Students and Faculty from All Five SPHHP Departments Garner Prestigious Accolades

Published April 26, 2024

A testament to the School of Public Health and Health Professions' dedication to exceptional research, academia, and service, faculty and students from all five departments have recently been awarded distinctions for their work or studies.

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Sarahmona Przybyla, assistant professor of community health and health behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Sarahmona Przybyla, PhD, MPH

Health Foundation For Western New York's Leadership Fellows

Sarahmona Przybyla, assistant dean and director of undergraduate public health programs, was selected to the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York's latest cohort of the Health Leadership Fellows program in March. 

Each cohort is made up of roughly 40 professionals from health-related organizations throughout the region. The goal of the program is to strengthen a diverse network of leaders with organizations that serve children and older adults in Western and Central New York. 

"I am honored to be selected as a Health Leadership Fellow and am committed to our cohort’s focus on community health capacity, innovative partnerships, and equity-centered initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities," she said.

ASPPH Undergraduate Network Advisory Council

Przybyla was also selected to serve on the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health's (ASPPH) Undergraduate Network Advisory Council in January.

Eight faculty members were selected from schools and programs of public health across the country, all of whom are in leadership positions at their institutions. The goal of the council is to inspire innovation and collaboration for the advancement of undergraduate education in public health.

"The Advisory Council is a tremendous opportunity for the School of Public Health and Health Professions to be a leader in undergraduate public health education as an ASPPH member institution," she said.

Jessica Kruger and Dean of School of Public Health and Health Professionsw.

Jessica S. Kruger PhD, MCHES

ASPPH Award for Teaching

Jessica Kruger, clinical associate professor and director of Teaching Innovation and Excellence, was presented with the Early Career Teaching Excellence Award at the ASPPH Annual Meeting in March. 

The Early Career Teaching Excellence Award is presented to a faculty member for exemplary mentoring and teaching, with a distinction in public health research and practice.

"Receiving this award is a great honor, it’s a privilege to get to educate the future public health workforce," she said.

Kruger's research focuses on consumption and addictive behaviors, health behavior decision-making and pedagogy in public health. She collaborates with a wide variety of community-based organizations and advises students at the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic and the Seneca-Babcock Community Center.

Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Alexis Lucyshyn award.

Alexis Lucyshyn

Clifford C. Furnas Scholar Athlete Award

Alexis Lucyshyn, an undergraduate exercise science student, was the 2024 recipient of the Clifford C. Furnas Scholar Athlete Award. 

This award recognizes outstanding undergraduate performance in scholarship and athletic mastery. It is the highest academic honor bestowed on UB student-athletes.

The recipient of this award must be committed to the pursuit of subsequent graduate study in any field or discipline at any accredited college or university. 

Lucyshyn is a pitcher on UB's Division 1 softball team. She is currently completing her internship with UB Athletics while continuing to excel as an athlete. She was also recently named MAC Pitcher of the Week and pitched a no-hitter against the Winthrop Eagles at the Hail Southern Classic. 

"We are very proud of Alexis and her accomplishments," said Heather Bieber, MPH, exercise science undergraduate program director.

Department of Rehabilitation Science

Lenker Luminary award.

James A. Lenker, PhD, OTR/L, ATP, RESNA Fellow

Luminary Award

James A. Lenker, associate professor of rehabilitation science and director of the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology Program, was honored with the Luminary Award at the Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition in April.

The Luminary Award recognizes friends of the Startup & Innovation Collaboratory who have contributed to support their students in their entrepreneurial journey and the development of the campus-based entrepreneurship and innovation center. 

Lenker has helped to create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at UB through his collaboration of weaving the Aging Innovation Challenge into his occupational therapy courses. The Aging Innovation Challenge invites students and faculty to generate innovative solutions to assist older adults and their caregivers in completing activities of daily living.

RESNA President

Starting this summer, Lenker will also serve as president of the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA). Dr. Lenker previously served a 4-year term as Treasurer of RESNA and this year is completing a 2-year term as President-elect. 

RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.

RESNA advances the field by offering advanced certification for AT professionals, continuing education, and professional development; developing AT standards in areas ranging from transportation standards to accommodate wheelchair users to standards for accessible parks and recreation facilities; promoting research through publication of a peer-reviewed journal, Assistive Technology, which is now in its 35th year; public policy initiatives; and sponsoring forums for idea exchange among its multidisciplinary membership. 

Jan Tona.

Janice Tona, PhD, OTR

AOTA Roster of Fellows

Janice Tona, PhD, OTR, occupational therapy program director and clinical associate professor, has been awarded the Roster of Fellows Award by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Established in 1973, the Roster of Fellows recognizes occupational therapists who through their knowledge, expertise, leadership, and advocacy have made a significant contribution to the profession.

AOTA is a national professional association that represents the interests of occupational therapists and students. Their goal is to improve the quality of occupational therapy services.

"Becoming a fellow in the American Occupational Therapy Association is a long-standing dream of mine, and I am so grateful to my colleagues, mentors, and former students who collaborated on this nomination to bring my work to light.," she said.

SUNY Chancellor's Award

Chancellor's award.

Three SPHHP students in the departments of epidemiology and environmental health, biostatistics and rehabilitation science have been named recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor SUNY bestows upon its students.