Jacobs School Students Lauded for Academic Excellence

Published August 1, 2019

Ten students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences were honored for outstanding achievements during the University at Buffalo’s 2019 Celebration of Student Academic Excellence.

“I’m very proud of how far our undergraduate and graduate research endeavors have come over the last 15 years. We are clearly successful in bringing together faculty and students to break ground in their respective fields or to address society’s most pressing issues.”
UB President

The awardees were among students from disciplines across the university who were awarded — or nominated for — national, State University of New York (SUNY) and UB awards.

Maloney Nominated for Trio of Honors

Erin Maloney, who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering and bioengineering, was nominated for three honors — the British Marshall Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP) and the Fulbright Scholarship.

Maloney, now studying for her doctorate in biomedical engineering and bioengineering at Cornell University, served as president of the UB chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

She coordinated a trip to La Laguna in the highlands of Nicaragua in which five engineering students were involved in a project to bring clean drinking water to the isolated community.

She was also vice president and co-founder of the UB chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Two others who earned bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering — Olive M. Smith and Brandon M. Ruszala — were also nominees for the NSFGRFP.

Bleasdale, O’Donnell Get Chancellor’s Award

Two students who earned bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences — Jacob M. Bleasdale and Katherine T. O’Donnell — were recognized with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

Bleasdale, a University Honors College scholar, conducted research at the Jacobs School, the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Erie County Medical Center.

He served as a teaching assistant in UB’s Department of Biological Sciences and University Honors College and was an intern in the UB Intercultural and Diversity Center, in addition to being a health educator with the Erie County Department of Health.

O’Donnell, a University Honors College scholar, is a published author. She served as president of the Association of Pre-Medical Students and a tour guide for UB’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

She has presented her research on nutrition and exercise topics at the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine. O’Donnell is also an artist and a teaching assistant at Buffalo String Works.

Research on Encapsulated Fungus Earns Honor

Jay B. Leipheimer, a trainee in the doctoral program in microbiology and immunology, earned a UB Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity in the graduate student category.

He is doing research on cryptococcus neoformans, an encapsulated fungus that causes almost 250,000 deaths a year worldwide.

Leipheimer studies under research mentor John C. Panepinto, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology.

Three spring graduates — Ajay Baindur, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences; Tanner I. Wakefield, who earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology; and Courtney M. Wolff, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering — were honored with awards in the undergraduate student category.

Zhang Honored With PhD Dissertation Award

Yumiao Zhang, PhD, who earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering in 2016, was honored with the UB Outstanding PhD Dissertation Award.

Presented annually by the Graduate School, the award acknowledges a truly outstanding dissertation researched and written by a UB doctoral student who has received a PhD from UB within the past five years.

His dissertation was titled “Low Temperature Block Copolymer Processing for Biomedical Applications.”

As a student in the research group of Jonathan F. Lovell, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering, Zhang’s dissertation focused on the development of a novel class of drug/dye carrier, surfactant stripped frozen micelle, to solve a wide variety of biomedical problems including intestinal imaging by photoacoustic method and safe pharmaceutical formulations with minimal toxicity.

Zhang is now a professor at Tianjin University in China.

Student Research on Display at Ceremony

The 15th annual celebration included a research poster exhibition in the Center for the Arts atrium in which some 300 different research projects from a variety of UB’s academic disciplines were on display.

“I’m very proud of how far our undergraduate and graduate research endeavors have come over the last 15 years,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said. “We are clearly successful in bringing together faculty and students to break ground in their respective fields or to address society’s most pressing issues.”

Over the course of the ceremony, multiple videos that demonstrated the exemplary work done by UB students were shown to the audience.