Commencement 2017

38 PhDs Among 249 Biomedical Science Graduates

Published June 5, 2017

Thirty-eight doctoral, 28 master’s and 183 baccalaureate candidates were eligible to receive degrees in biomedical science fields during the May commencement ceremony.

2017 Commencement Video

Biomedical Sciences

Six graduate students and six outstanding senior undergraduates were singled out for special honors. Four graduates received Chancellor’s Awards, the highest State University of New York undergraduate honor.

Graduates completed work in 10 departments or programs of the Jacobs 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, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, molecular and cellular biophysics and biochemistry, molecular pharmacology and cancer therapeutics, and natural sciences.

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, and Charles F. Zurowski, PhD, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, conferred the degrees during the event at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

Outstanding Graduates Recognized

Graduate Dissertation Research Awards

Biochemistry Dissertation Research Recognition Award

Doctoral graduate Kushal Suryamohan 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.

Dissertation: “Regulatory Networks in Development: Understanding the Roles of Cis-Regulatory Modules in Gene Regulatory Network Evolution”

Mentor: Marc S. Halfon, PhD, professor of biochemistry

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

Doctoral graduate Ryan M. Reddinger received this award for his outstanding dissertation research; related publications and presentations; and overall academic achievement.

Dissertation: “The Effect of the Nasopharyngeal Microbiota on Streptococcal Colonization and Pathogenesis in the Post-Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Era”

Mentor: Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology

Dennis Higgins Award for PhD Dissertation Research in Pharmacology and Toxicology

Doctoral graduate Jiabei Liu was honored for her dissertation, “Roles of MT1 and MT2 Receptors in Mediating Effects of Luzindole on Depression and Anxiety Related Behaviors and on Hippocampal Neurogenesis”

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.  

Mentor: Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion

The Bishop Neuroscience Thesis Award
Dean’s Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research

Doctoral graduate Thomas J. Covey won both these awards that recognize demonstrated excellence in research.

Dissertation: “Adaptive Working Memory and Visual Search Training Have Differential Effects on Brain Function and Cognitive Performance: Evidence from Event-Related Brain Potentials and Transfer of Gains”

Mentor: David W. Shucard, PhD, professor of neurology

The Sigma Xi Award for Research Excellence

Doctoral graduate Isha Sethi received this award for her dissertation, “Structure and Function of the Oligopeptide Permease Transport System in the Cell Wall of Moraxella catarrhalis, a Human Respiratory Pathogen”

Mentors: Satrajit Sinha, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, and Michael Buck, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Award for Overall Excellence in Cancer Research

Sheng-Yu Ku, a  doctoral graduate of the cancer pathology and prevention program, was recognized for his dissertation, “Rb1 Suppresses Prostate Cancer Metastasis and Lineage Plasticity Underlying Castration Resistance”

Nominations for this award are limited to doctoral graduates of the Graduate Division at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Award winners possess an outstanding academic history, publication record and dissertation abstract.

Mentor: David Goodrich, PhD

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Four graduating seniors were recognized with the Chancellor’s Award. It recognizes students for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives that may include leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, entrepreneurship or career achievement.

Akshata Chaudhary of Pittsford, New York, graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences and a minor in management. A University Honors College Scholar, she served as a campus ambassador for the college and for the Office of Admissions.

She has been a teaching assistant for Cell Biology, Human Anatomy and Honors Colloquium, has volunteered in local hospitals and has conducted research in the Division of Behavioral Medicine. Additionally, she mentored Leadership House students and competed with UB Aces club tennis team.

Anna Jacquinot of Guilderland, New York, graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences and a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. She is a University Honors College Scholar.

Jacquinot served as president of UB’s Amnesty International chapter and taught English as a Second Language at Riverside High School. She received UB’s Presidential Scholarship and was awarded the New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence for the duration of her undergraduate education.

Emily O’Brien of Clarence, New York, graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences. A University Honors College Scholar, O’Brien has been a research assistant in a social psychophysiology lab at UB and a team leader for an alternative break trip.

She worked as a scribe in an emergency room during the week and at a ski shop on weekends. She aspires to practice medicine internationally and to teach about cultural competency in medicine.

Emily Slominski of North Tonawanda, New York, graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences. She is a University Honors College Scholar and works in a research lab studying pediatric obesity. She also works part time as a restaurant manager and volunteers at local hospitals.

In addition, she skis, golfs and plays soccer. After graduating, she will attend medical school with plans to enter the field of pediatrics.

Undergraduate Outstanding Senior Awards

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

Brandon Simone

Biomedical Sciences
Victoria Gosy

Jose Algarin Jr.

Medical Technology
Andrew S. Wolf

Nuclear Medicine Technology
Austin Kloc

Pharmacology and Toxicology
Allen Hoste

Roswell Park President, CEO Honored Speaker

Candace S. Johnson, PhD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center president, CEO, Wallace Family Chair in Translational Research and professor of oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, was the commencement speaker.

Under her strategic vision, Roswell Park is focused on bringing the very best physicians and scientists from around the world to Western New York.

From 2008 to 2015, Johnson led Roswell Park’s research activities as deputy director of the institute. She also served as chair of its Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics for more than a decade, a role in which she facilitated the seamless bench-to-bedside development and delivery of promising new cancer therapies. She became Roswell Park’s first female CEO in 2015.

Her research interests include efforts to facilitate the efficient translation of promising laboratory findings in clinical studies; the design and development of cancer therapies; and the role of vitamin D in controlling cancer.