campus news

UB faculty, staff receive SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

SUNY Chancellor's medal.


Published May 31, 2024


Twenty-two faculty and staff members have been named recipients of the 2024 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

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. Recipients are Liise Kayler, clinical professor, program director kidney and pancreas transplantation and chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery, Department of Surgery, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Blaine Pfeifer, professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Michael Rembis, associate professor, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences; Tarunraj Singh, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Michal Stachowiak, professor, Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, Jacobs School; and Chi Zhou, assistant professor, departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. Recipients are Bernard Badzioch, associate professor, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, and Janice Trigilio Tona, clinical associate professor and Occupational Therapy Program director, Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service recognizes “the consistently superior service contributions of teaching faculty” sustained over a period of time. Recipients are Jason Benedict, associate professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences; Rachael Hageman Blair, associate professor, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Xuedong Hu, professor, Department of Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” Recipients are Lori Chiarilli, associate director for marketing and digital media, Marketing Communications and Outreach, Office of the Vice President for Student Life; Teresa Metz, associate director, CAS Technology Node, College of Arts and Sciences; Cory Nealon, director of media relations, University Communications; Rekha Prativadi, assistant facilities program coordinator, Design & Construction; Sara Robinson, director of undergraduate advisement and recruitment, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Shanna Snider, instructional support technician, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences; Mark Woodward, Learning Management System administrator, Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation; and Carol Van Zile-Tamsen, associate vice provost and director, Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service recognizes classified staff members who have consistently demonstrated superlative performance within and beyond their position. This year’s recipients are Kerri Bigler, secretary 1, Residential Life; Wanda Hemedinger, cleaner, Custodial Services; and Helen Sheron, graduate coordinator, Department of Sociology.

Bernard Badzioch.

Bernard Badzioch is an innovative educator whose class materials alone are lauded and sought after by both students and faculty alike.

Since joining the Department of Mathematics in 2004, Badzioch has taught 17 courses, from freshman-level to advanced graduate courses, and earned consistently high evaluation scores. He has also been an adviser for six PhD students and one master’s student.

His course materials, which include lecture notes, websites, self-made YouTube videos and online homework exercises, are “prized among students for their lucidity.” Even Badzioch’s colleagues routinely use them due to their “clarity, completeness, rigor … and elegance.”

In addition to sharing classroom resources, Badzioch is credited with creating an environment where students feel comfortable voicing questions and discussing concepts. Students say he has the “rare skill, particularly amongst mathematicians,” to understand even their most incomprehensible questions and answer in a way that makes them feel good for having asked it. 

Badzioch served as the department’s director of undergraduate studies for five years and currently serves as its associate chair.

Jason Benedict.

Jason Benedict’s peers credit him with “staggering and exceptional service” to UB since joining the faculty in 2011, as well as for having made a national impact on K-12 STEM education and outreach.

Benedict served as director of graduate studies for the Department of Chemistry from 2018-22. Under his leadership, the department began participating in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Bridge Program, which seeks to increase the number of underrepresented students who obtain PhDs in the chemical sciences. He also helped create and co-chaired the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

 Benedict served as a SUNY faculty senator from 2018-19 and as a member of the UB Faculty Senate from 2017-23. 

He has also served on numerous committees and boards outside of the SUNY system, including those of the ACS Western New York section, the Advanced Photon Source User Organization and the Society for Science at User Research Facilities.

In 2014, Benedict founded and continues to administer the U.S. Crystal Growing Competition for K-12 students. Each year, thousands of students nationwide take part in the contest.

A materials scientist and expert on crystals, Benedict is co-principal investigator of the National Science Foundation’s ChemMatCARS beamline, a high-energy X-ray facility that provides researchers access to advanced synchrotron technologies for experiments in crystallography and other fields.

Kerri Bigler.

Kerri Bigler juggles a large volume of duties as an administrative assistant in the Office of Residential Life, where she has worked for more than a decade.

Whether Bigler is serving as the primary point of contact for the department or arranging meal plans and room waivers for more than 230 paraprofessionals, her work for the students and staff at UB impacts on everything from housing to safety to conduct to billing.

But aside from her abilities, it’s Bigler’s customer service that is held in such high regard. She ensures students and staff are kept informed. She goes above and beyond, often staying late to resolve the latest predicament. Thanks to her resourcefulness, Bigler continues to find ways to accommodate a variety of workstyles and preferences for supervisory staff.

“She consistently leads by example in meeting key customer service standards for large, public-facing programs like UB’s “Opening Weekend” and “Discovery Days,” her nomination letter reads. “At these events, it is apparent that she is driven to provide an extremely positive experience for all visitors and prospective students.”

Lori Chiarilli.

Lori Chiarilli is associate director for marketing and digital media in Student Life, where she stewards the communication content students want and need to know.

Whether it’s providing timely campus updates or rethinking the digital landscape to better communicate with students, Chiarilli is not only appreciated for her skills as a communicator but for her sincere commitment to serving the student body. 

“Always advocating for new ways to share messaging, Lori places an unwavering priority on students first in anything she does and has grounded a career on sound principles and an unparalleled work ethic toward those initiatives,” says John Lambert, senior director of marketing, communications and external engagement for Student Life.

Chiarilli, a UB alumna whose career in Student Life spans more than 30 years, was named assistant director of marketing and communications in 2014 and associate director in 2019.

Her comprehensive knowledge of university-wide communications has made Chiarilli a valuable part of numerous campus committees, pilot groups and projects.

“Exceptionally analytical, superbly deductive, relentlessly insightful — I am regularly impressed with the manner in which Lori goes about her work,” says Jeff Smith, associate vice president for marketing and digital communications in University Communications. “There is a rigor and intensity to what she does that I truly value and appreciate, and she brings a wit to her interactions that just makes you want to collaborate with her.” 

Rachael Hageman Blair.

Rachael Hageman Blair, a member of the UB community since 2011, is “an exemplary scholar and a passionate educator.” An expert in artificial intelligence, bioinformatics and data mining, Hageman Blair serves as co-director of UB’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

She is a nationally and internationally recognized biostatistician whose “unique skillset in high-demand topics makes her an incredibly sought-after scholar in the field.”

In addition, Hageman Blair is widely regarded for her cross-disciplinary mentorship, guiding students from the Department of Biostatistics, as well as other departments within SPHHP and serves as associate director of education in UB’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence. 

Hageman Blair’s popularity among students is demonstrated by the fact that enrollment for Statistical Data Mining I and II, courses she has taught since 2012, has surpassed 600 students over the past three years — a number considered “unprecedented” in the history of the Department of Biostatistics.

From participating in speaking engagements at high schools across Western New York, to organizing community engagement events for educators on the rapidly changing field of AI, to developing a summer series for interdisciplinary graduate students, Hageman Blair has, in one colleague’s words, created a “pipeline to biostatistics and data science.”

Wanda Hemedinger.

A dedicated member of the UB staff for 16 years, Wanda Hemedinger is known across the university for her exceptional work, positive outlook and deep expertise regarding the university’s custodial equipment and services. She is often specifically requested by members of the university community who have come to know her, and her manager regularly receives feedback complimenting her efforts and attitude.

Hemedinger has faced numerous changes and challenges with grace and agility. She has worked in multiple buildings on campus, and while faculty and staff members have expressed regret to see her move on to a new area, she has thrived in each environment. Moreover, she successfully adapted to the ever-changing nature of custodial services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hemedinger is committed to advancing her knowledge and elevating the university’s custodial services. When new equipment was acquired last year, she not only embraced the opportunity to try it but excelled at using it. She is consistently focused on learning new techniques, finding ways to meet the university’s needs and accommodating her colleagues’ schedules to maintain an exceptional living-learning environment.

Always sensitive to the confidential material present in some university offices, Hemedinger demonstrates exemplary professionalism when fulfilling the responsibilities of her position.

Xuedong Hu.

As UB’s first-ever faculty member with a scholarly focus on quantum computing, Xuedong Hu has balanced pioneering research with departmental leadership responsibilities. 

After arriving in the Department of Physics in 2002 accompanied by great enthusiasm, Hu has “more than delivered” by putting UB in competitive positions for state and federal funding, organizing researchers to form a strong and cohesive team, and partnering with leading researchers at other institutions.

And his cutting-edge scholarship has not diminished his impact on the department’s day-to-day functions. He was recently appointed chair after serving as interim chair since last year.

Prior to that, during more than a decade as the department’s director of graduate studies, he spearheaded a reform of the PhD program’s admissions process and led the Graduate Studies Committee to develop a new system that helps retain talented students.

Moreover, Hu provided critical vision for the graduate program during the COVID-19 pandemic and barriers to international student enrollment. Under his leadership, the department mitigated the potential for lower enrollment.

Hu has also remained committed to teaching. As one of two instructors assigned to PHY 118, his exceptional teaching at the beginning of students’ academic careers has been attributed to seven undergraduate physics students being chosen as Goldwater Scholars.

One colleague noted that Hu’s “depth and thoughtfulness attract people and will keep our department growing in the future.”

Liise Kayler.

Liise Kayler is praised as an “ardent advocate for several initiatives to increase access to transplantation for all patients, but particularly those who are underserved or are from vulnerable populations.”

Internationally renowned for her expertise in renal transplantation, Kayler focuses her scholarly pursuits on determining the factors that make a kidney ideal for successful transplant procedures.

Her goal, award nominators say, is to create a larger pool of available transplantable kidneys.

Since joining UB, Kayler has been the PI, site PI or co-PI on 16 grants totaling more than $8 million from the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the New York State Department of Health, among others. In 2021, she was named the co-PI on a $2.6 million NIH R01 grant to increase live donor kidney transplantation through video-based education and mobile communication.

Kayler also is the site PI for two other trials: a $2.5 million grant to test the utility of cell-free DNA testing compared to standard creatinine testing, and a $383,000 grant to evaluate whether introducing cell-free DNA testing into clinical practice reduces the number of renal biopsies performed when compared with usual care.

An advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in health care and combating structural racism, Kaylor co-founded and is president of the New York Center for Kidney Transplantation, a statewide collaborative to improve access to kidney transplantation, and serves on the board of directors of the Kidney Foundation of WNY. In her clinical practice, she established an academic-community partnership with underrepresented patients that established themselves into the nonprofit organization Kidney Health Together to improve the lives of all kidney failure patients.

Theresa Metz.

As associate director of educational technology in the College of Arts and Sciences (CASet), Teresa Metz plays a pivotal role in managing and directing the majority of technical work requests and projects. Her consistent dedication and efficiency have significantly contributed to resolving work orders and handling requests.

Responsible for supervising both professional and student staff, Metz takes care to anticipate the college’s technical demands and ensure that her staff is equipped with the training and resources required to support the college’s instructional needs. She is committed to staying up to date on the latest technological advancement in higher education.

Metz joined UB in 1992 as a network software lead programmer analyst before becoming the associate director of CASet. When the College of Arts and Sciences was formed in 1998 after the merger of the faculties of Arts and Letters, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, she was instrumental in forming a cohesive IT support team for the newly created college from the previously separate groups. She also played a critical role in developing a new ticketing system for the college’s IT work orders that is still used to this day.

Metz is praised by colleagues for her willingness to share technical knowledge instead of hoarding it, as well as her ability to mentor and nurture her staff in their professional goals — even if it leads them to take new positions. She is also an active advocate for the inclusion of women and non-binary individuals in IT and STEM.

Cory Nealon.

Cory Nealon is a skilled communicator whose media outreach, trust with faculty and mentorship of other UB communicators has advanced the university’s reputation with national and global news outlets, and elevated the day-to-day communications practice at the university.

A UB alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in English and his master’s degree in business administration, Nealon began his career as a newspaper reporter in New York and Virginia before joining UB’s professional staff. During his more than a decade in the Division of University Communications, he has served as a news content manager, director of news content and director of media relations.

Nealon has been a significant driver in the appearance of UB faculty experts in notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, the BBC, CBS Evening News and the Today Show, among others. Among his responsibilities are the curation and stewardship of the UB Faculty Experts database, an invaluable resource in connecting media outlets with UB faculty and intentionally framing the university’s story. His work on the database has helped cultivate UB’s reputation as a premier public research university.

Known for his ability to “jump into action at a moment’s notice,” Nealon played an integral role in developing university communications for Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2022 visit to campus. He also was an active participant in UB’s crisis communications team during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to serve on the UB Alert team that is tasked with developing quick-response emergency communications.

Blaine Pfeifer.

Blaine Pfeifer is a leader in the field of metabolic engineering in bacteria. Recently, his lab has been working on vaccine development research and creating delivery vehicles to enhance vaccine potency.

He earned a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University and then held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Appointed an assistant professor at Tufts University in 2004, Pfeifer held this position until joining UB as an associate professor in 2011. He was promoted to full professor in 2017.

Pfeifer has authored 115 articles and five book chapters, and has been awarded one U.S. patent. Supporters of his research include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Defense. He is currently a co-principal investigator on two NIH grants totaling more than $4.4 million.

A devoted teacher, Pfeifer has successfully guided 13 PhD students — including 11 at UB — and five postdoctoral associates. Four former postdoctoral associates now hold faculty positions in China, while one former PhD student is a professor at Rutgers University. Other PhD graduates work at Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novavax, AbbVie, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Pfeifer is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Rekha Prativadi.

Rekha Prativadi, project manager in Design and Construction, University Facilities, has had a profound influence on UB’s learning landscape.

During her 23-year career at the university, Prativadi has a portfolio of 375 renovation projects spanning the spectrum across all three campuses.

Her notable endeavors are centrally scheduled classrooms and learning landscapes — alcoves, lounges and study areas — that significantly enhance the educational infrastructure and encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Prativadi’s other projects include 1Capen, the Buffalo Room and the vestibule in O’Brian Hall.

Colleagues laud Prativadi’s contributions as a “transformative force shaping the very fabric of our institution. Her legacy of excellence and mentorship illuminates the path for generations to come, ensuring our educational spaces remain vibrant hubs of learning and innovation.”

A licensed architect and code official, Prativadi earned her master’s degree from UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. She joined University Facilities as an architectural designer and is now leading several pivotal projects that redefine UB’s educational spaces.

Kimberly Navarroli, director of the Office of Design and Construction, summed up Prativadi’ s impact on UB this way: “With her genuinely warm and sage service, she keeps the University at Buffalo moving ever toward excellence with her tenacious drive for project management proficiency and a love of spaces that welcome, inspire and bring us closer together as one community at UB.” 

Michael Rembis.

Michael Rembis is an interdisciplinary historian who serves as director of UB’s Center for Disability Studies. His research interests include work in the fields of disability history and the history of medicine, specializing in what is generally referred to as the history of madness.

Rembis is the author of “Defining Deviance: Sex, Science and Delinquent Girls, 1890-1960,” “Disabling Domesticity” and “Disability: A Reference Handbook.” His latest book, “Writing Mad Lives in the Age of the Asylum,” will be published this winter. He has also co-edited works such as “Disability Histories” and “The Oxford Handbook of Disability History,” winner of the Disability History Association’s Outstanding Book Prize and the American Association for the History of Medicine’s Geroge Rosen Prize. In 2012, with co-editor Kim Nielsen, he launched the “Disability Histories” book series with University of Illinois Press.

As a historian of disability and madness in the 19th- and 20th-century United States, Rembis uses innovative methodologies and “radical empathy” to explore the lived experiences of people confined to institutions and subjected to eugenic interventions. Rembis contends that while discrimination, marginalization and other forms of political oppression have been defining experiences for people with disabilities, they are only one aspect of their rich lives.

Colleagues say this approach has led to “path-breaking analyses” that have transformed the field by considering both disability as a social construct and the lives of people with disabilities.

His work, which has been foundational to disability history, has been funded by, among other organizations, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A dedicated instructor and mentor of both undergraduates and graduates in multiple fields, Rembis received the UB Gender Institute’s Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2021.

Sara Robinson.

Sara Robinson joined the UB staff in 2004 as an adviser and coordinator of the Visit UB program in the Office of Admissions. She served as coordinator of prospect communications in Admissions from 2005 until 2012, when she was hired as director of undergraduate advisement and recruitment, and an academic adviser in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Recently promoted to senior academic adviser, her responsibilities include advising some 400 pre-pharmacy and pre-pharmaceutical sciences students on academic guidelines, university policies, admission requirements and transitional life issues; maintaining the UB Learns pre-pharmacy advising portal; coordinating combined-degree programs with other schools; recruiting faculty to mentor first-year students; and helping organize open house events.

Colleagues cite numerous areas where Robinson has worked both within and beyond her performance program. For example, she established more collaborative relationships with colleagues and units across the university, including undergraduate Admissions, University Honors, Athletics and Pre-Health Advising. She also revamped many of the school’s recruitment activities, transforming the open houses to include more experiential and academic engagement activities, including research labs.

In addition, she developed and is the course instructor for PHM 101: Pharmacy is Right for Me, which focuses on preparing new undergraduate students for the Early Assurance Program. As this course offers students an advantage in securing a seat in the four-year PharmD program after completing two years of prescribed undergraduate course work, it has become a primary recruitment vehicle for the PharmD program.

Robinson has received numerous professional awards, among them the UB Undergraduate Advisement Council Outstanding Advisor Award, the pharmacy school’s Julie Kopfer Staff Award for excellence, WNY Advising’s Sarah J. Piraino Award, and the SUNY College Admissions Professionals (SUNYCAP) Admissions Professional Award.

Helen Sheron.

Helen “Susie” Sheron is an administrative assistant in the departments of Sociology and Environment and Sustainability, where she has provided graduate student support for the past six years.

Sheron fields questions from students on everything from registration to graduation requirements; returns every email and every voicemail to a prompt resolution; and, generally, uses her talents and organizational skills to keep the offices running smoothly.

She is particularly known for taking a personal interest in students. She learns their names, their backgrounds, congratulates them on their successes, consoles them on their disappointments and provides an empathetic ear when needed.

“Ms. Sheron has gone above and beyond to ensure students feel welcomed and supported,” her nomination letter reads. “From the moment students attend orientation through to graduation, her wealth of knowledge guides and comforts them as they advance in their studies.”

Tarunraj Singh.

Tarunraj Singh is a world-renowned researcher in dynamics and controls. This broad area of study allows him to explore topics as varied as the regulation of blood glucose in Type 1 diabetes, as well as the development of acoustic metamaterials.

He earned a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo and began his career as an assistant research engineer at Texas A&M University. In 1993, he joined UB as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and full professor in 2005.

Singh has received nearly $8 million in funding from the NSF, National Geospatial Agency, Air Force Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Honda, Praxair and Delphi.

He has written a book, 104 peer-reviewed journal papers and 185 conference papers. Singh has mentored 13 PhD students, 49 MS thesis students and 15 MS project students at UB. He has also created numerous graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of data assimilation, nonlinear control, system identification and vibration control.

Singh is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Mechanical Engineering. He is an associate fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. His awards include the prestigious von Humboldt fellowship (Germany) and a fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.

Shanna Snider.

Shanna Snider joined UB in 2011 as an instructional support technician in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she expertly manages the department’s laboratories.

Snider ensures laboratory classes are prepared for instruction, oversees teaching assistants and students using advanced equipment, and works with faculty on developing new experiments for their courses.

Colleagues praise Snider’s time-management skills, which she uses to ready the labs so students can run multiple experiments on the same day, work with various model organisms and apply a range of advanced techniques.

To facilitate, Snider provides streamlined notes and visuals for teaching assistants. If not for her efficient planning, faculty insist these upper-division labs would not run as effectively as they do.

Snider often works evenings and weekends, preparing cell cultures for time-dependent observations and measurements. She is known as a stickler for detail, and for making sure all tasks are performed in exemplary fashion.

“Shanna looks into the future, does whatever is needed to prepare, predicts what’s needed and yet also manages to remain calm with whatever wrenches students or circumstances throw in our path,” says Jessica Poulin, teaching professor and director of the Honors Program in biological sciences. “I have come to rely on her presence to ensure my very compressed summer schedule class is as stress free as possible.”

Michael Stachowiak.

Michal K. Stachowiak is regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers on fibroblast growth factor signaling and, more broadly, as a firmly established leader in the neuroscience community.  

Stachowiak’s studies revealed a novel molecular mechanism called an Integrative Nuclear Signaling (INFS) that operates at the interface of the developmental epigenomic signals and the genomic information. This mechanism integrates the epigenomic signals to elicit coordinate regulations of thousands of genes, a process deemed essential for the cell transitions between developmental stages. Targeting the INFS in cancer therapy has been investigated in several leading cancer laboratories.

Stachowiak has made several seminal discoveries and developed innovative concepts to significantly influence our perception of the genome — its function, structure and regulation. He advanced the Genome Archipelago model and the theory of the Systems Genome as the principles underwriting development, developmental diseases and different types of cancer. He has integrated human brain organoids, genome and new optogenomic research (light control of genome functions) to explore new therapies.

His studies and theoretical considerations have advanced understanding of how the genome programs the development of nerve cells. In particular, he has focused on malformations in neuro-developmental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Stachowiak’s work has appeared in numerous high-impact journals over the years, including a seminal 1996 first-author paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell in which he reported the presence of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) protein in the nuclei of cells. This receptor mechanism has been the focus of much of Stachowiak’s research ever since.

The recipient of numerous accolades for his scholarly achievements, Stachowiak was honored in 2017 as a Fulbright Distinguished Professor, serving as chair of medical sciences at the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 2022, UB honored him with the Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievement.

Janice Trigillo Tona.

Janice Tona has four decades of experience as a registered occupational therapist and three decades of experience in academia. She is regarded for her “remarkable commitment to educate and mentor students through profound times of change and challenge.”

As director of the occupational therapy program, “her implementation of creative solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic preserved the continuity of students’ education and fieldwork, resulting in all class of 2021 occupational therapy students graduating that year.”

Tona is an extremely collaborative educator who has fostered projects that include UB’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) program and micro-credential program. She has also collaborated with the School of Dental Medicine on providing dental care to people with disabilities, which has led to improved training for students in both fields.

These collaborations have resulted in “superior training and increased professional prospects for students after graduation.” During the past five years of her program leadership, 95% of OT students have passed the national exam, and all students have received jobs within nine months of looking.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge for fieldwork, Dr. Tona was dedicated to ensuring that students had the tools and experience to graduate as planned.”

Carol Van Zile-Tamsen.

Carol Van Zile-Tamsen is a leader in promoting effective teaching, learning and assessment at UB.

She joined the university in 2001 as a data manager and statistician at the Research Institute on Addictions (now the Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions). Five years later she was hired as a research analyst at the Office of Institutional Analysis and in 2012 became associate director of the Office of University Accreditation and Assessment. The same year, she was tapped to co-chair two of UB’s Middle States assessment self-study teams.

Her Middle States experience led her to propose creation of a dedicated office to oversee academic program assessment and promote effective, innovative instructional support for faculty and students. She was appointed associate director of that office — the Center for Educational Innovation — in 2014.

In 2021, she led the merger of CEI and the Office of Educational Effectiveness to create the Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation (CATT), where she was appointed associate vice provost and director. In this role, she has shepherded the university community through the recent UB Learns transition from the Blackboard LMS (learning management system) to Brightspace, working with faculty across the university and coordinating with her team to provide support via online trainings, workshops, tutorials and consultations for LMS users.

Van Zile-Tamsen currently serves as a co-chair of the Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee, once again helping UB prepare its extensive self-study as part of the current reaccreditation process. UB expects to receive reaccreditation in June at the Middle States commission meeting.

Mark Woodward.

A member of the UB community as a senior programmer analyst since 2000, Mark Woodard has served as UB’s Learning Management System (LMS) administrator for the Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation (CATT) for more than 20 years. In this role, he directs and administers the operation of, and support for, UB Learns, the university’s centrally supported LMS. His responsibilities include developing partnerships with UBIT, the Office of Institutional Analysis, UB Libraries and the Office of Records and Registration to ensure an accessible and effective LMS experience for students and employees.

In 2020, when instruction transitioned to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Woodard and his CATT colleagues joined staff in UBIT, Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs and UB Libraries to help instructors convert in-person courses to an online format. He and his team ensured a smooth transition to online instruction, managing instructor and student questions and concerns.

Post-pandemic, he has led the operational and technical support efforts for the recent and successful UB Learns transition from the Blackboard platform to Brightspace, a project that required Woodard and his team to sustain all operations within the old LMS as they migrated content to the new one. Among their duties were leading technical oversight to the campus implementation project team, adapting customer support protocols to respond to the growing adoption of Brightspace, helping advise and manage new training for the Brightspace user interface and monitoring the completion of courses in Blackboard while launching new courses in Brightspace.

Chi Zhou.

Chi Zhou has distinguished himself as an international leader in3D printing and is being recognized for his creativity and innovation in the field.

His research, which leverages modeling, optimization and simulation tools, can improve quality of life through development of living tissues and organs, as well as energy storage and conversion devices.

Zhou also has developed sustainable, multistage 3D-printing processes that significantly reduce energy waste and improve efficiency — in alignment with the White House’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Earning a master’s degree in computer science in 2010 and a PhD in industrial engineering in 2011, both from the University of Southern California, Zhou joined UB as an assistant professor in 2013. In 2019, he was promoted to associate professor.

Zhou has received 30 grants totaling more than $10 million from the NSF and the DOE, among other organizations. Zhou has authored a total of 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, the majority in top engineering journals within the advanced manufacturing field.

Zhou has advised eight PhD students, 14 master’s students, two visiting scholars and two dozen other undergraduate and graduate students. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, among other awards.