Chafee names Coit to STAC; Brown, URI VPs to co-chair

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced the appointment Tuesday of David Savitz, vice president of research for Brown University, and Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president of research and economic development for the University of Rhode Island, as co-chairs of the Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council. More

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Chafee names Coit to STAC; Brown, URI VPs to co-chair

COURTESY RHODE ISLAND SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ADVISORY COUNCIL
GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE welcomes Gerald Sonnenfeld, left, and David Savitz, center, as the new co-chairs of the Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council. Sonnenfeld and Savitz are the vice presidents of research for the University of Rhode Island and Brown University, respectively.
Posted 11/12/13

(Updated, 3:08 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced the appointment Tuesday of David Savitz, vice president of research for Brown University, and Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president of research and economic development for the University of Rhode Island, as co-chairs of the Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council.

Chafee also announced that Janet Coit, director of the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, has joined STAC.

“With these changes, we strengthen the diversity and experience of STAC’s members,” said Chafee in a release. “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.”

Savitz and Sonnenfeld take on the co-chair positions as part of their responsibilities at Brown and URI, said STAC Executive Director Christine Smith. They replace their predecessors Clyde Briant and Peter Alfonso, the previous STAC co-chairs and former vice presidents of research at Brown and URI, respectively.

As vice president for research at Brown University, Savitz is the university’s primary research advocate and a member of President Christina H. Paxson’s cabinet. He assumed the position in September from his previous role as a professor of epidemiology at Brown’s School of Public Health. Savitz received his undergraduate training in psychology at Brandeis University, and he holds a master’s degree in preventive medicine from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Sonnenfeld, who arrived at URI in October, previously served as vice president for research and professor of biological sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina, where he established a health care research center. 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. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the City College of New York and a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Before stepping into her role at the DEM, Coit served as the Rhode Island director for The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s leading environmental nonprofits, and as counsel and environmental coordinator for the late Sen. John H. Chafee and, subsequently, then-Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Stanford Law School, where she was president of the Environmental Law Society and a member of the Environmental Law Journal.

STAC, a statewide coalition of industry leaders in science and technology, was formed in 2006 to support Rhode Island’s research and development activity, encourage innovation and collaboration across institutes, and maximize the economic impact of research, technology and innovation.

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