Archive for October, 2010

Dept. of Defense Appropriation to Support UB Research Center

Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter announced a $4.6 million appropriation from the U.S. Department of Defense to the University at Buffalo to purchase a cyclotron to support UB’s $118 million Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC).

UB’s CTRC and Biosciences Incubator are currently under construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. These facilities will join Kaleida Health’s Global Vascular Institute (GVI) in a new combined $291 million 10-story clinical care, clinical and translational research, and business incubation building to be located next to Buffalo General Hospital at Goodrich and Ellicott streets.

The PETrace cyclotron is an essential research device expected to lead to the development of new therapies and treatments, particularly for cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neurological disorders. The cyclotron will generate radiopharmaceuticals essential for supporting molecular imaging with positron emission tomography (PET), a technology that holds great promise for understanding mechanisms of disease.

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Distinguished Professor in Computer Science Snares Three Awards

Venu Govindaraju, UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has received three major awards in recognition of his continued record of achievement in technological innovation.

He was one of five technologists in the world to receive the 2010 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Computer Society Technical Achievement Award, given to recognize outstanding and innovative contributions to computer and information science and engineering or computer technology.

Govindaraju has the special distinction of having been selected three years in a row to participate in the prestigious 2010 HP Labs Innovation Research program, putting him into an elite group of computing pioneers. The HP Labs Innovations Research program is designed to provide colleges, universities and research institutes around the world with opportunities to conduct breakthrough, collaborative research with HP and encourage open collaboration between HP and the academic community.

And last year, Govindaraju was named an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow, one of fewer than 50 in the world to be so honored, for contributing fundamental knowledge to computing and computer science and for playing a crucial role in driving innovations necessary to sustain competitiveness in an information-based society.

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UB Executive MBA Program Ranked One of World’s Best

The University at Buffalo School of Management’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program has been ranked as one of best in the world by the Financial Times.

Making its first appearance in this ranking, the UB School of Management placed No. 51 out of 100 for its EMBA program, offered in Buffalo and Singapore.

Among the ranking’s many components, the UB School of Management’s EMBA program was No. 23 for graduates’ salary growth, No. 7 for percentage of female students, No. 26 for percentage of female faculty, No. 55 for faculty research and No. 16 for percentage of international faculty.

“We’ve been working continuously to recruit top faculty and high-caliber students to enhance the quality of our programs and our global reputation,” said Arjang A. Assad, dean of the UB School of Management. “This ranking is evidence that we are succeeding and that we provide our graduates with a solid return on their investment.”

“With more than 500 EMBA programs worldwide, we’re quite pleased to be recognized in this elite group,” said Courtney J. Walsh, the school’s assistant dean and director of executive education. “We’re also proud of the continued demand for our UB EMBA graduates in the current economy.”

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‘Fracking’ Mobilizes Uranium in Marcellus Shale, UB Research Finds

Scientific and political disputes over drilling the Marcellus shale for natural gas have focused primarily on the environmental effects of pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to blast through rocks to release the natural gas.

But University at Buffalo researchers have now found that that process — called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — also causes uranium that is naturally trapped inside the Marcellus shale to be released, raising additional environmental concerns.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver on Nov. 2.

The Marcellus shale is a massive rock formation that stretches from New York through Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and which is often described as the nation’s largest source of natural gas.

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Shibley Named Architecture Dean

Robert G. Shibley, long-time faculty member and a lead developer of both UB and the city of Buffalo’s comprehensive plans, has been named dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

Shibley’s appointment, which follows an international search, is effective Jan. 1.

UB’s School of Architecture and Planning is the only school of architecture and planning in the SUNY system and offers accredited professional degrees in architecture and urban and regional planning. Shibley assumes leadership of the school as it prepares to undergo a major restoration and renewal project for its South Campus facilities in Hayes Hall and Crosby Hall—two of the most historic structures and iconic buildings at UB.

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158 Years of YMCA Records and Documents Find a Home in the UB Archives

YMCA Buffalo Niagara, the second oldest YMCA branch in the United States, has presented to the University at Buffalo Archives a collection of records and documents dating to its founding in 1852.

The collection includes board and committee meeting notes and minutes, among them handwritten minutes of the first board meeting signed by founder George Perkins, and photographs illustrating the YMCA’s operations over a 158-year period. It comprises annual reports, histories, press clippings, scrapbooks and other materials.

John D. Murray, president and CEO of YMCA Buffalo Niagara, says, “While moving our corporate headquarters last year, we found a significant amount of handwritten documentation and many other archive materials, some dating as far back as our organization’s founding in 1852.

“We realized that these aging archives have significant connections to not only our YMCA’s past, but also to some of Western New York’s past as well,” he says, “including direct ties to the University at Buffalo at a time when libraries and education served as a key component of YMCA services.”

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Award Recognizes 20-Year Collaboration Between School of Architecture and Planning and Habitat for Humanity

The University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning has received the 2010 Award for Community Partnership from Habitat for Humanity Buffalo.

The accolade recognizes the work of architecture and planning students who have constructed 47 houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Buffalo since 1991. That figure represents about a quarter of the total number of houses the nonprofit organization has built in and around Buffalo during the 25 years the organization has been active in the area.

The UB students’ efforts are part of a Community Design Service course that the UB School of Architecture and Planning offers each year under the direction of Richard Yencer, manager of the school’s Materials and Methods Shop. More than 600 UB students have participated in the program, Yencer said. The most recent class built three houses.

“This program not only provides students with an excellent opportunity to learn about materials and ways of building, but also enables students to work alongside the future owners of the house and use their design skills to improve the quality of life for a significant number of people in the community,” said Brian Carter, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

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Scientists Track an Insidious Toxin in China

Scientists at the University at Buffalo and the Chinese University of Mining and Technology/Beijing are tracing a toxic trajectory of excess fluorine, which may be crippling millions of people with skeletal fluorosis in a poor, remote Chinese province.

The disease causes chronic joint pain and leads to muscle wasting and crippling spine and major joint deformities. Most often, the source is excess fluorine in polluted water, but in certain areas in China it comes from coal.

The UB and CUMTB research, focused on Guizhou province in southwest China, uses an advanced chemical analysis technique, a specialty of the team, to pinpoint the origin of the excess fluorine in order to develop ways to minimize exposure. The technique is being performed using state-of-the-art chemical instrumentation facilities in the UB Department of Chemistry.

“We need to better understand the chemistry and mechanism of this exposure,” says Joseph A. Gardella Jr, PhD, Larkin Professor of Chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. “When the coal is burned, is excess fluorine released into particulates that are then deposited on food that people eat, or is it released into the smoke that people then breathe? And are there other chemicals that combine with the fluorine to make it even more toxic?”

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Dandona to Receive UB Presidential Award

Paresh Dandona, UB Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, has been selected as the recipient of the 2010-11 Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence.

The award was established by President John B. Simpson to recognize a UB faculty member who has achieved the highest degree of excellence as a scholar, community citizen and educator.

A public awards ceremony and presentation by Dandona will take place in the spring.

One of the world’s leading experts in the treatment of diabetes and vascular disease, Dandona also is founder and director of the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York. He joined the UB faculty in 1991 after 16 years at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine at the University of London, England.

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Tech Solutions Based on UB Research on Pattern Recognition

University at Buffalo computer scientist Venu Govindaraju, who pioneered machine recognition of human handwriting, believes that the annoying, 21st-century problem of reading “captchas” has a decidedly old-fashioned solution: handwriting.

“Here at UB’s Center for Unified Biometrics, we’re the only ones who have proposed and thoroughly studied handwritten captchas,” says Govindaraju. “Our perspective is that humans are good at reading handwriting; machines are not. It comes naturally to humans. But computer scientists typically consider handwriting a hopeless case until someone comes along and shows them that it isn’t.”

Govindaraju should know. Research he and his UB colleagues conducted in the 1990s helped the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) establish the first machines that could read handwritten addresses, a feat that many at the time—especially in industry—said simply could not be done. In 1996, after years of research, the UB research enabled the USPS to be able to start machine-reading of handwritten addresses, boosting efficiency and saving the agency millions of dollars each year.

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