Archive for September, 2012

Studying an Underwater Mating Ritual in the Florida Keys

“OMG, I think they just spawned on me!”

That was the title of a September blog entry by UB’s Buffalo Undersea Reef Research laboratory (BURR), which sent five UB investigators to the Florida Keys this month to study an underwater mating ritual: coral spawning.

Mary Alice Coffroth, professor of geology, led the research trip. She explains that corals—which are animals—reproduce by releasing bundles of egg and sperm into the surrounding sea. The goal of the visit to Florida was to collect these bundles and raise young coral for use in scientific studies.

Among other topics, Coffroth’s research team examines how an algal symbiont in the genus Symbiodinium facilitates the establishment of coral reefs.

“It is a symbiosis between corals and a single-celled dinoflagellate alga, Symbiodinium, that allows the corals to grow into these massive structures,” Coffroth says. “Most corals acquire their symbionts anew each generation, and my lab is investigating the early ontogeny of this symbiosis.”

The BURR lab’s coral spawning blog , created by BURR member Rachel Mellas, provides an intimate look at the corals’ mating process and at the research team’s daily life in Florida. The scientists carried out their work at the Alligator and Looe Key reefs off the Florida coast, where schools of tropical fish dart through turquoise waters.

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New Finance Track Prepares Wall Street ‘Rock Stars’

The University at Buffalo School of Management is offering a new concentration that can help students land jobs as quantitative analysts — or “quants” — the latest variety of Wall Street rock stars.

Quants are specialists who use their expertise in mathematics, finance and statistics to identify and solve complex issues for financial institutions. They have been called “the rock stars on the Street” by Phil Albinus, editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading, because “the more volatile the markets, the more valuable quantitative analysts become.”

The new quantitative finance track for Master of Science students in the UB School of Management offers various techniques and mathematical methods in finance, which will help students train for careers as quantitative analysts.

“There is a high demand for graduates in this field, which makes the concentration an attractive option,” says David Frasier, assistant dean and director of graduate programs in the School of Management. “Starting salaries are also attractive — ranging in the upper five figures to low six figures.”

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UB Anthropologist to be Named Honorary Chief of Nigerian Town

Along the quiet corridors of the University at Buffalo Department of Anthropology labors a man who, unknown to his colleagues, has been a hero to the Igbomina Yoruba town of Esie (ess-ee-YEH) in southwest Nigeria for nearly five decades.

Phillips Stevens Jr., PhD, associate professor of anthropology at UB, will be honored in Esie on Dec. 1 when the traditional ruler of the town, HRM Oba Yakubu Babalola, will bestow upon him the Yoruba chieftaincy title “The Erewumi of Esie Kingdom.”

“Erewumi” means “I get along well with the images,” and it recognizes and honors Stevens’ work to preserve and celebrate the stone images of Esie, Africa’s largest and most mysterious collections of stone statuary. His efforts put Esie on the map and provoked an economic boon for the town that continues to this day.

Stevens’ relationship with Esie began almost 50 years ago after a 1963-64 teaching stint in the Peace Corps. During that period he worked part time for Nigeria’s Department of Antiquities, now the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, which later offered him a full-time job.

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UB Partners with Zimbabwe Universities to Create International Nanotechnology Center

With 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

To address these issues, two of the University at Buffalo’s leading research centers, the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB) and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, have signed on to launch the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC) — a national nanotechnology research program — with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT).

This collaborative program will initially focus on research in nanomedicine and biosensors at UZ and energy at CUT. ZINC has grown out of the NIH Fogarty International Center’s AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) that was awarded to UB and UZ in 2008 to conduct HIV research training and build research capacity in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries in southern Africa.

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Grand Opening of UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center Marks Move Downtown of UB Medical School Researchers

The University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences today held the grand opening of its Clinical and Translational Research Center in the joint UB-Kaleida Health building at Goodrich and Ellicott streets in downtown Buffalo.

The new CTRC is an important step in the relocation of UB’s medical school to downtown Buffalo, made possible by Gov. Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 law, which is enabling the university to implement the next phase of its UB 2020 strategic plan. When it is completed, by 2016, the new medical school will bring approximately 1,200 people to downtown Buffalo. In total, both the CTRC and new medical school projects will create more than 3,000 jobs.

The CTRC is a unique 170,000-square-foot research facility that allows UB’s physician-scientists to do their research upstairs in the CTRC and to see patients and work with clinicians downstairs in Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute and at Buffalo General Medical Center, the new planned Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

A video of the facility, featuring UB researchers and officials, can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWyF2v9PidM.

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UB Awarded $1.6M Grant for Students to Study Cybersecurity

The University at Buffalo has received a $1.6 million federal grant to teach students how to protect the United States from cyberattacks.

UB will use the grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, to bring up to 16 students into its Center of Excellence in Information Systems, Assurance, Research and Education (CEISARE). It is one of approximately 50 federally designated centers that supply the United States with graduates trained to protect the nation from computer-based attacks. For more information, visit: http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/caeiae.

The grant will cover the cost of student stipends ($25,000), in-state graduate tuition and fees ($12,000) and books, travel expenses and health insurance ($3,000) for two years.

In exchange for the financial support, students must agree to work for the federal government for two years upon graduation. CEISARE Director Shambhu Upadhyaya said students can choose from numerous agencies including the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the FBI.

“When students graduate with a specialty in cybersecurity, they can basically go wherever they want,” said Upadhyaya, professor of computer science and engineering.

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UB Rises in Rank Among Top National Universities

The University at Buffalo is again ranked as one of the best universities in the country, according to the annual “Best Colleges” rankings released today by U.S. News and World Report.

UB is ranked No. 51 among all public universities in the U.S. and is No. 106 among both private and public universities in the country. With the ranking, UB again earns the distinction as one of the nation’s “Best National Universities,” according to the magazine.

UB moved up five spots among all universities and improved three spots among public universities, compared to last year’s U.S. News rankings. UB has moved up a total of 15 spots in the “Best National Universities” category since 2010.

More than 1,500 of the country’s four-year colleges and universities were considered by U.S. News for the rankings in a handful of categories.

U.S. News also ranked UB No. 19 nationwide for graduating students with the “least debt.” The average amount of debt for UB students who incur debt is $17,440, and more than half of UB students graduated without debt, according to the U.S. News.

UB’s national ranking was also boosted by its graduation rate, which improved from 67 percent to 71 percent. Graduation rates are weighted heavily in the U.S. News rankings. UB also scored well in academic reputation, student selectivity and student retention.

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UB Researchers Receive NFL Charities Grant to Study Concussions

University at Buffalo sports medicine researchers have been awarded $100,000 from NFL Charities to develop the most objective, scientific method of determining when an athlete who has had a concussion can safely return to play.

NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League owners, has awarded the 18-month grant to researchers at the Concussion Management Clinic in the Department of Orthopaedics in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The grant to UB is one of 15 totaling $1.5 million that NFL Charities is providing to researchers nationwide to support sports-related medical research on concussion/traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular medicine.

“Concussion itself poses little risk if it is properly managed; the only risk acutely is hemorrhage, which is generally detected through CT scans,” says Dr. John Leddy, director of UB’s Concussion Management Clinic and principal investigator on the grant.

“However, return to play before complete recovery involves much more serious risk,” Leddy continues. “Therefore, it is important that a systematic, scientifically based return-to-play protocol be established and that it is proven to be valid and reliable. This is what we will be doing with this grant.”

To date, that hasn’t existed, he says, with team physicians often relying on more subjective assessments of an athlete’s ability to exercise without experiencing symptoms.

Leddy will conduct the research with his colleague, Barry Willer, UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation science, who is co-principal investigator on the grant.

Over the next 18 months, the UB researchers will test between 35 and 50 athletes from the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres and athletes from Western New York colleges, including UB, who sustain concussions in the 2012-2013 season, as well as healthy control subjects.

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New Undergraduate Academies Spotlight Entrepreneurship, Sustainability

University at Buffalo students will have the chance to explore entrepreneurship and sustainability through two new Undergraduate Academies — living and learning communities that enable students with common interests to live together and share meaningful experiences throughout their college years.

The Entrepreneurship Academy launched this fall with about 40 freshmen. The Sustainability Academy will enroll its first class in fall 2013. The new academies are an example of initiatives undertaken by UB to benefit students using revenues generated by the NYSUNY 2020 bill, signed into law last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Members of each will enjoy opportunities such as exclusive seminars and networking events, all relating to their academy’s central theme. Participants in the Entrepreneurship Academy, for instance, will meet and work with entrepreneurs in Western New York; develop plans for entrepreneurial endeavors; and analyze different styles of entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship.

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Research Highlights Summer Vacation for Some UB Honors College Scholars

Most college students spent the past few months back home enjoying the warm weather and their mother’s home-cooked meals. However, Haley Arnold, a sophomore chemistry major, found herself on Sapelo Island, a small unpopulated island off the coast of Georgia, researching algae blooms.

Arnold, who is also a UB Presidential Scholar, was one of several UB Honors College Scholars who conducted summer research through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). The NSF program funds students in engineering and the sciences to study at a variety of universities that this summer included the University of Alabama, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wisconsin.

Geoffrey Fatin, a sophomore physics major and Presidential Scholar, was assigned to an REU site at Wayne State University to study triple vector boson production at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which was home to the world’s second-largest energy particle accelerator.

UB’s Honors College pushes its students to complete undergraduate research to prepare them for graduate school. Scholars can use the opportunity to preview graduate programs and build relationships with faculty, all while working on interesting projects during the summer.

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