SUNY Chancellor Announces Student Awards for Graduate Research Tackling Pressing Societal Issues Including Climate Change

March 8, 2023

33 Distinguished Doctoral Students Honored with Awards of $5,000 in Flexible Research Funds

Awardees' Photos and Research Bios are Available Here

Albany, NY – State University of New York students are conducting innovative research tackling some of society's most pressing issues, and today Chancellor John B. King, Jr. recognized 33 of SUNY's most outstanding student researchers. In addition to being selected for the 2023 SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award, each winner will receive $5,000 in flexible funding for research expenses, professional development, and stipend supplements.

SUNY GREAT awards, now entering its third year, provide incentives for SUNY graduate students to compete for federal awards sponsored by agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Energy, among others.

The award-winning research provides a better understanding of climate impacts on glaciers to address the climate crisis; investigates ways to manage harmful invasive species to protect native ecosystems; studies the biomechanics of humans to create more human-like performance in robots; works to create more sustainable battery storage options for solar and wind energy; and develops an enhanced understanding of how genetics play a role in the longevity of humans.

"Each of our GREAT Award recipients exemplify how SUNY is addressing complex problems with groundbreaking ideas and research," said SUNY Chancellor King. "We are pleased to congratulate all 33 awardees for their dedication to improving the lives of others. Research will always be a pillar of higher education, especially at SUNY, and I urge all our students to always stay curious and seek out new ways to advance our society."

SUNY Board Trustee Courtney Burke said, "Research requires the researcher to take themself out of the present moment and conceptualize how the work done today can have a lasting impact on tomorrow. While we believe all our SUNY students are great, these 33 students are making tremendous strides toward addressing our most pressing issues, from climate change to invasive species to advances in genetics. I congratulate the SUNY researchers selected for this amazing award, and I thank them for always being prepared to provide impactful solutions that will benefit future generations."

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said, "Binghamton University values research with real impact, and these awards prove that our students are doing important work, with great potential to affect our world. We congratulate them on this recognition and look forward to what they accomplish in the future."

SUNY ESF President Joanie Mahoney said, "Our graduate students are at the forefront of innovative environmental research addressing the challenges of climate change that have regional and national impacts. Elizabeth's analysis could impact future invasive species detection and management, as well as errors in forest carbon estimation, while Abby's work will inform scientists, citizens, and stakeholders of the potential risks associated with toxic benthic cyanobacteria in lakes. The ESF community congratulates them both and appreciates this award opportunity from SUNY to help them both continue their important research to improve our world."

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said, "At a world-class public research institution like Stony Brook, our students have an important role to play in shaping our society's future. I am proud of the way these student scholars and researchers have stepped up to innovate with purpose, and I am inspired by their incredible work. I know that this is just the beginning of the contributions they will make in conquering the biggest challenges our society faces today and into the future."

SUNY Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, MD, said, "I want to congratulate these students for achieving this GREAT honor and thank SUNY for recognizing them for their important research. A key focus of Upstate's mission is supporting and engaging in research that benefits the human condition. These Upstate students—Nicole, Akshay and Harsimranjit—are helping us excel in this important mission."

Graham Hamill, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School at the University at Buffalo, said, "Congratulations to all the award winners. At UB we are so pleased that our doctoral students are being recognized for their outstanding and impactful research. UB's doctoral students work at the cutting edge of research, and their work demonstrates the ability of research to address society's most urgent problems."

Awardees' photos and research bios are available here.

Stony Brook University
  • David Arnot, Chemical Engineering
  • Alexander Baez, Neuroscience/Medical Scientist Training Program
  • Clare Beatty, Clinical Psychology
  • John Chen, Neuroscience
  • Dylan Galt, Mathematics
  • Kenneth Hanson, Linguistics
  • Abe Leite, Cognitive Science
  • Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez, Chemistry
  • Riley McDanal, Clinical Psychology
  • Sarah Payne, Linguistics
  • Chantelle A. Roulston, Clinical Psychology
  • Jenny Shen, Clinical Psychology
  • Samantha Stettnisch, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Dillon M. Voss, Genetics/Medical Scientist Training Program
  • Kristin Walker, Clinical Psychology
University at Buffalo
  • Zacchariah M. Apolito, Anthropology
  • Kiana T. Bynum, Oral Biology
  • Grant Hecht, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Erich Horeth, Oral Biology
  • Isys Johnson, Computer Science
  • Armond June, Oral Biology
  • Kimberly Louisor, Life Sciences
  • Seth Moore, Neuroscience
  • Christopher Allen Osborne, Life Sciences
  • Gretchen Perhamus, Clinical Psychology
  • Courtney Shafer, Geology
Upstate Medical
  • Nicole Maurici, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Akshay G. Patel, Medicine
  • Harsimranjit Sekhon, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Binghamton University
  • Samantha R. Benjamin, Chemistry
  • Lucas Williams, Mathematics
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Elizabeth Clippard, Ecology
  • Abby Webster, Ecology

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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