BUFFALO, N.Y. – Among the 230,000 University at Buffalo
alumni around the world, only a handful are selected annually to
receive an award from the UB Alumni Association. This year the
honorees include Jeffrey Wigand, PhD ’73, MA ’72 &
BA ’69, who became a whistle blower against the tobacco
industry; Jeffrey Umland, BS ’85 & PhD ’91, who
designed the landing gear for the Mars Rover Curiosity; and Janet
Litster Rideout, PhD ’68, co-inventor of the AIDS treatment
Charles D. Bauer, MD ’46, will accept the
association’s highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award,
during the ceremony to be held on Friday, March 28, at 6 p.m. in
the Center for the Arts on the North Campus. UB President Satish K.
Tripathi and UBAA President Carol Gloff, BS ’75, will present
the awards. A post-award reception will feature premium food
stations, an open bar and entertainment in the CFA Atrium.
Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online at www.alumni.buffalo.edu/events
or by calling the UB Office of Alumni Relations at
A graduate of the then-private University of Buffalo, Charles
D. Bauer has been giving to his alma mater since 1953, when he
donated $45 to the university. Along with his wife, Mary, the
couple has since directed the majority of their support toward
endowed faculty positions, scholarships and unrestricted support to
be used by the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In
addition, they are in the process of completing a $1 million gift
to create a clinical research nurse manager position in UB’s
Clinical and Translational Research Center in downtown Buffalo.
Jeffrey Wigand, PhD ’73, MA ’72 & BA
’69, a former Brown & Williamson employee who gained
national fame in the 1990s as a tobacco industry whistleblower,
revealed that tobacco companies concealed the knowledge that
cigarette smoking was highly addictive and caused lung cancer. His
story was told in the 1999 movie, The Insider. Today Wigand works
to educate children about the dangers of smoking through his
nonprofit foundation called Smoke-free Kids.
Because of Jeffrey W. Umland, BS ’85 & PhD
’91, the Mars Rover Curiosity landed safely on the Red
Planet in 2012. A Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Umland
is the chief mechanical engineer for NASA’s Mars Science
Laboratory, leading all of the project’s technical
development, including mechanical hardware, surface systems,
sampling systems, thermal systems and propulsion systems.
Janet Litster Rideout, PhD ’68, is one of the
principal scientists to recognize the effect of azidothymidine
(AZT) on the AIDS virus. Originally designed to treat cancer, AZT
failed to show efficacy and carried heavy side effects. Litster
Rideout, while working for pharmaceutical company Burroughs
Wellcome, collaborated with three researchers from the National
Cancer Institute to show that AZT was an effective agent against
HIV. Her work led to the first effective treatment for the
Additional 2014 awardees include Distinguished Alumni Award
recipients Allen Barnett, PhD ’65, of Pine Brook,
N.J.; and Tamara Brown, ME ’03, of New Milford,
The International Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented
to Kuo-Chun Chang, PhD ’85 & MS ’80, of
The Walter P. Cooke Award, which recognizes notable and
meritorious contributions to the university and its family by
non-alumni, will be given to Mark Hamister, of
Williamsville, N.Y., and Delray Beach, Fla.
The Dr. Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching will
be presented to John Crassidis, PhD ’93, MS ’91
& BS ’89, of Clarence Center, N.Y.
The George W. Thorn Award, given to distinguished alumni under
40, will be given to Lesley A. Weitz, BS ’02, of
The Dr. Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award will be given
to Steven Shepsman, BA ’75, of Great Neck, N.Y., for
his contributions to enhancing the quality of life of the entire UB
Donna M. Fernandes, president and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo, will
receive the Community Leadership Award in recognition of her
outstanding contributions to the Western New York community.
In appreciation of outstanding volunteer contributions to the
university, the Volunteer Recognition Award will be presented to
Paul Hammer, BA ’78, of Williamsville, N.Y.
The UB Alumni Association is a volunteer-led international
organization that provides ongoing service to alumni and a focus of
alumni support for, and service to, UB, its students, faculty and
staff. For more information, visit http://www.alumni.buffalo.edu.
Photos of the UB Alumni Association honorees are available here:
Full profiles of each awardee can be found below:
Allen Barnett, PhD ’65
Distinguished Alumni Award
Allen Barnett spent his career in the pharmaceutical industry as
a drug discovery and development executive. As vice president of
technology acquisition and external collaborations at
Schering-Plough, Barnett spearheaded its licensing of new
technology and structuring academic collaborations.
Under his leadership at SP, two “blockbuster” drugs
were brought to the marketplace: Claritin, a non-sedating
antihistamine that is the most successful drug in SP’s
history and the fifth-leading drug, based on sales, in the world;
and Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering agent that has achieved
multibillion dollars in sales since its introduction in 2002.
After retiring in 1999 Barnett began consulting, during which
time he met two other UB graduates with a common interest in
research being conducted at UB on a new class of anti-cancer drugs.
Their collaboration led to the founding of Kinex Pharmaceuticals, a
biotech company dedicated to the search for novel oral anti-cancer
drugs. Kinex is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and
currently has four oral anti-cancer drugs in different stages of
clinical development. After serving as CEO, Barnett has stepped
down but remains active as president emeritus.
He has published more than 100 scientific journal articles and
served as adjunct professor of pharmacology in the School of
Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was a member of the School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science’s Dean’s Advisory
Council and sat on the advisory board for UB’s Office of
Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach. In January of
this year he endowed a graduate student fellowship in School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Charles D. Bauer, MD ’46
Samuel P. Capen Award
A graduate from the then-private University of Buffalo, Charles
D. Bauer decided early on in his medical career to give back to his
alma mater. His initial gift of $45 in 1953 began a lifetime of
support that, to date, has totaled $1.6 million with an additional
$1 million in process.
Using a variety of methods, Bauer and his wife, Mary, have
directed the majority of their support toward endowed faculty
positions, scholarships and unrestricted support to be used by the
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. They are in the process
of completing a $1 million gift to create a clinical research nurse
manager position in UB’s Clinical and Translational Research
Center on the downtown medical campus.
In 1996 the couple created the Charles and Mary Bauer Foundation
to foster a tradition of philanthropy among their immediate family.
Each Father’s Day, family members meet to review suggested
areas to support, and a vote decides which to pursue.
Bauer served as a member of the medical school’s
Dean’s Advisory Council from 1998 to 2006, and in 2008 he and
Mary funded an endowed position in the Department of Medicine, the
Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and Chair in Medicine. Prior to
that, the couple supported two medical students with nearly 50
percent tuition assistance over four years.
Bauer encourages his UB peers, emeritus faculty and all medical
alumni to give back to UB during their lifetime, rather than
through their estates. After all, he says, “Far better to
give when you are alive so you can see the good it does. If not
Tamara Brown, ME ’03
Distinguished Alumni Award
Tamara Brown’s work in the medical device design and
regulatory industry has impacted lives around the world.
Specifically she has contributed to the design of cardiac
defibrillators and surgical devices that have improved health and
quality of life, including autotransfusion systems, orthopedic
devices, liver assist systems and fiber optic laser systems for the
treatment of prostate disease.
In 2002 she joined Praxair Inc., an international industrial
gases company, to develop its R&D group; ultimately her work
led to the attainment of the first FDA regulatory clearance for an
archetypal medical device for Praxair Healthcare Services.
Her impact on the world goes beyond her scientific
accomplishments. In 2004 Brown developed a program called Tech
Savvy, which introduces STEM fields (science, technology,
engineering and math) to middle school-aged girls. She began the
program in conjunction with the School of Engineering and Applied
Sciences and the Buffalo Branch of the American Association of
University Women, which had published a report showing that an
alarming number of young girls avoid STEM careers. Tech Savvy
launched nationally with the support of the Praxair Foundation and
is in 10 additional sites around the country, and its focus has
been expanded to include 10th- to 12th-grade girls interested in
In 2011 Brown was honored by the White House as one of 12
“Champions of Change” for her efforts.
Kuo-Chun Chang, PhD ’85 & MS ’80
International Distinguished Alumni Award
Kuo-Chun Chang is distinguished professor in the Department of
Civil Engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU), as well as
director general of National Center for Research on Earthquake
Engineering (NCREE) in Taiwan.
His earthquake engineering research has focused on buildings and
bridges, and includes seismic behavior and retrofit of conventional
reinforced concrete structures, development of seismic isolation
and energy dissipation systems and structural health monitoring
systems and seismic behavior of precast segmental concrete bridge
columns. He has also developed design codes and guidelines for
buildings, bridges and highways in Taiwan.
He continues to study the impacts of earthquake and seismic
behavior on structures, and many of his research results have been
implemented in practical applications.
Prior to NTU Chang was a research assistant professor and
associate professor at UB and its National Center for Earthquake
Engineering Research. He has served as an advisor for more than 20
doctoral students and 100 master’s degree students, both in
the U.S. and Taiwan, on their thesis projects.
Chang is a past department chair of civil engineering at NTU and
past president of both the Chinese Structural Engineering Society
and Chinese Taiwan Society for Earthquake Engineering, as well as a
board member for many professional societies around the world.
He has been extensively published, owns multiple patents and has
received a many awards related to his research.
John L. Crassidis, PhD ’93, MS ’91 & BS
Dr. Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching
John Crassidis joined the university in 2001 as the Calspan-UB
Research Center professor in space situational awareness in the
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, as well as
associate director of the Center for Multisource Information
As a leading authority in the aerospace industry he has been
published in nearly 200 peer-reviewed conference and journal
publications, and is the author of a best-selling textbook that is
in its second edition. Another textbook that he co-authored will be
released later this year.
Crassidis’s students benefit not only from his subject
matter expertise, but also his connection outside the classroom. He
has been the advisor for 65 graduate students throughout his career
and is an active mentor for several undergraduate programs at UB
and SUNY. He also has worked with UB’s Honors College and has
presented at K-12 schools throughout Buffalo to inspire young
adults to pursue science and technology fields.
As vice chair of the American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics (AIAA) Niagara Frontier section, Crassidis promotes
the aerospace field to college students in Western New York; he
also is the liaison for an education partnership agreement between
UB and the Air Force Research Laboratory. He led the AIAA’s
education subcommittee in developing numerous undergraduate and
graduate awards and competitions.
An Associate Fellow of AIAA, Crassidis has been honored with
multiple awards for his research and mentoring.
Donna Fernandes, Friend
Community Leadership Award
Under the capable leadership of president and CEO Donna
Fernandes, the Buffalo Zoo, the third-oldest institution of its
kind, has experienced a renaissance and become one of the
region’s top tourist attractions.
Since her arrival in Buffalo nearly 14 years ago, Fernandes has
completed a new master plan, raised $48 million in capital funds
and completed nine major projects, including Vanishing Animals,
EcoStation, Otter Creek, Sea Lion Cove, a rainforest exhibit and a
heritage children’s zoo that harkens back to the Erie Canal
Her most recent accomplishment is perhaps the most endearing
– and hopefully enduring. A polar bear named Luna was born at
the zoo in late 2012, and was soon joined by a second cub, Kali,
adopted by the zoo six months later after the cub was orphaned in
the wild. Together the two polar bears captured the heart and soul
of Western New Yorkers, and their popularity helped Fernandes
acquire the funds needed to construct a new Arctic Edge
Fernandes is an animal advocate who sets aside old-fashioned
thinking that zoos are for the amusement of visitors. Rather, she
is creating exhibits that present animals and plants in their
natural ecological habitats that represent the biomes of the world.
This philosophy, in addition to her ability to build corporate and
community support, has put a renewed energy into one of
Buffalo’s treasures and has set the stage for a long and
Mark E. Hamister, Friend
Walter P. Cooke Award
Mark Hamister, chairman and CEO of The Hamister Group Inc.,
built his business in the health care sector with a number of
assisted living facilities; he has since grown the management
company to include numerous other areas, including hotels and
Hamister has long been an active member of numerous
organizations throughout the Buffalo Niagara region, including UB.
A member of the UB Foundation board of directors since 2007,
Hamister assists the board of trustees in the stewardship of
UB’s privately held assets in the service of strengthening
the university’s teaching, research and public service
mission and accomplishments.
He is also a founding member of the President’s Circle,
whose members have agreed to support UB with an annual gift of
$50,000, and a past chairman of the university’s Center for
Entrepreneurial Leadership, which provides assistance and guidance
for local entrepreneurs who wish to grow or re-focus their
businesses. He and his wife, Sharon, also have co-chaired the last
two UB Scholarship Galas, which raised money to help UB students in
His company has grown to employ 750 who support a portfolio of
three assisted-living facilities and one home health-care agency in
New York State, and 10 hotels in Tennessee, Kentucky and
Pennsylvania. He has become a supporter of Western New York’s
burgeoning regional tourism industry, with hotels under
construction in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, with possibly a third in
the near future.
Paul R. Hammer, BA ’78
Volunteer Recognition Award
A chance meeting with a former suitemate 30 years after
graduating led Paul R. Hammer to his involvement with the UB Alumni
Association. The suitemate, Mark Adler, also a past president of
the UBAA, encouraged Hammer to get involved with the organization.
Hammer took him up on it, and after volunteering at an alumni event
with students, his spirit for the UB community and his passion to
give back were renewed.
For nearly five years the life member of the association has
been the volunteer chair of its Programs and Events Committee,
providing input to alumni staff on a variety of events held in
Western New York; he also acts as emcee for two lunchtime
speakers’ series and is a member of the selection committee
for the alumni awards program.
In addition, Hammer is a member of the UBAA Finance and Audit
Committee, and in 2013 he was a member of the university’s
Scholarship Gala Committee. Hammer enjoys meeting current students,
and he regularly volunteers at Parent Orientation, Freshman Move-In
Day, Homecoming and Career Conversations. He is also a member of
the Athletics Blue & White Club and the Champions Club.
Believing in the vision for UB Athletics, Hammer has pledged his
support for the East Club Campaign at UB Stadium.
Janet Litster Rideout, PhD ’68
Distinguished Alumni Award
After earning her doctorate in organic chemistry, Janet Litster
Rideout spent more than 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry.
She holds more than 40 patents and most notably is a co-inventor of
AZT, the first medication for the treatment of AIDS.
Prior to coming to UB, Rideout earned her bachelor’s and
master’s degrees in chemistry from Mount Holyoke College, a
school noted for producing female chemists.
Following research principles developed by two Nobel
Prize-winning scientists at her company, Burroughs Wellcome,
Rideout and her collaborators identified compounds that might
interfere with the DNA of HIV, thus preventing the virus from
reproducing in the body. Among the compounds was a drug called
azidothymidine, or AZT, which was originally developed in the 1960s
as a potential cancer drug, but had been abandoned because it was
ineffective. Rideout and her fellow scientists found AZT to be
effective for AIDS and in 1987 – only three years after
scientists learned what caused AIDS – the drug was approved
for use in humans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
After 26 years at Burroughs Wellcome, Rideout left to join
Inspire Pharmaceuticals in 1995, where she continued to research
treatments for a variety of diseases. She retired in 2001, most
recently serving as the company’s senior vice president of
She has received numerous awards, including the UB College of
Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award in 2012.
Steven H. Shepsman, BS ’75
Dr. Philip B. Wels Award
Steven Shepsman has been involved with, and has actively
supported, UB for many years. He was a member of the School of
Management’s Dean’s Advisory Council for 17 years and
served as its chair from 2009-11.
An investor in closely held real estate and finance companies,
Shepsman also provides advisory services through New World Realty
Advisors, which he founded. He is a certified public accountant and
a former managing partner in the real estate practices of Ernst
& Young and Kenneth Leventhal & Company. In addition, he
co-managed a real estate fund with his long-term business
His work with the School of Management has also involved
advising deans, and he has played pivotal roles in encouraging
philanthropy among his peers and as a member of the school’s
strategic planning committee. Shepsman also served as campaign
chair of the school’s Generation to Generation campaign,
which raised more than $290 million for the university.
Shepsman is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor,
which is presented annually to U.S. citizens from various ethnic
backgrounds who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their
personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the
richness of their heritage. A member of the UB Alumni Association,
he also received the highest honor from the School of Management in
1999, the Niagara Frontier Business of the Year Award.
Jeffrey W. Umland, BS ’85 & PhD ’91
Clifford C. Furnas Award
Jeffrey Umland is a Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL), a NASA field center operated by the California Institute of
Since 2005 Umland has been chief mechanical engineer (CME) for
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission and the rover
Curiosity, which successfully landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012. The
success of both the lab and the rover are due in large part to
Umland’s leadership and technical contributions.
Umland was instrumental when the MSL was created, leading the
development of entry, descent and landing systems as well as flight
hardware for missions such as the Mars Pathfinder and the Mars
Exploration rover. He oversaw Curiosity’s mechanical
engineering technical development, including its mechanical
hardware, rover surface system, sampling systems, thermal systems
and propulsion systems. Umland’s extensive experience on
numerous Mars missions enabled him to design and develop a better
and more accurate landing system for Curiosity. He and his team are
responsible for Curiosity’s successful landing on Mars, a
mission that has been extended indefinitely. As well,
Curiosity’s design will serve as the basis for a planned Mars
mission in 2020.
Among his numerous other contributions is the
“flycast” maneuver for Space Shuttles. This critical
technique reduces strain on, and provides stability to, the
200-foot-long mast that extends from a shuttle’s cargo bay
when the shuttle needs to make adjustments to its orbit.
Lesley Weitz, BS ’02
Lesley Weitz is a lead simulation and modeling engineer in for
the MITRE Corporation’s Center for Advanced Aviation System
Development, a federally funded research and development center
that supports the mission of the Federal Aviation
Her current research is in the area of advanced avionics for
next generation air traffic systems, from concept development and
design to analysis of avionics that leverage advances in
communication, navigation and surveillance technologies.
In particular, Weitz is a technical lead in the development of
an international avionics standard to create more precise spacing,
or intervals, between aircraft that will increase efficiency of air
traffic operations in the U.S. and Europe. Her contributions to
this effort include the development of spacing algorithms, string
stability analysis of interval management operations (IMO) and the
modeling and simulation of IMO to assess algorithm performance
within a realistic environment of varying wind conditions and
She has also supported a variety of other efforts related to the
design of Air Traffic Control ground automation systems, including
radar-based tracking systems and aircraft trajectory modeling
A member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics, Weitz has written many peer-reviewed conference and
journal papers, and holds a patent related to IMO. She has also
served as a member of the UB’s Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering Advisory Board since 2012.
Jeffrey Wigand, PhD ’73, MA ’72 & BA
Jeffrey Wigand is the former Brown & Williamson employee who
gained national fame in the 1990s as a tobacco industry
whistleblower who revealed that tobacco companies had conducted
extensive campaigns to conceal the knowledge that cigarette smoking
was highly addictive and caused lung cancer.
For the first 15 years of his career, Wigand conducted R&D
for health care companies such as Boehringer Mannheim, Pfizer and
Johnson & Johnson. In 1988 he surprisingly left the health care
industry for big tobacco. While attracted to the prestige of Brown
& Williamson, Wigand also believed he would help the company
reduce the health risks of smoking. His initial optimism soon faded
as he was faced with what he saw as the unethical practices of
B&W executives; that is, the gap between what they knew and
admitted privately about the dangers of smoking versus what they
stated publicly. He was also confronted with the company’s
extensive disinformation campaign to conceal from the public the
dangers of smoking.
In 1993 Wigand was fired from B&W, and in 1994 he broke a
confidentiality agreement by consulting on a story for CBS’s
news magazine show, 60 Minutes; over the next two years he became
the most notable whistle blower in American history. Ultimately,
his expert witness testimony helped bring about the settlement in
which tobacco companies agreed to pay billions of dollars to states
to offset medical costs incurred treating smoking-related
Wigand’s story was told in the 1999 movie, The Insider.
Today he works to educate children about the dangers of smoking
through his nonprofit foundation called Smoke-free Kids.