Newswise — STONY BROOK, New York, April 3, 2017 – Among the five to whom Stony Brook University will confer an honorary degree at its 2017 commencement ceremony is actor and philanthropist Michael J. Fox. Fox will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, recognizing a career that has brought international acclaim with many honors and awards, and establishment of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The degree will be conferred on Friday, May 19 at 11am at Stony Brook University’s 57th Commencement ceremony at the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, where Fox will don academic regalia along with nearly 6,000 students as they join the University’s more than 160,000 alumni ranks around the globe. “Michael J. Fox’s commitment to his craft, combined with his unbound, resolute advocacy for Parkinson’s disease research makes him an outstanding candidate for this Honorary Degree,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “Michael has spoken frequently about his predisposition to view challenges, including his own Parkinson’s, through a lens of optimism and humor, so it is highly appropriate for Stony Brook University to recognize his many contributions as they continue to transform the lives of so many, just as our graduates are empowered by their Stony Brook degree to make an equally positive impact on the world.” Stony Brook University’s commitment to finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease is presently housed in the Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research Center in the University’s Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. Named in Honor of the late Monsignor Thomas Hartman, Emmy Award-winning television and radio personality and the Catholic half of “The God Squad,” the Foundation was established in 2004 soon after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease to raise funds to support Parkinson’s disease research. In 2013, as Father Tom’s health began to deteriorate, the Foundation donated $2 million to create the Hartman Center at Stony Brook University to support ongoing research to combat the disease.
In addition to Michael J. Fox, Stony Brook University’s honorary degree recipients include, at the main commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19: Conservationist and anthropologist Prince Emmanuel de Merode will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters for his service as director and chief warden of Virunga National Park where he has worked on the frontlines of conservation during periods of conflict as well as bringing in significant funding, local enterprise and tourism development. “Prince Emmanuel de Merode’s service as Director and Chief Warden of Virunga National Park is at once driven and courageous,” said President Stanley. “His fundraising efforts to sustain and improve the parks and its ranger force during the Congo’s recurrent civil war, his work in tourism development, and his bold commitment to conservation has had an enormous impact on our world and he is incredibly deserving of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.” Programmer, photographer, serial entrepreneur, Stony Brook University alum, and founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan Oringer (‘96) will receive a Doctor of Science for his contribution to the tech industry for the invention of one of the web’s first pop-up blockers and for creating and building Shutterstock, the global technology company which disrupted the image licensing industry. Shutterstock went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, nine years after its inception and Jon remains the largest shareholder. “Jon Oringer personifies inspiration; he exemplifies how Stony Brook alumnae are empowered to make a difference,” said President Stanley. “He started his career right here at Stony Brook University while a student in the 1990’s which led to his success with Shutterstock and an inspired career. Jonathan embodies the pursuit of big ideas, curiosity and passion we see in so many of our students.” At the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on Thursday, May 18, two distinguished scholars will receive Doctor of Science degrees. Leading psychology and neurosciences researcher Dr. Arthur “Art” Kramer (‘75) will receive a Doctor of Science for his research and leadership in the areas of cognitive neuroscience and psychology, the aging mind, brain plasticity and human factors. Kramer is a Stony Brook University alum; “It is a great honor to confer Art Kramer with a Doctor of Science, to showcase his transformative work alongside the Stony Brook University graduating class of 2017 -- his new fellow alumnae,” said President Stanley. “Art’s personal and professional trajectory were launched at Stony Brook, where he met his wife, Laurie, and where his research pursuits in cognitive neuroscience began. We welcome him back to Stony Brook for this distinctive honor.” Astrophysicist, astronomer, professor and author Dr. Frank Shu will receive a Doctor of Science for his pioneering theoretical work in astrophysics. As a leader in his field, Dr. Shu has provided the world of science with many advances in how the stars are viewed and his ability to look at the galaxies for more than their beauty alone has impacted students and inspired scholars around the world. “Having taught at Stony Brook early in his academic career, it is wonderful to welcome the highly distinguished astrophysicist and scholar, Frank Shu, back to Stony Brook to confer upon him an honorary Doctor of Science degree,” said President Stanley. “Frank’s curiosity and scientific explorations have led to so many pioneering discoveries, from the birth and early evolution of stars to the origin of meteorites; he has made an indelible impression and we are proud that he is reconnecting with Stony Brook University. “To be joined in their celebration by such highly accomplished individuals is a remarkable distinction for the class of 2017,” President Stanley continued. “It demonstrates to our newest alumnae how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and the relentless pursuit of big ideas that Stony Brook embraces.” For more information about the 57th Commencement ceremony visit http://bit.ly/1mqbSLb.
About the Honorary Degree Recipients Michael J. Fox
Canadian-American actor, author, producer, advocate, and voice-over artist Michael J. Fox has had a film and television career spanning three decades. Best known for his acting roles in the Back to the Future trilogy and in the television shows Family Ties and Spin City, Fox has become a highly regarded actor, as well as a respected advocate for several important causes. Having received Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, his acting career has been shaped by his ability to bring personality and life to any character, whether in lead or supporting roles. Fox debuted as a professional actor at the age of 15, co-starring in the sitcom Leo and Me on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) network. Fox dropped out of high school at 18 and with his father drove to Los Angeles, where he landed a role on the television series Palmerstown. Fox also found supporting roles in the feature films Midnight Madness and Class of 1984 prior to his breakout role as Alex Keaton on Family Ties, which catapulted his career and earned him Emmy Awards in 1986, 1987, and 1988. He also starred in the television series Spin City as well as feature films including The Back to the Future Trilogy, The Hard Way, Doc Hollywood, The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights, Big City, Light of Day, Teen Wolf, Casualties of War, Life With Mikey, For Love or Money, The American President, Greedy, The Frighteners and Mars Attacks! In 1991, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease, but did not disclose his condition to the public until 1998. Since that time; Fox has become a prominent advocate for research toward finding a cure. After creating the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, he was deemed “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world” by the New York Times. His foundation has become the largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s drug development in the world and has galvanized the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Michael J. Fox’s contributions to Parkinson’s disease research have been inspirational to the Stony Brook campus community, a leading center for biomedical research. He has spoken frequently about his predisposition to view challenges, including his own Parkinson’s disease, through a lens of optimism and humor. His message has always been one of gratitude for the support he has received from his fellow Parkinson’s patients, and hope and encouragement for every decision to take action — no matter how big or small — to help advance the pursuit of a cure. Dr. Arthur F. Kramer
Dr. Arthur "Art" Kramer is a leading psychology and neuroscience researcher. He recently accepted a position as senior vice provost for research and graduate education and a professor of psychology and engineering at Northeastern University. Kramer is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kramer earned his BA in Psychology at Stony Brook University. He met his wife, Laurie, while attending Stony Brook and they went on to the University of Illinois where he earned his PhD in cognitive and experimental psychology in 1984. Kramer held a range of administrative positions during his more than 25 years of professional service at the University of Illinois including director of the renowned Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology from 2010 to 2016. Kramer's research focused on areas such as cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, the aging mind, brain plasticity, and human factors. His pioneering research into topics such as driver and pedestrian distraction, and the effects of cognitive and fitness training on human performance and brain function, have received international recognition by peers and press alike. Kramer was a recipient of an NIH ten-year MERIT award with the goal to examine the mechanisms that underlie the effects of physical activity on brain and cognitive health of older adults. Kramer's research has been featured in a long list of print, radio and electronic media including the “New York Times,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Washington Post,” “Chicago Tribune,” “CBS Evening News,” “Today Show” and “NPR.” Kramer's research has also received support from the National Institute on Aging, the National Science Foundation, General Motors Corporation, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Emmanuel de Merode
Prince Emmanuel de Merode is a conservationist and anthropologist serving as the director of Virunga National Park, one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and home to endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga is nestled between the war-torn borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. He was appointed by the Congolese government in 2008 to enable government rangers to safely redeploy in rebel-controlled territory. Born in Carthage, a seaside suburb in Tunisia, de Merode first arrived in Congo in 1993 to conduct research for a PhD in anthropology. Eventually he began working closely with Virunga's rangers through the Nairobi-based NGO, WildlifeDirect, founded by his father-in-law, paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, friend of Stony Brook University and co-founder of our Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya. De Merode slowly molded a reputation as a friend of Congo's people and its wildlife. Against the odds, de Merode professionalized the park's once-demoralized ranger force. He has weathered occupations of the park by two different rebel groups while overseeing a flurry of capital improvements: new ranger quarters, a spacious guest lodge, a tent camp for an increasing flow of tourists. He is now as adept at courting wealthy donors as he is piloting a Cessna over Virunga. He enjoys support from high-profile backers, such as Howard Buffett, philanthropist son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Toms, the shoe brand, recently introduced a line of Virunga-themed slip-ons. De Merode has worked to control the bush meat trade and protect endangered wildlife in Central and Eastern Africa. His main focus has been support for African wildlife rangers in remote and endangered national parks and reserves, primarily in the eastern Congo, working to sustain the parks through the Congo's recurrent 20-year civil war. Jonathan Oringer
Jonathan Oringer is an American programmer, photographer, and business executive best known as the founder and CEO of Shutterstock, a stock media and editing tools provider. Oringer started his career while a college student in the 1990s when he invented "one of the web's first pop-up blockers." He went on to found a number of small startups that used a subscription method to sell "personal" firewalls, accounting software, cookie blockers, trademark managers, and other small programs. In 2003 he founded Shutterstock to provide micro-stock photography, which has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012. As a result of going public, in 2013 Oringer was reported to be New York's first tech billionaire. Among other accolades, in 2012 Oringer was named New York Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and the following year Oringer was recognized as one of Crain's New York 40 Under 40. Oringer started selling his own software products over the internet when he enrolled at Stony Brook University in 1993. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Computer Science and Mathematics in 1996. After graduating from Stony Brook University, he attended Columbia University where he earned a Master's degree in Computer Science. While enrolled at Columbia he continued to create products to complement the pop-up blockers, using a subscription model. Oringer has been recognized with a number of business awards. In 2009 he was selected 41th on the Silicon Alley 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and technologists in Manhattan. Business insider named him the "coolest person" in all of New York technology in 2013. Dr. Frank Shu
Dr. Frank Shu is an American astrophysicist, astronomer and author. He is currently professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Diego. Dr. Shu completed his Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1963 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While an undergraduate, he developed (with Chia-Chiao Lin) a theory governing spiral arms in galaxies, known as the spiral density wave theory. He later went on to receive a PhD in astronomy in 1968 from Harvard University. Dr. Shu served as chair of the astronomy department of UC Berkeley from 1984 until 1988. He also held a faculty appointments at Stony Brook University and UC Berkeley. He was President of the National Tsing Hua University from 2002 until 2006. He joined the faculty at UC San Diego as a distinguished professor of physics in 2006 and also holds the title of University Professor, a UC systemwide honor reserved for scholars of international distinction who are recognized as teachers of exceptional ability. From 1994 to 1996, Shu was the President of the American Astronomy Society (AAS). Dr. Shu is known for pioneering theoretical work in a diverse set of fields of astrophysics, including the origin of meteorites, the birth and early evolution of stars and the structure of spiral galaxies. One of his most highly cited works is a 1977 seminal paper describing the collapse of a dense giant molecular cloud core which forms a star. The model helped provide the basis for much later work on the formation of stars and planetary systems. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with his postdocs and graduate students. As a leader in his field, Dr. Frank Shu has provided the world of science with many advances in how we view the stars surrounding us. His ability to look at the galaxies for more than just its beauty has lent his work to many students around the world. About Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students, 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.