Five UB faculty members named SUNY Distinguished Professors

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: April 13, 2020

Portrait of A. Scott Weber.
“This distinction recognizes that UB faculty are among the best in the world and have a transformative impact through their sustained research and scholarship contributions. ”
A. Scott Weber, provost
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Five University at Buffalo faculty members have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the State University of New York system.

M. Laura Feltri, Jo Freudenheim, Amit Goyal, Elad Levy and Stephen Tiffany were appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees in March.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

The five were all named distinguished professors in recognition of their international prominence and distinguished reputations within their chosen fields.

According to SUNY, “this distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidate’s work must be of such character that the individual’s presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields.”

“UB is tremendously proud that five of our most distinguished faculty members have been appointed to SUNY’s highest rank,” said A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This distinction recognizes that UB faculty are among the best in the world and have a transformative impact through their sustained research and scholarship contributions.”

UB’s newest SUNY Distinguished Professors:

M. Laura Feltri, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry

Portrait of Laura Feltri.


Feltri, professor of biochemistry and neurology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and acting director of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, is an internationally renowned expert and pioneer in the study of myelin diseases in the nervous system.

She conducts research on Schwann cells and disorders that affect the peripheral or central nervous systems, like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, multiple sclerosis or Krabbe leukodystrophy.

With the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students she has mentored, Feltri has made numerous seminal discoveries in her field, including developing the first mutagenesis tool for studying Schwann cell development and the signals that regulate myelination. In collaboration with Lawrence Wrabetz, she pioneered the use of transgenic animal to model neurological diseases and develop new therapies.

An internationally recognized leader in the biology of nervous system myelination, her fundamental research is contributing to the development of novel therapies for neurological disorders.

Feltri serves as chair of the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Glia National Institutes of Health study session, as a board member of scientific organizations and on the editorial board of various journals.

Jo Freudenheim, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Portrait of Jo L. Freudenheim.


Freudenheim, UB Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, is an internationally renowned expert in cancer epidemiology.

She has conducted seminal research to understand factors that influence risk for cancer, particularly breast cancer, including the role of diet, alcohol and the physical environment. She uses a variety of methodologically rigorous approaches (e.g., molecular epidemiology) to examine carcinogenesis, from the molecular level to the individual and population levels.

Her research has been funded for more than 25 years by the NIH and other federal funding agencies. She has authored more than 275 peer-reviewed publications in national and international high-impact journals, where they have helped shape the field of chronic disease epidemiology.

A frequent reviewer for such entities as the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, she also has contributed to the field by serving as a mentor to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and in her role as director of a cancer epidemiology training program.

Amit Goyal, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Materials Science

Portrait of Amit Goyal.


An internationally recognized materials scientist, Goyal is a SUNY Empire Innovation Professor and founding director of UB’s RENEW Institute.

In 2018, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for groundbreaking scientific advances and technological innovations enabling the worldwide commercialization of high-temperature superconductors. He is also a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, with 87 issued patents and additional patents pending.

Goyal joined UB in 2015 to direct RENEW, an institute that harnesses the expertise of more than 100 faculty in seven UB schools and colleges to explore solutions to globally pressing energy and environmental problems, as well as the social and economic issues connecting them. His leadership has placed UB at the forefront of efforts to reduce water and air pollution, and find innovative, clean ways to produce, transmit and store energy.

In 2019, he was awarded the UB President’s Medal that recognizes “outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community.”

The author or co-author of more than 350 technical publications and co-editor of six books, Goyal was ranked by Thompson-Reuters’ Essential Science Indicators as the most cited author worldwide in the field of high-temperature superconductivity from 1999-2009.

He is a fellow of eight professional societies: the American Association for Advancement of Science, the Materials Research Society, the American Physical Society, the World Innovation Foundation, the American Society of Metals, the Institute of Physics, the American Ceramic Society and the World Technology Network. He serves on several scientific advisory boards and on several National Academy review panels.

Elad I. Levy, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery

Portrait of Elad Levy.


Levy, professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery in the Jacobs School, is an internationally renowned expert in stroke and cerebrovascular neurosurgery, and a major contributor to the service of organized neurosurgery.

Widely regarded as one of the pioneers in this field, Levy has published extensively and developed new technology and approaches that have been instrumental in helping treat people around the world with previously incurable cerebrovascular disorders.

A member and fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Levy has achieved additional national and international prominence as one of 100 members of the American Academy of Neurosurgery and one of 12 members of the American Board of Neurosurgery.

He serves as secretary of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Stephen Tiffany, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Portrait of Stephen Tiffany.


The Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Psychology, Tiffany is world-renowned expert on the study of addictions, developing theoretical models that have shaped the way experts in the field conceptualize the relationship between craving and addictive behavior.

Actively involved in numerous clinical studies – many of which focus on nicotine – Tiffany conducts empirical research with people and animal models using a combination of controlled experimentation and more translational work.

He provided a dominant theoretical perspective on craving and its relationship to drug use with his 1990 Psychological Review paper that outlined a cognitive model of craving now referred to as the “Tiffany model.”

An extraordinarily productive and prolific researcher, Tiffany has more than 100 publications in highly prestigious journals and has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the NIH.

He has served as a standing member of three different NIH review panels and on the editorial boards of multiple journals.

A UB faculty member since 2007, Tiffany served as chair of the Department of Psychology from 2011-18.

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