Student excellence in spotlight

Student presentation.

A student explains a scale model of GRoW Home, a solar-powered house being designed and constructed in Buffalo by UB students. Photo: Douglas Levere

Published April 17, 2015


UB students, faculty and administrators gathered April 16 to recognize the outstanding scholarly, research and creative achievements of students at the annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence.

The 11th annual event, held in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, began with a poster presentation from more than 400 undergraduate students. The display showcased research and creative projects nominated by deans and program coordinators from across UB’s academic disciplines. Students were present to discuss and answer questions about their work.

Research topics ranged from extending 3-D printing technology from polymers to high strength metals and building wellness as a driving force of design to developing new sustainable approaches to food production and planting 1,000 new trees in University Heights, contributing to energy conservation and community pride.

The celebration also featured a performance of Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play “The Glass Menagerie” taken from an honors thesis adaptation by junior Connor Graham. The performance was directed by Graham and featured original music by senior James Bobak. Both Graham and Bobak are University Honors Scholars.

In welcoming remarks, President Satish K. Tripathi told those gathered for the ceremonies that the journey of discovery often is just as important as the success that is achieved at the end.

“As an educator, it is truly gratifying to see students reach this point in their academic endeavors — displaying their talents and their discoveries as a result of their dedication and hard work,” Tripathi said.

“And developing these ideas into bold, new thoughts and expressions can be a trying process, whether it is many late nights of research in the library, the trial and error of experiments in the lab, hours of dedicated practice and rehearsals, or the painstakingly detailed process of creative expression in an art studio.  

“Individually and collectively,” he said, “the students we honor today embody our university’s mission as a public research university — to make the world a better place through our ideas, our innovations and our engagement.”

The celebration ceremony, hosted by Tripathi and Andrew M. Stott, dean of undergraduate education, acknowledged students who were nominated for, or received, various national, SUNY and UB awards.

Among the students honored at the ceremony were:

  • Recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, awarded to sophomores and juniors who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering: Stephanie M. Kong, a chemical engineering major; Sharon Lin, a chemical engineering major; and Kristina Monakhova, an electrical engineering major.
  • Finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship: Sean Kaczmarek.
  • Nominee for the Morris K. Udall Scholarship: Hailie Suk.
  • Recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship: Graham Lyon.
  • Recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship: Abigail LaPlaca, who will travel to Panama to teach English. Samah Asfour, Karin Hsieh, Greg Przybyla and Shant Tamazian were selected as Fulbright finalists.
  • Nida Syed: recipient of the 2015 Critical Language Scholarship, given by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The bureau offers intensive summer language institutes overseas in 13 critical-need foreign languages. Syed will travel to India to learn Urdu.
  • Recipients of the SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence: Matthew A. Eldred, Sara-Ann E. Fox, Ryan J. Hauser, Karin R. Hsieh, Tara L. Kaczorowski, Elizabeth A. Lakota, Chams E. Mballo, John T. O'Brien, Megan A. Pszonak, Chelsea Reinhardt, Christopher J. Reinhardt, Nathaniel J. Sundholm, Mackenzie R. H. Ward, Chelsea Wheeler and Jennifer R. Whittaker.
  • Recipients of the UB Undergraduate Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity, recognizing students for outstanding scholarly and creative work:  Tyler Laurel, Daniel Bartoszek, Cuiting Chen, Alejandro Corona Espinosa, Emily Tevens, Blake Cooper, Ryan Hughes, John Costello, Yi Jui Lee, Faryal Sahibzada, Leah Panek-Shirley, Erin O’Brien, Edison Wei Soon, Harminder Chonk, Chams Eddine Mballo, Brian Le Floch, Aaron Fiebelkorn, Aberlee J. Milliron, Tatiana Jimenez-Knight, Negin Salehi, Megan Pszonak, David Bratton and Daniel Calzadilla.
  • Recipient of the UB Student Organization Award for Excellence in Academics and Service, which recognizes clubs that take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to assist others: Circle K. International.

The event also featured a screening of a video about the design of GRoW Home, UB’s entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Solar Decathlon. Standing for “Garden, Relax or Work,” the GRoW Home embraces the urban -arming culture of Buffalo, as well as its seasonal weather.

The highly collaborative effort has involved 13 UB academic departments, nearly 150 students and dozens of faculty members. Students also are working closely with several local businesses in the design, building and solar energy fields.

full list of award winners, finalists and nominees, as well as descriptions of awards, can be found on the Celebration of Academic Excellence website.