Chancellor Malatras Announces the Winners of the Inaugural Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards

November 1, 2021

First Place Awarded to Binghamton University Department of History Student Dr. Jonathan S. Jones for His Dissertation, "Opium Slavery: Veterans and Addiction in the American Civil War Era;" Receiving $5,000

Four Finalists From SUNY Upstate Medical, SUNY Polytechnic, SUNY College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, and SUNY Downstate Health and Sciences University Receiving $1,000; Honorable Mentions to Receive $250

Extended Abstracts from Each of the Five Winners Available Here; All Awardees’ Work Guaranteed to be Published by SUNY Press—A Rare Opportunity in Public Higher Education—in Spring 2022

Albany, NY — State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced winners of the inaugural Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards. First place was awarded to Binghamton University, Department of History student Dr. Jonathan S. Jones for his dissertation, "Opium Slavery: Veterans and Addiction in the American Civil War Era." Jones and four finalists were selected amongst nominations of SUNY PhD student dissertations. Jones received the top prize of $5,000 to be used for professional development, and finalists were awarded $1,000 for professional development opportunities as well. The three honorable mentions were awarded $250. Extended abstracts from each of the five winners are available here, and each awardee’s work will be published by SUNY Press—a rare opportunity in public higher education—in Spring 2022.

Dissertation award finalists include:

  • Cameron MacQuarrie, Upstate Medical University, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology: "Mechanism of Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome Protein WSP1 in Positioning and Regulation at Sites of Endocytosis in S. Pombe"
  • Zachary Tyler Olmsted, SUNY Polytechnic, Department of Nanobiosciences: "Human Trunk Development and Innervation in a Dish to Facilitate Neurotherapeutics"
  • Kaylin Ratner, NYS College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, Department of Developmental Biology: "Derailment and Depression Across College: Trajectories of Perceived Identity Change, Adjustment and Moderators of their Association"
  • Emiliya Storman, Downstate Health Sciences University, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology: "CNS Aromatase and Estrogen Receptors: Subcellular Organization and Its Functional Implication"

Honorable mentions include:

  • David Bullis, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Department of Environmental Biology: "Molecular Phylogenetics, Biogeography, and Conservation of the Punctoid Land Snails of the Palau and the Systematics of the Land Snails in Burmese Amber"
  • Gustavo Della Flora Nunes, University at Buffalo, Department of Biochemistry: "Elucidating the role of Schwann cell mitochondria in myelin maintenance"
  • Zheng Zhou, University at Albany, Department of Chemistry: "Stepwise Reduction of Non-Planar Molecular Nanocarbons: From Functionalized Bowls to Helicenes and Nanohoops"

"These winners of the Chancellor PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards represent the best of SUNY and demonstrate that SUNY graduate students are pushing innovations, discoveries, and new insights in their fields," said Chancellor Malatras. "We created this recognition to celebrate these amazing students and reward them with professional development, support, and the opportunity to publicize their work to help launch their careers. My congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Jones for his exceptional work, as well as the four finalists for their years-long efforts—we are proud to assist them in furthering their careers and professional development. I am confident these students will go on to leave a positive impact on their respective fields, communities, and the world at large."

The Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards were created to recognize the highest and very best of PhD candidates in the SUNY system. SUNY graduates nearly 1,200 PhD students each year from its doctoral-granting campuses, with fields of study ranging from agriculture, biology, physical, and social sciences to engineering and the fine arts. Competitions such as the Dissertation Awards bring attention to the notoriety of the next generation of future leaders and researchers.

SUNY Board of Trustee Courtney Burke said, "The inaugural class of Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awardees exemplify how SUNY researchers are using their academic passions to move the needle forward in their respective fields and to help out their fellow human. Projects in areas such as addiction, mental health, and environmentalism have findings that can help drive further research, create the foundation for groundbreaking policy changes, and ultimately, make our communities better places to live and learn in. I, along with the Board of Trustees, congratulate all of our winners on their continued dedication to their research—SUNY will continue to support them throughout their academic and professional journeys, and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish next."

SUNY Provost-in-Charge F. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik said, "Our congratulations to Dr. Jones and all of the winners. They represent some of the great minds who come to SUNY each year—extremely driven, innovative, and talented—and they contribute to some of the most highly influential research and scholarly work today. At SUNY, it is a pleasure to educate these scholars and their peers, and serve as a catalyst to their career pursuits and contributions to our society ahead."

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said, "These awards truly bring attention and well-deserved recognition for the next generation of scholars and researchers. Jonathan's work shows how academic works can address current topics through an historical lens. He has explored an important and relevant subject, and we are thrilled that the Chancellor is shining a spotlight on his research."

Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards winner Dr. Jones said, "I’m an enthusiastic, perpetual student of our American History, and in generating greater interest among my students of the monumental events in our growing nation, it has become important for me to draw the lines to parallels in society today, and there are many. Through Binghamton University, SUNY has allowed me—a first-generation college graduate—to flourish and develop my teaching and scholarly career further. I am honored and humbled to receive the inaugural Chancellor Distinguished Dissertation Award."

Each honoree has flexibility in how the professional development award is used to best support their immediate career goals, including:

  • Conference attendance and registration fees
  • To offset open access publication in a book or journal
  • Publishing services assistance for book or journal publications
  • Subvention funding for book publications
  • Editorial services for publishing in academic journals, including but not limited to authoring support services and open access funding

All finalists are also invited to a workshop featuring a SUNY Press-facilitated panel discussion on how to turn their dissertation into a book. The panelists at this workshop will include editors and advisory board members from SUNY Press, as well as recently published book authors from across the system. Workshop topics will include practical advice on preparing a publishing strategy, creating winning book proposals, and locating the right publisher for their topic.

SUNY has numerous doctoral-granting campuses, including: University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, Downstate Health Sciences University, SUNY ESF, SUNY College of Optometry, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical, as well as statutory campuses within Alfred University and Cornell University.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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