SPHHP Yearly Awards Given During Annual meeting

Published June 8, 2022

The University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions announced the recipients of its 2021-2022 awards during the school’s annual meeting in May. The award recipients have been chosen for their outstanding dedication and service to the school in areas of scholarship, community engagement and professional duties.

Volunteer Service Award—Katherine Connelly, deputy director of science and public health, Seneca Scientific Solutions+

This award recognizes a volunteer who has made significant contributions to the education, research or service missions of the school. As a volunteer, Connelly commits her time to assure that SPHHP students--the future public health workforce--will be better prepared to address significant health disparities in Native communities. She has helped in many areas of academic expansion including supporting student development, investigating research opportunities and helping to build SPHHP’s Indigenous Health Disparities course. Passionate about raising awareness of health implications affecting tribal communities, she conducts lectures to the school’s MPH students on issues of racism and health surrounding Indigenous populations.  

Outstanding Junior Researcher of the Year—Elizabeth Mietlicki-Baase, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

This award is presented to a junior faculty member whose recent research initiatives demonstrate outstanding importance and relevance to the overall mission of the school. Beginning with funding that she received as a doctoral student, Mietlicki-Baase’s research program has been continuously funded by a variety of sources, one benchmark of a successful and innovative research program. 

Since joining UB, she has received over $2,000,000 in research funding, including the recent five-year, NIH R01 to study the role of amylin in the mesolimbic dopamine system on food intake, a project that could have implications for pharmacological treatment of obesity. Her work has been disseminated in 35 manuscripts, many of the top journals and over 50 conference presentations, including a mix of senior authorship, collaborative research and student-led work. 

Outstanding Senior Researcher of the Year—Albert Vexler, PhD, professor, Department of Biostatistics

This award is presented to a senior faculty member whose recent research initiatives demonstrate outstanding importance and relevance to the overall mission of the school. Albert Vexler’s productive and distinguished career includes important contributions to statistics and biostatistics, and as a quantitative scientist. He has published papers in highly recognized journals and was also the first in his department’s history to publish in the prestigious journals “Biometrika” and “The American Statistician.” His four books bridge the gap between theoretical statistical methods and practical procedures applied to the planning and analysis of health-related experiments. In addition, much of Vexler’s research has been supported by methodological grants. He has achieved international prominence and has a distinguished reputation within the fields of biostatistics and statistics.

Outstanding Staff Award—Amy Barczykowski, data manager and statistician, Department of Biostatistics’ Population Health Observatory

This award is presented to a staff member who has demonstrated distinction in their contributions towards supporting academic excellence and a strong, overall commitment to fulfilling the mission of the school. This year’s recipient, Amy Barczykowski, received six separate nominations from people inside and outside SPHHP. Their common theme was that her leadership, expertise, exemplary work ethic and contributions were vital in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding and advancing interdisciplinary research impacting the health of our communities. Since joining the school in 2006, Barczykowski has also taken on additional responsibilities, serving as data manager, project director, mentor and role model to doctoral students, project manager, collaborating researcher and first author and co-author on publications. 

Adjunct Faculty Service Award—Joan Murray, adjunct instructor in occupational therapy and rehabilitation sciences

The Adjunct Faculty Service Award recognizes an adjunct faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the education mission of one or more of the school’s academic programs. Joan Murray is a seasoned occupational therapist and certified hand therapist (CHT) with nearly 40 years of occupational therapy experience. During her first year of teaching at UB in 2019, she completely overhauled her course (Orthotics and Prosthetics), organizing course materials, increasing communication between lecture and lab, developing presentations and rewriting exams. Murray’s second year of teaching at UB was spring 2020, marked with the overnight transition to online teaching and testing. She was not just up to the challenge, but was a calm, wise, and reassuring member of the faculty helping other instructors solve problems and remain focused. 

Dean’s Award for Community Service—Gregory Homish, professor and chair, Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

This award is presented to a faculty member in recognition of achievements in providing professionally relevant community service in furtherance of the school's mission to improve the health of populations, communities and individuals over the past year.  In addition to serving as chair and one of SPHHP’s most funded researchers, Greg Homish has worked tirelessly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in his role as sector leader for the Emergency Mental Health Sector of Erie County Department of Health Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team (SMART). Among other duties, he worked closely with staff to set up vaccination sites, deal with patient flow issues and ensure adequate supplies, in addition to supporting staff with stress reduction techniques. Homish has helped develop a document, “Erie County Cares,” which provides mental health resources for community members, and helped create a video resource shown post-vaccination waiting areas. Ultimately, he has demonstrated the importance of compassionate community involvement during this unprecedented time while continuing his responsibilities to his primary roles in SPHHP. 

SPHHP Dean’s Award—Pamela Sturtz, associate director, research administrative services

This award recognizes a faculty or staff member for outstanding professional accomplishments and effort on behalf of the school within the past year. This year’s recipient is Pamela Sturtz, associate director of SPHHP’s Research Administrative Services (RAS). Sturtz offers calm, detail-oriented professional guidance and administrative support to faculty and staff who are pursuing external funding for research, service, and scholarly activities. Her assistance with grant submissions receives excellent ratings from those she helps. From her production of the office newsletter, notices of funding opportunities and new grants to her overall management of the RAS office, she is commended by her colleagues as “consistently excellent.”