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    Engineering professor receives high honor

    Sanjay Sampath, professor of materials science and engineering and the director for the Center for Thermal Spray Research at Stony Brook University, was recently appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

    Sampath was one of four SUNY faculty members to receive this recognition this year. The title of Distinguished Professorship is granted to individuals whose work has elevated the standards of their field through both research and teaching.

    After receiving his Ph.D. from SBU in 1989, Sampath worked for four years at GTE Sylvania where he participated in research, development and processing of refractory metal compounds. After this he returned to SBU to join his predecessor and mentor, Professor Herbert Herman, who was appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor in 2001. Together they helped to start the Center of Thermal Spray Research.

    “He has made an unusual impact in his field, not only through his basic discoveries, but also through their translation into innovative applications,” Dennis N. Assanis, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs of SBU, said in a press release.

    “Stony Brook is fortunate to have him on our faculty and looks forward to many more contributions from him in teaching, research and discovery,” SBU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said about Sampath in a press release.

    Receiving recognition for his work is not new to Sampath. He has previously received awards for his developments in thermal spray research in both the scientific community and through SUNY. What made this recognition stand out from the other plaques that can be found covering the walls of his office is that he received it partially based on the nomination from some of his students in addition to his colleagues.

    “I don’t think of it as teaching. I think of it as mentoring,” Sampath said about his job. His classes are geared towards preparing his students not just for tests, but also for their future careers in the industry.

    “Your students of today are going to become leaders in 10 years,” Sampath explained. “What you are teaching them now will help them with that. We call it knowledge transfer — we transfer knowledge from science to industry but we also send the people with it. That is the real highlight of why I teach.”

    He also described that when students are done with his class, he makes it a point to follow up with them throughout the rest of their education and their careers. What he says he loves most about his role as an educator is seeing that most of his students remain in the field and bring the lessons they learn at SBU into the industry.

    Sampath said something he learned through his work with Herman and that he uses while teaching is to keep an eye out for the students who may not have perfect grades but have great hand- on talent. “There are two classes of students,” Sampath said. “One is the people who look very good on paper, and the other is those who don’t look good on paper but turn out to be real gems.”

    Sampath also explained that he enjoys being tested in his classes and encourages students to question him and talk back. “Some students will challenge you, and I like that,” he said.

    Being appointed to the role of Distinguished Professor does come with some new responsibilities for Sampath. He can now be called upon to serve on certain committees if the SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher asks it of him. However, what the acknowledgment truly shows is that the SUNY community recognizes the value of professors, like Sampath, who use their skills to advance their field while going out of their way to be an accessible asset to students.

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