STONY BROOK, N.Y., March 27, 2007-Dr. Richard Leakey, the world-renowned conservationist and paleo-anthropologist who has made some of the most important fossil discoveries of the last 100 years, including "Turkana Boy," a human skeleton some 1.6 million years old, will be honored by Stony Brook University at its Eighth Annual "Stars of Stony Brook" Gala on Wednesday, April 11.
The dinner, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, will also serve to begin the University's 50th anniversary celebrations. Over the years, Stony Brook has gained recognition as one of America's most important centers of learning; it is ranked among the nation's top 50 universities and the top 10 public science institutions.
Proceeds from the gala will go to scholarships for talented, deserving students, as well as to the Turkana Basin Institute, a state-of-the-art research center in East Africa created by Dr. Leakey in partnership with Stony Brook, as well as with the U.S. International University in Kenya and the University of Nairobi. Northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia comprise a fossil-rich region where many of the world's most important paleontological and archeological discoveries have been made.
Dinner co-chairs are: David E. Acker, a 1981 Stony Brook alumnus who is founder of ProRhythym Inc.; Edward L. Barlow, senior partner of Whitcom Partners; Dr. Robert J. Frey, president of Harbor Financial Management, and a 1981 and 1987 (Ph.D) alumnus; Richard L. Gelfond, co-chairman and co-CEO of the IMAX Corporation and chair of the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees and a 1976 alumnus; Dr. James H. Simons, president of Renaissance Technologies Corp. and former professor and chair of Stony Brook's Mathematics department; and James Wolfensohn, chairman of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC and former president of The World Bank.
"Richard Leakey has earned a rightful place among the pantheon of the world's foremost paleoanthropologists and conservationists. Indeed, his work has had and will continue to have a profound impact on our understanding of human evolution," said Stony Brook President Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny. "We at Stony Brook are deeply honored to count him among our faculty, and to pay him a well-deserved tribute at our 50th anniversary gala. Celebrating such an auspicious milestone with such a celebrated individual is a pleasure and privilege."
Dr. Leakey has served as on our faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook since 2002. In this capacity, he has established an annual Human Evolution Symposium, bringing together international scientists from many disciplines to try and obtain a clearer appreciation and understanding of the major forces and events that shaped the root of the human lineage. He has also created the Stony Brook World Environmental Forum to focus scientific attention on the urgent problems impacting the global environment, and to mobilize the resources of inter-government agencies and international corporations for conservation.
Dr. Leakey, former director of the National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Wildlife Service, is currently spearheading the development of the Turkana Basin Institute, the collaborative effort between Stony Brook University, the U.S. International University in Kenya and the University of Nairobi. The $25 million state-of-the-art research center will comprise a series of two or three field stations, consisting of both laboratories and hotel-style living quarters, making it possible for teams of researchers to simply travel to the site without making complicated, expensive, and time-consuming arrangements. Because the site is permanent, researchers will be able to use it year-round, thereby tripling the amount of time spent in the field-as opposed to the 10-15 weeks a year researchers are limited to now due to planning and expense.
The Institute will have 80 staff, including 30 students, as well as local scientists at the three sites. Dr. John Fleagle, a professor of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook, has been named director.
For more information on the gala, call Events Associates, Tamara Leuchtenberg at 212.245.6570, Ext. 15 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.