Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, (right) with Professors Richard and Meave Leakey discussing fossils recovered at the Turkana Basin Institute.
MADAGASCAR & KENYA, AFRICA, June 28, 2012 – Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, is making his first visit to Africa to visit Stony Brook-affiliated research institutes, centers and community outreach programs and to see first-hand the work being done, research conducted and relationships that have developed in each unique location.
President Stanley’s 10-day itinerary includes stops in Centre ValBio (CVB), an organization directed by Professor Patricia Wright located adjacent to Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar which was established to protect Madagascar’s unique and biologically diverse ecosystems through conservation science and projects that directly benefit the local people, including rural health care delivery; Mahajanga in northwestern Madagascar where Professor David Krause conducts his research mission and humanitarian work as founder of the Madagascar Ankizy Fund; and, finally the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya, where Professors Richard, Meave and Louise Leakey and their staff conduct their research and humanitarian activities at the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI). Throughout his visit, Dr. Stanley will share highlights, observations and experiences of his trip, which will be posted to the University website.
“I am extremely fortunate to be able to visit with our distinguished and renowned faculty in the respective environments in which they have each made unprecedented discoveries, where their research has thrived, and where they are truly part of the fabric in those nations,” said President Stanley. “These partnerships enhance educational and research opportunities for our faculty and students and significantly contribute to the quality of life of those who reside where we conduct our work. I am certain that it will be an extremely rewarding and educational experience.”
Dr. Stanley will represent Stony Brook University during the inauguration of NamanaBe Hall, a new 15,000-square-foot building designed to enhance the capabilities of the Centre ValBio research campus. During the ceremony, Dr. Patricia Wright, the Founder and Executive Director of CVB and a Professor of Biological Anthropology at Stony Brook, will receive the Commandeur National
Local villagers are empowered through Centre ValBio's Conservation Education and Outreach programs.
Medal, the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the Republic of Madagascar. Previously, she received the Chevalier Medal of Honor (1995) and the Officier Medal of Honor (2005), making her one of only a select few foreigners to receive this triumvirate of awards. Medals of Honor are awarded to those who have accomplished honorable, significant and exceptional deeds throughout their careers.
Dr. Wright has been conducting conservation work and research in the area since 1986, when she made history with the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur, a species that was then unknown to science and which helped to catalyze the formation of Ranomafana National Park. A short time later, Dr. Wright spent months trekking to delimit park boundaries with the forestry service and secured funding to develop Ranomafana National Park, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts 114 species of birds and 12 varieties of lemurs, some of which are listed among the world’s most endangered animals. Through the Conservation Education and Outreach Department of CVB, Dr. Wright has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Malagasy citizens through education and training programs consisting of three primary goals: reforestation, biodiversity conservation and improved health and hygiene.
The second leg of his trip takes President Stanley to northwestern Madagascar accompanied by renowned paleontologist and Distinguished Professor of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook, Dr. David Krause, who, along with colleagues and students involved in paleontological research in Madagascar, are committed to improving the lives of Malagasy children. His research in Madagascar, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, led him to interact with local villagers and, ultimately, to establish the Madagascar Ankizy Fund (ankizy means “children” in the Malagasy language), the mission of which is to build schools (five have been built to date) and offer dental and medical services for underserved children living in remote areas of the country.
Malagasy children at one of the schools constructed by the Madagascar Ankizy Fund.
While with Professor Krause, Dr. Stanley will have the opportunity to meet with a team of dental students from the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, led by Drs. Larry Wynn, Hamil Willoughby and Randolph Todd who are on a three-week mission to provide dental care to local villagers, many of whom have never been to a dentist. He will also be on hand as Dr. Krause is honored by the University of Antananarivo with an honorary degree for his achievements and humanitarianism. Dr. Krause has provided valuable assistance in the training of several graduate students in the Department of Paleontology and Biological Anthropology at Antananarivo.
During the final part of his trip, President Stanley will visit the Turkana Basin Institute, a collaborative, international, multi-disciplinary project which facilitates research in the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya that also provides much-needed community outreach to the communities around the Lake Turkana Basin by improving access to education, providing healthcare, access to safe drinking water and more. He will be welcomed by world-renowned paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, a Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Stony Brook and Chair of the Turkana Basin Institute. Dr. Stanley will tour the Turkana facilities and visit a health clinic, maternity ward and a school to see the impact TBI is having on the lives of people in northern Kenya.
Note: Read about President Stanley’s trip to Africa starting July 2 by linking to the "Office of the President" website at www.stonybrook.edu/pres.