Commencement 2014

David Shubert, PhD, and Karina Vattana.

David Shubert, PhD (right), presents bachelor’s degree recipient Karina Vattana with an Outstanding Senior in Biomedical Sciences award.

UB Awards 200-Plus Biomedical Science Degrees; 13 Earn PhDs

Published May 16, 2014

The University at Buffalo graduated 214 students in diverse biomedical science fields during a May 15 commencement ceremony.

Thirteen doctoral, 38 master’s and 163 baccalaureate candidates were eligible to receive degrees.

The graduates completed work in 10 departments or programs of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences:

Graduates also completed the following programs offered in alliance with the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Graduate Division: cancer pathology and prevention, molecular pharmacology and cancer therapeutics, cellular and molecular biology, molecular and cellular biophysics and biochemistry, natural sciences and genetics and pharmacology.

Degrees were conferred by UB President Satish Tripathi during the event at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

Outstanding Graduates Recognized

Three doctoral candidates and six undergraduates received special recognition for outstanding accomplishments.

Graduate Dissertation Research Awards

The Biochemistry Dissertation Research Recognition Award
Dean’s Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research

Jason Rizzo, MD, PhD, received both awards for his dissertation, “Resolving Genome-Wide Views of Chromatin Structure to Identify Fundamental Principles of Genome Organization.”

Rizzo was honored for research that received national or international recognition and for being selected to give an oral presentation at a major national or international meeting.

He is a 2014 graduate of UB’s joint MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program.

Major Professor: Michael Buck, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry

The Microbiology and Immunology Award for Excellence in Dissertation Research in Memory of Dr. Murray W. Stinson

The award recognizes outstanding dissertation research along with a well-rounded, excellent academic record that includes publications and presentations related to the research.

Recipient: Cara Clementi

Dissertation: Internalization and Trafficking of Nontypeable Haemophilus influenza in Human Respiratory Epithelial Cells and the Roles of IgA1 Proteases for Optimal Internalization and Persistence

Major Professor: Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine

Dennis Higgins Award for PhD Dissertation Research in Pharmacology and Toxicology

This award recognizes dissertation research that has culminated in presentations at national and international meetings, publications, research grant fellowships and awards of excellence. Recipients are committed to community service and collegiality within the scientific community.

Recipient: Alexander Morrison-Nozik

Dissertation: Regulatory Mechanisms of AMP-activated Protein Kinase in Limiting Myocardial Infarction

Major Professor: Ji Li, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology

Undergraduate Outstanding Senior Awards

The following awards honor high academic performance and involvement in the campus community and external organizations


Recipient: Andrea Schneider
Program Director: Gail R. Willsky, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry

Biomedical Sciences

Recipient: Karina Vattana
Program Director: David E. Shubert, PhD, assistant dean for undergraduate biomedical education


Recipient: Padraic Thomas Philbin
Program Director: Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD, professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences

Medical Technology

Recipient: Raven Casselano
Program Director: Carol K. Golyski, MS, MT, CLS, clinical assistant professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences

Nuclear Medicine Technology

Recipient: Christopher Richard Lyons
Program Coordinator: Elpida S. Crawford, MS, CNMT, clinical associate professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Recipient: William Street Waller III
Program Director: James R. Olson, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology

Honored Speaker Studies Protein Degradation in Aging

Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD, delivered the commencement address.

A leader in the field of protein degradation in relation to the biology of aging, she is interested in understanding how altered proteins can be eliminated from cells. 

Cuervo co-directs the Einstein Institute for Aging Studies at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. She is professor of medicine and developmental and molecular biology as well as the Robert and Renee Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases.