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Thirteen to be honored by UB Alumni Association


Published March 20, 2014

Among the 230,000 UB alumni around the world, only a handful is selected annually to receive an award from the UB Alumni Association. This year the honorees include Jeffrey Wigand, who became a whistle blower against the tobacco industry; Jeffrey Umland, who designed the landing gear for the Mars Rover Curiosity; and Janet Litster Rideout, co-inventor of the AIDS treatment AZT.

Charles D. Bauer will accept the association’s highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award, during the ceremony, to be held at 6 p.m. March 28 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus. 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 or by calling the UB Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-284-5382.

A graduate of the then-private University of Buffalo, Charles D. Bauer, MD ’46, 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 its support toward endowed faculty positions, scholarships and unrestricted support to be used by the 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.

The Mars Rover Curiosity landed safely on the Red Planet in 2012 due to the work of Jeffrey W. Umland, BS ’85 & PhD ’91. A fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Umland is chief mechanical engineer for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, leading 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 virus.

Additional 2014 awardees include Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Allen Barnett, PhD ’65, and Tamara Brown, ME ’03.

The International Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Kuo-Chun Chang, PhD ’85 & MS ’80.

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.

The Dr. Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to John Crassidis, PhD ’93, MS ’91 & BS ’89, UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and CUBRC Professor in Space Situational Awareness.

The George W. Thorn Award, given to distinguished alumni under 40, will be given to Lesley A. Weitz, BS ’02.

The Dr. Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award will be given to Steven Shepsman, BA ’75, for his contributions to enhancing the quality of life of the entire UB community.

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.

Complete profiles of each awardee can be found online.