Skip to main content
University at Buffalo

UB Today

A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Fall 2011






Join the Alumni Association

UBAA on Facebook

To stop receiving the print version and read UB Today online, > click here

To view a virtual version of the print magazine > click here. To view the PDF version of this issue > click here


Main story imageGov. Andrew M. Cuomo signs the NYSUNY 2020 bill into law on Aug. 9.

University News

President hails passage of NYSUNY 2020 legislation

Passage of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 will have a “transformative impact” on UB and public higher education in New York State, President Satish K. Tripathi said shortly after the bill’s passage June 24. Moreover, it offers a historic new model for investing in public higher education during a period of declining state funding support.

The bill, which Cuomo signed into law on Aug. 9, authorizes all SUNY campuses to implement a rational tuition plan that gives the campuses the ability to raise tuition up to $300 annually for five years. In addition, as a component of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, the four University Centers in Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook are authorized to raise tuition 10 percent for out-of-state students.

These critical resources will provide the revenue needed for UB to implement the next phase of the UB 2020 plan for academic excellence, under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, Tripathi said. Three main interrelated objectives are “enhanced educational and research excellence, improved health care for Western New York, and creation of an innovation economy that will produce regional job growth,” he said.

UB’s plan would use the university’s share of the first-round funding—$35 million—as a down payment to build a new facility for the medical school on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.

New York State low-income students who qualify for maximum financial aid through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) will not be impacted by tuition increases authorized by the bill. To ensure equitable access to UB, the university also will invest a portion of tuition revenues into need-based financial aid.

Breaking Research

Helping concussed hockey players recover

Examining statins Patient takes part in individualized exercise program to recover from post-concussive syndrome. Photo by: Douglas Levere, BA ’89

In the game of professional hockey, a contact sport, suffering from concussion is an all too common injury. Yet deciding if a hockey player is ready to return to the ice has been left primarily to each team’s physician, with no standardized across-the-sport method to assess when the time is right.

Specialists at UB’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Department’s concussion clinic have developed a reliable graded exercise test for concussion that would help sports-team physicians make decisions about a player’s readiness to return to the ice in good health.

The regimen, supported in part by the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, is described in the March 2011 issue of Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. Barry Willer, UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation medicine and senior author on the paper, says “premature return to a sport after concussion greatly increases the risk of a follow-up concussion, with more devastating results than the first concussion.”

The UB study was conducted in a consecutive sample of 21 athletes and non-athletes who came to UB’s concussion clinic. The test, developed at the clinic, uses a single approach to assess readiness to return to the sport. Athletes are evaluated while exercising on a treadmill, as the angle of the treadmill increases the workload, and are watched carefully for any signs or symptoms of exacerbation as they exercise to voluntary exhaustion. Athletes are reevaluated after one to two weeks of increasing exercise.

Learn more about the UB Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic

University News

Gates foundation grant supports global health research

Examining statinsBett

A medical school faculty member has received a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations program, a $100 million global health research initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Glenna Bett, associate professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, will use the $100,000 grant to develop a device to treat postpartum hemorrhage suitable for use even when medical facilities are absent or minimal, and in nonsterile environments. If successful, such a device has the potential to reduce perinatal deaths worldwide.

Bett’s co-principal investigator on the grant is Randall Rasmusson, professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in solving persistent global health and development challenges.

UB People

Entrepreneur keeps old software alive

Building named for Jack and Barbara Davis“When I first started the site, it was about making some money, but now I love the process of creating. I love the hustle of starting a business.” Alexander Levine Photo by: Douglas Levere, BA ’89

At the age of 10, while other children fretted over how they’d fit in at middle school, UB senior Alexander Levine was trying to start an online business.

The son of economists who emigrated to the U.S. in 1995 from St. Petersburg, Russia, Levine created several websites, including one that offered Web design services and another that reviewed free Internet service providers. Then he launched the site that would later fund his college education:, a clearinghouse for old versions of computer software. At age 12, he registered with partner Igor Dolgalev, who left the project a few years later.

Today, 10 years later, users download between 10,000 to 15,000 copies of software a day from the OldVersion website. The site offers old versions of nearly 300 programs, including LimeWire, AOL Instant Messenger, Opera, Acrobat Reader, RealPlayer and, of course, Napster.

Levine says some people use the service because their computers don’t support new versions of software, while others simply prefer the old versions.

“When I first started the site, it was about making some money,” he says, “but now I love the process of creating. I love the hustle of starting a business.” At UB, Levine created his own major, theatre anthropology, studying how different cultures approach theater, with an emphasis on his native Russia, where he studied for a semester.

Breaking Research

Where did flowers come from?

Story imageAmborella

UB is a key partner in a $7.3 million, multi-institution collaboration to explore the origins of all flowers by sequencing the genome of Amborella, a unique species found in only one place on the planet: the Pacific islands of New Caledonia.

The plant, a direct descendant of the common ancestor of all flowering plants, is the single known living species on the earliest branch of the genetic tree of life of flowering plants. By comparing the genetic make-up of Amborella to that of newer species, biologists will be able to study a diverse range of plant characteristics, from how flowers resist drought and how fruits mature to how critical crops might respond to global warming.

The Amborella project builds on an earlier study, in which information was sought on the origins of flowers by comparing active genes of flowering plants, including Amborella, and non-flowering plants called gymnosperms. The Amborella genome project is the natural next step: Now that we know more about how the first flowers evolved, what can we learn about how they diversified? With a fossil record dating to just over 130 million years ago, flowering plants now include as many as 400,000 species on land and in water.

The goal of these studies is to learn more about whole-genome duplication, a commonplace process in flowers in which a new plant inherits an extra, duplicate copy of its parents’ DNA. Because redundant copies of genes can evolve to develop new functions, scientists think that whole-genome duplication may be behind “Darwin’s abominable mystery”—the abrupt proliferation of new varieties of flowering plants in fossil records dating to the Cretaceous period.

University News

Insulin a possible therapy for Alzheimer’s

A low dose of insulin has been found to suppress the expression in the blood of four precursor proteins involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new clinical research by UB endocrinologists published in March online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“Our results show clearly that insulin has the potential to be developed as a therapeutic agent for Alzheimer’s, for which no satisfactory treatment is currently available,” says Paresh Dandona, UB distinguished professor of medicine in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and senior author on the study. For more information, go to

Academic Insight

The Living Wall

Story imageStudents’ interconnected micro-dwellings in Griffis Sculpture Park south of Buffalo.Douglas Levere, BA ’89

Freshman students from the School of Architecture and Planning have designed and built a 96-foot-long string of wooden micro-dwellings at Griffis Sculpture Park, located about 45 miles south of Buffalo.

“The Living Wall” installation will remain at least through early spring 2012 at Griffis, where visitors can climb on, over and through the interconnected micro-dwellings.

[Students can see] what the design and construction process is like from start to finish" Christopher Romano, Clinical Associate Professor of Architecture

Working in groups of six to seven, about 80 students were tasked with creatively transforming uniform, wooden volumes measuring 6 by 6 by 8 feet to incorporate an entrance, day lighting, natural ventilation, and a minimum of five sleeping spaces.

After assembling the structures at Griffis, members of each group spent 24 hours living inside the creations. Occupying the spaces is intended to give students a better understanding of the successes and shortcomings of their designs. Indeed, teamwork is a critical skill for architects, who must work not only with each other, but with clients, engineers and contractors as well. “Creating a full-scale structure gives first-year students an opportunity to see, firsthand, what the design and construction process is like from start to finish,” says Christopher Romano, UB clinical associate professor and one of four coordinating faculty members overseeing the students’ work. “They’ve gone from drawings and models to building a full-scale project.”

Breaking Research

Waterpipe smoking ‘epidemic’ among young

Story image

Students in schools and universities in the U.S. and around the world are using waterpipes to smoke tobacco at “alarmingly high” rates, according to a study by UB researchers published in April 2011 in Biomedical Health Central Public Health. “Waterpipe smoking is a real epidemic in the world and it’s picking up in the U.S. too,” says Elie Akl, lead author and associate professor of medicine, family medicine, and social and preventive medicine in the schools of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Public Health and Health Professions.

While the paper reveals the highest rates of waterpipe smoking in Middle Eastern and Asian countries (where the practice has a centuries-long tradition), researchers also found that it is increasing in the U.S. and other western countries.

“The surveys included in this review found an alarming prevalence of waterpipe smoking among middle and high school students in the U.S.,” Akl says. “It was especially true of Arab-American students, who reported waterpipe usage ranging from 12 to 15 per cent.” The UB review also found that approximately 10 percent of university students in the U.S. reported waterpipe smoking.

Waterpipe tobacco smoking is significantly associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight and periodontal disease, a study by Akl and others published in the International Journal of Epidemiology has found.

University News

UB debuts new home page

story image

The first phase of UB’s new home page ( debuted in June, offering a variety of features designed to reflect the university’s unique culture and identity while enabling users to find information quickly. The first redesign of the university’s main Web presence in six years, the home page aims to support recruitment of students and faculty, as well as other key institutional objectives, by showcasing the “UB experience” and positioning the university as a leader in research, teaching and global outreach. A dynamic Web presence is critical to a university’s ability to recruit students. In fact, for many students, looking at a college website is their primary way of collecting information about a school before they apply.

The new site was built on the new UBCMS technology (the university’s content management system), which will serve as the online communications platform across the university. The redesign overhauled the previous home page and added top-level pages on five key topics: academic excellence, admissions options, research, UB’s global reach and “life at UB.”

Extensive research for the redesign included interviews with more than 300 faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and prospective students.

UB People

Professor wins 2011 Nathan M. Newmark Medal

story image

Andrei M. Reinhorn, Clifford C. Furnas Professor of Structural Engineering, received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2011 Nathan M. Newmark Medal in Las Vegas on April 14.

The national medal is given to an ASCE member who, through contributions in structural mechanics, has substantially strengthened the scientific base of structural engineering. Reinhorn was recognized for outstanding contributions to the development of experimental and analytical methods in structural dynamics and for his design of response-control systems for earthquake-resistant buildings, as well as contributions to quantify earthquake-resilient communities.

Reinhorn is the third UB faculty member—after George C. Lee and Tsu T. Soong—to receive the award in the past 11 years, a huge achievement among competing institutions during this period.

Reinhorn, who also is an investigator with UB’s MCEER (formerly the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research), has developed models and computational approaches for damaged and degrading structures near collapse, which have enabled engineers to design safer buildings. He is also a pioneer in defining the disaster resilience of communities and developing ways to quantify it.

By the numbers

University Construction Boom

[Campuses where construction is taking place]
[Amount dedicated to projects under way as of July 2011, in millions of dollars]
[Amount dedicated to additional projects in planning and design, in millions of dollars]

story image

[Number of beds in Greiner Hall]
[Buildings opening in fall 2011—William R. Greiner Hall, residence hall for UB sophomores, and Barbara and Jack Davis Hall, new engineering building]

For more information and a slideshow on new construction, click here.


Speaking Of

Synthetic Life or the Human Genome

“I think it’s going to be a toss-up whether synthetic life or the human genome has more impact on the future of humanity. I hope they both will.”

J. Craig Venter, former UB professor, founder of Celera Genomics and one of the first scientists to sequence the human genome, Distinguished Speakers Series, Alumni Arena, April 27, 2011

Flashback 1957

Elizabeth Taylor visits UB with barely a mention, no bull!

Center for the Arts Elizabeth Taylor presented UB with “Buster” during 1957 visit. Photo: UB Archives

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died this year, and her third husband, producer Mike Todd, spent four days in Buffalo in the fall of 1957 as part of the city of Buffalo’s 125th anniversary celebration. During that visit, the famous couple came to UB on Sept. 20 and presented the university with “Buster,” a 7-month-old, Black Angus-Irish Dexter bull calf that served as a live mascot and commemorated the city’s 125th anniversary. A few weeks after Taylor’s visit, Buster was on hand for Homecoming and met the queen, Joan Arhardt (pictured above). Unbelieveably, the visit to campus drew very little attention in the student newspaper, The Spectrum. An article on Buster in the Oct. 4, 1957, issue briefly mentions he had been given to the university by Taylor and Todd.

Click here to see the full Spectrum issue from Oct. 4, 1957.

John Edens, University Archives

UB on Facebook

UB on FB

UB and the UB Alumni Association have official Facebook pages for those with UB pride who want to learn more, to stay in touch, to reconnect and to keep up to date. Check them out and post comments, browse videos, read and share stories and learn more about UB and UB alumni.

UB on Facebook
UBAA on Facebook

Some Text


For the latest in campus news reports click here


UB in the News

How Donald Trump ruined the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum for actual Civil Rights leaders

12/14/2017 An article in Newsweek about the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History, and the controversy over plans by President Trump to attend the ceremony, interviews Victoria Wolcott, professor and chair of history, who said Trump?s presence is problematic given his inability to denounce white supremacists in the wake of Charlottesville.

New downtown home for Jacobs School opens

12/12/2017 The Buffalo News quoted UB President Satish K. Tripathi on the opening of the new Jacobs School building. "The world-class design was a sight to behold. But to gaze upon the magnificent finished product is to fully appreciate it for the breathtaking building it is."

Gum infections may increase risk for digestive tract sores

12/8/2017 A Reuters article about a study that showed that gum infections may increase people?s risk for sores in the digestive tract that can lead to stomach cancer quotes Jean Wactawski-Wende , dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

More of UB in the News