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Student excellence in spotlight

Winners of Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence

Recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence pose for a photo. Photo: Steve Morse

UB REPORTER STAFF

Published April 24, 2014

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

Andy Stott presents award to Brittany Cesar

Andrew Stott, dean for undergraduate education, presents the UB Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity to Brittany Cesar. Photo: Jerry Godwin

The 10th annual event, held in the Center for the Arts, opened with poster presentations in the atrium and in the Black Box Theatre from more than 200 graduate and undergraduate students who explained the results of more than 160 research projects. The topics ranged from why athletes become sports legends, to silicon nanoparticles, to the reliability of capturing sleep diary data using wrist-worn electronic devices, to the effect of resistive respiratory muscle training on breathing.

Student cast of "Les Miserables"

Members of the student cast of "Les Miserables" sing "One Day More." Photo: Steve Morse

Members of the student cast of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s upcoming production of “Les Miserables” offered a glimpse into the theatrical creative process. A performance of the song “One Day More” from the musical drama, which will open its two-weekend run today, was featured as part of the celebration ceremony.

In his opening remarks at the celebration ceremony, President Satish K. Tripathi said that one of his favorite aspects of the annual event was the opportunity to meet with students and talk to them about their scholarly and creative activity.

“That is really what this celebration of student academic excellence is all about: We’re celebrating not only the fruits of academic excellence, but the creative and intellectual process that led up to them,” Tripathi said.

Bringing an idea to fruition is “a long, complex, sometimes frustrating, yet immensely rewarding process,” he said, noting that it’s rarely a solitary process, but one that requires support, collaboration and input from fellow scholars and artists, as well as from faculty and staff mentors.

“So today we celebrate that process, we celebrate its outcome and we celebrate its impact on the world around us,” Tripathi said.

“Individually and collectively, 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.”

Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, noted that members of the UB community seek academic excellence and strive to have the greatest impact in everything they do.

But in many ways, “academic excellence is more of a vision than a goal,” Zukoski said. “It’s something that always inspires us to be better and to seek new opportunities.”

At UB, academic excellence “means we seek to find and deliver inspiration, we seek to improve the human condition through our scholarship and engagement.”

“Academic excellence means we are serious and passionate about what we do. Today, we celebrate exceptional students who are serious and their accomplishments certainly inspire us all.”

Zukoski said pursuit of excellence often takes UB students beyond the classroom — into workplaces, research labs, cultural institutions, and into the community and around the world.

“When students participate in these experiential learning activities, they are able to apply their knowledge, test theories and refine their understanding and perspectives, and contribute to new knowledge, paradigms and solutions,” he said. “In short, they are able to realize how the knowledge they gained in the classroom is useful and applicable in the real world.”

The celebration ceremony, hosted by Tripathi and Zukoski, acknowledged students who were nominated for, or awarded various national, SUNY and UB awards.

Among the students honored at the ceremony were those receiving the following awards and scholarships:

  • 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: Sean Bearden and Nigel Michki.
  • Marshall Scholarship, awarded to 40 U.S. students each year to study at the graduate level at a United Kingdom institution in any field of study: Phillip Tucciarone
  • Fulbright scholarship: Dominique Bertrand.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, provides three years of support for graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in mathematical, physical, biological, engineering and behavioral and social sciences, including the history of science: Phillip Tucciarone.
  • SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence: Kelsey Barbour, Erin Ellis, Emily Fiore, Courtney Kodweis, Taylor Lansing, Andrew Lyons, Elise Martin, Kayla Maxwell, Daniel Ovadia, Elise Roberts, Amanda Sherman, Matthew Silver, Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, Phillip Tucciarone and Trenton Van Epps.
  • UB Undergraduate Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity, recognizing undergraduate student projects from each decanal area that exhibit superiority in presentation, content and scope: Susan Little, Zi Yi Alina Tan, Christine Schaefer, Ian Liu, Phillip Tucciarone, Abigail Romano, Dylan Burns, Ryan Hauser, Brittany Cesar, Stanley Diih, Robert Dingman, John Pender, Jon Goodrum and Ifechukwu Ononye.
  • SUNY Undergraduate Research Innovative Exploration Award, recognizing student researchers who participated in the SUNY-wide undergraduate research symposium, “The Innovative Exploration Forum - Undergraduate Research in New York State’s Public Higher Education System”: Susan Little, Nigel Michki and Phillip Tucciarone.
  • 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: UB Against Cancer.

Also recognized were the recipients of the President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring, which honors outstanding faculty mentorship and seeks to encourage further faculty commitment to and participation in the undergraduate research and creative experience.

The recipients are Stephen Free, professor, Department of Biological Sciences; Rajendram Rajnarayanan, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; and Beth Tauke, associate professor, Department of Architecture.

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