Campus News

Hopkins to receive Norton Medal at UB commencement

The University Mace bearer leads the commencement procession of speakers, members of the platform party and faculty.

Three UB faculty members will receive the university's highest honors during commencement ceremonies this year. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published April 5, 2019 This content is archived.


L. Nelson Hopkins, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery who has transformed the way the medical field thinks about and treats cerebrovascular disorders, will be awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB’s highest honor, during the university’s 2019 commencement ceremonies being held May 3-19.

Amit Goyal, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor and founding director of UB’s RENEW Institute, and Amanda Nickerson, professor in the Graduate School of Education and director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, will receive the UB President’s Medal in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

Also this commencement season, SUNY honorary doctorates will be presented to four UB alumni: Julio M. Fuentes, JD ’75, senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit; Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle, BS ’81, rear admiral and commander, Nurse Corps (retired), U.S. Navy; Donald Pinkel, MD ’51, founding director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Ashutosh Sharma, PhD ’88, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is presented annually in public recognition of a person who has, in Norton’s words, “performed some great thing which is identified with Buffalo … a great civic or political act, a great book, a great work of art, a great scientific achievement or any other thing which, in itself, is truly great and ennobling, and which dignifies the performer and Buffalo in the eyes of the world.”

L. Nelson Hopkins.

L. Nelson Hopkins will receive the Norton Medal at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ commencement ceremony on May 3.

As one of the founding figures of endovascular treatment for neurovascular disorders, Hopkins has redefined the field of vascular neurosurgery in stroke management and lesion stenting. In the process, he has trained a new generation of neurosurgeons in catheter-based technology for minimally invasive neurosurgery. Hopkins’ innovations in endovascular surgery serve as the benchmark for therapeutic endovascular intervention.

An advocate of cross-specialty collaboration, Hopkins fostered the creation of UB’s Toshiba (now Canon) Stroke & Vascular Research Center. He also conceived a new way to organize the multidisciplinary treatment of vascular disease, working with experts from around the world to design the Gates Vascular Institute. Hopkins then recruited the necessary partners to bring it and the Jacobs Institute — a non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development of next-generation technologies in vascular medicine — to life.

He currently is chief scientific officer of the Jacobs Institute, after serving as chair of the Department of Neurosurgery from 1989-2013. He joined the UB faculty in 1975.

Hopkins has served on the board of directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and on the executive committee of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association. A past president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery, he is a former chairman of the scientific and annual meetings of AANS and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and of the Joint Section on Cerebrovascular Surgery.

The UB President’s Medal, first presented in 1990, 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.”

Amit Goyal.

Amit Goyal, an internationally recognized materials scientist and energy researcher, will receive the President’s Medal at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ graduate commencement ceremony on May 17.

Goyal was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2018 for his groundbreaking scientific advances and technological innovations that enabled the worldwide commercialization of high-temperature superconductors.

He joined UB in 2015 to direct RENEW, an interdisciplinary 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 with which they are connected. His leadership has placed UB at the forefront of efforts to reduce water and air pollution, and to find innovative, clean ways to produce, transmit and store energy. Prior to joining UB’s faculty, Goyal was a corporate fellow and distinguished scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Goyal has developed clean energy technologies for more than two decades. He has authored more than 350 technical publications. Thompson-Reuters’ Essential Science Indicators (ESI) and, which track global trends and performance in research, ranked him as most-cited author worldwide in the field of high-temperature superconductivity from 1999-2009. A fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, he has 87 issued patents with more than 20 patents pending.

He has received numerous accolades, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award in the inaugural category of Energy Science & Innovation, an award that the DOE secretary bestows on behalf of the president. Other key honors include TEN R&D 100 awards, which are widely regarded as the “Oscars for Innovation”; the 2010 R&D 100 Magazine’s Innovator of the Year Award; the Energy-100 Award for the finest 100 scientific accomplishments of the DOE since the department opened its doors in 1977; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technical Review TR100 Award.

An elected fellow of eight professional societies, Goyal is founder and president of a private equity-funded solar photovoltaics company, and an intellectual property holding and consulting company.

Amanda Nickerson.

Amanda Nickerson, professor in the GSE’s Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology, will receive the President’s Medal at the Graduate School of Education’s commencement ceremony on May 17.

Nickerson’s research focuses on school crisis prevention and intervention, with a particular emphasis on violence and bullying. She studies the role of schools, parents and peers in preventing violence and enhancing the social-emotional strengths of children and adolescents.

A fellow of the American Psychological Association, Nickerson has received numerous honors for her work, including the Presidential Award from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and UB’s Exceptional Scholar: Sustained Achievement Award. The author of five books and more than 95 journal articles and book chapters, she has delivered hundreds of presentations to educators and mental health professionals, nationally and internationally. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Educational Research Association, Committee for Children and New York state agencies.

Nickerson is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of School Psychology and School Psychology Review, among others, and has served as the associate editor of the Journal of School Violence. She also is coordinator of research for NASP’s Safety and Crisis Prevention Committee and served on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. She has collaborated with schools and agencies to guide them in using data to help prevent bullying and violence, and improve social-emotional and behavioral functioning.

Julio M. Fuentes.

Julio M. Fuentes has distinguished himself as a lawyer and jurist who has earned the highest degree of respect and admiration from his colleagues on the bench and in the bar. Nominated by former President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals, he is the first Hispanic judge to serve the Third Circuit. In his position, he hears appeals on criminal and civil issues arising from all district courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.

Fuentes will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate in Laws at the School of Law’s commencement ceremony on May 19.

A 1975 graduate of the School of Law, Fuentes began his legal career in private practice. He then served as a judge in the Newark Municipal Court and the New Jersey Superior Court before his unanimous confirmation to the Third Circuit in 2000. A native of Puerto Rico, he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the advancement of minority attorneys throughout his career. He works closely with his alma mater to mentor and hire UB law students; to date, he has hired seven UB law graduates as law clerks and 33 student interns, providing them with invaluable experience from a highly esteemed jurist who leads by example.

For more than a decade, he has also served the law school as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle.

During her distinguished 36-year career in the U.S. Navy’s Nurse Corps, Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle was a dedicated leader who demonstrated a sustained and purposeful commitment to the health needs of the nation and its military populations. Through her outstanding achievements and expertise in quality management, diversity management and the patient experience, McCormick-Boyle made a tremendous difference not only in Navy medicine, but in how health care is delivered to our service members across the Department of Defense.

She will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate in Science at the School of Nursing’s commencement ceremony on May 17.

A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, McCormick-Boyle credits the UB School of Nursing with preparing her to serve others with care and compassion. Her numerous career accomplishments include leading early efforts to establish Navy Medicine’s primary care model; playing a pivotal role in coordinating humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and contingency support activities; and planning and providing oversight for Navy health care and readiness missions in the air, on the sea, on the battlefield and in 16 hospitals and 189 clinics.

Her ability to leverage and lead more than 5,000 nurses and establish the Navy Nurse Professional Practice Model — which ensures that all Navy nursing personnel understand their scope of practice and professional development throughout their careers — is unprecedented.

Donald Pinkel.

Donald Pinkel, a pioneering pediatric oncologist, will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate in Science in absentia at the Jacobs School’s commencement on May 3. Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, will accept the award on Pinkel’s behalf.

Pinkel is world-renowned for developing the first curative drug treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) — the most common type of cancer in children and a disease once considered virtually untreatable. For his seminal achievements, he was honored in 1972 with the Lasker Award, often referred to as “America’s Nobel Prize.”

Pinkel also helped develop and prove the efficacy of a public health initiative that led to the formation of a supplemental food program for women and children that was adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now known as WIC, this program is widely praised as one of the nation’s most successful and cost-effective nutrition interventions.

After graduating from the Jacobs School, Pinkel began his career in pediatrics as an intern, resident and chief resident at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, now the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. While there, he developed his interest in hematology and oncology, starting the hospital’s first oncology service and clinic.

Throughout his career, he integrated clinical care and basic research protocols. He is a passionate advocate for children and a trailblazer in the research and treatment of a once-incurable disease. His groundbreaking work has enhanced not only the lives of patients with ALL, but of those with other childhood cancers and several adult malignancies as well.

Ashutosh Sharma.

One of the most distinguished scientists in India, Ashutosh Sharma will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate in Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ graduate commencement ceremony on May 17.

An internationally renowned chemical engineer, Sharma has conducted groundbreaking interdisciplinary research that has changed our understanding of thin film instabilities and self-organized micro- and nano-patterning. His work has broadly impacted fundamental and applied science and engineering, particularly in the area of nanoscience. He also helped initiate more than 20 new national programs in frontier areas of science and technology.

A professor of chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Sharma is the founding coordinator of its Center for Nanoscience and Center for Imaging. As a steadfast champion of science in service of the public good, he vigorously advocates for India’s scientific advancement, serving as a role model to young engineers aspiring to make a difference.

Beyond his numerous outstanding scholarly achievements, Sharma is strongly loyal to his alma mater. He has returned to Buffalo to lecture at UB on several occasions, and his department also implemented a new doctoral fellowship program for Indian students abroad in which UB has been a participant.