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18 UB faculty, staff receive SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

By UB REPORTER STAFF

Published June 13, 2016

Eight faculty members and 10 staff members have been named recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for 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 Mark Frank, professor and chair, Department of Communication; Jeffrey Errington, professor and associate dean for undergraduate education, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Hui Meng, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Chang Wen Chen, professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and Jeffrey Lackner, professor, Department of Medicine.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. Recipients are Katharina Dittmar, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, and Mark Bartholomew, professor, School of Law.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level by adjunct faculty members. UB’s recipient is Paul Schifferle, adjunct instructor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” Recipients are David Costello, director of information technology and assistant dean, School of Management; Elizabeth Harding, executive director for resource management, Department of Medicine; Christina Hernandez, senior associate vice provost for administration and finance, Office of Academic Affairs; Kara Saunders, university registrar; Roberta Sullivan, online learning specialist and instructional designer, Center for Educational Innovation; Radhika Suresh, assistant dean for enrollment management, Graduate School of Education; and Cheryl Williams, human resource officer, University Libraries.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service recognizes classified staff members who have consistently demonstrated superlative performance within and beyond their position. Recipients are Barbara Hammer, cleaner, University Facilities-Campus Operations; Carol Lennox, janitor, University Facilities-Campus Operations; and Mary O’Brien, graduate coordinator, Department of Political Science.

Mark Bartholomew is an internationally renowned scholar of intellectual property — particularly in the areas of copyright, trademark and rights of publicity — who also is highly regarded as an outstanding educator. He has consistently received among the highest student evaluation ratings for faculty in the School of Law since he began teaching there in 2006, with students regularly praising his knowledge, organization, clarity and enthusiasm.

An innovator in the classroom, he uses technology to enrich his classes, acquaint students with emerging issues in his field and improve feedback, while also developing students’ professional skills and practical judgment. He has been cited in particular for his effective use of internet resources to make students aware of new issues in intellectual property.

Renowned as a curricular innovator as well, Bartholomew is co-principal investigator on two successive grants totaling $2.6 million from the National Science Foundation, awarded for the  development of a new, cutting-edge cybersecurity curriculum in collaboration with colleagues from the schools of Engineering and Management, and the Department of Mathematics.

Described by colleagues as “among the most highly respected leaders in the international image and video processing community, Chang Wen Chen was recruited to UB in 2008 under the New York Empire Innovation program.

His sustained research output has resulted in many important and seminal contributions over the years across several areas, including digital image, video and multimedia analysis, coding and transmission. In recent years, his research has expanded into contemporary applications, such as social media and smartphone video.

He was the first person to apply mathematical and continuous mechanics models for analyzing complex cardiac motions based on 3-D and 4-D CT and MR images. This work has opened up a new research avenue in image-based cardiac motion analysis based on surface descriptions of the left ventricle.

A prolific scholar and fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineers, Chen has garnered a total of approximately $10 million to date in external research funding from both federal and industry sources.

As director of information technology and assistant dean in the School of Management, David Costello’s responsibilities include classroom support, project management for all major technology-based projects for the school and facilities management for both of the school’s buildings. He joined the School of Management in 1997 and with a staff of five supports and maintains the school’s infrastructure of more than 450 computers, 13 technology-equipped classrooms and a 30-workstation student computer lab with nine student lab consultants.

Directly responsible for multiple databases that support critical school operations, Costello oversees all applications contributing to the functionality of the school’s website and its business processes for faculty and staff. More broadly, he formulates IT strategy for the school and leads its efforts in evaluating new technologies and network security protocols.

He is co-chair of the school’s digital communications committee and serves as a liaison to UB’s central IT directors and the CIO. He also served as project manager for the largest facilities expansion project undertaken in the School of Management in the past decade: the new Undergraduate Learning and Community Center, which features three state-of-the-art classrooms and learning hubs. Under his leadership, the project was completed earlier than its original target date.

Praised by colleagues as a talented instructor whose dedication to teaching has led her to become one of the most innovative instructors at UB, Katharina Dittmar is focused on developing her students’ ability to conceptualize, rather than memorize, the material she presents.

A UB faculty member since 2007, Dittmar served as a member of a committee charged with revamping the biology department’s first-semester biology course, “Evolutionary Biology” (BIO 200). She was instrumental in implementing a restructured format for students that incorporated more experiments, more data collection and more basic data analysis into the class labs. This work led to a lab-focused software design project that attracted three different teaching-based grants, including a nearly $250,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

As co-principal investigator on the NSF grant, her work secured funding to professionalize and expand the software developed for BIO 200 called Pop!World, which is now the centerpiece of the BIO 200 lab on population genetics. Dittmar was also PI on two SUNY Innovation Instructional Technology Grants that have focused on developing a virtual teaching environment for Pop!World.

Jeffrey Errington, who joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2001, is regarded as one of the premier practitioners of molecular simulation in his field. He has made significant contributions to molecular modeling methods and simulations that have resulted in important advances in the understanding of numerous physical phenomena, including wetting, protein absorption, the phase behavior of ionic liquids and properties of asphaltenes.

Errington is known in particular for developing and advancing the “Transition-Matrix Monte Carlo” (TMMC) method that is widely used by molecular modeling practitioners around the world.

A prolific researcher, he has published 86 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including many in the most prestigious journals of his field, such as the Journal of Chemical Physics, Physical Review Letters, Nature and Langmuir. Since 2010, his research has received more than $1.25 million in funding, including three substantial grants from the National Science Foundation.

Among his numerous honors are the 2013 Impact Award from the Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and a 2003 NSF CAREER Award.

Mark Frank is an internationally recognized expert on human nonverbal communications, emotion and deception whose work has led to new breakthroughs in detecting deceitful behavior. Frank’s work has greatly impacted how police interviews, as well as airport and customs checkpoints, are conducted around the world.

The author of numerous publications, including two edited books, Frank has published his work in many of the top journals in social science, including Nature, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Law and Human Behavior. His research has received more than $5 million in funding from top federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. He also is a co-owner of a patent for a software program that reads facial expressions. His work has enabled him to work closely with almost all U.S. federal agencies, and he has presented briefings on deception and counter-terrorism to Congress, as well as the National Academies of Science.

A UB faculty member since 2005, Frank founded and directs the Communication Science Center at UB, which conducts research to gain a better understanding of nonverbal communication in today’s world.

A UB employee for more than six years, Barbara Hammer is highly regarded by faculty and staff for her dependability, productivity and attention to special concerns or issues related to building maintenance and cleaning.

In addition to her daily cleaning responsibilities, co-workers praise Hammer for going above and beyond her typical duties to ensure work spaces, as well as high-traffic areas, are immaculate. She also is well-known for ensuring her building is both clean and safe, not only for the occupants, but for students and visitors as well by performing such tasks as washing windows on a weekly basis and shoveling snow-covered walkways and entrances during inclement weather.

Hammer was noted for being particularly diligent during a months-long construction and renovation project in Clemens Hall, ensuring the building and hallways remained clear of debris and dirt.

As executive director for resource management in the largest department in the UB medical school, Elizabeth Harding provides administrative support to division chiefs, vice chairs and chair in the Department of Medicine. Her responsibilities also include managing academic finances, including sponsored research; directing the implementation of departmental strategic plans by managing the recruitment of faculty and staff; and providing guidance and training to staff.

She started her career at UB as assistant to the dean of the School of Dental Medicine, where she acted as a liaison between the school and the personnel and payroll departments, as well as a reviewer and monitor for budget reports. She also worked in the Office of Financial Management in the School of Management and in the Department of Ophthalmology in the medical school before joining the Department of Medicine in 2001 as a senior staff assistant. She assumed her current position in 2007.

A UB staff member since 2001, Christina Hernandez assumed her current position in the Office of Academic Affairs in 2010, responsible for managing all financial, facility and human resources for the unit.

Hernandez has played a vital role in numerous university-wide initiatives. She served as a key member of the project team that implemented the HUB, UB’s student information system, and made significant contributions to the Finish in 4 program and to the creation of the Office of Enrollment Management.

She facilitated an agreement to pilot an e-portfolio for UB Curriculum, the revamped general education program, and has been integral to the renovation and reorganization of core student services and academic learning spaces — in particular the “Heart of the Campus” project.

Hernandez also has been a critical participant in the early stages of organizing the personnel and physical infrastructure for the Blackstone Foundation LaunchPad program, developing a staffing model that has become the preferred model among institutions participating in the Blackstone program.

Jeffrey Lackner is considered one of the leading authorities of irritable bowel syndrome. A UB faculty member since 1995, Lackner directs UB’s Behavioral Medicine Clinic, whose research arm focuses primarily on developing and testing non-drug treatments for IBS. His innovative, scientific rigorous and impactful research has received continuous NIH funding of approximately $14 million since 1999. 

In 2008, he received the largest clinical trial ever awarded UB. The trial is designed to test the efficacy of a brief, behavioral self-management treatment relative to a clinic-based behavioral treatment. Since then, he has received additional funding to understand the biological basis for why behaviorally treated patients improve GI symptoms by applying neuroimaging and microbiome analytic techniques.

His research on the biopsychosocial aspects of IBS has helped unravel the mystery of one of the most common GI disorders seen by gastroenterologists and primary care physicians by showing how central (brain) factors not only aggravate GI symptoms, but can be effectively and efficiently harnessed in a way that brings health and well-being to millions of patients for whom drugs and dietary options are an unsatisfactory option.

A janitor at UB for more than 31 years, Carol Lennox is praised by faculty and staff for her welcoming and friendly attitude, dedicated and meticulous work, and willingness to go beyond the scope of her day-to-day responsibilities. She is focused on the health and safety of the students, staff and visitors to the UB buildings to which she is assigned, and frequently addresses personally such safety concerns as a broken elevator and buckled flooring.

Her resourcefulness in researching a way to clean dry erase boards that had been considered unusable saved one department thousands of dollars. She also provided additional cleaning before an on-site visit by an accreditation review team, ensuring the areas were impeccable.

On another occasion, she came to the aid of a person who had fallen in a stairwell, calling for help and staying with the person until emergency personnel arrived.

Hui Meng is an internationally renowned expert and leader in two distinct fields: experimental fluid mechanics and cerebral aneurysm and hemodynamics. Originally recruited to UB to join the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1999, she also was named a research professor in the Department of Neurosurgery in 2004 and adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2010 so that she could pursue work that would have a more direct impact on improving human health. Since then, she has made what colleagues in the biomedical sciences call “significant and profound” contributions in cerebral aneurysm research, in addition to continuing groundbreaking work in her original scholarly field of experimental fluid mechanics and turbulence.

Meng’s work in the biomedical engineering field has provided the foundation for efforts to improve diagnostics, early detection, surgical management and treatment of brain aneurysms, and is credited by colleagues with opening new pathways to improving minimally invasive treatments, such as flow-modification therapies.

She also has leveraged her cross-disciplinary training in optics and mechanical engineering to pioneer the development of volumetric whole-field measurement of turbulent flow using holography, which has significantly advanced our ability to understand, model and control turbulent and other complex flows.

Meng’s research has received more than $17 million in funding from major national organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Coordinator of the Graduate Programs in the Department of Political Science for more than five years, Mary O’Brien is considered the key person to whom faculty, staff and students within the department look to for assistance and solutions. She is well-known for her expertise regarding the department’s graduate programs and all relevant UB and SUNY policies that may impact students, and for her broad knowledge of the department in general.

Her duties vary widely, ranging from such tasks as keeping track of graduate program policies, updating a website, coordinating departmental events, assisting in faculty and staff job searches, training new staff members, researching the feasibility of repairing a department printer, gathering data for the department chair and assisting in dossier preparations.

She also helps cover vacant positions — within her department and outside it as well  — filling in as undergraduate coordinator for eight semesters and twice attending to essential graduate program tasks in the Department of History.

University registrar since 2010, Kara Saunders’ responsibilities range from oversight of the minute details of each individual student’s record to seating the thousands of courses offered at UB each semester.

She oversees a broad array of vital academic duties, including certifying student degrees, protecting the privacy of student records, upholding the university calendar, determining student standing and exceptions, and serving as the legal custodian of all student records, current and past.

Saunders has played a substantial role in the creation and implementation of the UB Curriculum, as well as in a number of other key university-wide educational initiatives, among them the MyUB portal, the HUB student information system and implementation of the new Winter Session.

A UB alumnus — BS ’88, aerospace engineering, and MS’04, mechanical engineering, Paul Schifferle has served the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as an adjunct instructor since 2002. With nearly three decades of industry experience — including working for the past 19 years at Calspan Aerospace, where he currently is senior director of programs — Schifferle draws upon his professional experience to provide his students with what colleagues call a “unique ability to bridge real-world applications to well-understood and meaningful classroom experiences.”

Since 2010, he has been the primary instructor of two courses in MAE: the sophomore-level Introduction to Aerospace Engineering Practice (MAE278) and the senior-level, capstone course Aircraft Design (MAE434). It is estimated he has taught more than 1,000 students over the course of his career at UB thus far, and his student evaluation ratings are consistently higher than the average for SEAS faculty.

Online learning specialist and instructional designer at UB’s Center for Educational Innovation, Roberta (Robin) Sullivan has been responsible for researching innovative digital pedagogy and implementing new and experimental teaching and learning methodologies since 1998.

She uses online resources and a variety of professional development opportunities to assist faculty in integrating emerging technology tools into their instruction, helping to facilitate a university-wide culture of exploration and dialogue around online education and collaboration.

She conceived, developed and implemented the Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP), an on-demand Discovery Learning Professional Development program that encourages faculty and staff to explore and reflect on innovative and creative uses of freely available online instructional technologies. Launched in 2012, TOEP has expanded far beyond the UB campus, with more than 1,000 faculty and staff from more than a third of the 64 SUNY campuses taking part in the program to date. The project was recognized recently with a SUNY Faculty Advisory Council on Teaching and Technology (FACT2) Excellence in Instructional Support Award.

Sullivan assists in promoting UB’s Online Learning Collaborative (OLC) — a group devoted to systematizing support for online learning at UB — which served as a catalyst for founding the Center for Educational Innovation to further advance online learning at the university. She will be the key resource for the UB community regarding implementation of the new ePortfolio initiative.

Radhika Suresh joined the staff of the Graduate School of Education in 2002 as the school’s first director of graduate admissions and student services. Named assistant dean for enrollment management in 2008, she leads the school’s enrollment management function, managing the centralized admissions process for GSE’s four academic departments and more than 90 degree programs, as well as recruitment, reporting and analyzing enrollment data, and student services.

Suresh works closely with faculty, faculty committees and the GSE dean on formulating and implementing student enrollment policy in order to facilitate data-driven enrollment decision-making. While striving to meet enrollment targets, she has worked to establish programmatic and administrative changes that advance the GSE, as well as introduce new initiatives to increase the applicant pool and yield of matriculated students to meet departmental and institutional goals.

Suresh also oversees communications and services to newly accepted students, implementing such functions as an ambassador program, a structured email campaign and personal electronic correspondence from the admissions staff to increase the school’s yield.

As human resources officer for the UB Libraries since 2009, Cheryl Williams plans, develops, implements and administers the libraries’ personnel and human resources management functions. As the libraries’ UBJobs hiring manager, Williams is responsible for implementing best practices throughout the recruitment process and ensuring compliance with established policies, procedures and regulatory guidelines, as well as federal, state and local employment laws.

She is credited with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of workflow in the libraries’ Human Resources Office by introducing more technology, upgrading staff training, streamlining processes and procedures, restructuring data and record maintenance, and creating HR content for the libraries’ internal website.

In addition, she helped lead the libraries’ strategic planning process and was critical in preparing staff to take part in the planning process.