBU’s new assistant vice president of community relations, and may include a pedestrian overpass at the intersection of Nicolls Road and state Route 347 with more sidewalks.

Banoub, who shared a range of university updates at the Three Village Civic Association’s Nov. 6 meeting, said she anticipates results from the study around 2025.

“It will determine what would be the best way to help our campus be safer — as well as our larger community — as people come into and out of campus,” she said.

In serving to introduce herself to the community, Banoub said she was previously at New York University, where she served as assistant director of communications since 2014.

Carl Mills, SBU’s assistant vice president for government relations, added that area traffic flow will also be part of the study but that efforts at improving traffic need to be a cooperative effort between the university, state, county and town.

He emphasized that the funding is for information collection, and no actual structural changes are in the works yet. “If we were even to go forward with the overpass, we would still have to apply for additional funding to get it,” Mills noted.

He added that since SBU was earmarked by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) as a flagship university of the state university system, there are efforts to increase capacity for “cutting edge” research, and he expects the student body and faculty to grow. The university is currently assessing needs for additional housing and buildings, but any development will involve increasing sewage capacity.

Banoub also told attendees that a new radar survey of the area around a gravesite on campus near Dogwood Drive found four additional gravesites, in addition to the four sets of remains previously discovered. Banoub said the university is hoping to engage a genealogist to attempt to discover who was buried there and whether they have any living relatives.

Banoub said the site will be part of a beautification plan “that will include appropriate markers designating the historic importance of this site and turning it into a place where people go and pay their respects.”

Civic association leaders expressed gratitude that three representatives from SBU joined the meeting — Erika Karp, community relations representative for Stony Brook Medicine/SBU, was also in attendance. Civic member George Hoffman welcomed this closer connection between university officials and the community. “I get a real sense we’ve turned a corner in our relationship,” he said. “It would be so incredible for the community to be working in partnership with this great institution, and I think you’ve got the right team in place to make that happen.”

New police advisory board

Also at the civic meeting, Felix Adeyeye, Suffolk County Police Department’s director of community engagement, encouraged residents to apply for the new Precinct Level Advisory Board, a group of eight to 12 people in each precinct who will have direct access to their precinct inspector to inform SCPD about areas of community concern as well as to learn about safety issues facing the county.”

Adeyeye said this initiative stemmed from a summer ruling against the department in a lawsuit over racial discrimination in traffic stops, brought by civil rights group LatinoJustice.

“There’s a mandate under the police reform that stipulates that the department must engage in an overabundance of community engagement effort,” he said, adding that this engagement must be at the administrative level and not just on the streets. ”I want to implore you to get very active in not only this civic association but also in your police department.”

The department’s website about the boards indicated the application deadline was Oct. 15, but at the meeting Adeyeye said the police department is still accepting applications and will begin the review process in December. 

Adeyeye said the community is fortunate to have these advisory boards, particularly since a community ambassadors program instituted by outgoing Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison is currently in limbo after the commissioner resigned last week, just months after his department’s widely celebrated accomplishment of making an arrest in connection with the Gilgo Beach serial killings, though an alleged party is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

The community ambassadors program is the prerogative of the sitting commissioner, and under Harrison allowed a handful of residents from each community access to the county’s top cop. Adeyeye said the newly-elected county executive when in office will appoint a replacement police commissioner, and there should not be a delay in the county Legislature approval process.

Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics

Stony Brook football was unable to stop a stout Monmouth offensive attack, falling 56-17 at Kessler Stadium in New Jersey on Nov. 4.

Stony Brook was led by season-best 141 rushing yards along with a score from redshirt junior Roland Dempster on a career-high 22 carries, averaging 6.4 per carry. Classmate Jadon Turner added 50 yards on 10 carries and while redshirt junior Jayden Cook provided Stony Brook’s other rushing score.

In the air, redshirt freshman Jayce Freeman caught four passes for 50 yards while fellow redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson finished with three catches for 33 yards. In the passing game, graduate student Casey Case went 9-of-17 for 79 yards and an interception, while redshirt freshman Daron Bryden took over in the second half, finishing 4-for-8 for 43 yards.

On defense, redshirt junior Nick Chimienti recorded nine tackles with eight solo stops on the day. Redshirt junior De’Aundre Cruz added seven tackles from the linebacker position. Stony Brook also got a big day on the line from redshirt sophomore Anthony Williams, who finished with 2.0 sacks and five tackles overall.

For Monmouth, Jaden Shirden rushed for 174 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Marquez McCray finished 22-of-27 passing for 323 yards and four touchdowns, all to different receivers. Dymere Miller led the receiving corps with 11 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown.

“We’ve got a great group of kids who keep on rallying despite our inability to execute at times. They haven’t quit and I’m proud of them from that perspective. We’ve faced some adversity as a program with some key injuries, but the kids that have stepped in have really stepped in well,” said head coach Chuck Priore.

The team returns home for the season finale on Saturday, Nov. 11 in the Battle for the Golden Apple against Albany for a 1 p.m. kick off on FloFootball. Next week’s contest will be senior day, as Stony Brook will honor its graduating football student-athletes pregame. Stony Brook is 10-14 all-time against the Great Danes.

On right, #0 Guard Gigi Gonzalez drives the ball down the court during Monday's game. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team broke open a 61-61 tie to end the third quarter and knocked off the Columbia Lions 85-73 at home Nov. 6 to earn their first victory of the season. 

The Seawolves (1-0) had five players score in double figures, led by Khari Clark, who put together a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Gigi Gonzalez added 18 points and Shamarla King helped out with 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals off of the bench.

The Stony Brook offense was very productive from downtown, making 10 threes on 27 attempts. Victoria Keenan was the most prolific shooter for the Seawolves, draining two treys in the contest.

The Stony Brook defense caused its share of mistakes in Monday’s game, forcing 17 Columbia turnovers. Those takeaways turned into 28 points on the offensive end of the floor. Clark’s three steals led the way individually for the Seawolves.


After falling behind 21-18, Stony Brook went on a 9-0 run with 1:36 left in the first quarter, culminating in a three from Keenan, to take a 27-21 lead, a score that would hold for the rest of the period. Stony Brook relied on its three-point shooting in the period, knocking down four shots to account for 12 of its 27 points.

Stony Brook kept its first quarter lead intact before going on a 6-0 run starting at the 5:07 mark in the second period, highlighted by a three from King, to increase its lead to 38-28. The Seawolves proceeded to tack on one point to that lead and enjoyed a 46-35 advantage heading into halftime. Stony Brook forced six Columbia turnovers in the period and turned them into seven points.

Stony Brook wasted no time building on its lead, going on a 6-0 run to expand its lead further to 52-35 with 7:59 to go in the third. The Lions then rallied to tie it at 61-61 heading into the fourth quarter. Stony Brook played well near the basket, scoring 10 of its 15 points in the paint.

Columbia then snagged a 64-63 advantage before Stony Brook responded by going on a 13-0 run to seize a 76-64 lead with 5:06 to go in the contest. The Seawolves held onto that lead for the rest of the game for the 85-73 win. Stony Brook got a boost from its bench in the period, with non-starters scoring seven of its 24 total points. 

The team hits the road to take on Le Moyne on November 11. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on NEC Front Row.

Allison Van Cott-McEntee

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The war in the Ukraine continues to rage on with countless innocent people dying. In the Middle East, the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza continues to take innocent lives. When will the violence and the hate end?

Social media is not helping. It is misrepresenting the truth on both sides and fueling hate and not peace.

Despite the complicated landscape we must navigate, there are still courageous men and women who are making a difference and attempting to protect the quality of life around us. The Play It Forward Project was founded after a sister had to bury her brother senselessly because of addiction. Instead of becoming bitter and angry, she decided to use her gifts and talents to help other families who are struggling with addiction to find help and support in a world that is out of control.

The primary goal of The Play It Forward Project is to break the stigma, bring awareness and offer resources to people and families struggling with addiction. Allison Van Cott-McEntee is the foundress of this creative approach to providing support, education and awareness in regards to this national health crisis. She and her team, Taylor Solomon and Kurt Hall, have created a dynamic podcast that airs every other Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. on 90.1 FM — Stony Brook University’s radio station.

Since their podcast has aired, they have interviewed Frank Tarentino from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney and Executive Assistant DA Megan O’Donnell, along with members from the police department and EMS. Probably their most powerful interview was with a father and son who are now both in recovery. Their story is emotionally very powerful and an important reminder that people do get better and live happy, productive lives.

The Play It Forward Project’s long-term goal is to have a mobile podcast that travels to local schools and to hold assemblies where students can get involved and share their stories. Their greatest hope is to create a peer-to-peer advocacy group that can bring young people into our schools to share their stories of struggle, recovery and hope.

Since the pandemic, drug use is even more out of control. Fentanyl is more lethal than heroin and is being laced in everything. Our present generation of young people, for all of their access to technology and information, are still grossly uneducated when it comes to using illegal substances that potentially can kill them.

The Play It Forward Project is a refreshing response to a devastating epidemic that we need to address today not tomorrow but now. This creative initiative needs our support. As someone in the trenches, I am grateful for their courage, their energy and their commitment to make a difference.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Heather Lynch, above, is the inaugural director of the Collaborative for the Earth at Stony Brook University. File photo courtesy Rolf Sjogren/National Geographic

Heather Lynch is hoping to take a few pages out of the Coke and Pepsi playbook, which is rarely, if ever, used in the fields where she works.

A penguin expert who has traveled more than 9,000 miles to Antarctica to monitor populations of these flightless water foul, Lynch, who is the IACS Endowed Chair of Ecology & Evolution, plans to use her new role as the inaugural director of the Collaborative for the Earth at Stony Brook University to accomplish several tasks, including shaping the way people think about environmental issues like climate change.

“Coke and Pepsi understand the importance of psychological research and persuasion,” Lynch said. “The environmental community has not used any of the tools to get at the hearts and minds” of the public.

Scientists have been trying to reach people in their heads when they also need to “reach them in their hearts,” she added.

Lynch hopes to figure out ways to bring in people who are experts in psychology and persuasion instead of adding another model of climate change consistent with so many others that have made similar predictions.

Lynch, whom a steering committee chose from among several qualified tenured faculty at SBU to take on this new role, will also help organize forums in which researchers and participants worldwide discuss pressing environmental issues.

In the forums, Lynch plans to encourage debate about challenging topics on which researchers disagree, such as the role of nuclear power in achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. She also hopes to address the concept and moral hazard of geoengineering.

In recent years, scientists have debated whether geoengineering, in which scientists use chemical means to cool the atmosphere, could exacerbate the problem or give people false hope that taking steps to reduce emissions or mitigate climate change may not be necessary.

Lynch also suggested other “third-rail topics” as population control may be fodder for future Stony Brook forums.

Scientists “don’t discuss controversial things,” said Lynch. “There tends to be an echo chamber in the scientific community. The forum will help us air these issues.”

To be sure, Lynch believes the issue of climate change and the urgency of the climate crisis is well established. The differences she hopes to discuss relate to various potential solutions.

“I’m hoping to focus on things where we disagree,” she said. “We need to get at the root of that.”

SBU Provost Carl Lejuez, to whom Lynch is reporting in this role. File photo

The right candidate

As a candidate, Lynch met numerous criteria for the search committee and for Provost Carl Lejuez, to whom Lynch is reporting in this role.

“Her research is and has been squarely placed to understand climate change and the climate crisis and how we try to move forward toward a healthier planet,” said Lejuez.

Lynch is also a “creative, entrepreneurial thinker” who has an “exciting vision for what the Collaborative can be,” Lejuez said. “She has a real strength in leadership and is very good at bringing people together.”

Lejuez has several goals for the Collaborative in its first year. He would like Lynch to start creating forums that can “live up to the potential of being a leader in creating that academic conference that brings rigor to real-world problems” and is connected to policy, industry and politics and that has clear deliverables.

Additionally, Lejuez would like the Collaborative to move toward an understanding of Stony Brook’s role in the future of climate science, climate justice and sustainability.

New podcasts

Lynch plans to dedicate considerable energy to this effort, cutting back on some of her teaching time. She plans to conduct podcasts with people on campus, speaking with them about their work, what keeps them up at night, what technologies excite them and a host of other topics.

She also hopes to bring in the “brightest lights” to big-stage events at Governors Island and on Long Island.

She is pondering the possibility of creating a competition akin to the entrepreneurial TV show “Shark Tank.” At Stony Brook University, faculty judges could evaluate ideas and advance some of them.

The Shark Tank could give students an opportunity to propose ways to create a greener Stony Brook campus.

As for the psychology and social science of environmental efforts, Lynch plans to work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science to explore ways to understand how people think about these issues.

The evidence and impact of climate change increases the urgency of this work and the potential contribution of the university to debating, addressing and proposing solutions.

Earlier this year, Hurricane Otis intensified within 12 hours from a tropical storm to a deadly Category 5 hurricane, slamming into Mexico.

The potential for future storms with intensification that occurs so rapidly that forecasts might not provide warnings with sufficient time to take emergency measures should ring alarm bells for area residents.

Hurricane Otis, whose intensification was the second-fastest recorded in modern times, “should scare everybody on Long Island,” said Lynch. “People think toddling along with business as usual is an option. That is not an option.”