Emeritus Faculty Association news April 2012

Next Meeting:
Friday April 13th, usual place 10.30am Javits Room 2nd floor library, but note the date is the second Friday in April, due to the Spring vacation. The recently appointed new chair of medicine, Vincent Yang, will talk to us on "Stony Brook Medicine and Department of Medicine - A Shared Vision".
Abstract: The School of Medicine at Stony Brook University is at a very exciting stage in its history. Under the leadership of the President of the University, Dr. Stanley, and Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Kaushansky, the School is undergoing transformative changes to become a world class health care, research, and educational organization. As the newly appointed Chair of Medicine, which with over 200 faculty members is the largest academic department on campus, I will review the recently announced Strategic Plan of the School of Medicine and share my vision for shared strategic development of the Department of Medicine at Stony Brook.
Bio: Vincent W. Yang, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at Stony Brook University, is an established physician scientist who began his current position in September 2011. He obtained his PhD degree from Princeton University and MD degree from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School before undergoing clinical and research training at the Johns Hopkins University. From 1984 to 2001, Dr. Yang was on the faculty at Hopkins and from 2001 to 2011, at Emory University, where he was Professor and Director of Digestive Diseases. He has been principal investigator for several NIH-funded grants, as well as author or coauthor of over 130 original scientific articles or chapters. Dr. Yang is currently Senior Associate Editor of the journal Gastroenterology and serves on the editorial boards of several other scientific journals. At Stony Brook he is also appointed as Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Chief of Medical Service at the Stony Brook University Hospital, as well as being elected as President of Stony Brook Internists Faculty Practice Plan and to the Board of Representative of the Clinical Practice Management Plan and Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at Stony Brook University.
Dr. Yang studies the mechanisms that control proliferation and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells and the mechanisms by which these cells become cancer.

In Memoriam:
We are sad to report that our colleague, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Robert R Sokal, died on April 10. Bob addressed our group on December 3rd 2004 on his early years growing up in the Shanghai ghetto. His write-up on wikipedia has already been updated on his death: see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_R._Sokal. More later.

Previous Meeting:
First Robert Stafford of the Alumni Association was introduced to tell us how he would so love for faculty of the 1961-81 period to attend his Generation One Reunion to be held on Saturday evening April 28 that he is offering the buffet dinner and open bar event to us at half price. RSVP to jennifer.filasky at stonybrook.edu or 632-4466 by March 30. But please contact him, robert.stafford at stonybrook.edu, for any questions and to let him know asap you are coming so he can add your name to the invitation. Several of our colleagues have already signed up.

This month our UUP retiree representative Judy Wishnia was actually able to attend and give her report personally. Continuing the story from the last newsletter: - the details of the governor's tier 6 proposal are now available and while the most damage will be done to the schoolteachers and state and local employees, those in our own TIAA-CREF optional retirement system (ORP) will also suffer serious losses. Currently ORP members contribute 3% of salary for the first 10 years, while employers contribute 8% for the first 7 years, 10% for years 8 through 10, and 13% thereafter. Under tier 6, the state contribution would be cut to 4%. This would seriously deplete the state retirement fund and would indeed be a serious attack on our future colleagues and consequently, recruitment. Unless we care only for ourselves, Judy suggests we sign petitions against tier 6 on websites and contact our representatives.

After this John Fleagle, Distinguished Professor of Anatomical Sciences in the School of Medicine, updated us on his research since he last addressed us exactly 7 years ago this month.
Did you pass the memory test? (Hint: you can cheat by consulting the news archive on our website.)
The new study was of the cranium features of 68 genera of living primates using the methodology of Noah (male and female of each). Living primates are to be found mostly in the tropics and are much more varied than other mammals generally not only in cranial features but also in body size (few ozs to 300 lbs). In this study characteristic landmarks were selected on the skulls and the distances between them used for a quantitative assessment of the major patterns of cranial shape change, both across different groups and during evolution. In all a set of 18 landmarks were digitized for this Generalized Procrustes Analysis. The data were then subjected to a principal components analysis to identify the major axes of cranial variation. On the plots John showed us, the first principal component axis reflected differences in cranial flexion, orbit size and orientation, and relative brain cavity volume. The second axis reflected differences in relative cranial height and snout length and primarily described differences the among anthropoids. The data from living species was supplemented from available skulls from the fossil record. As compared with other primates the hominoids (apes and humans) show the highest variance in cranial shape, and humans are especially distinctive in skull shape. In fact, humans are more different from our closest relatives (chimpanzees) than any other pair of closely related species. Moreover, these changes took place quickly over an evolutionary period, probably in the past 6 million years ago. However, when fossil specimens are included in the plots, they show showed clearly the steady transition in cranial space between chimps and modern humans over a period from 3 million until 40 thousand years ago.
Other aspects of the cranial changes came out in the question period. For example the eye socket size depends on which animals were nocturnal. Jaw size changes were related to diet, - after use of fire, the decrease in the need to shred; Freed-up space in the skulls enabled the cortex to grow: The move to bipedal locomotion freed up hands for tool use and the increase in corresponding neural control.

Luncheon Meeting:
Provost Denis Assanis will address the annual emeritus luncheon 12.00 noon, Friday, May 4th, in the S.A.C ballroom. Please RSVP to Ann (632-7012 or aozelis@notes.cc.sunysb.edu) by April 20.
Assanis took up his position at Stony Brook last October after serving as Professor at the University of Michigan, as well as Director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, Founding Director of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center for Clean Vehicles and Director of the Walter E. Lay Automotive Laboratory.
After completing his B.Sc. degree in Marine Engineering from Newcastle University, England in 1980, he attended M.I.T. where he received four graduate degrees: S.M. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (1983), S.M. in Mechanical Engineering (1983), Ph.D. in Power and Propulsion (1986) and S.M. in Management from MIT's Sloan School of Management (1986). His academic career began at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1985-1994) and he joined The University of Michigan in fall 1994 as Professor. At Michigan, he was the Founding Director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Automotive Engineering (1996-2002); he chaired the Department of Mechanical Engineering (2002-2007); was Director of the Automotive Research Center (2002-2009); and, was Founding Co-Director of the General Motors-University of Michigan Collaborative Research Laboratory for Advanced Engine Systems (2002-2010).
As his work at Michigan indicates, Dennis' research focus is on transportation technologies. He is recognized internationally for his innovative development of modeling methodologies and experimental techniques to shed light into complex thermal, fluid and chemical processes in internal combustion engines so as to improve their fuel economy and reduce emissions. He has published with his students and collaborators over 300 articles in journals and conference proceedings. He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

A Comedy of Errors.
Plot synopsis: Finally after a long campaign by some emeritus members, the British National Theatre HD live series at Staller was inaugurated on Saturday March 31. As has sometimes been the case with the comparative MetOpera HD live series, the evening started off with the sound level set uncomfortably high. The British director had moved Shakespeare's setting of the tribulations of identical twin immigrants, from Ephesus to a very realistic contemporary London. But the cockney accents given the servants and tradesman in combination with the sometimes fast-paced Elizabethan verse, proved too much for some of the elderly community members in the audience. A succession of them trooped out to complain to Staller director Alan Inkles that they could not understand the English and therefore the problem must be that the sound level was too low. Whereupon he repeatedly ratcheted up the volume. By the time some of our members managed to reach him in the foyer he is in a fine fury: -

Scene: A box office. The duke lounges in idle banter with his servants. Enter agitated town elders.
1st townsman: I cannot comprehend this seer. It needst be louder to be clear.
2nd townsman: On foreign tongue sweet essence vital, escape, with no translated supertitle.
3rd townsman: By frail ear, I strain and strain. Mine hearing-aid is shot again.
.. spokesman: Now gathered here to plight our troth - more sound forsooth, or feel our wrath.
Chorus in unison: Louder, louder, louder!
Enter breathless members of the emeriti:
Has our theater as Staller named her,
Now become a torture chamber?
In vain we strived to reach the door,
O'er wretches writhing on the floor!
Duke: A plague! A plague o'er both your houses.
Go ye report thus to your spouses:
To all the ill beset our nation,
I fain not add this aggravation.
And swear while holding Staller's helm,
To banish NT ever from this realm!
Exeunt, all except for long-patient usher, he of the fedora hat and wizened beard:
Oft times, good efforts come awry.
Yet the world may witness that the end,
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offense.
So pray consider this and come to sense.
All cooler heads know well, . . .
To give her time, that cast a gradual spell.
PS: If Alan Inkles makes good on his threat, members should know that the Huntington Arts Theater has been running NTlive for over a year with no complaints of sound volume or difficulties of comprehension.