Archive for June, 2010

UB Graduate Planning Students Win Regional Award for “Kid Corridors”

“Kid Corridors: Taking Steps to School,” a 2009 graduate studio project of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, has received the 2010 Outstanding Student Project Award from the Western New York Section of the American Planning Association (WNY APA).

The award will be presented June 29 at the group’s annual Awards Dinner at Chef’s Restaurant.

The project, directed by Samina Raja, PhD, associate professor of urban and regional planning, was a response to a request by the Town of Amherst to develop materials to encourage and educate children in the Williamsville School District to walk and bicycle to school.

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Empire State Summer Games Open in UB Stadium July 21

The opening ceremony for the 2010 Empire State Summer Games will be held July 21 in UB Stadium. Archery, baseball, canoe/kayak, diving, field hockey, swimming, rugby, tennis, track and field, and volleyball will also be held in UB facilities. Other events will be held in other venues throughout the Buffalo Niagara region July 21-25.

Learn more about tickets, schedule and events.

Agent Orange Exposure Linked to Graves’ Disease in Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam War-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange appear to be more likely to develop Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder, than veterans with no exposure, a new study by UB endocrinologists has shown.

Ajay Varanasi, an endocrinology fellow in the UB Department of Medicine and first author on the study, garnered first prize in the oral presentation category for this research at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists annual meeting held in Boston in April.

“The autoimmune disorder was three times more prevalent among veterans who encountered the dioxin-containing chemical. We also looked at other thyroid diagnoses, but we didn’t find any significant differences in thyroid cancer or nodules,” says Varanasi.

Agent Orange is a defoliant that was used in Vietnam to destroy crops and reduce jungle foliage that could shelter enemy combatants. The herbicide contains dioxin, which has chemical properties similar to the thyroid hormones.

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Choosing Public Higher Ed for the Right Reasons

This piece by UB President John Simpson appeared in The Answer Sheet, a school survival blog for parents on

High school juniors and their parents at the start of their college hunt will inevitably hear a lot of talk about how many families are choosing state schools over private ones in today’s economy, chiefly due to the difference in cost. While a lower price tag can be a good incentive to consider public higher education, it should not be the only factor.

We tend to think in our society that if we pay more for something it must be worth more.

While this may be valid, generally, one place it is not necessarily true is higher education. You can get a superb education at a quality public university — just as you can at a quality independent university or at a small elite liberal-arts college.

There are a lot of considerations in picking a college, and families are likely to find that some factors lose their importance as the selection process advances while others take on new significance, including the size and location of the campus, urban or rural setting, quality of faculty, diversity of majors and educational programs.

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UB Poetry Collection Wins ALA Award for Joyce Exhibit

The Poetry Collection of the University at Buffalo Libraries has received an honorable mention in the 2010 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Awards competition.

Michael Basinski, curator of the UB Poetry Collection, said the collection is being recognized for “Discovering James Joyce: The University at Buffalo Collection,” the illustrated print catalogue edited by James Maynard, the collection’s assistant curator.

The awards will be presented on June 27 during the RBMS Annual Membership Meeting and Information Exchange, at the ALA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Leab awards are given by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a major division of the American Library Association (ALA) for catalogues associated with library exhibitions in one of four cost categories.

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UB Planner Samina Raja Earns National Recognition for Healthy Communities Research

Samina Raja, Ph.D., associate professor of urban and regional planning in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, is a community-based scholar whose work continues to earn national visibility and prestige in the fields of food security planning and community health.

She is the only urban or regional planner appointed to a committee of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) that has been charged with developing a framework and guidance for health impact assessments (HIAs) in the United States, and she recently received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build on her prior research on community food systems in Buffalo.

The assessment effort is part of a larger community partnership to assess and modify healthy eating and active living policies in the City of Buffalo led by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc.

A civil engineer and urban planner, Raja’s community-grounded research focuses on planning and design for healthy communities, the fiscal dimensions of planning and the influence of the food and built environments on obesity and physical activity.

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UB Composts Dave Matthews’ Trash

UB Green and UB Campus Dining and Shops partnered to compost backstage trash at last week’s Dave Matthews Band concert at Darien Lake Resort.

After organizers of the June 3 show contacted the university for help with managing food waste, UB Green sent Deborah Arent, a student assistant, to the event. There, she gathered 10 buckets of fruit rinds, raw vegetable cuttings, leftovers and biodegradable plates and cups that Campus Dining and Shops later composted at UB.

The effort made sense for Campus Dining and Shops, which has been a leader in promoting sustainable practices at the university, and UB Green, which often partners with outside agencies to advance environmental initiatives on campus and in Western New York.

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Work by UB Architecture Students Will be Presented at 2010 Venice Biennale

Two former fellows of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning have been selected to participate in the 12th annual International Architecture Exhibition at the 2010 Venice Biennale, Aug. 29 to Nov. 2.

In section of the Austrian Pavilion focusing on Austrian architects teaching abroad, architects Hannes Stiefel, the 2009-10 John and Magda McHale Fellow in the UB school, and Wolfgang Tschapeller, who held the McHale Fellowship at UB in 2004-05, will present work produced by UB architecture students who worked under their aegis during their fellowship years.

Stiefel and Tschapeller are visionary architects of international reputation. Their presentation will be mounted in the exhibition “Austria Under Construction: Austrian Architecture Around the World; International Architecture in Austria,” in the section “Austrian Architects Teaching Internationally.”

The 2010 International Architectural Exhibition itself is titled “People Meet in Architecture.” It will be directed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, the first woman ever selected to curate the architecture exhibition, which this year will present the work of architects from 55 nations.

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Working Toward the Next Battery Breakthrough

If battery-making is an art, then University at Buffalo scientist Esther Takeuchi is among its most prolific masters, with more than 140 U.S. patents, all in energy storage.

Takeuchi developed the battery that made possible the first implantable cardiac defibrillators, a feat that was recognized last fall with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama. Millions of heart patients worldwide have benefited from the implantable cardiac defibrillators powered by Takeuchi’s silver vanadium oxide battery. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, she is developing new cathode materials for improved implantable cardiac defibrillator batteries, with her latest advances on this project recently published in the Journal of Power Sources.

But now Takeuchi is applying to the electrical grid — the vast, national network that delivers energy from suppliers to consumers — her unique perspective on how to coax the best performance out of battery chemicals.

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New Major to Help Meet Demand for Environmental Scientists

The University at Buffalo will add a major in environmental geosciences to its undergraduate offerings this fall, giving students another opportunity to study and research topics tied to the ever-changing environment of Western New York and the world.

The Bachelor of Science degree program in environmental geosciences is an interdisciplinary program in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences. The curriculum integrates coursework from the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geography, Geology and Philosophy, as well as Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Classes and research projects will prepare students for graduate school or jobs in environmental consulting firms, non-governmental organizations and governmental environmental agencies working on problems including sustainable resource management, restoration, monitoring and mitigation.

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