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Twelve receive SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

SUNY Chancellor's Award winners, from top to bottom, left to right: Richard Bankert, Chunming Qiao, Zhen Yan, David Bertuca, Charles Lyons, Edward Brodka, Jacqueline Hollins, William McDonnell, Mary Virginia O'Brien, John Wood, Teresa Dean, Patricia Thomann.


Published May 23, 2013

Three faculty members, two librarians and seven staff members are recipients of 2013 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recognizes the work of those who engage actively in scholarly and creative pursuits beyond their teaching responsibilities. Recipients are Richard Bankert, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Chunming Qiao, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and Zhen Yan, professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship recognizes “skill in librarianship; service to the campus, the university and to the field; scholarship and professional growth; and major professional achievements.” Recipients are David Bertuca, associate librarian, Arts and Sciences Libraries, and Charles Lyons, electronic resources librarian, UB Libraries.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” Recipients are Edward Brodka, group learning coordinator and career counselor, Office of Career Services; Jacqueline Hollins, assistant vice provost and director of academic advisement & student advising services; William McDonnell, senior associate dean, School of Architecture and Planning; Mary Virginia O’Brien, curator of education, UB Art Galleries; and John J. Wood, senior associate vice provost, Office of International Education.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service recognizes classified staff members who have consistently demonstrated superlative performance within and beyond their position. Recipients are Teresa Dean, administrative assistant, Office of Judicial Affairs & Student Advocacy, and Patricia Thomann, administrative assistant, Facilities Finance & Administration—University Facilities.

An internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology and a leader in the area of tumor environment, Richard Bankert’s primary research focuses on why certain blood cells in the tumor microenvironment are less responsive than normal and fail to attack and kill tumor cells.

Over a career spanning 40 years—the past 12 as a UB faculty member, Bankert has published 132 papers in highly respected journals, including the Journal of Immunology and Cancer Research. His research has been supported continuously since 1989 with funding of more than $10 million from the National Institutes of Health.

He currently serves on the editorial boards of three publications—Frontiers in Immunotherapies and Vaccines, Cancer Microenvironment, and the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Researchand has been a member of the Immunology Study Section of the NIH. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, American Association of Immunologists and New York Academy of Sciences.

A widely respected authority in the area of map librarianship, David Bertuca is renowned for the depth of his subject-matter expertise in the fields of physical geography, map librarianship and geographic information systems (GIS). He has earned a reputation as the “go-to person for maps,” not only at UB but in the broader Western New York community as a co-developer of the heavily used “Buffalo, NY Neighborhoods Maps” website.

Currently president of the North East Map Organization, Bertuca also is an active scholar, co-authoring a major bibliographic guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition that has been cited as one of the Best Bibliographies in History by the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.

He also has spearheaded a number of important initiatives of the University

Libraries, notably the introduction of the EndNote bibliographic management software.

Edward Brodka has spent 25 years at UB in service to students, developing innovative programs and presentations to improve the lives of students and prepare them for their careers.

A co-founder of the Student Leadership Center in the Office of Student Life, Brodka taught leadership classes and helped develop team-building initiatives. He implemented the Operation Door-Hanger safety awareness program for students living off campus.

More recently in his position in Career Services, Brodka has provided career counseling to students, and has been uniformly praised in evaluations for providing helpful and practical information.

He also has assisted in developing programs to benefit UB’s faculty and staff, including presenting at new employee orientation sessions and a creating a class on “Professional Networking” through Organizational Training & Development.

Teresa Dean joined the UB classified staff in 1994 as a staff member in the Office of Career Services. She has served as office manager for the Office of Judicial Affairs & Student Advocacy for the past decade.

Dean has balanced her duties pertaining to behavioral assessment and intervention with students of concern while interacting with students, parents and staff members on a wide variety of sensitive issues and concerns. She also has developed valuable relationships with local courts and community service providers. In addition, she oversaw the digitizing of thousands of paper files and streamlined the process the office uses to track student community service hours and requests for background checks from outside organizations.

Jacqueline Hollins provides supervision and guidance to UB’s centralized advising office, coordinating services for all students ranging from pre-professional and university scholars to undecided and at-risk students. She also oversees UB’s new “Finish in Four” program—the university’s commitment to providing the necessary resources and support to enable students to graduate in four years.

Hollins helped oversee implementation of the Student Services Transformation Project, ensuring a smooth transition without interruption of services to students.

She also worked to expand UB’s online student appointment scheduling/notes depository/tracking system, creating a university-wide network of advising centers, and founded the university’s Pre-Law Student Services Center, establishing a relationship with the UB Law School and Career Services for an on-campus support network for students.

Charles Lyons is regarded by his colleagues at UB and across the SUNY system as a leading expert and innovator in the areas of online librarianship, open access and electronic resource management.

As electronic resources librarian at UB, he is responsible for overseeing the administration of electronic information resources for the entire university—from staying up to date on current trends in online scholarship to licensing and administering electronic resources for the UB Libraries.

He is particularly well-known for his expertise in the area of e-textbooks and was principal investigator for the Libraries’ e-textbook pilot project, funded through UB’s “E Fund.”

A gifted teacher and scholar, he has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Library and Information Studies, and has published widely in the areas of open access, business librarianship and electronic information resources.

William McDonnell serves as chief financial officer, chief of staff, associate dean for research, facilities planning management officer and senior adviser to the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

He drew up the plan and oversaw the 2011 relocation of the entire school—including 140 faculty, staff and appointees, as well as 800 students—to temporary quarters elsewhere on the South Campus during the restoration and renovation of Hayes and Crosby halls, all while maintaining his regular duties.

He also has been deeply engaged in service to the university, serving as a member of the steering committees for the Employees Campaign for the Community and for the Middle States reaccreditation process, and as a senator of the Professional Staff Senate.

Mary Virginia (Ginny) O’Brien is an artist, lecturer, author and registered nurse who draws upon her varied expertise to create unique educational programs and opportunities that serve UB and the community.

In addition to her primary duties developing and implementing education programs for the UB Art Galleries, she exhibits her art in solo and group exhibitions locally and nationally, leads painting and design workshops, and presents seminars for artists, teachers and health care professionals with a focus on creativity and wellness.

She is involved with such local organizations as Just Buffalo Literary Center, Coalition of Arts Providers for Children, Roswell Park Cancer Institute Arts Committee, and Child and Family Services of Buffalo. She also serves as a member of the board of directors for Aspire of WNY and as a community artist mentor with the Buffalo Public Schools.

A leading authority in optical and wireless networks, Chunming Qiao is best known for his work in optical burst switching, or OBS, a term he coined in 1997. He was the first to recognize the potential of OBS, and his pioneering work in this area has helped reduce communications latency and costs, while increasing data-transport efficiency and network utilization in advanced optical networks.

A fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Qiao has authored nearly 300 publications, and his work has been awarded seven U.S. patents, two of which have been licensed by UB.

During his nearly 20 years at UB, Qiao has received continuous and substantial research support from such federal agencies as the National Science Foundation and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, as well as from prestigious companies such as Nokia, Google and Cisco, totaling about $6 million.

Patricia Thomann has been with UB for more than three decades, spending most of that time with the departments of Facilities Planning and Design, and Financial Services, both part of University Facilities.

She oversees a wide variety of administrative duties involved in university design and construction contracts, interacting with contractors and consultants, project managers, and Department of Finance and Administration staff to ensure that required documents are processed in an accurate, efficient and timely manner. In preparing and assembling relevant documents for university design and construction contracts, Thomann has had a large, behind-the-scenes role in the growth of the UB North, South and Downtown campuses.

One of John Wood’s primary duties as senior associate vice provost for international education is to supervise and promote UB’s exchange and study abroad programs. He works with individual departments and faculty to develop unique exchange programs and international collaborative opportunities.

Under his leadership, the number of faculty-lead programs has increased greatly, and student participation is at a rate six times the national average.

Wood also has helped facilitate important institutional partnerships by framing the terms of formal agreements and managing the implementation of those agreements.

Among his responsibilities is managing the office’s communication activities, and he has led the redesign of various websites and completely revamped the UB International newsletter.

In addition, he has helped coordinate campus visits by important international dignitaries, including the historic three-day visit of the Dalai Lama in 2006.

A UB faculty member since 2000, Zhen Yan has received significant recognition for her scholarship related to the areas of schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Focusing her research on understanding synaptic action of various neurochemicals in the brain, Yan has been making substantial links to broader issues in mental health and illness.

A prolific researcher, she has published nearly 90 peer-reviewed papers in such top journals as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Molecular Pharmacology, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Neuron and the Journal of Neuroscience.

Since 2001, she has received continuous and substantial funding—nearly $10 million—from private industry, government agencies and the most prominent research foundations and institutes.

Yan is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the National

Parkinson Foundation’s Menek Goldstein Research Scholar Award, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award and the NARSAD Independent Investigator Award.