Research News

Colon, Swihart named AAAS fellows


Published November 30, 2015 This content is archived.


UB researchers Luis A. Colón and Mark T. Swihart have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journals Science, Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling.

The honor is bestowed on AAAS members by their peers for their efforts to advance science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

Mark Swihart.

Mark Swihart

Luis colon.

Luis Colón

Colón was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the field of separation science and service to the profession, particularly for the mentoring efforts advancing diversity in the chemical sciences.”

Swihart was honored for “outstanding contributions in advancing fundamental understanding and practical implementation of processes for producing, functionalizing, and creatively applying inorganic nanomaterials.”

Colón, A. Conger Goodyear Professor in the Department of Chemistry, is a prolific researcher who holds eight U.S. patents and has contributed to more than 100 research publications and delivered more than 180 invited lectures on his research worldwide.

His specialty is in the field of analytical chemistry, with particular interest in separation science — the science of separating chemicals in a mixture from one another. His work ranges from the development of materials used in separation techniques to the creation of strategies for separating and analyzing complex chemical or biochemical samples.

He recently received a $490,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new materials to improve the current analytical technology used in chemical analysis — in particular the separation of chemical components in a mixture.

The proposed research will lead to a universal platform on which different separation media can be prepared, opening up possibilities for their use in specific practical applications and facilitating advances in the chemical, biological and related sciences.

Colón, who also serves as associate dean for graduate and postdoctoral education for the UB Graduate School, has been recognized with numerous awards and honors for his research, as well as for his work in mentoring and promoting diversity in STEM disciplines. Of particular note, he traveled to the White House this past June to meet President Barack Obama, who named Colón as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Since joining the UB chemistry faculty in 1993, Colón has become the quintessential mentor, advising 27 PhD students, 14 master’s students and more than 45 undergraduates. Many of these students are women or from underrepresented groups, including a number from his native Puerto Rico.

A UB faculty member since 1998, Swihart is UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and executive director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics (CMI).

An acclaimed researcher, teacher and collaborator, Swihart is co-holder of five U.S. patents, co-author of more than 150 research publications and has delivered approximately 50 invited lectures worldwide.

His research focuses on the creation of new nanomaterials with applications in optoelectronics, such as light-emitting diodes and solar cells; biomedical imaging and therapy; and diverse energy-related applications. The work is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and industry.

As CMI executive director, Swihart leads an administrative and operations team that works to advance UB’s research at the intersection of materials science and informatics, and to make that expertise more accessible and valuable to industry, particularly in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Swihart also guided the university’s diverse nanoscience and nanotechnology research, serving as director of the UB 2020 Strategic Strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems from 2007-15.

He has received numerous awards recognizing his research, including the 2013 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal, given annually by the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society; the J.B. Wagner Young Investigator Award from the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society; and the Kenneth Whitby Award from the American Association for Aerosol Research.

Since joining the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ faculty, Swihart has served as research adviser to more than 50 graduate students and more than 90 undergraduate researchers. He has been selected four times as “Professor of the Year” by undergraduates in his department and has been honored by the McNair Scholars program and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. Earlier this year, he received The President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring at UB.