Established in 2002, this award recognizes outstanding academic and creative achievements across a broad spectrum of scholarly and artistic fields. The award recipients are faculty members who consistently go above and beyond their teaching and professional duties to make extraordinary contributions to their respective fields.
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Jian Feng, PhD, is internationally regarded for his research on stem cell biology and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Feng’s scholarly pursuits have focused on the vulnerability of human nigral dopaminergic neurons, with the goal of finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, he studies how mutations of the parkin gene cause the disease. Dr. Feng is widely known for using human induced pluripotent stem cells to study the role that parkin plays in Parkinson’s disease. His laboratory has developed novel stem cell technologies to advance Parkinson’s disease research. Dr. Feng’s outstanding research has led to a number of patent applications and inventions. He has also collaborated with fellow scholars to investigate other diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
Department of Orthopaedics
Clinical professor in the Department of Orthopaedics, John Leddy, MD, is internationally renowned for his novel approaches to the diagnosis and management of cerebral concussion—innovations that have transformed concussion rehabilitation. Dr. Leddy researches the mechanisms of physiological disturbance in concussion, and how to help patients recover from concussions and safely return to activities and sports. As a direct result of research conducted by Dr. Leddy and Dr. Barry Willer, the UB Concussion Management Clinic, where Dr. Leddy serves as medical director, was the first in the U.S. to use a standardized treadmill test to establish recovery from concussion, and to use exercise to rehabilitate patients with prolonged concussion symptoms. Dr. Leddy also serves as a concussion consultant to the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres.
Department of Physics
Professor in the Department of Physics, Andrea Markelz, PhD, has conducted trailblazing research on electronic systems and protein structural dynamics. Considered one of the world’s leading researchers in terahertz spectroscopy, Dr. Markelz’s research group developed and patented a method to measure structural vibrations of biomolecules such as proteins and RNA—a significant breakthrough with a wide array of applications. The first recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award within her department, Dr. Markelz used that award to establish an innovative program to encourage girls to study math and science. With more than 100 publications and over 5,400 citations, she has been continuously funded since 1999 and has been the principal investigator for more than $5.8 million in grants.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Gang Wu, PhD, is a remarkably accomplished electrochemist whose research has far-reaching implications for the development of sustainable and clean-energy technology. Dr. Wu’s research focuses on finding sustainable and economical substitutions to scarce platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts in the electrochemical reactions responsible for clean-energy technology. His research group is leading the way in the development of PGM-free catalysts and has already made significant breakthroughs that have been recognized by high-profile journals, media outlets and other scholars in the field. Dr. Wu’s research has garnered more than 20 grants totaling more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy, and has resulted in 260 publications and 12 patents and patent applications.
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Morton C. Frank Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Jun Zhuang, PhD, is a highly regarded scholar who has made significant strides in issues of homeland security and disaster relief. His research focuses on contemporary, data-driven approaches to crisis-related issues, including resource allocation, management of misinformation, and partnership creation. His work has remained timely, particularly since the September 11 attacks, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Zhuang’s approach seeks to integrate operations research, big data analytics, game theory and decision analysis to model potential interactions between actors of significance in order to mitigate risks in different scenarios. His work has attracted the attention of the National Science Foundation, departments of Homeland Security and Energy, among others, and his 34 grants account for approximately $2.5 million in funding to his credit.
Department of Chemistry
Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Eva Zurek, PhD, is a dynamic scholar and world leader in computational materials chemistry. Her interdisciplinary work in chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering has led to productive collaborations with scholars in a number of different fields, ranging from organic chemical synthesis to high-energy density physics. Her innovative accomplishments include a widely praised program used for crystal structure prediction and advances in high-pressure superconductivity. Within these cutting-edge areas of study, Dr. Zurek is conducting research and making discoveries that few other researchers have the expertise to accomplish. A prolific scholar, she has authored more than 145 publications, received an uncommonly wide range of grants for her diverse research, and delivered more than 100 invited lectures and presentations.