Campus News

Five UB faculty named SUNY Distinguished Professors

SUNY Distinguished Professor medal.

The distinguished professor designation is the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.


Published December 10, 2021

“UB’s nationally and internationally renowned faculty have a tremendously positive impact on our world through their excellent research, scholarship, teaching, creative activities and clinical contributions. ”
Provost A. Scott Weber

Five UB faculty members have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest rank in the SUNY system.

Quanxi Jia, Marianthi Markatou, Janet Morrow, Robert Shibley and Mark Swihart were appointed to the distinguished professor rank by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on Nov. 9. They were among 11 new Distinguished Professors appointed at the meeting.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

The five were all named Distinguished Professors in recognition of their national and/or international prominence and distinguished reputations within their chosen fields. According to SUNY, “this distinction is attained through extraordinary contributions to, and impact on, the candidate’s field of study, often evidenced by significant research and/or creative activity. The work must be of such character that it has the potential to elevate the standards of scholarship or creative activity of colleagues, both within and beyond their academic fields.”

“UB’s nationally and internationally renowned faculty have a tremendously positive impact on our world through their excellent research, scholarship, teaching, creative activities and clinical contributions,” says A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are extremely proud that five of our most distinguished faculty members have been recognized for their leadership and groundbreaking contributions through appointment to SUNY’s highest rank.”     

UB’s newest SUNY Distinguished Professors:

Quanxi Jia.

Quanxi Jia, Empire Innovation Professor and National Grid Professor of Materials Research, is an internationally recognized leader in multifunctional and nanostructured materials for energy and electronic-device applications. He has made significant contributions to the development of high-performance superconducting coated conductors, or 2G wires, for electric-power applications. He has invented and pioneered the polymer-assisted deposition, a cost-effective coating technique to grow a vast number of electronic materials.

Jia has also designed and developed innovative approaches to integrate different materials for desired functionalities, making many original and high-impact contributions to nanostructured materials.

He has authored or co-authored more than 500 peer-reviewed journal articles, delivered more than 100 invited lectures and holds 50 U.S. patents.

Jia is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), National Academy of Inventors (NAI), American Ceramic Society (ACerS), the American Physical Society (APS), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Jia joined the UB faculty in 2016. In addition to his faculty appointment in the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI), a joint program of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences, he also serves as the scientific director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics (CMI), the founding co-editor-in-chief of Materials Research Letters and the principal editor of the Journal of Materials Research.

Marianthi Markatou.

Marianthi Markatou, professor of biostatistics and associate chair of research and healthcare informatics in the Department of Biostatistics, is an internationally renowned expert in biostatistics, statistics and biomedical informatics. She has conducted seminal methodological research that has significantly advanced the fields of statistical robustness, mixture models, statistical distances, weighted likelihood methods and statistical machine learning.

Markatou has earned a distinguished reputation as an interdisciplinary scholar and has made pioneering contributions to both statistical sciences and domain sciences. Her interdisciplinary work has applied her rigorous statistical methodologies to advance pharmaco-epidemiological and emerging safety sciences research, biomedical informatics such as text mining to support patient safety, and computer science including “big data” analysis and data science.

Her work has been continuously supported by external funding agencies since 1990, and her influential statistical publications have appeared in highly regarded journals. Her current awards, including a $7 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Kaleida Health Foundation, support Markatou’s pioneering work on the foundations of data science and application to biomedical and public health research.

Among her many honors and awards, Markatou has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and a member of the International Statistical Institute.

Janet Morrow.

Janet R. Morrow, Larkin Chair and UB Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is a highly regarded expert in the field of metal ion complexes in biology and in biomedical imaging. She is recognized for her invention of transition metal-based MRI contrast agents that have the potential to monitor disease states including bimodal imaging agents, paramagnetic liposomes and self-assembled cages as theranostic agents for imaging drug delivery to tumors.

Early in her career, she carried out highly cited studies on the mechanism for the recognition and sequence-specific cleavage of RNA by metal ion complexes, on the development of luminescence methods to study lanthanide complex catalysts, and the incorporation of lanthanide ions into modified DNA structures. To commercialize recent work on iron MRI contrast agents, she co-founded Ferric Contrast Inc., for which she serves as chief scientific officer.

Morrow has authored more than 120 publications, 12 book chapters and nine patents, and serves as associate editor of Inorganic Chemistry, the premier American Chemical Society journal in the discipline. She is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a Special Award for Creativity from the NSF, and the Schoellkopf Medal from the ACS. She is a fellow of the AAAS.

Robert Shibley.

Robert G. Shibley, professor and dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, is a globally renowned scholar, recognized for his work on the theory and practice of placemaking — the way we transform the places we are into places we love.

He has authored more than 120 publications, including 17 books and 15 book chapters. His productivity is all the more impressive given the significant administrative roles he has held, first as chair of the Department of Architecture during the 1980s, and as dean for the past decade.

Shibley has worked as principal investigator with faculty, staff, students and collaborating partners on over 80 Buffalo-based projects totaling more than $25 million in sponsorships. The work has received global attention for its impact on the people and places of Buffalo, and its elevation of practice-based research in architecture and urban planning. The work has also led to top national awards in his disciplines, including an American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Thomas Jefferson Award and induction into the College of Fellows in the AIA, and the American Institute of Certified Planners.

He is the recipient of the UB President’s Medal, the New York State AIA Educator of the Year Award, and 45 other international, national and regional honors for outstanding design and planning projects, as well as additional lifetime achievement awards.

Mark Swihart.

Mark Swihart is UB Distinguished Professor, chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Empire Innovation Professor in the UB RENEW Institute. He is recognized globally for developing new nanoscale materials, engineering practical processes for producing unique materials, and generating fundamental understanding of those processes. Nanoscale materials exhibit size-dependent properties and functions that enable new high-impact applications from biomedical imaging to renewable energy, and Swihart has made key contributions to the synthesis and post-processing of these materials. His research group has developed methods and materials that have been adopted by researchers and industry worldwide.

He has published more than 285 manuscripts on these subjects, which have been cited roughly 20,000 times. He co-authored the two most recent editions of the best-selling chemical engineering undergraduate textbook of all time and has co-founded two startup companies. He is a fellow of AIChE and AAAS, and has been recognized with the Schoellkopf Medal from the American Chemical Society and the Whitby Award from the American Association for Aerosol Research.

Swihart has led multiple campus-wide initiatives, including the UB 2020 Strategic Strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems and the New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, and has collaborated broadly within and beyond UB, promoting interdisciplinary and convergent research approaches.