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 librarian receives national award

Susan Davis, acquisitions librarian for continuing resources at UB Libraries, is one of the inaugural recipients of the ALCTS Honors Award given by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services of the American Library Association. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions at all levels within ALCTS, stellar dedication to service, uncompromising commitment to excellence, willingness to accept challenges, and a sustained and exemplary record of moving ALCTS forward.”

UB to receive $48M from New York State for genome research

State economic development officials last week approved spending $48 million to create a genome research center in Buffalo, part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative.

The approval, voted on by Empire State Development’s board of directors, also included $57 million for a partner center in New York City. It comes after Cuomo announced the initiative in January.

“Genomic medicine is the next frontier in modern medicine, and we want Buffalo and Western New York to be the international center for genomic research and lead the way in revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases,” Cuomo said in a press release. “With today’s approval by the ESD Board, the NY Genomic Medicine Network is one step closer to getting off the ground.

“This exciting new partnership between the New York City Genome Center, University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will create hundreds of new jobs both in Buffalo and New York City, and put the state in the forefront of this new industry while saving lives and improving public health.”

The initiative is modeled after Cuomo’s successful blueprint for nanotechnology innovation in Albany, which has produced groundbreaking research, attracted significant private investment to the region and created thousands of new jobs.

UB was selected to co-lead the genome effort with the New York Genome Center because of its expertise in high performance computing, combined with recognized national leadership in genomics and medical research and analysis of patient data using the vast capabilities within its Center for Computational Research, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Each of these UB research centers resides on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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MirrorMirror wins second international award

MirrorMirror, the award-winning temporary street tent designed by University at Buffalo architecture professors Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, again has been recognized by the international design community.

The dazzling, mirrored festival tents recently were announced as the winner of two 2014 AZ Awards, earning both the People’s Choice Award and an Award of Merit in the Temporary Architecture category. Sponsored by the design magazine Azure, the AZ Awards represent an international snapshot of top architecture and design.

This year’s competition drew 652 entries from around the world. Both a Jury and a People’s Choice award were presented across 13 categories, from residential and landscape architecture to interior and furniture design to student projects. An Award of Merit was given to 36 projects.

MirrorMirror, including eight tent units, currently is on display through Aug. 15 at the Canalside cultural and entertainment district in downtown Buffalo.

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UB launches 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 engineering students help GMCH Lockport ‘solve problems’

Pat Curtis has three words to describe a partnership that has immersed UB engineering students at General Motors Components Holdings (GMCH) Lockport for the past three summers: a huge success.

As plant manager of the 2.8 million-square-foot facility, Curtis has witnessed the contributions of budding undergraduates from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which are made possible through the outreach and project management of UB TCIE. Some have impressed GMCH management enough to attract full-time job offers at the company’s Lockport and Rochester plants.

“They help solve problems. Maybe that’s oversimplifying it. But you know what? That’s what we do here,” Curtis says. “We solve problems so that we can get better. And the better we get, the more competitive we are. The more competitive we are, the brighter the future is going to be for us.”

For the fourth year, GMCH Lockport leaders are welcoming a batch of summer interns. The program has featured an average of seven interns each year. They come from several engineering departments, including Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Industrial and Systems Engineering. Their assistance helps fulfill the plant’s mission of manufacturing the world’s best thermal products.

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UB on the Green back for its eighth season

UB on the Green, the university’s free outdoor performance series, is back for an eighth season of celebrating the summer season in the South Campus neighborhood.

Events, presented by the Office of Community Relations, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. July 16, July 23, July 30 and Aug. 6 on the Hayes Hall lawn on the South Campus. Parking is available in the NFTA Park and Ride and Townsend lots. Spectators are encouraged to bring a picnic, lawn chairs and blankets. Light refreshments will be available for sale. UB on the Green is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event.

In addition to the traditional musical performance, the series will focus each night’s events around a specific theme designed to welcome neighbors to the university and introduce them to different aspects of UB.

“This is the eighth annual UB on the Green and we are proud to again offer this free outdoor concert series to our host communities,” says Linwood Roberts, director of the Office of Community Relations. “This year we have added a fourth concert night, as well as raffles/giveaways to participants, and look forward to another successful year.”

The series will open on July 16 with “Buffalo Night,” with events focused on the city and what it has to offer. The Soul Providers will play classic soul and R&B music.

“Arts & Culture Night” will take place on July 23, featuring the music of brass band 12/8 Path Band. The evening will include interactive arts and crafts stations.

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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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UB-led health care team to help Jamaica fight HIV and 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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