Published May 20, 2016
Innovative research and teaching, and extraordinary community service have propelled six UB faculty members into the ranks of SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest faculty achievement in the SUNY system.
The honor recognizes the international prominence of the UB faculty members in their respective fields and the impact of their scholarship and teaching in such diverse areas as cardiac health, classical archaeology, drug therapy, anatomical sciences, assistive devices and pain management.
"We are extremely proud of our six UB faculty members who are joining the highest rank in SUNY," said Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "This recognition is a testament to the strength of our faculty and to their wide impact through groundbreaking research, transformative teaching and mentorship, and outstanding service"
The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.
Three faculty members were named Distinguished Professors in recognition of their academic achievements: Anne B. Curtis, Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine; Stephen L. Dyson, Park Professor of Classics; and Marilyn E. Morris, professor and vice chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The Distinguished Teaching Professorship, which honors the mastery of teaching and outstanding service to students, was granted to Reid R. Heffner Jr., professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences; and Joseph C. Mollendorf, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Mark J. Lema, professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, received the Distinguished Service Professorship for his extraordinary service to the community.
The six were among 29 SUNY faculty members appointed to the distinguished professor ranks earlier this month by the SUNY Board of Trustees.
“The SUNY distinguished faculty are truly the best of the best,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Through innovative instruction, unique research opportunities and engaging applied learning opportunities they deliver a top-quality higher education for our students that is second to none. Many thanks and congratulations to this most recent class of distinguished faculty.”
UB’s newest SUNY Distinguished Professors:
Curtis is one of the world’s leading experts on heart health and cardiac devices. An internationally renowned clinical investigator and scholar, her pioneering research has transformed the evaluation and treatment of heart disease patients worldwide.
Her accomplishments have garnered numerous accolades, including the 2012 Walter Bleifeld Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution in Clinical Research in Cardiology from the International Academy of Cardiology. In 2015, she was named one of Business First’s 100 most powerful women in Western New York.
Curtis joined the UB faculty in 2010 as the inaugural Mary and Charles Bauer Professor, chair of the Department of Medicine, and president and CEO of UBMD Internal Medicine. She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and Heart Rhythm Society, of which she is also a former president.
She earned her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University.
Dyson is widely regarded as a premier scholar of Roman and classical archaeology, and has been described by his peers as the “most distinguished and broadly accomplished living Roman archaeologist in the English-speaking-world.”
His groundbreaking achievements include mapping a Roman settlement in the Ager Cosanus, the discovery and exploration of Roman villas in the Mediterranean and the comprehensive study of Rome’s evolution as an imperialist power.
He is a fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries of London and the German Archaeological Institute, a former president of the Archaeological Institute of America and author of more than 10 books.
A UB faculty member since 1991, Dyson’s tenure at UB includes service as interim dean of the Undergraduate College and chair of the Department of Classics.
He holds a doctorate from Yale University, a diploma in classical archaeology from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
Heffner, an internationally respected educator, scholar and clinician, has taught more than 9,000 students during his career. His dedication in the classroom has earned him three Louis and Ruth Siegel Award Commendations for Teaching Excellence from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the 2013 Meritorious Service Award from the American Association of Neuropathologists, and a special recognition for teaching from the UB medical school class of 2007.
A UB faculty member since 1976, Heffner has distinguished himself in leadership capacities at the university, serving as chair of the Department of Pathology and assistant dean for curriculum in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. As assistant dean, he played a major role in the design and implementation of the school’s new organ-based medical curriculum.
Heffner is a fellow of the College of American Pathologists. He earned his medical degree and bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
An internationally renowned clinician and scholar, Lema is a leading authority in pain management and end-of-life care. His work has had an instrumental impact on policy and practice in the areas of palliative care and anesthesiology, and his pioneering efforts advanced a new direction in the field of anesthesiology that is widely recognized.
Lema has served as chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute since 1987, and at UB since 2001. He is a former president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA) and the Erie County Medical Society. Among his most notable achievements as ASA president was launching a sweeping reorganization of the group that expanded member services, improved financial performance, increased the experience and diversity of the staff, and instituted significant international outreach programs.
Lema has received numerous awards for his dedication to the field of anesthesiology, including both the ASA’s and NYSSA’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest tribute offered by both groups; the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; and selection by the NYSSA to deliver the esteemed 38th E.A. Rovenstine Memorial Lecture.
He earned a medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, a doctorate in physiology from UB and a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College, which awarded him the LaSalle Medal at this year’s commencement ceremony. Lema also trained in anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
A revered scholar, teacher and mentor, Mollendorf has made pioneering contributions to the field of service learning by providing generations of students with invaluable opportunities to take part in groundbreaking research on assistive device technologies.
During his 40-year tenure as a UB faculty member, Mollendorf has led more than 700 students on 450 projects, developing devices that improve the quality of life for hundreds of people with disabilities and their families. These devices include a wheelchair-accessible exercise station, a bicycle designed for an amputee, a shoulder-steerable tricycle and more. He holds seven U.S. patents — five of which were earned through his work with his students.
Supervisor of the Engineering Machine Shop, Mollendorf is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has amassed an impressive record of scholarship, including publishing more than 55 academic papers and 17 book chapters, and receiving more than $11 million in research grants, including 22 years of continuous National Science Foundation (NSF) funding.
He received a doctorate and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson College of Technology.
A UB faculty member since 1985, Morris is one of the world’s pre-eminent scholars in the areas of drug membrane transport, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. She is widely recognized for her groundbreaking discoveries regarding the role of dietary flavonoids in drug interaction and drug resistance — research with enormous implications for patient care and drug therapy, particularly in the treatment of cancer.
Currently interim chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Morris also has served as associate dean of the Graduate School. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Francis Dudley Meyer Award for Breast Cancer Research from the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists’ Innovation in Biotechnology Award and the 2013 Alumni of Distinction Award from the University of Manitoba.
Morris is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, for which she is also past president. She is a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Advisory Panel for Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and was elected a member of the executive committee of the Board of Pharmaceutical Sciences for the International Pharmaceutical Federation.
She earned a doctorate in pharmaceutics from UB, a master’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Ottawa and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Manitoba.
Bravo to all, but especially to Reid Heffner and Joe Mollendorf, whom I know.
I fondly recall one-on-one teaching sessions with Dr, Heffner at ECMC when I was a graduate student. I also recall his teaching prowess as a lecturer on neuromuscular diseases in the pathology courses when I was a medical student. He is a fine physician and a great teacher. He truly deserves this honor.
Stephen J. Hughes
Pat Nuse Pratt
I've known Mark for decades and am delighted to see this honor. He is truly a marvelous leader in the anesthesia world.