Director Coit Joins STAC; Brown's Savitz and URI's Sonnenfeld Are New Co-Chairs
Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced that Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, has joined the Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC). He also appointed as the Council's co-chairs David Savitz, Ph.D, Vice President of Research for Brown University, and Gerald Sonnenfeld, Ph.D, Vice President of Research and Economic Development for the University of Rhode Island.
"With these changes, we strengthen the diversity and experience of STAC's members," Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. "The new co-chairs and Director Coit bring many years of leadership experience and will move the Council forward. Director Coit provides a new key dimension with her knowledge and dedication to Rhode Island's open spaces and Narragansett Bay."
The Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) is a coalition of leaders in the field of science and technology representing business, medicine, higher education and government. STAC was formed in 2006 and is charged with advising state leadership on strategic investments that drive economic development and job creation by maximizing the economic impact of research, technology and innovation. STAC policies and programs support the state's research and development activity and promote collaboration across institutions, encourage entrepreneurship and new company creation through the transfer of new technologies and discoveries into the marketplace, and create an environment that enables innovation to flourish. STAC serves as governing committee for the $20 million Rhode Island National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant.
For more than 20 years, Director Coit has worked on environmental matters. She spent 10 years at The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading environmental nonprofits, and most recently served as the organization's Rhode Island State Director. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, she was counsel and environmental coordinator in the Providence office of the late Senator John H. Chafee and, subsequently, then-Senator Lincoln D. Chafee. She moved to Rhode Island in 1997, making a transition from her position as counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, where she worked on national environmental policy.
She has been a champion for the environment throughout her decades of environmental and legal service, including stints at the Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, and working for three U.S. Senators from New England. Clean water, clean air and our natural areas provide for an environment that supports Rhode Island's economic future, and Director Coit is dedicated to preserving the quality of our environment and protecting the natural systems critical to the health, safety and well-being of Rhode Islanders as she leads the Department.
A magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College, Director Coit holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where she was president of the Environmental Law Society and a member of the Environmental Law Journal.
As Vice President for Research at Brown University, David Savitz is a senior member of the University's academic administration and the primary advocate for research. He is a member of the President's cabinet. He came to the Office of Vice President for Research in September 2013 from Brown's School of Public Health, where he is Professor of Epidemiology, with a joint appointment in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Alpert Medical School. His epidemiological research has addressed a wide range of many important public health issues including hazards in the workplace, the environmental effects of energy development, childhood obesity, pesticides and breast cancer, pregnancy health risks from environmental exposures, drinking water safety, and ethnicity and birth outcomes.
Savitz has directed 29 doctoral dissertations and 15 master's theses. He is the author of nearly 350 papers in professional journals and editor or author of three books on environmental epidemiology. He came to Brown in 2010 from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he had served as the Charles W. Bluhdorn Professor of Community and Preventive Medicine and Director of Disease Prevention and Public Health Institute since 2006. He received his undergraduate training in Psychology at Brandeis University, a master's in Preventive Medicine at Ohio State University in 1978, and a Ph.D in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in 1982.
Before coming to the University of Rhode Island, Sonnenfeld was the vice president for research and professor of biological sciences at Clemson University. At Clemson, he established a healthcare research powerhouse for both the university and the Greenville Health System. He holds two U.S. patents and one from Canada, and his research has focused on the effects of stress on the immune system and resistance to cancer and infection. He was one of the early researchers on the role of interferon-gamma in regulating immune response. He has directed multiple pre-clinical studies and has been involved in clinical study development for several immunoregulatory agents. Sonnenfeld has also conducted experiments on the U.S. Space Shuttle and on Russian space program satellites.
Before joining Clemson, he held positions at Binghamton University, State University of New York, the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Sonnenfeld is the author of more than 140 peer-reviewed scientific articles and has written numerous articles and edited two books. He received his B.S. in Biology in 1970 from the City College of New York and his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 1975 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He completed his postdoctoral training in infectious diseases and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1978.