Inaugural Stonybrook University Awards include Indian American employees  

President Maurie McInnis (center) with four of the Stony Award winners (from left to right): Srinivas Pentyala, Urszula Zalewski, Heather A. Montague and Omar Badessi. Not pictured: Sujatha Palat. Photos by Juliana Thomas.

Stony Brook University in New York rolled out the red carpet to honor exceptional employees at the inaugural Stony Awards, held November 29 at Flowerfield in St. James.

The Stony Awards were established this year as an additional opportunity “to recognize Stony Brook faculty, staff and healthcare personnel who go above and beyond in teaching, service and creating a sense of community,” a press release from the University said. Members of the campus community submitted 135 nominations in support of their colleagues’ excellence, service and dedication to Stony Brook.

Indian Americans among the awardees included:

President’s Award for Excellence in Patient Service: Sujatha Palat
Presented by Interim Executive Vice President for Stony Brook Medicine William Wertheim.

Stony Brook University’s Sujatha Palat, MD, College Physician, Student Health Services. PHOTO:

Palat is a board-certified family physician who has been caring for Stony Brook students since 2003. Before she was appointed college physician at Student Health Services, she was in private practice in Georgia and then on Long Island. During her tenure at Student Health Services, Palat has served on committees for quality improvement and accreditation, and has enjoyed her role as a clinical preceptor for rotating medical students and for those in the Athletic Training program.

SB YOU Award: Srinivas Pentyala
Presented by Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Jed Shivers

President’s Stony Brook Champion Award, the final award of the evening was bestowed by President Maurie McInnis upon the awardee “who epitomizes this university’s mission and exemplifies the best of the best.” That award was given to Srinivas Pentyala, director of translational research and a professor of anesthesiology with joint appointments in orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, urology, health sciences, physiology, biophysics and mechanical engineering.

“I am truly humbled by this recognition and am inspired by the incredible support from administration, colleagues, and students of Stony Brook University and also by my family,”  Pentyala is quoted saying in the press release. “This recognition motivates me to continue striving for excellence in everything I do. I share this recognition with all those who have been part of my journey at Stony Brook University,” he added.

Pentyala joined Stony Brook University in 1992. He currently is the director of translational research and a professor of anesthesiology with joint appointments in orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, urology, health sciences, physiology and biophysics. Pentyala received several honors and awards for his role as a researcher, educator and mentor, as well as for his involvement in community service. He serves on the advisory boards of several journals, national and international biotech and healthcare companies, and research institutes.

President McInnis addressed the gathering and reflected on recent campus achievements including becoming one of the top hospitals in the nation, a national leader in inclusive and equitable education and socioeconomic mobility, a leader in research innovation and multidisciplinary scholarship, a national pioneer in the fight for sustainability and against climate change, and a flagship university of the SUNY system, all while enjoying the highest rankings to date.

These successes would not be possible, she said, without the work of employees who are diligent in the pursuit of excellence and who go above and beyond for the university and the community.

“So many of our contributions — our work, our advocacy, our research and study — look outward, but tonight is about looking inward, at the incredible individuals who generate this drive for excellence and whose dedication and talent are integral to our success,” said McInnis.

Among the finalists for excellence in patient service, was Dr. Anupama Chawla, professor of Pediatrics, chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology in the Department of Pediatrics in the Renaissance School of Medicine   director of the Celiac Disease Center. Chawla was named a ‘Top Doctor’ on the Castle Connolly Top Doctors 2023 list of the top physicians in the US and the New York area.

President McInnis thanked the winners, their guests and everyone in attendance for celebrating the Stony Brook community, and for recognizing the faculty and staff who are making a difference. “Tonight has been an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate together what makes being at Stony Brook so rewarding — the work we do and the people we get to do that work with,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier to be celebrating with all of you.”



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