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Recipients of the 2014 SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence. Top row: Stelios Andreadis, Bárbara Ávila-Shah, Sean Bennett, Gary Dargush, Steven Fliesler, Scott Hollander. Middle row: Christopher Hollister, Joseph Kerr, William Kinney, Alan Lesse, Elad Levy, Li Lin. Bottow row: Christopher Mele, Nancy Schimenti, Cynthia Shore, William Solomon, Joyce Troy and Bernard Weinstein. Not pictured: Kim Javor, Kurt Winter.

20 from UB receive Chancellor's Awards


Published May 29, 2014

UB hit the jackpot when the recipients of the 2014 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence were announced, with 11 faculty members, one librarian and eight staff members — the most in recent memory — being honored for outstanding achievement by faculty and staff.

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 Stelios Andreadis, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Steven J. Fliesler, professor and vice chair of the Department of Ophthalmology; and Elad Levy, professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service recognizes “the consistently superior service contributions of teaching faculty” sustained over a period of time. This year’s recipients are Li Lin, professor, Department of Industrial Systems and Engineering, and Bernard Weinstein, professor, Department of Physics.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. Recipients are Sean Bennett, professor, Department of Geography; William Kinney, associate professor, Department of Physics; Christopher Mele, associate professor, Department of Sociology; William Solomon, associate professor, Department of English; Gary Dargush, professor and chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Alan Lesse, associate professor, Department of Medicine.

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.” This year’s recipient is Christopher Hollister, associate librarian, Arts and Sciences Libraries.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” Recipients are Bárbara Ávila-Shah, language coordinator, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; Scott Hollander, web manager and interim coordinator of digital collections, University Libraries; Joseph Kerr, associate dean for administration, School of Dental Medicine; Cynthia Shore, senior assistant dean and director of alumni and external relations, School of Management; and Kurt Winter, assistant to the chair, Department of Oral Biology.

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 Nancy Schimenti, assistant to the director of the Office of Career Services, and Joyce Troy, a secretary in the Department of English.

It was announced earlier this year that Kim Javor, an instructor in the Department of Mathematics, was one of the inaugural recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, which recognizes consistently superior teaching by an adjunct at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level.

A member of the UB faculty since 1998, Stelios Andreadis also serves as co-director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

His research interests cover the broad areas of tissue engineering, gene therapy and functional genomics. He and members of his research group are pursuing such topics as genetically modified skin equivalents for wound healing, vascular tissue engineering, retrovirus purification and gene transfer to epidermal stem cells.

He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, among them a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award and an Exceptional Scholar Young Investigator Award from UB. He was recognized as an Innovator of Upstate New York in 2001 by the UB Alliance for Innovation.

As the language coordinator in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Bárbara Ávila-Shah updates and improves curriculum, policies, course syllabi and testing procedures while incorporating new pedagogical materials and working with her colleagues to ensure uniformity in program administration and curriculum.

She created the first Spanish proficiency exam at UB — aligning the test with the broader UB curriculum — and continues to administer it every semester.

A native of Puerto Rico, Ávila-Shah holds a PhD in Spanish linguistics from Cornell University. She also serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the department, with interests in sociolinguistics, syntactic variation, language contact, bilingualism, Caribbean Spanish, applied linguistics and educational technology.

Sean Bennett teaches courses in fluvial geomorphology and stream restoration, and conducts research on sediment transport mechanics, gully erosion, reservoir sedimentation and watershed processes.

He has edited or co-edited three books and published in numerous scholarly journals. His work is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NSF.

He is active in UB’s Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE) Program, which organizes a variety of activities devoted to restoration. Bennett serves as a principal investigator of the Integrative Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program for PhD candidates and as an instructor in the summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, both funded by the NSF, and as an instructor in the summer Environmental Restoration Workshop for community members.

Bennet, who joined the UB faculty in 2003, also is a member of the advisory council for UB’s Sustainability Academy.

UB alumnus Gary Dargush, PhD ’87 & MS ’77, joined the UB faculty in 1987 as a research assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. He moved to the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 2005 as a full professor.

His research interests include computational mechanics, boundary element methods, finite element methods, earthquake engineering, structural dynamics, geomechanics, thermomechanics and computational fluid dynamics.

His work has been funded by the NSF. He has co-authored two books and published numerous book chapters and scholarly articles.

Dargush has been a dissertation adviser, committee member and outside reader for numerous PhD students, as well as served as an adviser on theses and projects for master’s degree students.

Steven Fliesler, who joined the UB faculty member in 2008, is an internationally recognized scientist and current president of the International Society for Eye Research. He is Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of Ophthalmology and director of research for the Department of Ophthalmology.

He also directs research for UB’s Ira G. Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center, housed in the VA Western New York Healthcare System.

Fliesler has been studying cholesterol metabolism in the retina for more than 30 years. For the past two decades, the National Institutes of Health has funded his pioneering studies into retinal dysfunction and degeneration associated with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a rare, sometimes deadly, birth defect.

He recently was honored as the 2014 ARVO Gold Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Scott Hollander leads the planning, development, operations, maintenance and assessment of the University Libraries’ website — the primary platform for delivery of research curricular resources on campus — as well as the Libraries’ unique, locally created digital collections, which enhance the university’s research, teaching and outreach.

He successfully led the redesign of the Libraries’ website, bringing the site under one unified umbrella with common branding and navigation elements. He also encourages staff to adopt best practices by supplying Web analytics data and engaging in logical persuasion and diplomacy.

Christopher Hollister serves as library liaison to the Graduate School of Education and the Department of Linguistics. In those roles, he develops and maintains the University Libraries’ education, educational psychology, library and information science, and linguistics collections; provides discipline-specific research assistance for students and faculty; and collaborates with faculty on curricular, educational and research-related initiatives.

He also plans, develops and implements instructional and informational literacy initiatives for the UB Libraries, and provides general reference desk and virtual reference services, as well as individual research assistance.

He is the author of two books — “Handbook of academic writing for librarians” and “Best practices for credit-bearing information literacy courses” — both for the Association of College and Research Libraries, and has published numerous book chapters and journal articles.

He is co-founder and co-editor of the new journal Communications in Information Literacy.

As associate dean for administration in the dental school, Joseph Kerr oversees the school’s administrative operations, providing direct oversight for all human resources, financial, marketing, continuing education, clinic business operations and facilities functions within the school. He also serves as chief operating officer of the school in the absence of the dean.

Kerr has automated financial and other data processes that have increased the effectiveness and efficiency of the school’s operations, allowing for quick and accurate reporting, trend analyses and operation reviews that have led to increased efficiencies, reductions in cost, increased revenues and better services for faculty, students, staff and patients.

Cosmologist William Kinney explores the origins of the universe and how the universe is changing. His research interests include cosmic inflation, accelerating universe, dark matter/dark energy and cosmic microwave background physics. He recently published a study contradicting the well-publicized dark flow theory, which makes the controversial suggestion that the distribution of matter in our universe is not uniform.

Kinney is a co-founder of the Science& Art Cabaret series, which brings scientists and artists together several times a year to discuss topics ranging from magic to black holes. The series is free and open to the public.

Prior to joining UB in 2003, Kinney was a research scientist at Columbia University’s Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, and a research associate at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

A UB faculty member since 1987, Alan Lesse also serves as chief of infectious disease, VA Western New York Healthcare System.

Lesse studies Staphylococcal infections — particularly complications related to S. aureus bloodstream infections — using advanced molecular biology techniques to identify bacterial virulence factors. In collaboration with University of Rochester scientist Steve Gill and using bioinformatics and database design, he is analyzing three years of clinical data on S. aureus bacteremia in the Buffalo area and sequencing hundreds of bacteremia isolates of S. aureus to identify the genomic architectures associated with more severe complications and those associated with poor clinical outcomes.

As vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine, Lesse works with students throughout their medical education at UB — from first-year medical students to senior fellows specializing in infectious disease.

Elad Levy’s research interests focus on developing new and better treatments for patients with stroke and stroke symptoms due to atherosclerotic disease of intracranial and extracranial vessels. He has published and lectured extensively on endovascular techniques for stroke and other cerebrovascular disorders.

A UB faculty member since 2004, he has participated in clinical research studies on synthetic bone, carotid artery revascularization and stents, and recently joined a study investigating concussion injury as it relates to blood flow physiology of the brain.

In 2011, Levy founded and serves as president of a local nonprofit organization called PUCCS (Program for Understanding Childhood Concussion and Stroke), which has raised more than $290,000 to fund concussion research and education in Western New York.

Li Lin’s principal areas of research and teaching include operational efficiency in health care, modeling and control of manufacturing systems, computer simulation and concurrent engineering.

A UB faculty member since 1989, he has authored or co-authored nearly 70 papers in scholarly journals and given numerous invited lectures, seminars, conference presentations and speeches.

He serves on the board of directors of Catholic Health and Catholic Health Home Care, and recently was named chair of the board of directors of Catholic Health Ministry Services.

He is the recipient of a UB Exceptional Scholar for Sustained Achievement Award and a National Award of Excellence in Workforce Development from the University Economic Development Association for a project with St. Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pa., conducted with UB’s TCIE.

Christopher Mele specializes in urban and community redevelopment, the culture of American cities/metropolitan life, urban social history, urban theory, race and ethnicity, immigration, and housing and the built environment.

He has developed numerous courses, colloquia and summer programs for UB undergraduate and graduate students, and directed the fifth UB Semester in London program.

Mele is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as the UB College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching Social and Behavioral Sciences.

A prolific researcher, he has authored a book, “Selling the Lower East Side: Culture, Real Estate, and Resistance in New York City” (University of Minnesota Press); edited or co-edited four books; and published numerous journal articles, book chapter and book reviews.

Nancy Schimenti began her UB career in 2003 as an administrative assistant in the Undergraduate Education Office in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She took a position as the secretary to the directors of the Graduate and Undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing in 2006 and moved back to the North Campus a year later to take her current position with Career Services.

Since that time, she has provided assistance to the director of Career Services and supported the department with responsibilities for facilities, personnel and purchasing.

Schimenti also coordinates the Division of University Life and Services’ Employees Campaign for the Community team, serves on the divisional Professional Development Committee and occasionally narrates the new employee bus tour. She is especially interested in the continuing development of excellent and educational work experiences for student employees.

As senior assistant dean and director of alumni and external relations in the School of Management, Cynthia Shore has proposed, launched and refined a variety of initiatives that have significantly broadened the impact of both UB and the School of Management to students and to the broader community.

She developed a new MBA program ranking with The Wall Street Journal, created and implemented a Career Perspectives Series for UB undergraduates and members of the Western New York community, and helped facilitate real-world opportunities for students through such programs as UB MBA Corporate Champions and LeaderCORE.

Her leadership on key community projects includes guiding the Prentice Family Foundation in the creation of the WNY Prosperity Scholarship program that already has awarded $1 million in scholarships to more than 70 UB students.

A specialist in 20th-century American literature, William Solomon teaches courses in the American novel, Melville, American modernism, 1960s fiction and black humor. He joined UB in 2007 as an associate professor after serving on the faculties of Gettysburg College and Stanford University.

His first book, “Literature, Amusement and Technology in the Great Depression” (Cambridge University Press, 2002), examines the influence of popular entertainment on several important modernist writers, including John Dos Passos, Henry Miller, Nathaniel West and Edward Dahlberg.

His most recent book project, “Slapstick Modernism: Experimental Writing and Silent Comedy, 1909-1969,” focuses on the influence of silent-film comedy on individuals as diverse as the modernist poets of the 1920s to the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 1960s.

Joyce Troy joined the UB staff in 1972 as secretary to the world-renowned literary critic Leslie Fiedler, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel L. Clemens Professor of English. She worked with Fiedler until his death in 2003.

She currently works as an administrative assistant in the Graduate Office in the English department.

Troy received a BA from Empire State College in 1994.

Bernard Weinstein is a two-time Chancellor’s Award recipient, having received the award for excellence in teaching in 2000. He also is a recipient of the Milton Plesur Award for Excellence in Teaching from the undergraduate Student Association.

Weinstein is a fellow of the American Physical Society, Division of Condensed Matter Physics, and has published nearly 130 articles on his research, which has been supported by major grants from the NSF, the Office of Naval Research and Xerox Corp.

His scientific interests are in experimental studies of the optical and high-pressure properties of electronic, vibrational and defect states in semiconductors. He pioneered the use of the modern diamond-anvil-cell for Raman scattering and other optical spectroscopies, and has advanced cryogenic high-pressure methods. His Raman spectroscopy studies with the diamond-anvil-cell have been instrumental in understanding the effects of pressure on the phonon dispersion in semiconductors.

His current research includes studies of high-pressure phase changes in semiconductors, plastic deformation in II-VI materials, localized defects in III-V-nitrogen photovoltaic systems and photo-crystallization in amorphous selenium.

As assistant to the chair in the Department of Oral Biology, Kurt Winter works in all aspects of research administration in the department, including budget preparation, interpretation of sponsor guidelines and communication with prospective and current research sponsors —particularly the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — subcontractors, collaborators and all research-related support offices at UB.

Winter, who previously worked in Sponsored Programs Administration, helped prepare multiple submissions of a complex and substantial NIH training grant, which received funding in 2013. He also has facilitated the submission of numerous grant applications by faculty members and students, as well as played a crucial role in the successful submission of a joint dental school/medical school proposal for funding from UB’s “3 E Fund.”