Distinguished Academy logo banner
Honorary Medallion of Distinction

Honorary Medallion of Distinction

The Honorary Medallion of Distinction honors a prominent individual who has enhanced the research, teaching or service components of the State University of New York, and she/he becomes an honorary member of the SUNY Distinguished Academy.


Al Roker

Al Roker

Al Roker is the weather and feature anchor of NBC News' TODAY as well as the co-host of third hour of TODAY. He joined in January 1996. From July 2009 to September 2015, Roker served as co-host of the morning show "Wake Up with Al" on the Weather Channel. Until January 2000, he also served as the weekday weather forecaster for News Channel 4's early evening newscast Live at 5 on WNBC-TV, NBC's flagship owned and operated station in New York City. Roker came to WNBC-TV as a weekend weathercaster in December 1983 from WKYC-TV, the NBC television station in Cleveland. Roker began his broadcasting career while still in college by landing a job as a weekend weatherman at WTVH-TV in Syracuse, NY in 1974. After graduation he moved on to weathercasting jobs in Washington, DC (1976-1978) and Cleveland, OH (1978-1983). Roker has been named Best Weatherman twice by New York Magazine. He is a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's prestigious Seal of Approval and has been a pioneer in the use of computer graphics for weathercasting. Roker has won three Daytime Emmy Awards as part of TODAY's recognition as the best morning newscast (2007, 2009, 2010). Roker also co-hosts Sirius XM's "Off the Rails" with Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones and hosts "Cold Cuts with Al Roker" on Today.com and YouTube. He made his Broadway stage debut in "Waitress" in October 2018 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City, playing the part of Old Joe.

In November 2014, Roker made history on TODAY for "Rokerthon," in which he broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Uninterrupted Live Weather Report Broadcast by providing 34 hours of continuous weather coverage. The following year in October 2015, "Rokerthon 2" broke the Guinness World Record for the Fastest Time to Report a Weather Forecast from All 50 US States and the District of Colombia, which he completed in one week. In March 2017 for "Rokerthon 3," Roker visited five colleges across the country in five days and helped college students break additional Guinness World Records. In August 2020 for "Rokerthon 4," Roker enlisted the help of nearly 70 renowned chefs, including Bobby Flay, Priya Krishna, Sandra Lee, Marcus Samuelsson and Andrew Zimmern, to set a new Guinness World Records record for the most people in an online sandwich-making relay.

Throughout the years, Roker has reported live for TODAY from some of history's worst storms and natural disasters including Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Isaac, Superstorm Sandy and the earthquake in Haiti. Among many highlights of his career as an interviewer, Roker conducted an exclusive interview with Peanuts creator Charles Shultz shortly before his death from colon cancer. Additional interview highlights include Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds, James Earl Jones and B. Smith. Since 1985, Roker has co-hosted the annual Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. He also co-hosts the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Bowl Parade. For ten years, from 2001 to 2010, and in 2017, Roker's "Lend a Hand Today" initiative took him across the country and raised millions to help small charities work towards improving conditions in their communities. In 1994, Roker founded Al Roker Entertainment, Inc. (ARE), a thriving multimedia company involved in the development and production of network, cable, home video, and public television projects. ARE produces programming for a diverse clientele including NBC News, Lifetime Television, A&E, The History Channel, E!, Discovery Networks, PBS, TV ONE, Oxygen, The Cartoon Network and NBC Television Stations Group.

Roker is a bestselling author with 13 acclaimed books to his credit: "The Morning Show Murders", "The Midnight Show Murders", "The Talk Show Murders", "Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue", "Don't Make Me Stop This Car: Adventures in Fatherhood", "Al Roker's Hassle Free Holiday Cookbook", "Never Goin' Back : Winning the Weight Loss Battle for Good", "Big Shoes: In Celebration of Dads and Fatherhood", "Been There Done That: Family Wisdom For Modern Times", "The Storm of the Century", "Al Roker's Extreme Weather," "Ruthless Tide," and "You Look So Much Better in Person." Roker is a member of several professional organizations including the Friars Club, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Meteorological Society. Raised in Queens, New York, Roker received his B.A. in Communications from the State University of New York at Oswego in 1976, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the school in 1998. He resides in Manhattan with his wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts. Roker has two daughters and one son.

Follow Al on Twitter and Instagram: @alroker


H. Carl McCall headshot

Chairman Emeritus H. Carl McCall

H. Carl McCall was appointed Chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees on October 17, 2011, and served in this positon until retiring from the Board on June 30, 2019. The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 1.4 million students in more than 7,500 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses.

Mr. McCall served as Comptroller of the State of New York from May 1993 to December 2002. As Chief Fiscal Officer of the State, he was responsible for governmental and financial oversight and pension fund management. As sole Trustee of the 880,000-member State and Local Retirement Systems, Mr. McCall was responsible for investing a pension fund valued at $120 billion.

Mr. McCall has had a distinguished career as a public servant. He served three terms as a New York State Senator representing the upper Manhattan district of New York City; as an Ambassador to the United Nations; as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and as the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights.

Mr. McCall has been a passionate advocate for public education. He served as President of the New York City Board of Education from 1991–1993, where he set policy for the largest school system in the nation.

He has also been active in the private sector; he served as a Vice President of Citibank and as Corporate Director of the New York Stock Exchange, Tyco International, New Plan Realty Corporation, Ariel Investment, and presently Athene Holding.

He was educated at Dartmouth College, Andover Newton Theological Seminary, and the University of Edinburgh. He is the recipient of nine honorary degrees.

He is married to Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of the Fashion Institute of Technology.


Dr. Valerie Steele

Valerie Steele

Dr. Valerie Steele is Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she has organized more than 25 exhibitions since 1997, including "The Corset", L"ondon Fashion", "Gothic: Dark Glamour", "Daphne Guinness", "A Queer History of Fashion", "Dance and Fashion", "Proust’s Muse", and (forthcoming) "Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color" (September 2018).

She is also the author or editor of more than 25 books, including "Paris Fashion", "Women of Fashion", "Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power", "The Corset", "The Berg Companion to Fashion", and F"ashion Designers A-Z: The Collection of The Museum at FIT".  Her books have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. In addition, she is founder and editor in chief of "Fashion Theory:  The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture", the first peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in Fashion Studies.

Dr. Steele combines serious scholarship (and a Yale Ph.D.) with the rare ability to communicate with general audiences. As author, curator, editor, and public intellectual, Valerie Steele has been instrumental in creating the modern field of fashion studies and in raising awareness of the cultural significance of fashion. She has appeared on many television programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and Undressed: The Story of Fashion.  Described in The Washington Post as one of “fashion’s brainiest women” and by Suzy Menkes as “The Freud of Fashion,” she was listed as one of “The People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry” in the Business of Fashion 500 (2014 -present).



Chancellor Nancy Zimpher 150x225

Nancy Zimpher

Throughout a long and distinguished career that began in a one-room schoolhouse, Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher has created a paradigm-shifting vision that rises to meet the expansive responsibilities of public higher education in the 21st century. "To educate more people and to educate them better" is the mantra at the center of her collective-impact theory of action, which she honed in her eight years as chancellor of The State University of New York, all the while becoming one of the most in-demand thought-leaders in higher education in the United States.

Under Chancellor Emerita Zimpher’s leadership, SUNY’s visibility and reputation rose to new prominence on the national and international stages.

Beginning with the creation of the visionary strategic plan, The Power of SUNY, and a rebranding campaign that modernized the face of the system, Chancellor Emerita Zimpher led a diverse set of initiatives that have transformed SUNY from a loose constellation of 64 campuses into a powerful, cohesive whole. This revitalized and focused SUNY is positioned to expand to unprecedented breadth college access and completion, empowering New Yorkers to succeed in work and life in the 21st century.

Through the disciplined cultivation of “systemness,” Chancellor Emerita Zimpher’s leadership continued to break new ground for SUNY in several key areas. These include building on university strengths to drive regional and local economic development; creating seamless cradle-to-career education pipelines in every community; and systemically transforming educator preparation into a deliberate process that reliably creates great teachers for every classroom and student.

Under Chancellor Emerita Zimpher’s leadership, SUNY undertook the complex challenges to develop and implement a rational tuition policy, seamless transfer paths, cutting-edge student financial aid literacy tools, Early College High Schools, Open SUNY (the nation’s largest online learning platform), the SUNY Excels performance management system, and the system’s landmark Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy. Each of these monumental, game-changing initiatives was created with the express purpose of putting higher education and the chance for a better life within reach for every New Yorker.

Chancellor Emerita Zimpher is co-founder and current chair of StriveTogether, a national network of innovative partnerships that holistically address challenges across the education pipeline. SUNY now supports seven such partnerships across New York in an effort to mend the state’s education pipeline and support youth as they prepare for college and career. Further, together with New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Chancellor Emerita Zimpher created and launched TeachNY, an on-going campaign unlike any other in the state’s history to elevate teacher education.

Concurrent with her role as SUNY chancellor, Chancellor Emerita Zimpher also served as chair of the National Association of System Heads from 2014–2017, the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences from 2011–2016, and CEOs for Cities from 2012–2013, and led the national Coalition of Urban Serving Universities from 2005–2011.

Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher was appointed the twelfth chancellor of SUNY in June 2009. Prior to coming to New York, she served as president of the University of Cincinnati, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and executive dean of the Professional Colleges and dean of the College of Education at The Ohio State University.

Chancellor Emerita Zimpher holds a bachelor’s degree in English Education and Speech, a master’s degree in English Literature, and a Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Higher Education Administration, all from The Ohio State University. She has authored or co-authored numerous books, monographs, and academic journal articles on teacher education, urban education, academic leadership, and university-community engagement.

In September 2017, Dr. Zimpher stepped down from her position as SUNY’s chancellor to focus her professional efforts entirely on creating practices and policy that revolutionize teacher education and build seamless education pipelines in underserved communities.

With each institution and organization she has led throughout her distinguished career, Chancellor Emerita Zimpher has challenged her colleagues and partners to aspire to the “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” that might seem out of reach. Her major initiatives demonstrate her uncanny ability to transcend traditional boundaries between town and gown; public, private, and nonprofit sectors; and across all levels of education systems—garnering transformative results that change universities and communities for the better. Undergirding all of Chancellor Emerita Zimpher’s work is her unwavering commitment to improving education access and quality so that all Americans have the chance to meet their potential.



Eugene Drucker of the Emerson String Quartet

Eugene Drucker

Violinist Eugene Drucker, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, is also an active soloist. He has appeared with the orchestras of Montreal, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Hartford, Richmond, Omaha, Jerusalem and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as with the American Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Chamber Symphony. A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky, Mr. Drucker was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, with which he appeared as soloist several times. He made his New York debut as a Concert Artists Guild winner in the fall of 1976, after having won prizes at the Montreal Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

Mr. Drucker has recorded the complete unaccompanied works of Bach, reissued by Parnassus Records, and the complete sonatas and duos of Bartók for Biddulph Recordings. His novel, The Savior, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and has appeared in a German translation called Wintersonate, published by Osburg Verlag in Berlin. Mr. Drucker's compositional debut, a setting of four sonnets by Shakespeare, was premiered by baritone Andrew Nolen and the Escher String Quartet at Stony Brook in 2008; the songs have appeared as part of a 2-CD release called "Stony Brook Soundings," issued by Bridge Recordings in the spring of 2010. Eugene Drucker lives in New York with his wife, cellist Roberta Cooper, and their son Julian.



Paul Watkins of Emerson String Quartet

Paul Watkins

Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as cellist and conductor. Born in 1970, he studied with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki, and was appointed principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1990 at the age of 20. He made his concerto debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under Yakov Kreizberg. He now performs regularly with all the major British orchestras (including seven appearances at the BBC Proms) and many overseas orchestras including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Konzerthausorchester Berlin and the RAI National Symphony Orchestra of Turin.

A member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 to 2013, Mr. Watkins joined the Emerson String Quartet in May 2013. He is a regular participant at festivals and chamber music series, including New York’s Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo, and regularly performs with the world’s finest musicians, including Menahem Pressler, Jaime Laredo, Lars Vogt, Christian Tetzlaff and Vadim Repin. In 2014, Paul Watkins was appointed the Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. Highlights of recent seasons include solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and Queens Hall, Edinburgh, his debut at Carnegie Hall performing Brahms’s Double Concerto with Daniel Hope, as well as the premiere of a new concerto written especially for him by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Recent releases under his exclusive Chandos Records contract include Britten’s Cello Symphony, the Delius, Elgar and Lutoslawski cello concertos, and discs of Martinu’s and Mendelssohn’s music for cello and piano, and an ongoing series of Britsh sonatas with his brother Huw Watkins.

In 2009 he became the first ever Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra, and also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2009 to 2012. Since winning the 2002 Leeds Conducting Competition he has conducted all the major British orchestras, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Swedish and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Prague Symphony, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Tampere Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony, Queensland and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras.   



David Finckel with cello

David Finckel

Cellist David Finckel’s multifaceted career as concert performer, recording artist, educator, arts administrator, and cultural entrepreneur places him in the ranks of today’s most influential classical musicians. In recognition of artistic excellence and achievement in the arts, David Finckel and his long time recital partner, pianist Wu Han, were named Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year, one of the highest honors granted by the music industry. David Finckel’s concert appearances as orchestral soloist and duo recitalist take him to the world’s most prestigious concert series and festivals, and his wide-ranging musical activities also include the launch of ArtistLed, classical music’s first musician-directed, Internet-based recording company. David Finckel and Wu Han serve as Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Chamber Music Today Festival in Korea. They are also the founders and Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival in the San Francisco Bay Area. David Finckel has achieved universal renown for his passionate commitment to nurturing the careers of countless young artists through a wide array of education initiatives. For many years, he taught alongside the late Isaac Stern at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center. He has appeared annually on the Aspen Music Festival’s Distinguished Artist Master Class series and in various educational programs across the country. In 2013, David Finckel and Wu Han launched a chamber music studio at Aspen Music Festival, and under the auspices of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, David Finckel and Wu Han direct the LG Chamber Music School, which serves dozens of young musicians in Korea annually. David is Professor of Cello at The Juilliard School, and Artist-in-Residence at Stony Brook University.

As cellist of the Emerson String Quartet for thirty-four years, David Finckel won nine Grammy Awards including two honors for “Best Classical Album,” three Gramophone Magazine Awards, and the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, awarded in 2004 for the first time to a chamber ensemble; and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music, Bard College and Middlebury College. Through its insightful performances, brilliant artistry, and technical mastery, the Emerson String Quartet established itself among the world’s foremost chamber ensembles, playing over 100 concerts annually on the world’s most prestigious stages.




JoAnn Falletta - 2015 Honorary Medallion

JoAnn Falletta

Born in Brooklyn, New York, JoAnn Falletta is an American classical musician and orchestral conductor. Falletta was educated at the Mannes College of Music and The Juilliard School in New York City. She began her musical career as a virtuoso guitar and mandolin player. She entered Mannes in 1972 as a guitar student, but began conducting the student orchestra in her freshman year. After graduation, she pursued further study at Queens College (M.A. in orchestral conducting) and the Juilliard School of Music (M.M., D.M.A. in orchestral conducting). Falletta studied conducting with Jorge Mester, Semyon Bychkov, and others, including master classes under Leonard Bernstein.

In May 1998, Falletta was named music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). During her tenure in Buffalo, the orchestra has made recordings for Naxos and returned to Carnegie Hall after a 20-year absence. In 2004, the BPO and local public television station, WNED, established the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition—the world’s first concerto competition for classical guitarists with accompaniment by a full symphony orchestra—designed to help identify and encourage talented young classical guitarists, as well as bring prominent recognition to these guitarists as they progress. Additionally, under her leadership the BPO has engaged in meaningful partnerships between the BPO and local, not-for-profit organizations in the cultural and social-service sectors, and has built upon these partnerships with student organizations and educational groups including: the UB Symphony; the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra; Leadership Buffalo; the Canisius MBA Alumni Group; and the Erie County Music Educators Association. In addition, Falletta has served or continues to serve as music director, artistic director or conductor for numerous national orchestras and ensembles, including the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Long Beach Symphony, the San Francisco Women's Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra, and the Brevard Music Institute.




Ralph Garruto - 2014 Honorary Medallion

Ralph Garruto

Dr. Garruto is a distinguished anthropologist, human population biologist, and neuroscientist whose long career has spanned research with natural experimental models, infectious and chronic disease, gene environment interactions, health transitions, food chain disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and studies of human biological variation in evolutionary context. As a boy, he grew up in Binghamton and right after high school worked at Binghamton General Hospital prior to starting his freshman year in college. He received his BA degree in zoology from Penn State University in 1966 and then continued on at the same institution for a MA in 1969 and a PhD in 1973, both degrees in biological anthropology. His dissertation research was conducted under Paul T. Baker in the Peruvian Andes and concerned high altitude adaptation among Quechua-speaking Native Americans.

Dr. Garruto’s graduate education was followed by a postdoc in epidemiology at the Laboratory of Central Nervous Systems Studies, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (National Institutes of Health) under the direction of Nobel Laureate D. Carleton Gajdusek. He then moved quickly through the ranks at NIH to Senior Staff Fellow and then Senior Research Scientist in 1978. Garruto remained at NIH, conducting research and participating in a variety of programs until 1997, at which time he became a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Binghamton University.

It was this same year that he received two important honors. The first was election to the National Academy of Sciences based on his pioneering work on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Parkinsonian Dementia among native residents of Guam and altitude polycythemia in the Peruvian Andes. The second honor was election to The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), a singular distinction for his research in the developing world and an organization to which only a handful of Americans are members. Some other awards that he has received include the Gorjanovic-Krambergeri Medal from the Croatian Anthropological Society (2000), an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001), the Franz Boas Distinguished Achievement Award (2005) from the Human Biology Association, and the National Honor Plaque of Panama (2011) from the Government of Panama.

Since his arrival at Binghamton University in 1997, Dr. Garruto’s achievements have been remarkable. He has engaged actively in research and published on topics as varied as modernization and health transition in Pacific Island populations in Vanuatu; chronic radiation poisoning in Ukraine (from Chernobyl); obesity and health transition in Broome County, NY; Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance in the NE deer population and potential transmission to humans; and evolution of chloroquine resistance to malaria in Melanesia. At the same time, he continues to maintain contacts with colleagues outside of the university where he continues with his basic research on Parkinsonian Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Guamanian and other Pacific populations; Viliuisk Encephalomyelitis in Siberia; and high altitude studies of Han and Tibetan natives and migrants in Qinghai Province, China. At Binghamton University, he designed and established a very successful MS training program in Biomedical Anthropology and acquired a large collection of human blood sera from NIH to establish the Binghamton University Biospecimen Archive Facility. He teaches regularly, and has mentored a large number of students through the MS and PhD degrees. Most currently, he supervises the research of about 50 undergraduate and graduate students who assist him on a major project to explore the ecology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases transmission in and around “built environments,” that is, areas of human occupation.

One of Dr. Garruto’s colleagues identifies his “prominence as based on the importance of his published research, the sheer number of publications, his tireless work for professional societies, and his steadfast support of his colleagues and students.” Another colleague says that Ralph M. Garruto “is an established leader in the fields of human population biology and biological anthropology. He has an outstanding record of research productivity, having made important contributions to our understanding of human biological diversity and health changes in response to changes in ecology and lifestyle in populations around the world.” Yet another colleague states that “while broad, his work is not unfocused. Rather there is a consistent underlying emphasis on the use of ‘experiments of nature’ for advancing our understanding of the mechanisms by which genetic, environmental (including behavioral) and gene by environment interactions cause human disease.” Dr. Garruto prides himself as someone who is equally at home in the laboratory and the field. The richness of his research is a function of both laboratory and field work, each of which complements the other. To date, he has conducted field research in all three areas of the native Pacific (Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia), at high altitude in Peru and Qinghai, China, in Cambodia, in Siberia and Ukraine, and in the Caribbean and United States.

Finally, in addition to his mentorship of undergraduate, masters, PhD and postdoctoral students, Dr. Garruto has an exemplary record with students who are members of minority populations. As one example, in July 2013, he was invited to give the keynote address to the 7th Annual Student Conference Islands of Opportunity Alliance: Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, in Honolulu, and he is a Co-PI and Co-Lead from Binghamton University on a submitted multi-institutional Planning Grant (University of Hawaii, Hilo, the lead institution) to research and STEM train Native Hawaiian and Native Pacific Island students both at field research sites in the Pacific and at Binghamton University research laboratories.

Dr. Ralph Garruto is clearly a man of many talents, but most important, he is also a man who shares his talents widely with students, colleagues and members of the wider community.

Binghamton University - Anthropology Faculty Bio Page



Richard Gambino - 2013 Honorary Medallion

Richard Gambino (deceased)

Mr. Gambino is a distinguished American material scientist best known for his pioneering work with amorphous magnetic materials. Mr. Gambino received his BA in 1957 from the University of Connecticut, and MS in 1976 from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He served from 1956-1960 as a Physics Scientist at the US Army Signal Corps Research Lab, a metallurgist from 1960-1961 at Pratt & Whitney, and from 1961-1993 as a member of the research staff at IBM Yorktown.

While at IBM, as a research staff member where he was subsequently Manager of Amorphous Magnetism and Visiting Scientist at the Zurich Research Laboratory, Mr. Gambino did research on magnetic and magneto-optical materials and devices. He invented the materials used in magneto-optical storage disks. His tenure there culminated with the discovery of magnetic anisotropy enabling the technology of magneto-optical recording. This discovery won him and his colleagues the 1995 National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton. For their work IBM awarded the team with the IBM Corporate Award in 1991. Mr. Gambino also received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Morris Libermann Award in 1992 and the 1974 IR 100 award. For all his work in science he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2004.

To state that Richard Gambino has influenced science as we know it is an understatement. He has given us groundbreaking technologies that have been used to advance science in society. Mr. Gambino has been a material scientist for over 40 years and his patents have served as research materials for those interested in pursuing a career in science. Mr. Gambino has studied a wide range of electronic materials including magnetic thin films, oxide superconductors, intermetallic compounds, and magneticoxide crystals.

In 1993 Mr. Gambino brought his experience and scientific knowledge to Stony Brook University. He had the support of the IBM technical Academic Career Program, which was designed to help IBM employees, transition smoothly to University teaching and research. This led to a continuing relationship with Mr. Gambino and Stony Brook University. He joined the Materials Science Department as a part-time Visiting Professor. His research at Stony Brook has been on materials for electronics and for sensor applications including magnetic, temperature and strain sensors. His greatest involvement was with the Center for Thermal Spray Research, which was recognized as one of the 29 National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers. His role in developing functional applications of thermal spray coatings in electronics and sensors has been a factor in the success of the Center. Partnering with fellow Professor Sanjay Sampath enabled the development of the Direct Write Thermal Spray Technology for 3D fabrication of electronics and sensors. He has served as major advisor to 16 Ph.D. and nine M.S. graduates from the Materials Science and Engineering Department. Stony Brook's association with Mr. Gambino has been very successful. With these technological advancements, the Materials Science Program has become one of the most flourishing departments at Stony Brook University.

In 2002 Mr. Gambino co-founded MesoScribe Technologies. This company has developed a breakthrough materials processing technology enabling the fabrication of embedded sensors, flexible electronics, antennas, and electronic circuit components directly onto complex surfaces. MesoScribe has R&D contracts with the Department of Energy, the Air Force, Navy, Army, and NASA. The company is based in Stony Brook, New York, bringing Long Island big business collaborations. In 2004, the National Institute of Standards and Technology awarded a $5.4 Million Award Advanced Technology Program to MesoScribe and partner Siemens Power Generation Inc. to demonstrate the technology within a power generating turbine. In his current role as Chairman of the Board at Mesoscribe, Mr. Gambino continues to mentor Stony Brook students and maintains a very strong interaction with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He is currently serving as a co-advisor to several students working within the Center for Thermal Spray Research in the area of functional oxides and patterned structures. One often finds Mr. Gambino working side by side with graduate and even undergraduate students on electronic property characterization and magnetic measurements. In addition, Mr. Gambino is always available when students need assistance with interpreting complex data in diverse fields. He is also a senior advisor on a major NSF sponsored program Partnership for Innovation.

For all of his work on behalf of Stony Brook,  for his role in inspiring future scientists and for his dedication to materials science, Mr. Gambino was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science at the May 2013 Stony Brook graduation ceremony.

Dr. Gambino passed away on August 3, 2014.



William Kennedy - 2012 Honorary Medallion

William Kennedy

For some 40 years, William Kennedy has crafted history and memory into a body of literature that is as remarkable for its variety as it is for erecting an Albany of the imagination. “What James Joyce did for Dublin and Saul Bellow did for Chicago, William has done for Albany, New York...”

“His cycle of Albany novels is one of the great resurrections of place in our literature," asserted James Atlas in Vogue. In Kennedy's highly regarded "Albany Cycle,” outcasts and machine politicians, lowlifes and swells populate an imagined Albany as real as any city of bricks. Thanks to Kennedy, Albany occupies a privileged place on America's mythic map as a capital of the national memory, and a metropolis of everyday struggles.

Born in 1928 in Albany's North End, Kennedy attended Public School 20, the Christian Brother's Academy, and Siena College prior to pursuing a career in journalism. He joined the Post Star, in Glens Falls as a sports reporter and, after being drafted in 1950, worked for an army newspaper in Europe. Upon his discharge he joined the Albany Times- Union. In 1956 he accepted a job with a newspaper in Puerto Rico, where he met and would soon marry Daisy (Dana) Sosa, an actress and dancer. (The Kennedy's have three children—Dana, Katherine and Brendan.) Kennedy became managing editor of the fledgling San Juan Star in 1959, only to quit two years later to pursue writing fiction full-time. In San Juan, Kennedy took a course with novelist Saul Bellow, who said of Kennedy's early work, “He could take material from skid row and write about these people as [if they were as] fully human as anyone else. The people he wrote about didn't know they had become pariahs. He wrote about them from the inside... I was moved by the characters, by their naive but human frailties."

Kennedy had expected to find inspiration for his fiction in Puerto Rico, but discovered that Albany held a stronger claim on his imagination. He returned to Albany in 1963 and wrote a series of articles about the city that earned him a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize and provided the basis for a nonfiction book, O Albany! (1983). Matthew Parrish, writing in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, called O Albany! "a book distinguished by intellectual depth and a vibrant prose style... a rich feast that bubbles with the humor, nobility and pathos of the men and women who lived, worked and played in New York's capital city from the 17th Century to the present." Kennedy's Albany journalism provided him with an opportunity to internalize the city thoroughly and use it as a fictional landscape. His first novel, The Ink Truck (1969), relates the story of a newspaper strike in a vividly evoked but unnamed Albany. People magazine called it “Wildly funny, rich and full of lyrical moments.” Time called it “Lean, energetic and grounded in detail and humanities...a bawdy Celtic romp.” Legs (1975), the first novel of Kennedy's “Albany Cycle,” tells the tale of Albany gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond. Newsweek called it “A particularly seductive portrait...a very skillful story, full of bounce and wit.” Dean Flower said in the Hudson Review, “the speakeasies and gangsters and fast talk seem immediate and legendary, with Irish- Catholic Albany as a microcosm of the thirties.” Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978) introduces the Phelan family, subsequent generations of which appear in five more novels. Billy is a small-time Depression-era gambler and bookie who becomes mixed up in the kidnapping of a Albany politician's son. Doris Grumbach said in the Saturday Review, “No one writing in America today has Kennedy's rich and fertile gift of gab; his pure verbal energy; his love of people.”

Billy's father, Francis, a derelict on the run from his own demons and past mistakes, is the principal character of Ironweed (1983), a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Robert Towers called Ironweed “a kind of fantasia on the strangeness of human destiny, on the mysterious ways in which a life can be transformed and sometimes redeemed...a work of unusual interest, original in its conception, full of energy and color, a splendid addition to the Albany cycle."

Kennedy's literary successes opened the door to the world of movie-making. A long-time cinema enthusiast and movie reviewer, he began to write screenplays when he co-scripted The Cotton Club (1986) with Francis Ford Coppola. He also wrote the film version of Ironweed (1987), directed by Hector Babenco and starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Kennedy also continued to expand his open-ended “Albany Cycle.” While the first three novels in that cycle unfold in a Depression-era setting, the next three explore various periods in the city's history. Quinn's Book (1988) is set in the 19th century and follows the picaresque adventures of a Phelan ancestor, Daniel Quinn. The Boston Sunday Globe called it a "book of wonders and sweetness, magic and horrors, it immerses itself in the marvelous... Touching and vivid and comic."

Very Old Bones (1992) takes the “Albany Cycle” forward to the 1950s, and examines the mental breakdown and redemption of Orson Purcell, the bastard son of artist Peter Phelan. The New York Times asserted, "Few Irish-American writers have produced more haunting portraits of their ancestors or the ghosts that possessed them than Mr. Kennedy has in Very Olds Bones.”

The Flaming Corsage (1996) portrays the turbulent courtship and marriage of Katrina Taylor and Edward Daugherty during the decades that precede and follow the turn of the century. Critic Harold Bloom said “The Flaming Corsage transforms the ['Albany Cycle'] into what Ruskin praised as 'Stage Fire' in Dickens. At once prose-poem, historical novel and theatrical melodrama, Kennedy's new book demonstrates an exuberance beyond his previous work." A second nonfiction book, Riding the Yellow Trolley Car, appeared in 1993. Library Journal called this collection of essays, memoirs, reviews, and report - age “a great pleasure to read, no matter what the subject. Another winner from Kennedy: highly recommended.” Kennedy's other works include two children's books co-authored with his son Brendan, Charlie Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine (1986), and Charlie Malarkey and the Singing Moose (1993). Kennedy's first full-length play, Grand View (1996) the story of apolitical war between the state governor and Albany's political boss, was staged in the spring of 1996 at Capital Repertory Theater in Albany. Roscoe, the next installment in the “Albany Cycle,” came out in January 2002.

Kennedy taught creative writing and journalism as an instructor from 1974 to 1982 at the University at Albany, where he is now a professor in the English Department. He taught writing at Cornell University in 1982-83. In 1983, Kennedy was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Part of that award went to the institution of Kennedy’s choice, the University at Albany, State University of New York, using fifteen thousand dollars for five years (each), to create a writers institute at Albany. The University made a commitment to match those funds, thus helping the Writers Institute at Albany become a reality. The following year, Governor Mario M. Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the New York State Writers Institute, giving it goals and responsibilities to conduct a broad range of cultural and educational literary activities.

In 1993, Kennedy was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In addition he has received numerous literary awards, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Regents Medal of Excellence from the State University of New York, and a Governor's Arts Award. He was also named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities. He is also the 2001-2002 Kritikos Professor at the University of Oregon. He was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in May 2002.

New York State Writers Institute Bio Page

Distinguished Academy