UB receives ‘Best of Green Schools’ honor

The University at Buffalo’s engagement with partner organizations to restore and preserve Western New York’s natural environment has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council’s Center for Green Schools named UB one of the 2014 “Best of Green Schools” recipients. The awards recognize 10 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing national leaders and innovators in school sustainability.

UB received its award under the “collaboration” category for work that began nearly 10 years ago and continues today to build cohesion among Western New York’s environmental organizations.

“The students, faculty and staff at the University at Buffalo are committed to promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship on and off campus. We are honored to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for our collective efforts,” said Dennis Black, vice president for university life and services.

The council cited UB’s work with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (CFGB) on a host of initiatives including developing “Our Shared Agenda for Action,” a 485-page document that emphasizes collaboration while promoting smart growth policies, energy and climate change initiatives, the protection and preservation of natural resources and other environmental issues in Western New York.

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UB named “Best College Value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

The University at Buffalo was named a “Best College Value” for 2015 in rankings released by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in December.

The rankings are intended to show which schools are providing a quality education at an affordable price.

UB ranked 45th among public colleges nationwide, when considering the school’s in-state tuition, and 62nd when considering out-of-state tuition. The in-state ranking was an improvement of six spaces over 2014.

To see the rankings and learn more about the methodology, visit http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-public-colleges/index.php. 

Massive study provides detailed look at how Greenland’s ice is vanishing

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-largest body of ice on Earth.

It covers an area about five times the size of New York State and Kansas combined, and if it melts completely, oceans could rise by 20 feet. Coastal communities from Florida to Bangladesh would suffer extensive damage.

Now, a new study is revealing just how little we understand this northern behemoth.

Led by geophysicist Beata Csatho, PhD, an associate professor of geology at the University at Buffalo, the research provides what the authors think is the first comprehensive picture of how Greenland’s ice is vanishing.

It suggests that current ice sheet modeling studies are too simplistic to accurately predict the future contributions of the entire Greenland Ice Sheet to sea level rise, and that Greenland may lose ice more rapidly in the near future than previously thought.

“The great importance of our data is that for the first time, we have a comprehensive picture of how all of Greenland’s glaciers have changed over the past decade,” Csatho says.

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UB’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter honored among world’s best

The School of Management’s Beta Alpha Psi once again was recognized as one of the best chapters in the world, accepting several special awards at the organization’s annual meeting held earlier this year.

Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) is an international honor organization for financial information students and professionals, with more than 300,000 members initiated since its founding in 1919.

For the sixth consecutive year, UB’s Zeta Theta chapter received the KPMG Gold Chapter award, given this year to only 15 chapters out of more than 300 worldwide. The honor recognizes innovative chapters that develop engaging, inventive programming for members and continually exemplify the highest values of BAP: leadership, scholastic success, lifelong learning and development, service and ethical behavior.

“The chapter is thrilled and honored to be one of only two chapters worldwide that have received the award every year it has been given out,” says Kathleen Nesper, assistant professor of accounting and law, and chapter adviser. “Our success is truly a testament to the hard work of our officers and members.”

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‘Space Bulls’ to design, build and test Mars rover-like vehicle

UB is among eight institutes of higher learning chosen to participate in a model Mars rover contest sponsored by NASA and organized by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

It is the fourth time in five years UB has been chosen to participate in the competition, called the RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops. UB’s team, dubbed the Space Bulls, was chosen earlier this month by officials from NASA’s Langley Research Center and NIA. The competition attracted 30 proposals nationwide.

The teams, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, are tasked with designing and building a remote-controlled model rover and navigating the rover through a series of obstacles that simulate conditions on Mars and the moon.

While the actual competition will take place at a facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, students must control the rover remotely from their school. For example, the students might have to guide the rover up a 30-degree slope or through a gravel pit to collect rock samples.

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Kofke named fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science

David Kofke, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

AAAS members are selected by a committee of their peers. Kofke was recognized for his contributions to the fields of thermodynamics of fluids and the statistical mechanics of molecular systems.

“David Kofke is a true scholar,” says Stelios Andreadis, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “His selection as an AAAS fellow is another testament of his academic achievements and the respect that he enjoys among our peers.”

Kofke joined the UB faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in modeling biomolecular interactions.

He has since amassed nearly 130 publications in scientific journals in the areas of statistical physics and molecular modeling, and has received numerous honors and awards for research and teaching.

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UB to offer accelerated route to Master of Public Health degree

In the fall of 2015, the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions will offer a 12-month accelerated master’s degree program in public health (MPH) with a concentration in health services administration and population health.

The new program will be administered by the Division for Health Services Policy and Practice, headed by Arthur Michalek, PhD, in the school’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health.

Michalek says the program is a response to reforms in the health care delivery system, which has turned its focus to population health, that is, the health consequences of delivery systems for entire human populations, including the distribution of those consequences within a group.

“Traditionally, the public health profession has focused on outcomes for individual patients,” Michalek says.

“Now the health of populations and the delivery of health care to those populations is a major component of health and human service delivery. Even revisions in the health care payment structure focus on preventive health services and accountability for health outcomes,” he says, “and that’s what is driving policy decisions at the federal, state and local levels.”

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Former UB Swimmer to Compete at World Championships

It was early October, and former UB standout swimmer Eric Culver paced around his kitchen, anxiously awaiting a phone call he thought would never come. Finally, the phone rang, and on the other end was Ramon Cacho, the head coach of the Puerto Rican National Swimming Team, asking Eric to be a member of the team and compete at the Short Course World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Short Course World Championships is one of the sport’s elite competitions. Over 900 of the world’s best swimmers, including well-known Olympians such as Ryan Lochte, will compete in the five-day event.

Culver capped his standout career at UB in 2014 and is the school-record holder in the 200 butterfly. That event is one of four the New Paltz, NY native will compete in when the championships start on December 3. He will also compete in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and mile freestyle.

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A 3-D talking map for the blind (and everyone else)

These maps are made for talking. And touching. And they’re beautiful, too.

In partnership with Touch Graphics Inc., developers at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) have built and tested a new kind of interactive wayfinder: 3-D maps that vocalize building information and directions when touched.

The technology is designed with an important mission in mind: to help visually impaired visitors navigate public spaces like museums and college campuses.

“It’s really about giving this audience, this population, a way to understand their environment,” says IDeA Center researcher Heamchand Subryan, who led the project with IDeA Center Director Edward Steinfeld, and Touch Graphics President Steve Landau. “We’re providing a level of information that allows them to navigate their environment easily, without help, which gives them a sense of independence.”

The latest 3-D map, at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, uses conductive paint on miniature buildings to sense pressure from a visitor’s fingers.

As guests explore the model with their hands, the map announces building names and directions for getting to destinations. A menu controlled by just three buttons lets users browse a verbal index of all points of interest.

Sound effects embedded in the landscape serve as auditory landmarks for people who are visually impaired: A fountain gurgles when tapped, and a bell tower chimes.

“The touch-responsive models solve the ‘last mile’ problem for blind pedestrians, who can often navigate to a building or campus address using GPS, but then need help to get to the classroom building or doctor’s office where they need to be,” Landau says.

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A projector above the Perkins installation shines a spotlight on buildings when they’re touched, casting a beautiful light over the ornate, three-dimensional landscape. A new model under development for the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia will also be visually stunning, with a video screen glowing through a translucent base, illuminating the models of each building on campus from below.

And unlike the vertical maps found at many museums and shopping malls, the models are horizontal, allowing users to experience the world as they would in real life.

In addition to the one at Perkins, prototypes have been placed in the last few years at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts and the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, where the model shows a two-story building’s floor plan.

All three projects employ universal design, which aims to produce buildings, spaces and products accessible to all people instead of individual segments of the population.


UB again ranked in top 20 for international enrollment

For the 12th year in a row, the University at Buffalo is ranked among the top 20 U.S. institutions hosting international students by the Open Doors Report, which was released Nov. 17 by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington, D.C.

For 2013-14, the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows 6,504 international students at UB. This number includes students engaged in Optional Practical Training, that is, those with an F-1 student visa engaged in temporary employment directly related to their major area of study.

This figure places UB 17th among 2,900 U.S. colleges and universities surveyed. It represents an increase of 700 students, or 11 percent, over the 2012-13 total of 5,806, when UB was ranked 18th on the list.

The majority of the 20 schools ranked are state universities, but UB is the only State University of New York institution among them.

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