Undergraduate Education creates scholarship coordinator role

University at Buffalo students have received Marshall, Fulbright, Goldwater and other prestigious scholarships in the past year.

UB hopes to build on that success, which is why the Office of Undergraduate Education recently appointed Elizabeth Colucci as coordinator of nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships.

Colucci was formerly an assistant director of the Honors College, a job that included helping students write scholarship applications. In her new role, Colucci will focus on building programs that raise the number of UB undergraduate and graduate national award winners.

“We want to find students with a spark of something special so they can learn about fellowships and scholarships early in their career,” says Colucci. “If they can make wise choices about how to spend their summers and become more competitive, our students can put themselves in strong positions to apply.”

In the past year, UB students have been awarded a Marshall Scholarship, the university’s first in 25 years and second overall, and two Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, along with two honorable mentions, two National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowships, two Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships and one full Fulbright grant.

“We’ve had some tremendous successes with students competing for nationally recognized awards, largely through Elizabeth’s leadership,” says Mara Huber, associate dean for undergraduate education, undergraduate research and experiential learning.

“Through this expanded position and also our new undergraduate suite at 24 Capen Hall, students will now have access to more support along with expanded experiential learning opportunities,” she said. “Since virtually every competitive fellowship and scholarship requires extensive learning outside the classroom, striving for these awards can help students further their academic goals while supporting their individual interests and passions.”

To further support student participation in experiential learning, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) will be reorganized under the Office of Undergraduate Education. Tim Tryjankowski serves as director of CURCA, which connects students with mentored research opportunities and funding.

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UB launches new Department of Materials Design and Innovation

UB has launched the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, a forward-leaning, interdisciplinary initiative that will address regional and national demand for new materials that accelerate research and education in advanced manufacturing and biotechnology.

A collaborative effort between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences, the new department will build on UB’s existing research expertise to discover, develop and bring to market new materials that are critical to the economic security of the region, nation and world.

The department will strongly emphasize the use of advanced computational tools, in conjunction with bench science, to hasten the time it takes to discover and commercialize new materials, as well as reduce the cost to develop them. It also will train future generations of materials scientists and engineers to be more efficient in developing new materials solutions to real-world problems.

These goals match those of the White House’s Materials Genome Initiative, which says it can take 10 to 20 years to utilize new materials in commercial products. The White House wants to reduce the cycle to two or three years. They also align with various state programs that aim to boost economic development in Western New York and beyond.

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Fiebelkorn honored for community service

Karl D. Fiebelkorn, associate professor of pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is the recipient of the 2014 Bowl of Hygeia Award for outstanding community service.

The award is sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, with support from Boehringer Ingelheim.

Established in 1958, the Bowl of Hygeia is the most widely recognized international symbol for the pharmacy profession and is considered one of the profession’s most prestigious awards.

It recognizes pharmacists who possess outstanding records of civic leadership in their communities and encourages pharmacists to take active roles in the affairs of their respective communities.

Fiebelkorn, who also serves as ssociate dean for student affairs and professional relations in the UB pharmacy school, has a long history of volunteerism and community service.

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UB-led health care team to help Jamaica fight HIV, HCV

University at Buffalo faculty, together with Buffalo business leaders, visited Jamaica to conduct foundational meetings with the Jamaica Ministry of Health to collaborate on developing programs for Jamaica in the study and treatment of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV).

The UB team is led by Charles L. Anderson, MD, and Gene D. Morse, PharmD, UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The first step on which UB, Buffalo businesses and Jamaica will collaborate is the planned transition from a regional hospital system with paper medical records to a national electronic medical record system. This effort will blend with the initiatives that are ongoing at the Patient Safety Organization (PSO) located in UB’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

Why electronic medical records? And why now?

This transition will help Jamaica streamline record keeping which is a key objective in its fight against HIV and HCV. According to the Jamaican Information Service (JIS), 32,000 people are living with HIV and as many as 50 percent are unaware that they have the disease.

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Visual studies renamed Department of Art

The University at Buffalo’s Department of Visual Arts was recently renamed the Department of Art. The change, officially approved by President Satish Tripathi on May 30, went into effect immediately.

The department houses three undergraduate programs, including bachelor degrees in fine art, studio art and art history. No changes have been made to the degree programs. To learn more about the department and its programs, visit the department website: www.art.buffalo.edu.

Old antibiotic may be the key to fighting ‘superbugs’

Scientists at the University at Buffalo are turning to an old class of antibiotics to fight new superbugs resistant to modern medicine.

A $4.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow UB researchers to develop new dosing regimens for polymyxin antibiotics.

Developed more than 50 years ago, polymyxins were not subject to modern antibiotic drug development standards. And they have proved to be toxic to both the kidneys and nervous system.

But they’re also effective against superbugs such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and other gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to all current antibiotics and which can cause a variety of diseases, ranging from pneumonia and other respiratory infections, to serious blood or wound infections.

The grant is the largest NIH grant in the history of the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the largest active R01 at UB and among departments of clinical pharmacy in the U.S. The research is led by Brian Tsuji, PharmD, associate professor and director of clinical research in the Department of Pharmacy Practice.

The aim of the project is to evaluate novel dosing regimens for polymyxin combinations to maximize antibacterial activity and to minimize the emergence of resistance and toxicity, says Tsuji, principal investigator on the grant.
Tsuji and his team will then translate this knowledge back to the bedside by proposing new, optimal regimens that can be utilized by patients.

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Detail-oriented, inquisitive students should consider pharmaceutical sciences

Have you ever had a student come into your office who is strong in math and the sciences, but cringes at the suggestion of working directly with patients? Or maybe the student is detail-oriented, inquisitive, and more interested in how drugs work rather than administering them to patients. This is the type of student who may want to learn more about the pharmaceutical sciences.

The pharmaceutical sciences program at UB is structurally a basic science program (like biochemistry, biology, etc.), but it offers a unique interdisciplinary field of study which seeks to achieve better understanding and control of the factors influencing clinical response to drug therapy. While the PharmD degree requires a minimum of two years of undergraduate study followed by four years of pharmacy studies to become a pharmacist, students have the opportunity to pursue a career as a research scientist by obtaining various pharmaceutical sciences degrees: Bachelor of Science (4 years); Master of Science (BS + 2-3 years); combined BS/MS (5 years); or Ph.D. (BS + 5-6 years).

Pharmaceutical scientists are involved in all areas of drug discovery and development research. Simply put, they are interested in learning how drugs affect the body – how they move and are absorbed, how genetic factors play a role, and how dosages are defined. All students in the major undertake an undergraduate research project. This research could be lab-based, analysis of computer data, or literature review. This important and unique feature of the program at UB is noteworthy, as graduates with scientific research experiences are sought-after by prospective employers.

If you or your students would like to learn more about the field, please feel free to contact Sara Robinson, academic advisor and assistant director of admissions and advisement for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, by email (smeskill@buffalo.edu) or by calling 716-645-2825 (option 1). You can also visit us on the web to learn more about the overview and history of the program and potential careers.

School of Architecture and Planning staff available to meet with school counselors

Did you know that the professions of architecture and environmental design have undergone big changes in the last five years, and promise to undergo even bigger changes in the next ten? As a person who advises students who are considering architecture and related majors, you might be interested in knowing more about these developments.

Faculty and staff from UB’s School of Architecture and Planning are available to meet with school counselors, faculty members and students to discuss advances in architecture and environmental design professions; new career options in these fields; recent developments in the path to architectural licensure; high school preparation for the design professions; or any other architectural topics of interest.

To schedule a meeting – either in person or via skype – please contact R.J. Multari, assistant dean and adjunct assistant professor of urban planning, at 716-829-3482 x4 or multari@buffalo.edu.

For more information on UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, visit us online at http://ap.buffalo.edu/

UB named to list of top colleges graduating students with lowest debt

UB has been named to Kiplinger’s 2014 list of the 10 best public colleges whose students have the lowest debt at graduation.

UB was ranked at No. 3 with an average student debt at graduation of $16,025, and a UB program designed to help students finish their degrees in a timely fashion received mention for helping students to keep debt low.

“The school’s ‘Finish in 4’ program focuses on helping students graduate on time and avoid the expense of an additional year,” the editors write. “Incoming freshmen work with an adviser to craft a four-year plan and pledge to fulfill a list of obligations — including limiting work to less than 20 hours per week and completing tasks such as course registration and financial aid forms on time.

“If a student meets these commitments but still doesn’t graduate in four years, UB will waive tuition and fees for any remaining coursework.”

The list of the 10 best public colleges with the lowest debt at graduation is available on Kiplinger’s website.

Schools were ranked on academic quality, as well as the financial support provided to get students to graduation day. Schools were chosen from Kiplinger’s 2014 list of the best values in public colleges, which ranked nearly 600 colleges and universities based on academics, cost and financial aid. UB is No. 51 on that list.

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UB Launches Major Research Effort to Address Environmental Issues

The University at Buffalo has announced the launch of RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water), an ambitious, university-wide, interdisciplinary research institute that will focus on the most difficult and complex environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are intertwined.

One of the most expansive initiatives launched in recent years by the university, RENEW will harness the expertise of more than 100 faculty across the university, with the goal of hiring 20 more outstanding faculty with expertise in such areas as aquatic ecology, pollution law, behavioral economics, environmental planning, community health and energy/environmental systems.

The RENEW Institute will place UB at the forefront of environmental and energy research focused on sustainability, climate change and natural resources, said UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski. The initiative will build upon faculty strength across six UB schools and colleges. It will receive up to $15 million in university funding over the next five years to hire faculty and develop new academic programs for students.

“This is what great research universities do. We bring together the best minds to address timely topics and solve problems,” Zukoski said.

“One of the most urgent challenges faced by humankind is finding ways to sustain human existence while adapting to climate change and the evolving needs for energy and fresh water,” he added.

RENEW, Zukoski said, evolved from the UB 2020 plan to position the university as one of the world’s leading universities by investing in and harnessing UB’s research strengths to bring positive changes to the world.

Environmental problems, he noted, are of particular concern in Western New York, which is surrounded by water, including two Great Lakes, and a legacy of early industrialization.

An international search for a world-class scholar and researcher to direct the institute is underway, said Alexander N. Cartwright, UB vice president for research and economic development.

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