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Award Honors Campagnari as Outstanding Grad Student Mentor

Published April 6, 2015

Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD

Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD

The Graduate School has recognized Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD ’84, professor of microbiology and immunology and medicine, with an Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award.

“He was often a presence in the lab, interacting with us, hands-on training us and just as excited to see our ‘hot-off-the-presses’ data and results as we were. ”
Nicole R. Luke-Marshall, PhD ’00
Research assistant professor of microbiology and immunology

He is one of three faculty members across the University at Buffalo to receive the honor for 2014-2015.

Successful Scientists Laud Influential Mentor

James D. Bangs, PhD, chair of microbiology and immunology, points to “a remarkable record of achievement” for the 11 doctoral students Campagnari has mentored since 1996.

“All were well published in top-notch journals at the time of their graduation,” says Bangs, also the Grant T. Fisher Professor. “Many received top departmental awards for accomplishment in graduate research.” 

He notes that Campagnari’s mentees have gone on to prominent careers as researchers and educators.

Several alumni who nominated Campagnari for the award attribute their promising futures to their mentor’s support.

Career-Long Support

“An important contributing factor to my success is the mentorship and guidance I received and continue to receive from Tony,“ says Melanie J. Filiatrault, PhD ’01. 

“Throughout my career, he has truly inspired me to never give up, and he taught me to believe in myself.”

Filiatrault won the department’s Ernest Witebsky Memorial Award for highest academic achievement in microbiology. She also received a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award fellowship.

She is now a research molecular biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, studying plant-microbe interactions. She also is a courtesy assistant professor at Cornell University.

Inspirational Teaching

Katie Edwards, PhD ’06, was strongly favoring another university before she met with Campagnari, who explained how UB’s PhD program could foster her multidisciplinary interests. “His character, warmth and guidance completely changed my mind and made me choose UB,” Edwards says.

She recalls her mentor’s inspiring teaching.

He could draw from his connections and collaborative research to “highlight real-life applications that related to our microbiology lessons and new concepts emerging in the field,” she says.

“He was able to relate to each of us and inspire us to pursue a deeper understanding of the science leading to the development of new diagnostics and treatments for a number of infectious diseases.”

Edwards now works to develop antibiotic drugs at CUBRC Inc. as a microbiologist research scientist and deputy director of the Biological and Medical Sciences Group. 

Consummate Team Player

Nicole R. Luke-Marshall, PhD ’00, attributes Campagnari’s effectiveness with students to his enthusiasm and respect.

“He treated graduate students as colleagues with valued opinions and contributions,” she recalls, describing him as “a consummate team player.”

“He was often a presence in the lab, interacting with us, hands-on training us and just as excited to see our ‘hot-off-the-presses’ data and results as we were,” says Luke-Marshall, now a research assistant professor at UB.

“He clearly establishes high expectations for his students and then provides abundant encouragement, virtually guaranteeing those expectations will be met.”

He also fosters student success by providing significant development and networking opportunities.

“He fully funded our attendance at national meetings, where every graduate student in our laboratory — from the most inexperienced to the most senior — could discuss their work at poster presentations,” says Luke-Marshall. 

“At these meetings, which were invaluable learning and life experiences, he assisted us in developing a network of professional colleagues and encouraged us to take advantage of opportunities to enrich our careers.”

A Mentor to Emulate

Kristin (Furano) Picardo, PhD ’05, credits Campagnari with helping her realize and reach her future goals.

“During my time in Dr. Campagnari’s lab, I had unwavering support to teach microbiology 301 laboratory and post-baccalaureate summer courses. In these experiences, I discovered my passion was working with undergraduates.”

“I am now living my dream as a professor and research mentor,” says the associate professor of biology at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y.

“I hope to emulate the type of mentorship Dr. Campagnari always provided me when I work with my own students,” she adds. “I try to see their best in them and work to grow their own confidence and skills.”

Advocating Career Success

Pascale Plamondon, PhD ’08, has directly benefited from Campagnari’s willingness to stand by his students and advocate for them.

Plamondon recalls facing a tight deadline to respond to a reviewer’s comments on her soon-to-be-published paper.

“Tony rolled up his sleeves, trained me, and we worked side-by-side, on the same bench, to get the data required to publish,” she says.

“He also makes it a top priority to help his students find their career path and support them in their job searches,” says Plamondon.

Knowing his mentee’s passion for bacteriology, Campagnari told the owner of ZeptoMetrix Corporation that Plamondon would be a perfect fit for the company’s new bacteriology department. 

“I started one month after graduation as a senior scientist and have since been promoted to director of the department,” says Plamondon.

Training Adaptable, Independent Microbiologists

Johanna M. Schwingel, PhD ’09, says her mentor trains “adaptable scientists, ready and able to answer questions and find careers in an ever more challenging job environment.”

“Tony’s desire to encourage students to take responsibility for their own research project builds a more independent scientist,” says Schwingel, now assistant professor of biology at St. Bonaventure University.

As a result, “we were able to generate first author publications during our training,” says Schwingel, who published three primary articles, including two as first author, during her graduate career.

Schwingel says Campagnari also helps students excel by emphasizing broad exposure and collaboration.

“I interacted with several other scientific disciplines, especially with our collaborators in mass spectroscopy,” she says. “Whenever a task could provide us with experience that would be useful in our later careers, Tony pushed us to take the lead.”

“Students in our lab investigated different biological questions, using various techniques, on different bacteria,” she adds. “This helped to strengthen our training as microbiologists.”

Involving Students in Innovative Research

During more than 35 years at UB, Campagnari has excelled as an educator, scientist, inventor and administrator.

Campagnari is an internationally recognized expert in bacterial pathogenesis. In his lab, he routinely involves graduate students in collaborative research focusing on bacterial biofilms. He seeks to develop novel therapies or vaccine antigens for middle ear disease as well as infections arising from joint replacements and prosthetic devices.

As senior associate dean for research and graduate education, Campagnari works to advance biomedical research at UB, especially interdisciplinary and translational research collaborations.

He also oversees UB’s PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences. All UB doctoral students spend their first year of study in this comprehensive gateway program.

A UB alumnus himself, Campagnari earned both his master’s degree in biochemistry and PhD in tumor immunology from the university.

To Be Recognized at Celebration of Excellence

Campagnari received the award during the Graduate School’s Spring Awards ceremony March 27. He also will be recognized at UB’s Celebration of Faculty and Staff Excellence in the fall.