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UB Today

A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Fall 2012





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Main story imageDesign concepts produced by HOK and three other elite architectural teams will be used to produce the final design for the new UB school of medicine in downtown Buffalo.

University News

Architecture team chosen for new medical school

Following an international competition, HOK, one of the world’s leading architectural firms, has been selected to help produce the final design for a new medical school in downtown Buffalo.

Robert G. Shibley, dean of the UB School of Architecture and Planning and head of the selection committee, said four teams of the world’s top architects were selected from among 19 teams in five countries that originally vied for the opportunity to design the building. Concepts produced by HOK and the three other firms will be used to produce the final design for what will be the largest new building to be built in Buffalo in decades.

“The teams selected each produced a design experiment that taught us something about the architectural possibilities for the building, from how it might meet the ground to the kinds of learning environments and public spaces it could create,” Shibley says.

The finalists, in addition to HOK, are Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Cannon Design, Rafael Vinoly Architects with Foit-Albert Associates, and Grimshaw Architects and Davis Brody Bond.

Click here for the latest in campus news reports.

Groundbreaking for the new medical school is slated for fall 2013; construction is anticipated to be completed in 2016. Updated information on the design process is available here.

Breaking Research

The ‘Neurogenics of Niceness’

Research by psychologists at UB and the University of California, Irvine, has found that at least part of the reason some people are kind and generous is because their genes nudge them toward it.

Michel Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at UB, is principal author of the study “The Neurogenics of Niceness,” published in April 2012 in the journal Psychological Science. Co-authored by Anneke Buffone of UB and E. Alison Holman of UC Irvine, the study looked at the behavior of study subjects who have versions of receptor genes for two hormones that, in laboratory and close relationship research, are associated with niceness.

Previous laboratory studies have linked the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin to the way we treat one another, Poulin says. In fact, they are known to make us nicer people, at least in close relationships. Oxytocin promotes maternal behavior, for example, and in the lab, subjects exposed to the hormone demonstrate greater sociability. Poulin says this study was an attempt to apply previous findings to social behaviors on a larger scale; to learn if these chemicals provoke in us other forms of pro-social behavior: the urge to give to charity, for instance, or to more readily participate in such civic endeavors as paying taxes, reporting crime, giving blood or sitting on juries. “The study found that these genes combined with people’s perceptions of the world as a more or less threatening place to predict generosity,” Poulin says. “Specifically, study participants who found the world threatening were less likely to help others—unless they had versions of the receptor genes that are generally associated with niceness.”

Duel in the Pool

Steve Morse

Four hours before champion cyclist Lance Armstrong was due on stage in Alumni Arena to deliver remarks in UB’s Distinguished Speakers Series on April 28, he was kicking furiously down a lane of UB’s Olympic-size pool in a 50-meter sprint against cancer. The seven-time Tour de France winner and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation had been challenged to a kickboard “Duel in the Pool” by Mary Eggers, an Orchard Park, N.Y., native who works with the Teens Living with Cancer (TLC) program to support teenagers with cancer. Eggers edged out Armstrong in the competition, which raised $51,000 for LIVESTRONG, the Teens Living with Cancer (TLC) program in Rochester, and a new TLC chapter at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

UB People

Zukoski named provost


Charles F. “Chip” Zukoski has been named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs following an international search. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Zukoski is an internationally recognized scholar in chemical engineering. He joined UB this summer.

Zukoski comes to UB from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Elio Eliakim Tarika Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. During his 17-year administrative career at Illinois, he served in several key leadership positions, including a six-year tenure as vice chancellor for research. He served from 2006 to 2012 as chairman of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, and he continues to serve as a senior fellow of the agency.

“President Tripathi and the university community have created an innovative strategic vision that will strengthen UB as a great global institution...”Charles "Chip" Zukoski

“I am tremendously excited to be joining UB and the Buffalo community,” Zukoski said when his appointment was announced in April. “President Tripathi and the university community have created an innovative strategic vision that will strengthen UB as a great global institution, where students come to learn from the world’s most eminent scholars, and enhance the university’s role as a catalyst to the revitalization of Buffalo and Western New York.”

University News

Law School celebrates its 125th

The Law School is marking its 125th anniversary as a pathbreaking provider of legal education in Western New York and nationwide. The celebration begins Friday, Sept. 28 at the start of the Law School’s 2012 Reunion Weekend. Alumni, faculty, staff and friends will gather at the newly renovated Hotel @ the Lafayette in downtown Buffalo to kick off the festivities. The celebration will continue throughout the year with special events locally and nationwide. The Law School also will showcase its rich history and innovation in legal studies with an anniversary website featuring a detailed timeline and oral histories of many notable alumni. For more information click here.

By the numbers

Graduate Rankings

“Finish in 4” pledges to provide entering UB freshmen with academic resources they’ll need to graduate in four years. Students, who sign a pledge to adhere to program requirements, receive a personalized roadmap with courses and requirements. They also enjoy support from academic advisers as they pursue their degrees more efficiently and economically. click here for details.

Spots UB Law moved up since 2011—now no. 82 among accredited law schools in the U.S.
Spots School of Social Work moved up since 2011—now no. 26
Pharmacy school’s rank in U.S. for its PharmD program
Rank in U.S. for English department program in literary criticism and theory (one spot above Harvard)
Engineering school ranking among 198 institutions
Overall ranking for School of Public Health and Health Professions among U.S. schools of public health


Source: U.S. News & World Report in annual ranking of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” For additional rankings and full story click here.

Breaking Research

Do animals have reflective minds?

Story image

According to leading scholars in the field, an emerging consensus among scientists exists that animals share functional parallels with humans’ conscious metacognition–our ability to reflect on our mental processes, and guide and optimize them.

In an article published in March 2012 by Oxford University Press in the volume “Comparative Cognition: Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence,” J. David Smith, professor of psychology, and two research colleagues provide a comprehensive review of the current state of the animal-metacognition literature. Smith’s co-authors are Justin J. Couchman, visiting assistant professor of psychology, SUNY Fredonia; and Michael J. Beran, senior research scientist, Language Research Center, Georgia State University. They describe how Smith inaugurated animal metacognition as a new field of study in 1995 with research on a bottlenose dolphin. The dolphin assessed correctly when the experimenter’s trials were too difficult for him and adaptively declined to complete those trials.

Subsequently, Smith and many collaborators also explored the metacognitive capacities of joystick-trained macaques. These Old-World monkeys, native to Africa and Asia, can make specific responses to declare uncertainty about their memory. For example, they can respond “Uncertain” to gain hints from the experimenters of what to do on the first trial of new tasks.

“In all respects,” says Smith, “their capacity for uncertainty monitoring and for responding to uncertainty adaptively shows close correspondence to the same processes in humans.”


University News

National honors for two UB students

Story imageSalem (left) and Buckwalter (right)Douglas Levere, BA ’89

Two UB students have won nationally coveted awards. Junior Esther Buckwalter won the Morris K. Udall Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students who have demonstrated a commitment to careers in the environment, health care or tribal public policy.

Daniel Salem, also a junior, has won a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. This award is intended to support the continued development of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in those fields.

Breaking Research

Scientist identifies possible target for HPV therapeutics

Story imageMelendyDouglas Levere, BA ’89

With more than 180 distinct isotypes or variations cataloged to date, human papilloma virus (HPV) presents an extremely difficult target for broad range treatments. And while the HPV vaccine provides protection against the most common HPV infections, it covers only four of the 180-plus isotypes.

But now UB microbiologist Thomas Melendy has identified a protein interaction that could present the first viable, broad range HPV drug target. This protein sequence in the viral DNA synthesis system is not only necessary for HPV synthesis, it is highly conserved between all HPV isotypes. To find out if this protein interaction might be the basis of a drug that would work against all HPV isotypes, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.65 million grant to Melendy, associate professor in the medical school.

“Currently, no antiviral drugs exist that act directly against HPV,” says Melendy, whose laboratory is a world leader in identifying critical interactions between the HPV proteins and human proteins that the virus uses to duplicate viral DNA. His work explains why HPV integrates so readily into the genome of human cells.

University News

New wheels for UB Stampede

Story image

A new fleet of UB Stampede buses arrived on campus this spring. Each is festooned with a white-outlined UB Bull “wrap” running along the sides of the vehicle. The new buses are designed to handle a heavier passenger load—more than 24,000 passengers ride them during peak periods. Among green features, the buses run on a nontoxic, alternative fuel. Each bus has front-end racks for three bikes, offers wheelchair access and can be tracked using a UB Mobile phone app.

University News

Scholarship honors human rights activist

story imageDes Forges

The university has established a scholarship in memory of Alison L. Des Forges, the historian and human rights activist who was killed in the crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009.

Working with the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Committee, UB created the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide financial support for graduates of the Buffalo Public Schools who are committed to studying human rights and social justice.

“When we lost Alison, family and friends wanted to act to keep her memory alive and advance the causes she devoted her life to,” says Roger Des Forges, professor of history at UB. “One of those was improving K-12 public education in Buffalo; another was protecting human rights in central Africa.”

The scholarship will be open to students of any major and will be awarded for the first time in fall 2014. A committee is being established to help in the recruitment and selection process.

Alison Des Forges tirelessly advocated on behalf of citizens of central Africa and wrote a landmark book, “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda.”

University News

Libraries offer prints from vintage collection

story image

The UB Libraries now offer selected images from their unique digital collections as posters or prints for purchase. The idea is to make these vintage, artistically rendered images accessible to a global audience. Among the images are famous people associated with UB or Buffalo (James Joyce, Charles Dickens), Buffalo and Niagara Falls vintage scenes or graphics, advertisements for Buffalo’s Pierce Arrow plant, children’s storybook lithographs, cover art from early UB publications, and more. To view and purchase images click here

In This Timeless Time

Bruce Jackson Photo: UB Archives

Bruce Jackson, James Agee Professor of American Culture; and Diane Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English, illuminate the grim world of death row inmates in their new book,“In This Timeless Time” (University of North Carolina Press, 2012). Included is a DVD of their 1979 documentary, “Death Row.”

UB on Facebook

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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.

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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