UB Exceptional Scholars: Sustained Achievement Award

Established in 2002, this award honors outstanding professional achievement that has been focused on a particular body of work over a number of years. This award was created to recognize an unprecedented accomplishment in a senior scholar's career, distinguishing a body of work of enduring importance that has gone beyond the norm in a particular field of study.

2019-20 Honorees

Joseph P. Balthasar

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

A fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, Joseph Balthasar, PhD, is internationally recognized for his innovative research, which employs pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling to guide the discovery and development of new immunotherapies for cancer and autoimmunity. His laboratory has been well-funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Protein Therapeutics, a consortium of leading pharmaceutical companies that was established by Dr. Balthasar in 2007. A prolific scholar, he has published 85 peer-reviewed articles, which have garnered over 4,000 citations.

Ira J. Blader

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Ira Blader, PhD, is one of the world’s leading researchers in molecular parasitology, and specifically on Toxoplasma, one of the most prevalent parasitic infections in the world. His studies utilize state of the art techniques, including functional genomic assays, to identify host factors that may be important drug targets in combating infection. Since 2003, Dr. Blader’s groundbreaking work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies, including continuous and ongoing NIH R01 funding for 14 years.

Yu-Ping Chang

School of Nursing

Yu-Ping Chang, PhD, is widely renowned for her outstanding research contributions in geropsychiatric nursing, focused on substance abuse and depression in older adults, and dementia care. A prolific scholar, she has published 72 articles and delivered 148 presentations around the world. In the past four years alone, she has secured over $6 million in grants to support her research and training activities. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Gerontological Society of America, and International Academy of Addictions Nursing.

Steven T. Diver

Department of Chemistry

Steven Diver, PhD, is a leading researcher in chemical catalysis and mechanistic organic chemistry whose pioneering contributions to the understanding of alkene metathesis and ene-yne reaction mechanisms have not only advanced the field of synthetic chemistry, but also have real world implications for producing high purity compounds at scale in industry. Dr. Diver's groundbreaking research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation since 2001, and he has published more than 70 highly cited, peer-reviewed journal articles.

Marc S. Halfon

Department of Biochemistry

Marc Halfon, PhD, is nationally and internationally recognized for his innovative research that uses computational and genetic approaches to understand the regulation of cell and tissue differentiation at the level of gene expression. For over a decade, he has worked with UB’s Center for Computational Research to build the REDfly database, which contains more than 30,000 regulatory sequences for the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. This unique resource has proven to be highly useful to investigators around the world in multiple research areas.

Gregory G. Homish

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Professor and chair of community health and health behavior, Gregory Homish, PhD, is a highly accomplished psychiatric epidemiologist with expertise in substance use and mental health. A prolific and well-funded scholar, he has published more than 110 peer-reviewed articles and 150 refereed conference presentations. He is a consulting editor for Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and over 30 journals. In addition, he is a member of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee of the World Trade Center Health Program.

Tevfik Kosar

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

A renowned expert on managing and analyzing digital data, Tevfik Kosar, PhD, develops software platforms that improve the efficiency of computer systems. His projects include Stork, a batch scheduler specialized in data placement and movement, OneDataShare, a tool to boost data transfer speeds, and GreenDataFlow, an IBM-funded effort to reduce the energy consumption of datacenters, web servers, mobile devices and more. In recognition of the significance of his work, he has received many awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Stefan Ruhl

Department of Oral Biology

Stefan Ruhl, DDS, PhD, is an internationally renowned expert on saliva, oral bacteria and the oral microbiome. His highly cited and well-funded research seeks to unravel the roles that saliva and microorganisms play in health, including in adhesion to the teeth and surfaces of the mouth, defense against pathogens and colonization of the oral cavity. The International Association for Dental Research recognized Dr. Ruhl with the Distinguished Scientist Award in Salivary Research in 2020 and the Salivary Researcher of the Year Award in 2014.

Tarunraj Singh

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Tarunraj Singh, PhD, is a pioneering researcher in the fields of precision motion-control, design under uncertainty, global sensitivity analysis, and nonlinear estimation for disparate applications. A prolific scholar, he has published more than 260 papers and delivered invited seminars at many prestigious venues. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Outstanding Teaching Award.

Tamara P. Thornton

Department of History

Tamara Plakins Thornton is the author of three books, most recently “Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers” (2016), which received the John Lyman Book Award and the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize, and was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award. Other career achievements include a 1993-94 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship, a 2001 Milton Plesur Excellence in Teaching Award, and, for 2020-21, an American Antiquarian Society-NEH Fellowship in support of her current research project.

Bruce R. Troen

Department of Medicine

Bruce Troen, MD, is professor and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine as well as a physician-investigator with the VA Western New York (WNY) Healthcare System and Chief of Geriatric Services at Erie County Medical Center. A thought leader in aging-related geroscience and molecular biology and regional leader in geriatric care, Dr. Troen founded and directs the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease of WNY and the Center for Successful Aging at UB.

Gang Wu

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Gang Wu, PhD, is internationally recognized as one of the leading researchers in the field of electrochemical energy and environmental applications with an emphasis on the development of functional materials for catalysts and energy storage. A remarkably prolific scholar, he has published over 220 refereed journal articles, most in the top journals of his field, which have garnered more than 23,000 citations, earning him recognition as a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics in 2018. In addition, Dr. Wu holds six patents.