Five named SUNY Distinguished Professors

Collage of UB's new SUNY Distinguished Professors, clockwise from top center, Rajan Batta, Jeremy Finn, Jim Atwood, Eckhard Krotscheck and Joseph Gardella Jr. The Suny logo feature in the top left corner.

UB's new SUNY Distinguished Professors are, clockwise from top center, Rajan Batta, Jeremy Finn, Jim Atwood, Eckhard Krotscheck and Joseph Gardella Jr.

Release Date: December 17, 2013 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Five more University at Buffalo faculty members have been appointed SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.

Named Distinguished Professors in recognition of their national or international prominence in their fields were Rajan Batta, professor of industrial and systems engineering; Jeremy Finn, professor in the Graduate School of Education; Joseph A. Gardella Jr., John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry; and Eckhard Krotscheck, professor in the Department of Physics.

Jim D. Atwood, professor of chemistry, was named a Distinguished Teaching Professor in recognition of his outstanding teaching at the graduate, undergraduate and professional levels.

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 among nine SUNY faculty members appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its Nov. 15 meeting.

A UB faculty member since 1984, Rajan Batta uses industrial engineering techniques, such as operations research, to develop and analyze mathematical models of systems critical to society. His research interests range from transportation planning and analysis of urban crime patterns to military logistics, telecommunications and homeland defense.

He has a sustained record of research funding, receiving more than $13 million in awards from federal agencies, among them the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice; local governments, including the city of Buffalo; and private industry, such as Boeing, United Airlines and Lockheed-Martin.

He has authored or co-authored 119 publications in the top journals in his field, and serves on the editorial boards of Computers and Operations Research, the Journal of Enterprise Transformation and Socio-Economic Planning Sciences. He is a department editor for IIE Transactions.

Batta is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the institute’s highest research award; the SUNY Research Foundation Award for Research and Scholarship, the Research Foundation’s highest award; and a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

He was elected a fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers in 2006.

A pioneer in the early development of software for the statistical analysis of educational data, Jeremy Finn uses quantitative research methods to study policy issues related to K-12 education. Among his research topics are the effect of class size on learning, academic performance, graduation rates and future employment.

He is a principal investigator on the largest, randomized study done on class size in American education. This landmark study, which began in 1985 and is ongoing, is assessing whether there is a link between class size and other life characteristics, such as employment and mortality rates.

He has received numerous awards, including a Spencer Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation/American Statistical Association Research Fellowship, and a 2006 UB Exceptional Scholar Award in the category of Sustained Achievement.

His work was recognized nationally by Education Leadership in 2003 as one of 11 programs of research that had “the greatest impact on education... during the past 50 years.”

Joseph A. Gardella’s 30-year career at UB has balanced excellence in research, teaching, civic engagement, public service and economic development. An expert in surface chemistry, he investigates topics relevant to the development of new materials for coatings, drug delivery and controlled release for wound healing. He also has worked with regulatory agencies and community activists to conduct studies examining the environmental impact of industrial pollutants on communities in Western New York.

Honored by the White House with the 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentorship, Gardella’s teaching and public service intersect with his work with the Buffalo Public Schools, where he directs the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), a $10 million program funded largely by the National Science Foundation aimed at improving science education in 12 Buffalo public schools.

He has received numerous honors and awards, among the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Service, and Scholarly and Creative Activity.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007.

Eckhard Krotscheck is a world renowned expert in theoretical condensed matter physics, specializing in quantum many-body theory and low temperature physics.

He is credited as one of the inventors of the Fermi hypernetted-chain theory, a method proven to be an invaluable tool in theoretical studies of strongly interacting many-body systems to quantum liquid drops, lattice spin systems and beyond. His research group also performed the first principle calculation on the structure of the film of helium-4 and the state of helium-3 in such a film.

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, he received the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal in 2007, the world's highest honor for this area of research.

SUNY officials say Krotscheck’s nomination for Distinguished Professor was supported by a list of prominent scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, four recipients of the Feenberg Memorial Medal, three winners of the London Prize and five members of the National Academy of Sciences and its international equivalents.

It has been estimated that Jim Atwood has taught 15,000 students during his 35 years at UB, ranging from students in graduate-level courses to those in the introductory level chemistry course that routinely enrolls 350 students.

A recipient of a 2003 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, he has been described by his peers and students as a “first-rate research mentor” with a“passion for teaching” and an “outstanding ability to facilitate learning in and out of the classroom.”

An outstanding graduate student mentor, he has supervised nearly 45 doctoral and master’s students toward successful completion of their degrees, all of whom moved smoothly into the workforce. His upper-level textbook, “Mechanisms of Inorganic and Organometallic Reaction,” is used widely across the discipline — further evidence of his impact on students in the field.

He is a recipient of the Jacob F. Schoellkopf Award from the Western New York Section of the American Chemical Society, as well as Alfred P. Sloan and Humboldt Research fellowships

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