Published June 7, 2023
Twenty faculty and staff members have been named recipients of the 2023 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.
The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and the ongoing pursuit of excellence.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recognizes the work of those who engage actively in scholarly and creative pursuits beyond their teaching responsibilities. Recipients are Sherry Chemler, professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences; Erin Hatton, professor, Department of Sociology, CAS; Jennifer Read, professor and chair, Department of Psychology, CAS; Wenyao Xu, professor and associate chair, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Hao Zeng, Moti Lal Rustgi Professor, Department of Physics, CAS; and Sarah Xin Zhang, professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. Recipients are Archana Mishra, clinical professor, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School, and Luis Velarde, associate professor, Department of Chemistry, CAS.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service recognizes “the consistently superior service contributions of teaching faculty” sustained over a period of time. Recipients are Joyce Lacy, clinical associate professor, Department of Psychology, CAS, and Kristen Moore, associate professor, Department of Engineering Education, SEAS, and Department of English, CAS.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship recognizes “skill in librarianship; service to the campus, the university and to the field; scholarship and professional growth; and major professional achievements.” This year’s recipient is Nell Aronoff, librarian and liaison, Jacobs School.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” Recipients are Rebecca Bernstein, director of strategy and digital communications, University Communications; Elizabeth Fellendorf, instructional systems analyst, IT Customer Service; Kate Ferguson, senior associate dean, CAS; Sandra Flash, associate vice provost, Graduate School; Mark Schneggenburger, lead programmer/analyst, Health Sciences Information Technology; and Christine Stumm, director of registrar and enrollment services; School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service recognizes classified staff members who have consistently demonstrated superlative performance within and beyond their position. This year’s recipients are Diane Kizer, clerk 1, Office of the Registrar; Matthew Kopnak, assistant customer experience manager, Human Resources; and Darlene Robb, business manager, Student Engagement.
Nell Aronoff joined UB in 2013 as a senior assistant librarian before her promotion to associate librarian in 2019. As liaison to the Jacobs School, Aronoff has become part of the medical school’s fabric, providing critical insight and knowledge to numerous committees and constituents.
Working with colleagues in the History of Medicine Collection and University Archives, she created the digital library guide “175 Years of Medicine at UB,” an invaluable resource linking members of the university and surrounding communities to the people, places and historical collections that contribute to the institutional heritage of the Jacobs School.
Aronoff has been a part of the Curriculum Committee in the Jacobs School since she joined UB in 2013. This role has led to her inclusion in task forces related to the medical school’s curriculum redesign. She has also held numerous roles in the Medical Library Association (MLA) and the Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter of the Medical Library Association.
Identifying mentorship as a critical way to share focused knowledge and learned experiences, Aronoff and her partners on the MLA Membership Committee developed an online mentoring program to fill this need during the pandemic. She went on to co-author a paper about the program, which was published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association. In addition to this paper, Aronoff has co-authored articles in library science and medical journals. She has worked with medical researchers on systematic reviews.
Rebecca Bernstein serves as director of strategy and digital communications in University Communications, where she heads up all matters related to the web, social media and merging initiatives focused on email marketing and constituent-relations management.
Bernstein, whose expertise in her field has produced more than 100 national and international awards, is considered an “essential contributor” to numerous high-impact, highly visible projects across the university.
She provides digital communications counsel — particularly focused on the web and social media — for UC’s media relations, issues management and internal communications teams. But she also shares her expertise and best practices more broadly as a member of the Senior Communicators Council and convener of the Digital Communications Transformation (DCT) Solutions Group and Social Media Circle.
DCT, a collaborative initiative started more than a decade ago, was conceived and implemented by Bernstein. Its first phase — focused on strategy-driven content recalibration and a comprehensive website overhaul — has yielded several hundred revamped websites and more than 1,000 system users, as well as a vibrant community of web communications practitioners.
Described as an “intensely innovative and critical thinker, always pushing for optimal processes and outcomes,” Bernstein is currently leading the email transformation portion of the Constituent Relationship Management project.
She has been a member of the UB community since 1981 and director of strategy and digital communications in UC since 2015.
Sherry Chemler is a pioneering researcher who has helped make important classes of chemical reactions environmentally sustainable and cost-effective.
Chemler joined UB as an assistant professor of chemistry in 2002. She was promoted to associate professor in 2008 and full professor in 2013. She was a founding member of her department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and founded the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Prior to UB, she served as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute.
Chemler’s research focuses on organic synthesis, chemical catalysis and medicinal chemistry. Her most noteworthy contributions involve the discovery and development of copper-catalyzed reactions for saturated nitrogen and oxygen heterocycles, and she has made significant contributions to the field of asymmetric synthesis. She has published nearly 80 peer-reviewed articles, as well as several book chapters and reviews. Her papers have been cited more than 5,500 times. She’s received six external and three internal grants since arriving at UB and is currently supported by a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the NIH. In total, she’s attracted more than $5.5 million in research funding.
Chemler has been an associate editor for Science Advances since 2016 and a member of ACS’s Organic Letters advisory board since 2011. She served as a member of the NIH’s Synthetic and Biological Chemistry study section from 2013-17. Since 2004, she’s given more than 60 talks at conferences and universities around the world. She has mentored 48 undergraduate students, 34 graduate students and five postdoctoral scholars in her research group. The ACS recognized her with its prestigious Arthur. C. Cope Award for outstanding achievement in organic chemistry in 2017.
In her nearly 30-year career at UB, Elizabeth Fellendorf has been heavily involved in the rollout of key classroom technologies at the university — from EngiNet™ in the mid-90s to the ongoing transition from Blackboard to the new Brightspace learning management system. Despite the many changes to technology over the years, she has brought essential knowledge and training to faculty at every stage. Colleagues praise her for her professionalism and commitment to mastering the technology, which, in turn, inspires faculty to innovate in the classroom.
As UB transitioned to online learning during the pandemic, Fellendorf worked with many faculty members who had never taught online, providing critical support that made their transition as smooth as possible.
She played a key role in the acquisition and implementation of Zoom on campus, setting up and running the platform in seven days — university-wide. Even after the initial implementation was complete, she was instrumental in preparing training for faculty, and adjusting training as instruction methods moved to hybrid and hyflex models over the next few years.
Her knowledge, understanding of security concerns, and sensitivity make her involvement — ranging from providing training resources to live support — crucial at high-level university virtual events, such as the “Let’s Talk about Race” series and the town hall meetings of the President’s Advisory Council on Race, as well as in the virtual interview processes of the Jacobs School.
And in addition to her classroom technology responsibilities, she supports mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for 7,000 members of the UB community every year.
Katherine Ferguson has been involved in nearly every significant initiative in the College of Arts and Sciences since assuming her role as senior associate dean.
She collaborates closely with the dean and faculty to set strategy and help manage the college’s $110 million budget. As a member of the dean’s cabinet, she provides tactical advice and operational support to the office and the college’s 30 academic departments. She leads planning, communication and implementation of key strategic initiatives. And she is credited with using her skills to partner with faculty to create 17 new programs — all within just two years.
But Ferguson’s service to the university goes beyond CAS, spanning three decades at UB.
Earning her MBA and PhD at UB, Ferguson began as a graduate assistant in the School of Management. She was hired as a senior admissions adviser in the Office of Admissions in 1994; accepted the position of assistant dean and director of MBA programs in the School of Management in 1995; and, starting in 2001, served various roles in the Office of the Provost’s division of enrollment and planning, and the Academic Planning and Budget Office.
In 2007, Ferguson rejoined the School of Management as associate dean for academic programs and chief operating officer, then in 2017 accepted the position of associate dean for academic initiatives and innovation in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has served as senior associate dean in the college since 2018.
Ferguson is praised as “an exemplary role model for junior and senior staff alike.” Colleagues note that in addition to her leadership abilities, she is known for her work ethic and her enthusiastic willingness to take on projects that are both within her job description and far beyond the range of her responsibilities.
As associate vice provost for academic affairs and director of HUB and student systems support, Sandra Flash provides leadership for university-wide academic policies and procedures for UB’s undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. She oversees the offices of Academic Integrity, and Fellowships and Scholarships, as well as Graduate School student services.
She has held a wide range of positions during her 30-year career at UB, first in International Education as an international student adviser and director of study abroad programs, then as director of academic and student affairs in the School of Dental Medicine, and more recently, as associate dean of the Graduate School. She assumed her current position in 2018.
Colleagues say that over the course of her varied career, she has consistently looked for ways to enhance UB’s programmatic offerings and streamline systems while providing meaningful support for students, faculty and staff. Her work, they say, is marked by “an absolute commitment to excellence and professionalism, a strong sense of integrity, and an uncanny talent for creating efficiencies.”
In her current role, Flash has increased efficiency in the Graduate School, organizing efforts to move away from paper transactions, which has led to the automated systems for services, like degree audits, that are currently in place.
She also collaborated across offices and units to tackle critical issues related to COVID-19, providing key leadership in navigating the complicated process of communicating confirmed COVID-19 cases and implementing the vaccine requirement.
Erin Hatton is an expert on the sociology of work, labor and the political economy. Her research extends into the fields of race and gender, social inequality, culture, law and social policy.
Hatton is the author of three books, including the recently published “Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment” (University of California Press, 2020), which analyzes the labor of prisoners, welfare recipients, college athletes and graduate students to uncover a new form of labor coercion and its consequences for workers in America.
The book received the Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the American Sociological Association, Organizations, Occupations, and Work section; and was shortlisted for the Alice Amsden Book Award by the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. “Coerced” was also selected for the Newberry Library’s Labor History Big Book Event, and was named Outstanding Academic Title by Choice by the American Library Association.
She is also editor of “Labor and Punishment: Work In and Out of Prison” (UC Press, 2021), an interdisciplinary volume that examines the multiple and multi-directional intersections between the carceral state and labor in the U.S. today.
Hatton’s first book, “The Temp Economy: From Kelly Girls to Permatemps in Postwar America” (Temple University Press, 2011), won an Honorable Mention for the Distinguished Scholarly Monograph Award from the American Sociological Association’s Labor & Labor Movements Section.
A member of the UB community for more than 25 years, Diane Kizer is the main processor of continuing and re-enter student transfer coursework, keeping students informed every step of the way to ensure that their credit is available and on their record for enrollment verification and registration purposes.
Colleagues praise her for her efficiency and attention to detail, as well as her “keen ability to think through the best way to do things,” and build the trust and confidence among the professional staff that was needed to assume responsibility “for stewarding this complex and often delicate process.”
As the Office of the Registrar transitioned to a new student information system, peers say Kizer responded by seamlessly and proactively processing, adapting and streamlining administrative systems and protocols — an effort that led to an expansion in her own administrative responsibilities.
Described as a “patient, kind, team player,” Kizer is always willing to help anyone on staff who needs training and back-up support, often being among the first to volunteer to fill in on the customer service phone line. Moreover, when taking on that task, she guides students and staff through complicated questions and processes with exceptional patience.
Matthew Kopnak, a member of the UB community since 2011, is praised as a colleague who demonstrates an exemplary work ethic and the qualities of a leader, “a lead-by-example employee who works to manifest a workplace culture full of teamwork and positivity.”
Kopnak excels at customer service, consistently going above and beyond to assist university employees and provide them with a positive experience.
As an example of how he tackles new challenges, colleagues point to his onboarding responsibilities for the UB Facilities team. Kopnak welcomed the challenge, working hard to make the process his own. Moreover, he continues to support the Facilities team, troubleshooting as new concerns arise and finding the appropriate individual to resolve the issue if the task is beyond his own area of expertise.
Kopnak never turns down a task assigned to him, and often volunteers to take on new tasks so he can round out his skill set — qualities that make him ideally suited to assist UB employees with their HR matters.
Joyce Lacy is a committed and enthusiastic educator, whose love of teaching and mentoring prepares her students in the Department of Psychology for their academic and professional futures.
As her department’s inaugural diversity officer and chair of the Equity and Inclusion Committee, Lacy has played a critical role in these efforts. Accepting this role in 2020, she — along with Kenneth DeMarree, who became co-chair in 2021 — has helped the committee accomplish numerous meaningful goals. Their work included hosting underrepresented doctoral scholars as part of the Office of Inclusive Excellence’s Visiting Future Faculty Program program, creating Psychology’s Equity and Inclusion Grant Program, and developing a speaker series featuring underrepresented, early-career scholars addressing issues of inclusivity in psychology.
Lacy also plays a critical role in evaluating psychology students’ involvement in experiential learning opportunities. She serves as coordinator of the department’s internships program — revitalizing the program in 2019 — as well as the instructor for a course on applied experiences. In 2020, she founded the Western New York Undergraduate Psychology Conference, providing students a venue to share their research and network. Since the conference’s creation, more than 100 students from more than a dozen different institutions have participated as presenters. She is also the event’s primary coordinator, conducting the outreach, recruitment, scheduling and advertising, and serves as the faculty adviser for UB’s chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
An expert in critical care, pulmonary and sleep medicine, Archana Mishra is recognized for developing new, experiential teaching methods, and for a practical and scholarly emphasis on wellness in health care workers.
Known for her innovative teaching style, Mishra has developed novel methods that have proven tremendously popular and instrumental in improving trainees’ retention of medical knowledge and decision-making skills in critical care scenarios. She employs simulation and gamification, where students are playfully engaged in active problem-solving in a psychologically safe space. She has created many medically themed escape rooms, where participants work as a team to solve clinical puzzles.
Internationally recognized for her work in this area, Mishra’s publications have been featured in major journals in the field and she has been invited to present at international conferences.
An attending physician at Veterans Affairs WNY Healthcare System, she cares for critically ill patients in the intensive care unit, as well as those requiring clinical care for pulmonary and sleep issues. She has published research in the critical care field, including on treatments for COVID-19.
She helps trainees develop strategies to thrive in medical training as director of the humanism pillar of the curriculum, clerkship director for advanced medicine, and program director for wellness and advocacy for the internal medicine residency program.
Mishra has received multiple Louis A. Ruth Siegel Awards — the Jacobs School’s top teaching award. She is the recipient of the Women Leaders in Medicine award of the American Medical Student Association and the Leonard Tow Gold Humanism Award. Last year she received the school’s Award of Excellence for Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity.
Kristen R. Moore is an associate professor of technical communication with a joint appointment in the departments of Engineering Education (DEE) and English. As a specialist in writing and rhetoric with a focus in equity and inclusion, she has built an integrated, research-informed service profile while maintaining an active research profile.
Moore began working at UB in 2018, where she became a founding faculty member of DEE and the department’s first director of graduate studies. Moore worked to start up the department, including developing and proposing PhD, MS and certificate programs. She has also led policy, recruitment and professional development initiatives within the department.
In addition to engineering education programs, Moore has worked to innovate writing curricula in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2019, she collaborated with SEAS faculty member Lauren Kuryloski to develop industry-driven practices focused on regulatory writing and standards. Additionally, she helped develop a graduate-level writing program for professional engineers. Her expertise in writing has extended across both of her home departments and colleges, including the Department of English, where she spent a year as director of the Professional and Digital Communication Certificate.
Moore’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is exemplified in her work as chair of the SEAS Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee. Her work encompasses developing faculty, student and staff training; revising the school’s mission statement; collecting data regarding JEDI initiatives; developing mentoring programs; and responding to individual acts of bias and inequity. From developing JEDI-informed workshops to creating a best practice for inclusive interviewing, Moore has produced meaningful and practical resources for the SEAS community to advance their approach to equity, diversity and inclusion.
For more than 20 years, Jennifer Read has studied the causes and consequences of problematic substance use. Much of this research has focused on the intersection of trauma and substance use, with a particular emphasis on the role of alcohol in sexual assault. With her colleagues, Read has sought to understand how women’s social contexts (bars, parties, dates) may be related to risk for alcohol-involved sexual assault, and how women may leverage others within those social contexts (for example, friends) to reduce risk for sexual assault. Recently, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, Read and her colleagues have begun to translate some of their alcohol-involved assault prevention work — originally developed for college students — to military populations.
Read’s work has been funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Department of Defense and numerous private foundations. She has been chair of an NIH review panel, served on multiple editorial boards, and is on the board of directors for the Research Society on Alcohol. She currently is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
As budget and operations manager for Student Engagement for the past six years, Darlene Robb serves as the budget lead for a large, active office, where she also supervises numerous student assistants. Colleagues praise her for providing stellar customer service to her office’s on- and off-campus partners while expanding her skill set outside her current role.
Robb is held in the highest regard for her deep institutional knowledge, and is often asked by other university departments to serve on committees and provide advice and guidance on financial processes — with staff seeking out Robb for her “knowledge, wisdom and organizational skills.”
Beyond excelling in her current position, Robb consistently demonstrates flexibility and creativity in her work. As a result, her customer service skills are exemplary, she is patient and understanding with her colleagues, and she frequently looks for opportunities to keep herself and others abreast of the latest professional trends.
The dedication and talent shown by Mark Schneggenburger as a lead programmer and analyst in the Office of Medical Computing reach beyond his role in the Jacobs School.
His extensive expertise in database development has contributed to several significant software projects across the university over the 23 years Schneggenburger has worked at UB.
In the early 2000s, he developed and launched the electronic CV — eCV — serving the Jacobs School, School of Dental Medicine and School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was able to use his experience with eCV to develop UBProfile, a newer, more modern system that is used to collect data for faculty’s public “face” sites, as well as other tools used by multiple schools on campus.
Schneggenburger is credited for his role in development of UBMobileMed, a custom-developed website currently used to maintain all of the Jacobs School web calendars. He also works with medical admissions to digitally communicate with the national online medical admissions evaluation and tracking program.
Schneggenburger began working in the Health Sciences IT group of the Jacobs School in 1999 and in the Office of Medical Computing in 2000.
He is acknowledged for his “history of leadership in creating innovative solutions” and for displaying “a quality of work that reflects his high professional standards.”
As director of registrar and enrollment services in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Christine Stumm is described as an “indispensable” part of the school.
A UB alumna, Stumm completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in higher education administration before joining the school in 2006 as an admissions adviser and staff assistant. She quickly advanced, becoming assistant director of admissions in 2009; registrar and senior associate director of admissions and advisement in 2012; and director of registrar and enrollment services in February.
From managing course scheduling and logistics to monitoring registration and degree progress to tracking students, Stumm plays an important role in the day-to-day functions and long-term success of the school — and its students. In fact, it was her dedication to the needs of students that prompted the school to create the role of registrar to manage student services.
Equally time consuming is her work in admissions and advisement, where she developed a new process for reviewing applications; tracks participants’ involvement in online application reviews and interviews; and manages the web content for applications, ensuring that prospective students can clearly understand the requirements and follow the process through to enrollment. She’s also involved with coordinating events, including orientation, the White Coat Ceremony and the Pharmacy Summer Institute. Her work in advisement and mentorship has helped create a holistic ecosystem that allows students to engage with individuals at all stages, from application to career success.
Described by a colleague as the “glue” that holds together the school’s Office of Admissions, Enrollment Planning and Advising, Stumm balances the high volume of admissions and student registration work with “grace under pressure” while always maintaining a “cheerful and helpful demeanor.”
Luis Velarde is known for his exemplary teaching skills, engaging mentorship and work with K-12 students and teachers in the Buffalo Public Schools and beyond.
Velarde joined UB in 2013 as an assistant professor and became an associate professor in 2019. He quickly took on a substantial amount of work developing courses in general and physical chemistry, as well as new interdisciplinary courses in materials science.
Velarde’s robust research portfolio includes grants from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Within the past five years, he has been awarded five different federal research grants as principal investigator or co-principal investigator, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award.
Described as a deeply knowledgeable professor who teaches in the way that only someone who truly enjoys a subject can, Velarde is praised by students and faculty for his ability to explain complex problems in an accessible way. His mentorship has had a profound impact on students at all stages of their education, and many have gone on to careers in the field. He has served on the PhD committees of over 70 graduate students at UB and the University of Rochester, and has written approximately 200 recommendation letters since 2014.
Velarde was selected as a 2022-23 recipient of the Mid-American Conference Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success.
Velarde’s mentorship extends to K-12 teachers and students. His work with the NSF-funded Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership focuses on the advancement of science education in high-need schools. He has also helped organize the Science and Engineering Exploration Day for the Buffalo Public Schools and he has instructed second-graders for a Science is Elementary program.
Wenyao Xu has earned international recognition for his scholarship in mobile computing and the Internet of Things, including, according to one of his peers, “novel and significant research contributions in understanding and optimizing computer systems.”
Immediately after earning a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, Xu joined UB’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering as an assistant professor in 2013. Quickly rising in the ranks, he was promoted to associate professor in 2018 and professor in 2022.
An exceptional scholar, Xu focuses on wireless and mobile sensing. He, along with his team, delve into the realm of wireless sensing systems — research that has significant implications in digital health, advanced manufacturing, surveillance and public safety.
To date, Xu has published two book chapters, 116 journal papers and 122 peer-reviewed conference papers on a wide range of topics, including computer systems, digital health and cybersecurity. His work has received multiple accolades from relevant research communities, including several Best Paper Awards from prestigious computer science conferences and engineering journals. Since joining UB, he has garnered a remarkable funding record, securing over 28 research grants totaling more than $14 million from such entities as the NSF, the NIH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
A dedicated mentor, Xu regularly engages in SUNY and UB undergraduate research training programs that benefit minority students, including initiatives like UB LSAMP, CLIMB, SHPE and iSEED. He has guided more than 80 undergraduate student researchers from various backgrounds and has devised a new course to introduce research methods and topics to UB undergraduates. During his career, Xu has advised one postdoctoral researcher and 12 PhD students.
Hao Zeng has distinguished himself as an international leader in materials science and physics, with pioneering work in magnetic nanoparticles, data storage and permanent magnets.
Zeng joined UB in 2004 as an assistant professor working in nanomaterials and nanoscale sciences. He quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and professor in 2014.
An experimentalist focusing on combining physics and chemistry to produce materials on the nanometer scale for various applications, Zeng has led research in novel magnetic nanostructures, 2D materials and chalcogenide semiconductors. He’s published 150 articles and his research has received more than 20,000 citations, according to Google Scholar. He’s also published several book chapters and holds two patents.
Throughout his academic career at UB, Zeng has been funded by the NSF, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the SUNY Applied Materials Research Institute. He has received approximately $6 million in total grants as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator, including a prestigious NSF CAREER award in 2006.
Zeng is an editor of the Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, and serves on the membership committee for the American Physical Society. He also organized symposia for the Materials Research Society and the American Physical Society, and has delivered numerous invited talks for the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society and the American Chemical Society.
A dedicated teacher and mentor, Zeng has graduated two master’s and 11 PhD students. He’s supervised more than 20 visiting scholars and five postdoctoral fellows, and his research group includes four PhD students. Zeng has mentored more than 25 UB undergraduates, including Fulbright, McNair and UB Presidential Scholars, as well as recipients of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.
An international leader in the field of diabetic retinopathy research, Sarah Xin Zhang conducts innovative, impactful translational studies on the retina and retinal disease in diabetes.
Zhang has attracted more than $12 million in competitive research grants and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2010. She is principal investigator on two NIH grants to continue her studies on endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and diabetic retinopathy. Her work is also funded by the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
She is internationally renowned for exploring the contribution of the unfolded protein response in the disease pathology of diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and neurodegeneration in glaucoma. Her seminal work continues to have potential clinical applications, particularly in targeting ER stress to prevent and treat neuronal degeneration in the retina.
She and her colleagues are also studying the detrimental effects of smoking on retinal cells. They recently identified novel, neuroprotective factors for retinal neurons.
Zhang is associate editor for Frontiers In Genetics/Genetics of Aging and a guest editor for a special issue of Cells focused on inflammation in retinal diseases. She was named a Gold Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and has served as a standing member on study sections for the NIH National Eye Institute and the American Diabetes Association Grant Review Panel.
Zhang trains master’s degree and PhD students in UB’s neuroscience, biochemistry and biological science programs. Her trainees have presented their research at national and international meetings, been awarded travel grants and won awards for poster presentations.