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The List - One year, hundreds of stories. 2014-15 Progress Report.

Published July 24, 2014

Build it and they will Come

UB’s strength in advanced manufacturing and design brings international conference to Buffalo

Underwater robots. Origami-inspired airbags. 3-D printed artificial limbs.

The most exciting innovations of the day are coming from the field of advanced manufacturing and design—and UB is at the forefront of this materials and manufacturing revolution.

The NYS Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics is leveraging our expertise in materials science, advanced manufacturing and big-data analytics. UB is also a founding partner of Buffalo Manufacturing Works, a novel resource center for advanced manufacturing. Meanwhile, the new Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI)—a collaborative effort between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences—is shaping the future leaders of this transformative field.

Thus it’s no wonder that the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) chose UB to host its 2014 international conference. Last August, as many as 2,000 engineers from around the world—including industry leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs and students—gathered in Buffalo for four days of exhilarating discussions on robotics, computer-aided engineering, 3-D printing and other emerging technologies.

More Photos of Materials Science

Published August 14, 2014

A Thirst for Knowledge

Experiential learning leads to a lifesaving innovation

Every student dreams of changing the world. Junior engineering major Deshawn Henry may have done it.

As a sophomore, Henry, working under engineering professor James Jensen, played a key role in testing and improving a solar-powered water lens, a revolutionary device that purifies polluted water at almost no cost. “Millions of people die every year from diseases and pathogens in unclean water, and they can’t help it because that’s all they have,” said Henry. “Either they drink it or they die.”

At UB, undergraduates often work directly with professors, conducting hands-on research with real-world impact. Henry studied ways to improve the efficiency of the water lens, which consists of plastic sheeting spread across a wood frame. When water is poured on the plastic, it pools in the center and forms a simple magnifying glass, enabling sunlight streaming through the lens to heat and disinfect a container of polluted water placed below.

More than 1 billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water, so it’s not surprising that the project has drawn major media attention. In early 2015, Henry was interviewed alongside Jensen for the CBS show “Innovation Nation,” which highlights the most promising new work being done by America’s most visionary thinkers.

Published September 4, 2014

Genomic Perk

A UB scientist makes an eye-opening discovery about the evolution of caffeine

Caffeine isn’t unique to coffee. You can find it in tea, cacao and other plants. In all these forms, the substance is wildly popular—the most widely consumed drug in the world, in fact. And yet, little is known about how, or why, it evolved.

By sequencing the genome of a common coffee plant, evolutionary biologist Victor Albert, working with an international team of researchers, has made a big step toward increasing that understanding. One striking finding in the study, which was published in the journal Science, is that caffeine evolved along a separate path in coffee than in other plants. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, often points to an especially useful adaptation.

In addition to providing a key to the importance of caffeine, a better understanding of coffee’s genome could also help researchers improve the plant, which is the principal agricultural product of many tropical nations and plays a huge role in the global economy. Potential applications include fighting diseases like coffee rust, developing plants better suited to withstand climate change and even creating a more flavorful decaf.

Published September 30, 2014

Leveling the Field

The FAFSA project turns college dreams into reality

At some Buffalo high schools, almost every student is eligible for financial aid to help pay for college. But there’s often a major obstacle standing in their way: the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Families must fill out this form if they want access to financial assistance. The problem is, it’s notoriously long and complex, and particularly challenging for low-income students, who frequently have dynamic family situations, complicated financial issues or simply a mistrust of sharing their personal information. 

Enter Nathan Daun-Barnett, associate professor of higher education administration in UB’s Graduate School of Education. In 2011, he launched the FAFSA Completion Project, which uses a team of students, staff and volunteers to help families navigate the form. Since then the program has grown exponentially, resulting in an astounding 61 percent increase in the number of Buffalo Public School seniors completing the FAFSA in 2013.

The program continues to grow. In 2013-14, it expanded to include the charter high schools in Buffalo. There were also double the number of volunteers, who spent double the amount of time in each school, ultimately putting in 2,600 service hours and touching two-thirds of the FAFSA forms filed in the district.

Thanks to them, thousands of kids who might never have gone to college will now have the opportunities they deserve.

Published October 28, 2014

Giant Ships and Dancing Organs

Working with a world-famous director, UB students stage a remarkable show

“The show we’re making is… not your typical production,” said Doug Fitch of “How Did We…?,” the work he created with students, faculty members and staff from the theatre and music departments while in residence at UB in fall 2014. “There’s a volcano on stage. There’s dancing sensory organs. And there is African water drumming.”

For many of the students, the most memorable aspect of the production was not its surreal elements; it was the opportunity to work side by side with the internationally renowned artist, producer, director and designer. The WBFO Visiting Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences involved UB people in all aspects of the production, from creating the sets and costumes to the actual show; UB students filled the acting roles, while both students and faculty members contributed original compositions to the live score.

Fitch’s semesterlong residency reflects the university’s commitment to providing students a first-rate educational experience, including the opportunity to learn from leading artists, scientists and scholars. Fitch has led award-winning theatrical productions for major arts institutions around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

More Photos from "How Did We...?"

Our Stellar Students

The paths to success at UB are rich and varied, offering talented learners from all corners of the university a chance to excel in the classroom, laboratory, community—or halfway across the world. Here are a few students who shone particularly bright this past year.

Far-flung Fulbrights

Our 2015 Fulbright scholars are taking their talents around the globe. ABIGAIL LAPLACA, a UB Presidential Scholar, is teaching young children in Panama, while anthropology major ANNA PORTER explored a major archeological site in the United Kingdom as part of the selective Fulbright Summer Institute. SAMAH ASFOUR (pictured), a recent graduate in political science and global gender studies, is in Jordan this fall on an English teaching assistantship.

Acing their “Orals”

If at first you succeed, why not keep doing it? This year, all UB dental students achieved an impressive 100 percent pass rate on the National Board Dental Examination, a rigorous, two-part test that dentists must pass in order to be licensed. The entire class of 2016 passed Part I of the challenging exam, while all members of the class of 2015 passed Part II.

Taking physics for a spin

Math and physics whiz Sean Bearden, a recent UB graduate and Goldwater Scholarship recipient, is propelling his love of quantum mechanics into a brilliant future. Armed with a prestigious, three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, Bearden headed to the University of California-San Diego this summer to study spin lasers—futuristic gadgets that could pave the way to faster data transfer in computers.

Chinese interpreter

Economics major and globe-trotter Casey Rothberg is the second UB student ever to win the David L. Boren Scholarship, a highly competitive, international research fellowship for undergraduates studying overseas. Rothberg traveled this fall to Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, to study Mandarin, which she plans to use to help facilitate U.S.-Chinese relations.

A head for numbers

Three students majoring in mathematics/physics, computational physics and aerospace engineering—Dante Iozzo, Nigel Michki and Andrew Harris, respectively—formed an unstoppable interdisciplinary team whose project modeling the eradication of Ebola, based on a hypothetical cure, landed them a spot among 10 “outstanding winners” at the 2015 Mathematical Contest in Modeling. The competition, hosted by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications, drew more than 7,600 applicants from 17 countries. 

Making their case

They may have been first-year students, but that didn’t stop Rohit Sallagundla, Erin Dings, Ryan Fogle and Seong Hee (Luke) Kim from taking first place in the prestigious Whitman Competition in March—the fifth consecutive year a UB School of Management team has placed in the top two at the national business case competition. Another UB team took third place this year.

Published July 16, 2015

Published November 19, 2014

Bringing the Landscape to Life

A 3-D talking map helps visually impaired visitors find their way

Imagine a map that helps you not just see, but hear where you’re going. A map that literally tells you how to get from point A to point B.

That’s one of the newest innovations to come out of UB’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), a part of the UB School of Architecture and Planning dedicated to making environments and products accessible to all segments of the population.

While the maps enhance the wayfinding experience for everyone, they were specifically designed to address the “last-mile” problem experienced by the blind. Audible GPS can get them to a specific place—a museum, say, or a college campus—but they are often left to their own devices once inside a building or public space.

To date, the IDeA Center, working with Touch Graphics Inc., has created three talking map models, each of which is located at a different institution for the blind. When you run your hands over a map, every building or feature you touch announces its name, a description of activities occurring there and directions to its location. There are also sound effects that serve as auditory landmarks—for example, on the map created for the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, chimes ring when you touch the bell tower.

“It’s really about giving this population a way to understand their environment,” said IDeA Center researcher Heamchand Subryan. “We’re providing a level of information that allows them to navigate their environment easily, without help.”

More Photos of 3-D Talking Maps

Our Influential Faculty

Our faculty’s outstanding contributions advance their respective fields and positively impact our world. These major achievements lead to major recognition. This year, more than 60 faculty members received important national and international honors, including prestigious fellowships and grants, career achievement awards, election as fellows of professional organizations, book and journal awards, and more.

Luis A. Colón

A beloved chemistry professor, Colón traveled to the White House this spring to meet President Obama and receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. He was one of 14 individuals in the country to receive this recognition.

Michael C. Constantinou

Internationally recognized as an earthquake expert and a SUNY Distinguished Professor of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Constantinou was the sole recipient of the Newmark Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers for his work in the area of seismic protective systems.

Megan M. Holland

An assistant professor of educational leadership and policy, Holland is the recipient of a 2015 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education, a highly competitive program supporting early-career scholars working in critical areas of education research.

Venu Govindaraju

Interim vice president for research and economic development and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Govindaraju received the Outstanding Achievements Award from the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition, honoring his pioneering contributions to pattern recognition and the development of real-time engineered systems.

Roseanne C. Berger

Berger, a senior associate dean for graduate medical education and associate professor of family medicine, was one of three leaders nationwide honored with a 2015 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead award for her achievements in building UB’s medical training programs.

Edward H. Steinfeld

A SUNY Distinguished Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning, Steinfeld received the James Haecker Award for Distinguished Leadership in Architectural Research—one of his field’s highest honors—for his groundbreaking work in inclusive design.

Deborah P. Waldrop

Social work professor Waldrop received an Award of Excellence in Research from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network, recognizing her 16 years of research dedicated to advancing the field of palliative care.

Stephen McKinley Henderson

The featured arts and letters scholar of UB’s 2015 Signature Series, Henderson is a distinguished actor, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and winner of the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for his performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Between Riverside and Crazy.”

Sebastian G. Ciancio

Ciancio, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in theSchool of Dental Medicine, was the sole recipient of the 2014 Norton M. Ross Award from the American Dental Association (ADA) for his significant research achievements in pharmacology and periodontology.

Published July 16, 2015

Published December 15, 2014

On Thin ice

UB researchers discover that one of the world’s largest ice sheets may be vanishing faster than we thought

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest block of ice on the planet. If it melted completely, ocean levels could increase 20 feet, wreaking havoc from Miami to Mumbai. Despite its massive size and global importance, however, little has been known about how quickly the ice sheet will shrink as a result of climate change.

The chilling reality is that Greenland may lose ice more rapidly than we previously thought, according to the most in-depth study of the region to date, led by UB Associate Professor of Geology Beata M. Csatho.

Csatho and her team studied nearly 100,000 locations, identifying areas of rapid shrinkage that current climate models miss. “The great importance of our data is that for the first time, we have a comprehensive picture of how all of Greenland’s glaciers have changed over the past decade,” Csatho says.

The research also shows that current simulations, which use the activity of just four glaciers to forecast how the entire ice sheet will act, are too simplistic to accurately predict how the ice sheet may contribute to rising oceans. “The local climate and geological conditions, the local hydrology—all of these factors have an effect,” Csatho says. “The current models do not address this complexity.”

Csatho worked with UB research professor Anton Schenk to develop a computational technique called Surface Elevation Reconstruction And Change (SERAC) detection, which fused together massive amounts of data from NASA satellite and aerial studies.

Next up for the research team is investigating why some glaciers respond differently to warming than others, and uncovering new ways to examine the causes—and effects—of global climate change.

Published January 22, 2015

Bak to the Future

Collaboration with UB spurs economic development and social change

Bak USA is working: working to change the electronics industry as one of the first U.S. companies to manufacture tablet PCs; working to revolutionize education in Third World countries; and working with UB students on everything from product development to marketing.

Bak is one of many companies that have been drawn to Buffalo through START-UP NY, the innovative tax incentive program that spurs economic development by connecting businesses with university resources and facilities.

With new headquarters on Buffalo’s East Side, the company is following the successful business model the founders, J.P. and Ulla Bak, pioneered in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, simultaneously providing much-needed manufacturing jobs to local workers (100 in Buffalo’s case) while also helping to bridge the digital gap in education by supplying low-cost tablets to developing countries.

It is also providing meaningful jobs and internships to UB students, including Bilel Neji (PhD ’15), who chose to stay in Buffalo after graduating to lead the company’s product development, and Sigismund “Ikey” Ajavon (BA ’15), a marketing intern who managed to boost Bak’s website ranking from 67 millionth to 3 millionth worldwide.

“UB has done a great job,” said J.P. Bak. “I have worked with universities before, and there is something about this university that really attracts you and makes you feel welcome. This is a home for us.”

More Photos of Workers Manufacturing Tablets at Bak USA

Published February 19, 2015

A New Standard for Stroke Care

“Game-changing” discovery has the potential to revolutionize treatment

“They called us cowboys,” said Elad Levy, professor and chair of UB’s Department of Neurosurgery, recalling the response from other  neurosurgeons when he and his  colleagues presented the use of a wire mesh stent device for treating stroke  in the early 2000s.

Their pioneering methodology has  received increasing validation over the years. Now, a new international clinical study led by Levy and co-author Adnan Siddiqui, professor and vice chair of  neurosurgery at UB, is further proof that the UB researchers (originally led by Levy’s mentor, former department chair L. Nelson “Nick” Hopkins) were right all along.

Published in the New England Journal  of Medicine, the paper found that stroke patients had an 88 percent revascularization rate when they received clot-busting drugs in conjunction with the stent.  Without it, the success rate plummeted  to 35 percent.

The device is inserted through a tiny  incision in the groin, then threaded through the arteries by catheter until it reaches the blocked blood vessel in the brain. When opened, it captures the clot and pulls it out as the catheter is removed. Normal blood flow is quickly restored and  damage to the brain mitigated.

The treatment “provides the patient the absolute best chance for a positive outcome,” said Levy. “In many cases, there’s no need for the ICU and no  need for rehabilitation. This is a game-changer.”

Published March 11, 2015

All the World’s On Stage

The International Fiesta thrills crowd at sold-out show

With drummers and dancers, cymbals and sword fights, it’s no surprise that the International Fiesta is one of the most popular student-run events on campus.

As usual, the annual talent competition packed the house, filling all 1,744 seats in the Center for the Arts Mainstage Theatre for the highly anticipated event.

For nearly three hours, the audience sat spellbound as 15 international student clubs brought their unique cultures to life in breathtaking performances. Students from the U.S. and abroad rehearsed for months to perform traditional African dancing and Japanese sword-fighting, Bollywood beats and Asian hip-hop. But it was the Latin American Student Association’s depiction of the Latin American diaspora, incorporating dazzling dance moves from the coasts of South America to the streets of New York City, that stole the evening—and won the top prize.

The fiesta is just one example of UB’s tremendous diversity, Not only are its domestic students from all walks of life, but the university consistently ranks in the top 20 in the nation for international student enrollment, with 5,000-plus students hailing from 115 countries. As Tazrin Hossain, council coordinator for the undergraduate Student Association (the fiesta’s sponsor), said, “We may come from different places, but our paths cross.”

More Photos of UB's International Student Clubs Performing at the International Fiesta

Partnering with Community

At UB, our mission is to create positive, lasting change in our local and global communities through the three pillars of public higher education: impactful research, experiential learning and engaged service. Here are just a few of the ways in which our students, faculty, alumni and staff support our various communities. 


Preparing Western New York kids for the jobs of the future

What could be cooler than studying the science behind hockey? For about 500 Buffalo-area middle schoolers, not much. Except, maybe, for extracting DNA with a renowned UB researcher, or, for our youngest learners, discovering science with Curious George.

Buffalo-area students from kindergarten through high school enjoyed these and many other hands-on activities during the second annual Science Week, a citywide event jointly held by UB, SUNY, the city of Buffalo, Buffalo Public Schools and a dozen other participants. 

Along with the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), a UB-led collaborative program aimed at making science education in Buffalo Public Schools more engaging, Science Week was designed to encourage local students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. As Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed, alluding to Western New York’s fast-growing life sciences and advanced manufacturing industries, “STEM jobs are our city’s future.”

Other Science Week highlights included Reading Science Aloud with Sabretooth at a local elementary school; the ISEP Science Summit at the Buffalo Museum of Science, where students from ISEP demonstrated their science projects; and Tech Savvy for Girls on UB’s North Campus, where middle-school girls explored STEM careers through workshops run by scientists, physicians and engineers from UB and other institutions. 

In the words of event organizer and SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin, “We all win when events and programs like Science Week encourage more Buffalo students to consider careers in science and technology.”

Healing bodies and minds

Faculty volunteers and alumni from the UB dental school raise money, secure equipment and space, and otherwise help associate professor Othman Shibly (pictured) run the dental clinics he established in Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East after he witnessed conditions in a camp in 2012 and was moved to act. Most recently, he and Syrian teachers have teamed up to establish several underground schools—literally located in basements around Damascus—to help educate around 5,000 children in the war-torn country.

The Legal Battleground

Through the newly launched Veterans Legal Clinic, UB law students and faculty provide free civil legal services to Western New York veterans, many of whom face overwhelming legal and financial issues such as custody challenges, benefit denials and bankruptcy. Clinic students are on the front line of the legal work for veteran clients through every step of the process.

A World of Assistance

As medical director of the Western New York Center for Survivors of Refugee Trauma and Torture, UB physician and public health researcher Kim Griswold (pictured) provides crucial assistance to asylum seekers while simultaneously giving UB students invaluable training in caring for people from diverse cultural backgrounds. In addition to providing medical and psychiatric referrals to refugees, it is one of four centers in Western New York authorized by the U.S. government to help asylum seekers gain legal status.

Published July 16, 2015

Published March 17, 2015

And we Danced

Bulls make history with a trip to the NCAA tournament

There were signs early on that this would be a season to remember for the UB men’s basketball team—especially when they held halftime leads over perennial powerhouses Kentucky and Wisconsin.

But few could have predicted what came next.

After a standing-room-only crowd filled Alumni Arena to see the Bulls win their last regular-season game, the team kept on running all the way to Cleveland—earning its first MAC title and clinching its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 

March Madness proved to be an unforgettable experience for UB players, students and alumni alike. For the first time ever, fans could circle “Buffalo” on their bracket. Alums set up “watch parties” in Philly, and sent in selfies from Singapore. The official UB supporters bar in Columbus, Ohio (the site of UB’s NCAA game), had to turn away fans. The Bulls even earned a vote of confidence from the nation’s most famous basketball fan, as President Obama picked the #12 seed Buffalo to upset #5 West Virginia.

When the game finally rolled around, the Bulls gave the Mountaineers all they could handle, tying the score late in the second half. But our luck ran out with the clock, as West Virginia eked out a win.

While the Big Dance may have ended early for Buffalo, the record-setting season was an unprecedented success. The team proved it can play on a national stage. Fans got a taste of big-time college basketball. And alumni from around the world came together on one glorious day to cheer for their alma mater.

More Photos of the Bulls Playing Their First NCAA Tournament

Our Accomplished Alumni

Among the 240,000 Bulls in 146 countries around the world, our graduates have gone on to do great things, like becoming Hollywood’s top talent manager (Shep Gordon, BA ’68), founding China’s leading search engine (Robin Li, MS ’94) or serving as chief education/medical officer for NASA’s Astronaut Office (Ellen Shulman Baker, BA ’74). Below are others in our talented alumni network who have accomplished great things in the past year.

NIcole C. Lee (JD ’02)

Recipient of the UB Law School’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service, Lee has spent much of her career working in human rights law around the world as president of TransAfrica Forum Inc. She stepped down in 2014 to start her own consulting firm, The Lee Bayard Group, through which she now focuses on human rights violations in the U.S.

Adam Weinberg (MFA ’82)

As Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City since 2003, Weinberg led the Museum’s capital campaign for a new 220,000-square-foot building in the Meatpacking District, which opened to critical and public acclaim on May 1, 2015. During his tenure, he has also overseen the organization of numerous exhibitions, award-winning educational programs and dramatic growth in the collection.


Impeccable taste and exuberant self-confidence have made teacher/artist Tzippy Salamon a cult style icon at 65. She regularly appears in the Styles section of The New York Times, has served as a muse for designers including Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg, and has modeled for Lanvin and Australian Vogue. She recently appeared in the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary “Advanced Style,” celebrating seven over-60 fashionistas whose unique style and spirit are challenging conventional notions of beauty and aging.
Photo by Dan Rous

Thomas Curley (BA ’00)

After earning a film studies degree at UB, Curley moved to Los Angeles, where he has spent the past 14 years working as a production sound mixer on more than 150 films and television shows. He got a chance to be in front of the cameras this year, nabbing a BAFTA Award and then an Academy Award for his sound-mixing work on “Whiplash.” He was also recently inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Rear Adm. Rebecca McCormick-Boyle (BS ’81)

Capping a distinguished military career that has taken her around the world and back, nursing major McCormick-Boyle has been the U.S. Navy’s top nurse since 2013. In 2014 she became deputy chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine, Education and Training, and commander of Navy Medicine Education and Training Command. The UB Alumni Association recognized her achievements with a 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award. 

David F. Mitchell (BS ’84)

Mitchell, who studied mechanical engineering at UB, tested rockets for the Navy and worked on several launch vehicle and spacecraft programs at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before serving as the lead project manager for the MAVEN mission—the first devoted to understanding Mars’ upper atmosphere. The spacecraft entered orbit around the Red Planet last fall. Mitchell is now the director of flight projects at Goddard.

Alejandro Rivera Becerra (PhD ’01, ME ’98, MS ’93)

With four graduate degrees—including three from UB in industrial and environmental engineering—and a determination to use his education to help his home country, Rivera Becerra joined the Mexican foreign service in 2000. For the past two years, he has served as Mexico’s chief negotiator in the Durban Platform of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He received UB’s International Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.

Sara Czaja (PhD ’80, MS ’77)

Czaja, recipient of two graduate degrees in industrial engineering from UB, is co-director of the Center on Aging at the University of Miami and director of the NIH-funded Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE). A renowned expert on quality-of-life issues for the elderly, she was invited to join a panel of leading scientists at this year’s Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm to discuss global challenges facing an aging society. 

Ajla Glavasevic (BS ’11)

A native of Bosnia, Glavasevic majored in business administration at UB and competed in the Division I heptathlon. After graduating, she earned a law degree and a spot on the Women’s Bobsled National Team. She is currently working at a law firm by day and training by night for the upcoming season. Glavasevic also plays violin, and performed at Carnegie Hall in high school.

Published July 16, 2015

Published April 30, 2015

Gaining Momentum

As the new building for the medical school rises, so do admissions

It isn’t opening until 2017. But UB’s new building for the Jacobs School of  Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is already having an impact, and not just on the downtown skyline.

Applications to the school are up 3.5 percent, while more accepted students are choosing UB. Meanwhile, new faculty hires continue apace in anticipation of the student body growing by nearly one-third for the first class in the new building. “The excitement created by the project is helping to raise awareness about the quality of our medical school,” notes Charles M. Severin, associate dean for medical education and admissions.

Rising from a 45-foot foundation hole at the corner of Main and High streets, the $375 million facility is the largest medical education building under construction in the U.S. Officials anticipate using 4,000 gallons of paint, more than 1 million square feet of drywall, and enough steel, if laid end to end, to stretch 25 miles—five times the distance from UB’s South Campus to the downtown construction site.

A centerpiece of the UB 2020 strategic plan, the new building is also expected to bring 2,000 faculty, students and staff to downtown Buffalo on a daily basis. Most exciting, it will play an integral role in the creation of a comprehensive, collaborative academic health center—a hub for research, education and patient care that will elevate all three by virtue of their proximity to one another.

Published April 7, 2015

The Best of the Best

A record number of UB students win coveted Goldwater scholarships

Each year, universities across the U.S. are permitted to nominate up to four students for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship—one of the most prestigious awards for undergraduates in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. While UB generally performs well, 2015 marked a new high: Three of our four nominees received the prize, with the fourth earning an honorable mention.

“Goldwater scholarships are extremely competitive,” said Elizabeth Colucci, UB’s coordinator of fellowships and scholarships. “Fortunately, we have no shortage of exemplary students to nominate.” The recipients, all of whom plan to earn a PhD, are:

Stephanie M. Kong, a dual major in chemical engineering and Spanish. Kong studies the fundamental thermodynamic properties of model surfactant systems, the potential applications of which include creating eco-friendly dispersants for oil spill cleanups.

Sharon Lin, a chemical engineering major. Lin researches methods of gene delivery, work that has the potential to revolutionize treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Kristina Monakhova, an electrical engineering major. Monakhova, who is among a team of students designing and building a U.S. Air Force satellite to more accurately track space debris, also received the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award, a national award for students interested in space research or education.

Published May 28, 2015

Coming Together to Change the World

UB unites research, education and engagement through the Communities of Excellence

“Find solutions to the most pressing  challenges of our world.”

That is the goal, as stated by UB President Satish K. Tripathi, of three new Communities of Excellence—an initiative that will harness the strengths of hundreds of faculty from across the university. Through the Communities, multidisciplinary teams will work together to push the boundaries of human knowledge, create new educational opportunities and develop innovative ways to address the most critical problems facing humanity.

The three Communities, chosen over a yearlong process from nearly 100 initial proposals submitted by faculty, are:

> The Genome, the Environment and the Microbiome (GEM): advancing development of personalized medicine and empowering individuals to have greater control over and understanding of their health, the human genome and the human microbiome

> Global Health Equity: focusing on the social, economic, political and environmental conditions that lead to inequities, and tackling problems ranging from a lack of access to sanitation to high rates of disease

> Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART): developing the next generation of manufacturing technologies, processes and education that enable sustainable, cost-effective production of high-quality, customizable products

UB is investing $25 million over the next five years in these three Communities and RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water), which was launched last year and was the university’s model for the Communities. The initiative emerged from the UB 2020 plan to advance our academic and research strengths in key areas.

Traditions Old and New

Our campus life is as diverse and dynamic as our student body, with more than 300 academic and cultural clubs driving popular traditions like International Fiesta. Even better, our students are always finding novel ways to connect, bringing new ideas and fun activities into the fold that help give UB’s large university a small-college feel.

More Cowbell!

Started by a passionate fan (in homage to a “Saturday Night Live” skit), the clanking of the cowbell revved up UB students—and went viral on social media—as the men’s basketball team won the MAC and headed to the Big Dance. 

Boating Lake LaSalle

For the first time in its 45-year history, the North Campus’ most photogenic spot was opened last summer to public kayaking and canoeing.

Therapy Dogs

During final exams each semester, the UB Libraries bring trained therapy dogs to campus to deliver stress-busting snuggles and face-licking. The program is so popular, it’s being emulated by campuses around the world.

Critical Conversations

Now in its third year, this presidential program brings the country’s top scholars to campus for a public discussion of the major issues of our time, from “big data” to the microbiome.

Warm Weather Wednesdays

UB began hosting this fun series of outdoor events on the North Campus in 2014, with public activities ranging from drumming and disc golf to painting flowerpots and flying kites.

Open CFA

In November, the inaugural Open CFA at the Center for the Arts celebrated the creative work—and work in progress—of students in the departments of art, theatre and dance, and media study. 

Opening Weekend

The Human Interlocking UB, formed by more than 2,300 students, is one of our biggest campus ice-breakers and helps mark the start of the fall semester.


Students and alumni get down and dirty each year at what has become one of the nation’s largest collegiate mud volleyball tournaments.

Published July 16, 2015

Published May 5, 2015

Moving Pictures

Engineering alumnus Marcus Yam adds a Pulitzer to his collection of awards

An American flag popping up through the remnants of a flattened home.

A rescue worker’s mud-stained hands clutching a Bible.

A head bowed in prayer.

These are a few of the gripping images captured by Marcus Yam—the only photographer on duty for The Seattle Times when reports of a deadly mudslide sent him rushing to the scene. He ended up spending days at the site, documenting the Oso landslide’s devastating effects in photos that would be shared around the globe.

The Times’ coverage of the tragedy—including Yam’s photos—earned a Pulitzer Prize, widely considered the highest honor in the country for journalism.

“It has been a very humbling experience. You don’t expect to win anything like that in your lifetime,” said Yam, who discovered his interest in photojournalism while taking photos for UB’s student newspaper, The Spectrum. 

He earned his degree in aerospace engineering from UB in 2006, and while his engineering background might seem unrelated, it actually informs his work on a daily basis. “I take a very analytical and technical approach to everything that I shoot,” said the photojournalist, who now works at the Los Angeles Times. Yam has also contributed regularly to The New York Times, and has earned numerous accolades, including a 2011 Emmy for “A Year at War,” a NY Times interactive feature documenting a year in the life of a U.S. battalion in Afghanistan.

More of Yam's Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photos

Published June 18, 2015

Note. Worthy.

June in Buffalo marks its 40th anniversary at the creative edge of contemporary music

Every June for 35 of the past 40 years, some of the world’s most visionary musicians and composers have gathered here for a week to explore the boundaries of new music. “It would be hard to name more than a handful of major composers of the past 30 years who have not appeared on its faculty roster,” stated The Wall Street Journal in a June 8 article about UB’s June in Buffalo festival—an event so influential it has spawned dozens of imitators around the country.

Presented as a leading component within UB’s Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, June in Buffalo features master classes, lectures and workshops during the day, with concerts and recitals open to the public in the afternoons and evenings. Throughout the weeklong event, dozens of new and adventurous works are performed—some by the typically outstanding lineup of faculty composers (including, this past year, four Pulitzer Prize winners), and some by emerging composers in attendance. June in Buffalo prides itself on providing these young and upcoming artists with the rare opportunity to hear their works performed by established ensembles, and to get feedback from some of the field’s leading artists.

This year also marked the 30th anniversary of SUNY Distinguished Professor David Felder’s tenure as artistic director of the festival. Felder restarted the event in 1986 after several years of dormancy; it was originally founded in 1975 by the revered American composer and UB faculty member Morton Feldman.

More Photos of June in Buffalo Performances Through the Years



“There is not one silver bullet. The reality of our lives is that these threats are anywhere and everywhere.” 

–COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR ARUN VISHWANATH, on federal legislation encouraging private companies to share information with the government about data breaches 


“To the extent this goes out to the public, it can lead to unreasonable expectations.”

–JO L. FREUDENHEIM, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, on a recent study challenging the widespread belief that certain “super foods” can help prevent cancer 


“The idea of clowns as entertainers has actually only been a very small and recent part of the history of clowning.”

–ENGLISH PROFESSOR ANDREW STOTT on the declining popularity of clowns, a cornerstone of the entertainment industry for more than 200 years 


“Things are headed in a direction where Lancaster and all other school districts will do away with insensitive mascots.”

–SOCIAL WORK PROFESSOR HILARY WEAVER on the contentious debate in Lancaster, N.Y., over the then-name of the school district’s mascot, the Redskins 


“Some of the phenomena we are exploring … may not exist. But if we never ask the question, we’ll never find out.”

–PHYSICIST DEJAN STOJKOVIC, lead researcher of a UB study aimed at bridging the gap between the study of “outer space” (stars and galaxies) and “inner space” (fundamental particles and forces)