Chancellor Malatras Announces Inaugural Recipients of the New SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent Awards

March 17, 2021

22 Students Each Awarded $5,000 in Funds for Research Expenses, Travel, Professional Development, and Stipend Support

SUNY GREAT Recipients’ Work Dives Into Solutions for Issues Facing Society, Including Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Health, Eating Disorders, Safe Drinking Water, Pancreatic Cancer, Schizophrenia, Among Others; Their Bios and Photos are Online

Albany, NY
– State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced that 22 students have received the first-ever SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award, which provides $5,000 to each student in flexible funds for research expenses, professional development, and supplemental stipend support. The 22 recipients have all won national recognition for their research from prestigious graduate fellowship programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Among their collective work, SUNY’s inaugural award recipients are conducting research in an array of fields, ranging from aerospace engineering and chemistry, to biology and psychology. Their work dives into solutions for issues facing the nation including, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive health, eating disorders, safe drinking water, pancreatic cancer, schizophrenia, among others. The group is notable for its diversity. More than a quarter come from groups who are ethnically or racially under-represented in academia, and nearly half are women. Half are first-generation college students as well.

"SUNY conducts world-leading research. Students are often looked at as our future leaders, but they are our leaders now and the awardees from our university centers are nationally recognized for their excellence in research," said Chancellor Malatras. "I am proud of the work that these students are doing, which will advance our understanding of topics as diverse as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Their work may one day lead to life-changing advances and technologies, not unlike the MRI and the lithium ion battery, which were both developed by researchers at SUNY. Congratulations to our first SUNY GREAT award recipients. SUNY is a research juggernaut and we are proud to provide the laboratories and resources necessary for their discoveries."

SUNY Trustee Courtney Burke, who chairs the Board of Trustee’s Research and Economic Development Committee, said, "Many students come to SUNY looking to immerse themselves in their studies and produce research across a great span of areas that will leave a positive impact on generations to come. By providing these innovative researchers with additional funding and support, we are helping them continue on their research to test theories and make further discoveries. I thank our first class of SUNY GREAT awardees for using their academic tenure at SUNY as an opportunity to change the world, and I congratulate them on receiving this distinction."

SUNY Provost-in-Charge F. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik said, "Throughout SUNY system, we have no shortage of talented SUNY undergraduate and graduate students who want to use their strengths to advance research in their respective fields and solve for some of our biggest threats seen worldwide. They are driven and dedicated to their work and to the betterment of society, and we want to help accelerate their progress—the SUNY GREAT awards program is another step we are taking to support our students throughout their research process. Congratulations to our very first GREAT awardees, and we look forward to recognizing many more students in the coming years."

SUNY’s student researchers are all pursuing their graduate training at SUNY at the University of Buffalo, Stony Brook University, Binghamton University, or the University at Albany. The awardees include:

Stony Brook University
  • Erica Bower, Marine & Atmospheric Sciences
  • Gabrielle Elise Kamm, Chemistry
  • Madani Ahmed Khan, Chemistry
  • Tori Peña, Psychology
  • Margaret Ellen Shevik, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
  • Jennifer Susan Thalappillil, Pharmacological Sciences
  • John Connor Williams, Biomedical Engineering
  • Priscilla Edinam Yevoo, Neurobiology and Behavior
University at Buffalo
  • Clayton Brady, Biomedicine
  • Payton Elizabeth Charlton, Psychology
  • Chris R. Gnam, Aerospace Engineering
  • Jeremy Kiripolsky, Oral Biology
  • Zachary Taylor Kralles, Environmental & Water Resources Engineering
  • Sarah Lucile Metcalf, Oral Biology
  • Michael Weaver, Medicine and Neuroscience
  • Jamal Williams, Neuroscience
University at Albany
  • Jesus Alberto Frias, Biology
Binghamton University
  • Siara Rouzer, Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Michael Shaw, Clinical Psychology
  • Bernard Gene Stevenson, Chemistry
  • Lamar S. Thomas, Biological Sciences
  • Andrew S. Vore, Behavioral Neuroscience

University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez said, "Jesus’s work to advance therapeutics for muscular dystrophy exemplifies the positive impact of graduate research at UAlbany. These awards are an important recognition of that work and a means to ensure SUNY’s brightest minds have the resources they need to continue their success."

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said, "These GREAT awards will help our graduate students to conduct research with real impact in critical areas facing our nation today. That 5 of the 22 awards are going to Binghamton students is a testament to the strength of research being conducted at our university. I thank SUNY for giving our students this opportunity, and look forward to what our researchers can do."

University at Buffalo Vice President for Research and Economic Development Venu Govindaraju said, "UB is honored to be home to eight of the 22 graduate students recognized as part of the inaugural class of SUNY GREAT award recipients. We believe in the value of seeding innovative ideas. This recognition will help each of these young citizens of the world advance their work in service to us all. We salute their dedication and are excited about what their futures hold for all of us."

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said, "We are incredibly excited and proud that eight of our Stony Brook students are among the recipients of the very first SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award. It is a testament to their tremendous accomplishments and to the standing of Stony Brook University as a top research institution whose diversity, dedication to socioeconomic mobility, and academic excellence is making a significant impact on our world."

SUNY GREAT awardee biographies and photos are online. For more information about SUNY GREAT, please visit

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, 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 country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-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 2022, 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 opportunities, visit

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