UB a finalist for national graduation rate award

UB is among five public research universities selected by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) as finalists for the 2015 APLU Project Degree Completion Award recognizing universities that embrace innovative strategies to increase undergraduate student retention and graduation rates, and create clear, accelerated pathways for student success.

The award is part of Project Degree Completion — a joint initiative developed by the APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) — in which nearly 500 public colleges and universities pledge to collectively award 3.8 million more degrees by 2025.

The APLU will present the award at its annual meeting, November 15-17 in Indianapolis.

“We are committed to providing a transformative educational experience for all of our students and helping them succeed in their academic endeavors,” says Charles Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I am proud of our university community for their dedication to our students’ success and timely degree completion, and I am pleased that the APLU is recognizing UB’s efforts.”

APLU representatives cited UB’s Student Success Initiative and Finish in Four program in recognizing the university’s commitment to providing the resources needed for students to graduate in four years.

“UB’s Student Success Initiative and Finish in Four program provide students with enhanced support throughout their entire undergraduate career,” says Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic affairs.

“They represent a far-reaching, multi-pronged approach to meeting our students’ graduation goals by helping them understand their responsibilities, and they demonstrate the university’s commitment to helping students earn their degree in a timely manner.”

Finish in Four has attracted national attention as a model program for increasing college affordability and was a catalyst for a 2013 visit to UB by President Barack Obama, during which he delivered a major speech on national higher education policy.

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NIH awards UB $16 million clinical and translational science grant

UB has been awarded a prestigious four-year, $16 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to speed the delivery of new drugs, diagnostics and medical devices to patients.

The grant will establish the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center as the hub of the Buffalo Translational Consortium. UB is the lead institution of the consortium in partnership with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Great Lakes Health System, UBMD and community health organizations.

“This award recognizes and leverages the strong research and clinical collaborations UB and our partners on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) have built,” said President Satish K. Tripathi. “It gives us the ability to realize the value of these collaborations at an even higher level — empowering us as we move discoveries from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, improve patient care and enhance economic development in Western New York by successfully commercializing scientific breakthroughs.”

The award puts UB and the Buffalo Translational Consortium, composed of clinical and research institutions on the BNMC, into an elite tier of institutions.

“As home to the nation’s first cancer center, this prestigious federal grant recognizes the high-impact clinical research already taking place here in Western New York and will provide a major boost to the collaborative synergy between the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Great Lakes Health and other partners within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, co-chair of the Congressional NIH Caucus. “This is a great tribute to UB and its partner institutions receiving the award, but the real excitement comes with the hope this grant provides to every patient and family touched by disease and anxiously awaiting the lifesaving treatments and cures this award makes possible.”

“This substantial federal funding will allow UB, Roswell, Great Lakes Health and their partners to be in the major leagues in the life-saving race for better treatments and cures for cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “Because of this funding, the world-class medical research happening in Western New York will be translated into real-life cancer treatments and solutions for patients around the world, which will create jobs, support the local economy and, most importantly, save lives. This is truly a game-changer for building an entirely new infrastructure to fight diseases in Western New York and across our state.”

“This federal funding will enable the University at Buffalo to further enhance its medical and clinical research programs through partnerships with several health organizations,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “The new Clinical and Translational Research Center will provide critical resources to help advance cutting-edge research and scientific breakthroughs in patient health and wellness.”

“UB will now be competing for the highly selective awards for which only CTSA institutions may apply,” said Michael E. Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Those grants will increase UB’s capacity for doing high-impact, clinical research, which will bring health care innovations to Buffalo so that people in our community can participate in and benefit from these groundbreaking studies.”

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Jones claims NACAC championship in shot put; Morgan earns 7th place finish at Thorpe Cup

Former UB athlete Jonathan Jones continued his dominance in the throwing circle this weekend as he claimed the NACAC Senior Championships title in the shot put on Sunday. Jones earned his first-ever NACAC title with a championship record throw of 20.54m.

2015 NCAA national champion in the shot put, Jones dominated the field in Costa Rica on Sunday as he had a giant throw on his second attempt (20.54m), setting the senior championship meet record in the process. Jones had only one more throw count but held off the field to claim the title, defeating second place finisher Darrell Hill by a wide margin as he had a best throw of 19.67m. Although he set the championship record with the toss, Jones didn’t set a career-best mark as he had a heave of 20.92m at the USATF championships in June.

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Spacey, Legend highlight 2015-16 Distinguished Speakers Series

Singer/songwriter, producer, philanthropist and entrepreneur John Legend and cancer physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer,” will join Kevin Spacey, Academy Award-winning actor, director, writer and star of “House of Cards,” to headline the speakers in the University at Buffalo’s 2015-16 Distinguished Speakers Series.

The 29th annual series also will feature Laverne Cox, a transgender advocate and award-winning actress from “Orange is the New Black;” Liz Murray, the bestselling author of “Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard” and this year’s UB Reads author; and Charles Ogletree, an internationally renowned legal theorist who will present UB’s 40th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.

All programs will take place at 8 p.m. in Alumni Arena, UB North Campus, on the following dates:

  • Sept. 16: Laverne Cox
  • Oct. 14: Liz Murray, UB Reads Author
  • Nov. 18: John Legend, Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker
  • Feb. 11: Charles Ogletree, 40th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration keynote speaker
  • April 6: Siddhartha Mukherjee, sponsored by Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • April 27: Kevin Spacey, Undergraduate and Graduate Student Choice Speaker

Subscription orders for the Distinguished Speakers Series may be placed after Aug. 3. Tickets for individual lectures will go on sale Aug. 21 by noon.

For more information on the speakers, subscription and ticket prices, and sponsors, visit the series’ website: buffalo.edu/dss


UB receives four SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants

UB has been awarded four SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants (IITG) to fund campus innovations and initiatives that have the potential to be replicated and scaled up throughout SUNY.

Since 2012, UB has received more than $415,000 in IITG seed grant funding to support faculty and staff at the forefront of leveraging technology in support of teaching and learning.  The program is open to SUNY faculty and support staff across all disciplines.

UB’s four new IITG awards will fund:

  • An initiative to create self-guided online career modules.
  • A project that aims to improve student learning and engagement in massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  • Development of an innovative instructional model that encourages collaboration between the humanities and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
  • An online faculty development course that focuses on quality course design and effective strategies for teaching.

In addition to the funding from SUNY, UB is contributing in-kind resources, such as technology support, to each project.

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UB engineer gets $24K NSF grant for Nepal earthquake research

After a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal in late April, Andreas Stavridis, University at Buffalo assistant professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, decided to travel to Nepal with a team of researchers to examine why certain structures held up and others did not.

For that work, Congressman Brian Higgins announced on Thursday that Stavridis received a $24,040 National Science Foundation award.

“Natural disasters are inescapable and exact unthinkable consequences,” Higgins said. “This award puts researchers right here, at the University at Buffalo, at the forefront of efforts to learn from destruction and provide insight into best preparedness practices moving forward.”

Earlier this month, Stavridis and the team of researchers and graduate students traveled to Nepal for data collection and investigation of architectural and structural response to seismic activity. The data collected will be used to evaluate current U.S. guidelines for assessment of existing structures and inform Nepal rebuilding and recovery efforts.

The grant is provided through the NSF’s Rapid Response Research program which supports proposals requiring urgent access to data, specifically research associated with disasters.

NIH awards $12 million to UB for pharmacy research

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $12 million to the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to lead a comprehensive quality assurance program in NIH-funded labs conducting HIV/AIDS and related clinical research programs worldwide.

“We are very excited that our expertise continues to be recognized as a valued contributor to the global effort to end the HIV epidemic,” said Gene D. Morse, principal investigator on the grant, SUNY Distinguished Professor at UB and associate director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

“This award highlights our established role in this critical area that contributes to global HIV clinical pharmacology research efforts,” Morse said. “Building on our extensive experience, our group has been selected to provide a broad-based quality assurance program that will facilitate global HIV/AIDS treatment research by collaborating with university-based pharmacology laboratories that are engaged in these research efforts.”

The Clinical and Pharmacology Quality Assurance (CPQA) contract runs for seven years.

The UB researchers will conduct quality assurance on clinical pharmacology research, including HIV prevention, HIV cure and eradication, antiretroviral treatment strategies, viral hepatitis drug development, tuberculosis treatment and therapeutic interventions for HIV end-organ diseases and chronic inflammation.

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Education student receives scholarships to ‘make a difference in the world’

Maryam Sadat Sharifian, a University at Buffalo doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education, has received three awards to encourage her “to make a difference in the world”: the International Peace Scholarship, the 2015 Margaret McNamara Memorial Scholarship and the 2015 Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union Scholarship.

A native of Iran, Sharifian is an early childhood education doctoral student in the Department of Learning and Instruction and a graduate assistant at UB’s Early Childhood Research Center.

The International Peace Scholarship, established by the Philanthropic Educational Organization to underscore how education is the cornerstone of world peace and understanding, is awarded to women from foreign countries pursuing their graduate studies in the United States and Canada.

The 2015 Margaret McNamara Memorial Scholarship, presented to 34 women from developing countries pursuing various areas of graduate study in the United States and Canada, assists women in furthering their education so they may return to their home countries and work to make a difference in the lives of women and children.

Sharifian also received a prestigious Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union Scholarship. The Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union annually donates funding in the form of a grant to the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund in support of women’s education. A recipient of the Margaret McNamara Memorial Scholarship is selected to receive the additional grant in order to further her education.

All three awards will contribute to the costs of Sharifian’s education, from tuition to research costs.

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20 UB faculty, staff receive SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

The University at Buffalo again was well-represented among winners of the 2015 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, with seven faculty members, two librarians and 11 staff members being honored for outstanding achievement. The 20 UB recipients match last year’s number, which was the most in recent memory. 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. UB’s 2015 recipients are:

  • Stella Batalama, professor and chair, Department of Electrical Engineering;
  • Ralph Benedict, professor, Department of Neurology;
  • Ann Bisantz, professor and chair, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and
  • Sriram Neelamegham, professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

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CEL graduates emerging minority and women entrepreneurs

Megan McNally, executive director of The Foundry, has been named Protégé of the Year by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies.

McNally earned a $1,500 prize for the honor. She says the MWEE program taught her important lessons that will guide her work at the Foundry, a business incubator and community space on Buffalo’s East Side.

“When running a startup of any kind, it is hard to prioritize competing needs, so learning to rank needs and tackle the most pressing first has been extremely helpful,” McNally says.

Levino Johnson, founder and owner of Executive Investigation & Security, was awarded second place and a $1,000 prize. Catrice Huff, founder and director of Up, Up, and Away Child Care Center, took third place and a $500 prize.

The awards were handed out at a graduation ceremony for five CEL programs on June 3 at UB’s Center for the Arts.

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