Commencement 2016

UB Awards 225 Biomedical Science Degrees; 25 Earn PhDs

Published May 31, 2016 This content is archived.

By Dirk Hoffman

Twenty-five doctoral, 22 master’s and 178 baccalaureate candidates were eligible to receive degrees in biomedical science fields during the May commencement ceremony.

2016 Commencement Video


The graduates included Suyog Pol, who earned the first doctoral degree awarded through UB’s Biomedical Engineering program.

Graduates completed work in 10 other 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: bioinformatics and biostatistics, cancer pathology and prevention, cell stress biology, immunology, cellular and molecular biology, molecular and cellular biophysics and biochemistry, and natural sciences.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi conferred the degrees during the event at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

Outstanding Graduates Recognized

Five doctoral candidates and eight undergraduates received special recognition for outstanding accomplishments.

Graduate Dissertation Research Awards

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research

Benjamin Joseph Orlando, a doctoral student in the structural biology program, was honored for his dissertation, “Structural and Biophysical Analysis of the Allosteric Mechanisms Regulating Substrate Oxygenation in the Cyclooxygenase-2 Dimer”

Recipients of this award have demonstrated excellence in research.

Mentor: Michael G. Malkowski, PhD, professor and chair of structural biology

Biochemistry Dissertation Research Recognition Award

Doctoral student Vigneshbabu Musuri Periasamy 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: “Co-Ordination of Replication Initiation With Transcriptional Regulation in Escherichia coli ”

Mentor: Mark Sutton, PhD, professor of biochemistry

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

Doctoral student Megan M. Jones received this award for her outstanding dissertation research; related publications and presentations; and overall academic achievement.

Dissertation: “Structure and Function of the Oligopeptide Permease Transport System in the Cell Wall of Moraxella catarrhalis, a Human Respiratory Pathogen”

Mentor: Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine and senior associate dean for clinical and translational research

Dennis Higgins Award for PhD Dissertation Research in Pharmacology and Toxicology

Shannon Clough, a doctoral student in the neuroscience program, was honored for her dissertation, “Circadian Modulation of Reward via the MT1 and MT2 Melatonin Receptors”

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 inclusion and cultural enhancement

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

Nicholas Leigh, a doctoral student in the immunology program, was recognized for his dissertation “Essential Roles of CD27/CD70 Co-Stimulation and β2-Adrengeric Receptor Signaling in Suppressing Graft-Versus-Host Disease”

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: Xuefang Cao, MD, PhD

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Two graduating seniors who majored in biomedical sciences were recognized with the highest State University of New York undergraduate honor — the Chancellor’s Award.

Kristen A. Milleville of Tonawanda is a University Honors College Scholar who graduates with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical sciences. After spending more than 700 hours doing research in the neuropsychology lab, Milleville co-authored a neuropsychology research article and presented a poster at the UB Celebration of Student Academic Excellence.

Milleville was also a teaching assistant for human anatomy and biomedical sciences seminars. Outside the classroom, she was a member of the 2015 state champion UB club field hockey team.

Natasha Singh of Buffalo is a University Honors College Scholar who graduates with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical sciences and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology.

In 2013, she participated in a study abroad trip focused on health care in Brazil. Her work abroad continued with two service trips to the Dominican Republic in 2013 and 2014, where she helped provide English education to the entire community of Monte Cristi.

Because of her various volunteer experiences, Singh was one of 10 New York State students chosen to receive the John G. Karrer Scholarship for meritorious community service.

Undergraduate Outstanding Senior Awards

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

Sushobhna Batra

Biomedical Sciences
Nicholas Pokoj

Syeda Tahia

Medical Technology
Gen Rong Chen

Nuclear Medicine Technology
Nicole Meinhold

Pharmacology and Toxicology
Sonia Brar

Honored Speaker is Leader in Malaria Research

Dyann Wirth, PhD, Richard Pearson Strong Professor and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was the commencement speaker.

A major leader in malaria research for more than 30 years, her work has provided completely new insight into how the malaria parasite has evolved, specifically in the areas of population biology, drug resistance and antigenicity.

The Wirth laboratory blends the scientific environments of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Broad Institute and research institutions from across the globe to create a unique malaria research and training network that brings together scientists with expertise in molecular biology, genetics, genomics, population genetics, chemistry, cell biology, epidemiology, computational biology, biostatistics and leading clinicians in infectious diseases and pathology.