Philanthropy Opens Door for Student Researcher

Mary Kritzer, Stony Brook professor of neurobiology and behavior, met Ramon Cabrera ’15, then a Nassau Community College student, in the summer of 2012. Cabrera was selected for an extended research project while attending BioPREP, a Stony Brook summer science program for underrepresented students at two-year institutions.

Cabrera was asked to choose from one of several research projects but instead opted to develop his own idea and research protocol. That decision caught the attention of Kritzer, who welcomed him into her lab. With the help of Stony Brook’s URECA (Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities) scholarship, Cabrera transferred to Stony Brook, where he could continue his research while working toward a biology degree. He is part of a research team studying how hormones influence reasoning in laboratory rats.

Cabrera also became the inaugural recipient of the Chhabra-URECA Fellowship, funded by the Ashvin B. Chhabra and Daniela Bonafede-Chhabra Endowment for Undergraduate Summer Research in Mathematics and Science at Stony Brook. The fellowship program was established by Stony Brook Foundation Trustee Dr. Chhabra and his wife to create more access and opportunities for undergraduate research at Stony Brook.

“The committee saw a young man for whom they could make a huge difference by opening a door for someone who didn’t even know there was a door,” said Kritzer. “And now it’s wide open.”

Cabrera said the URECA scholarship and the Chhabra fellowship provided him with a platform for presenting his work. “My field is biology and behavior, but it is also extremely valuable to see what others are doing in different fields.”

“Philanthropy gives Stony Brook the means to maintain our position as one of the earliest proponents of undergraduate research,” said Dexter Bailey, executive director of the Stony Brook Foundation. “But more important, philanthropy gives opportunities to bright young stars like Ramon Cabrera, who may not have been able to pursue his dreams without URECA, the Chhabra Fellowship and other financial support.”

Cabrera plans to pursue an MD/PhD after completing his undergraduate degree at SBU.

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by Susan Burlingame