Newswise — On Earth Day — Tuesday, April 22 — the Stony Brook campus community, and the global twitter-verse came together – virtually and in person – with Stony Brook University’s three Indianapolis Prize finalists: Russell A. Mittermeier; Carl Safina; and, Patricia C. Wright, during the University’s first ever “Tweet-Up” – an official event of Stony Brook's 2014 Earthstock celebration.

The #IndyAtSBU Tweet-Up combined short talks by the extraordinary conservationists with the power of social media to connect communities around a common cause. Participants heard from Stony Brook’s three Indianapolis Prize finalists and used the hashtag #IndyAtSBU to contribute to the discussion around issues that most affect our planet.

Drs. Mittermeier, Safina and Wright are three of the six finalists vying for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. With a purse of $250,000, the Indianapolis Prize is the largest and most prestigious award of its kind, awarded biennially to the heroic conservationist who has made significant strides in saving a species from extinction. The finalists were joined by Stony Brook President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., and Dr. Robert Shumaker, Vice President of Life Sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, which administers the Indianapolis Prize as a significant component of its mission to empower people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conservation.

“For three Stony Brook University faculty to be selected as finalists for this prestigious award is a great honor,” said President Stanley. “Doctors Mittermeier, Safina and Wright have not only advanced wildlife conservation, they have improved the quality of life in the communities and regions in which they work, and they use their work as a springboard by which to teach the world’s next great conservationists, leaving a legacy of commitment, passion and dedication.”

Congressman Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY-1) was also at the Tweet-Up to present the three finalists and President Stanley with an official document that he read into the Congressional Record on March 14, 2014, congratulating Stony Brook’s three Indianapolis Prize finalists.

“This is the first time that one university has had three finalists for the award given by the Indianapolis Zoo for ‘extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts,’” said Congressman Bishop. “Drs. Mittermeier, Safina, and Wright all hold PhDs and have made major contributions to science. Their selection as finalists for this coveted award reflects the excellence and dedication of Stony Brook's faculty and brings honor to all of Long Island.”

The Indianapolis Prize winner will be announced on May 13 in Indianapolis. The winner will receive $250,000 and the Lilly medal at the Indianapolis Prize Gala on September 27, 2014.

About Stony Brook University's Indianapolis Prize FinalistsRussel A. Mittermeier, PhD (@RussMittermeier, @ConservationOrg) is the president of Conservation International and an adjunct professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences. He has been nominated for his efforts to understand and educate others about the worldwide threats to biodiversity, his global efforts to conserve primates, and his work to create protected areas in some of the world’s highest priority hotspots.

Carl Safina, PhD (@carlsafina, @BlueOceanInst) is a research professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and a visiting professor and board member of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Founder of Blue Ocean Institute and known as the “voice of ocean conservation,” he has been sounding the alarm for the preservation of marine animals and the oceans that house them.

Patricia C. Wright, PhD (@patcwright) is the founding director of Centre ValBio and the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments and a professor of anthropology. She has been recognized for her tireless work with lemurs in Madagascar, including the development of Ranomafana National Park, the home of 12 lemur species, some of which are listed among the world’s most endangered animals. Pat also works to empower the people of Madagascar to take an active role in protecting the island’s rich biodiversity.

Representing the Indianapolis PrizeRobert Shumaker, PhD (@IndplsPrize), is Vice President of Life Sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, which administers the Indianapolis Prize. He is internationally recognized as a leading expert on orangutan behavior and cognition. He’s been a faculty member at George Mason University and Drake University. Dr. Shumaker started his career at the Smithsonian National Zoo and also served as the senior scientist at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa.

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