Published July 7, 2022
Seven of the 20 UB faculty and staff members who have been named recipients of the 2022 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence have connections to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and the ongoing pursuit of excellence.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recognizes the work of those who engage actively in scholarly and creative pursuits beyond their teaching responsibilities.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. A Jacobs School recipient is Mark R. O’Brian, PhD, professor and chair of biochemistry.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.” This year’s recipients are Ellen Goldbaum, news content manager, University Communications; Sofia A. Tangalos, senior staff assistant in the Jacobs School’s Office of Faculty Affairs; and Elizabeth A. White, director of graduate enrollment in the Office of Research and Graduate Education in the Jacobs School.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service recognizes classified staff members who have consistently demonstrated superlative performance within and beyond their position. A recipient in the Jacobs School is Elaine C. Taylor, ophthalmology residency training program administrator and administrative assistant to the chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.
Goldbaum joined the UB professional staff in 1990 as a senior science editor covering the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and what was then the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; she has been covering the Jacobs School since 2011.
In covering one of the university’s most public-facing schools, she has helped elevate the Jacobs School’s reputation as a top-tier medical school by writing hundreds of news releases and stories for UB publications about the groundbreaking research and clinical care taking place there, as well as the school’s strong service to the Western New York community.
She worked closely with school leadership to develop the communications and event-planning strategies to celebrate the school’s grand opening of its new building in downtown Buffalo in 2017. Michael E. Cain, MD, who was vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School at that time, noted Goldbaum’s “key role” in ensuring positive news media coverage of the school and her expertise in coordinating with the many stakeholders involved in the building’s opening.
Over the past few years, Goldbaum has focused her work on the Jacobs School’s scientists, researchers and students who are serving on the frontlines of the pandemic by providing clinical care or are making pioneering discoveries related to the understanding and treatment of COVID-19.
More recently, she has turned her attention to the school’s social justice efforts, bringing awareness to the research and related contributions of UB students, faculty and staff of color. She also has supported equity by setting up a series of informal Zoom conversations for her University Communications colleagues to discuss ways to better incorporate principals of diversity and inclusion across all facets of the division’s work.
As a UB faculty member for more than three decades, O’Brian has demonstrated exemplary commitment to teaching, mentoring and educational service, and has been described as “one of those rare individuals who excels not only in teaching but also in administration and research.”
He has taught continuously since his appointment at UB in 1988, and has served as a course coordinator, director and new course developer, in addition to presenting seminars in the MD-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program. The diversity of classes he has taught over the years illustrates his breadth of knowledge and ability to seamlessly adjust to varying student education levels and class sizes.
While serving as department chair, O’Brian currently teaches two integrated medical curriculum courses for 180 first-year medical students — a first-semester fundamentals course and one on gastrointestinal systems — and last year began teaching dental biochemistry to first-year dental students.
Since 2014, O’Brian’s course evaluations have achieved an impressive overall instructor rating of 4.72 out of 5. In 2016, he received an award for excellence in graduate mentoring.
For the past two years, he has played a key role in the Jacobs School’s medical curriculum revision effort, serving as one of eight leaders of the core curriculum design team. Thanks in large part to O’Brian’s contributions, the new curriculum, when it launches next year, will feature a vastly enhanced experience for medical students across their education.
Siddiqui’s peers laud him as a “true triple-threat physician-scientist” whose international reputation as a neuroendovascular expert is “unquestionable.”
Daniel Barrow, professor and chairman in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, writes that Siddiqui “has earned an international reputation as an expert in the treatment of complicated neurovascular disorders ... His unique background as an expert in both the microsurgical as well as the endovascular management of these conditions makes him a highly sought-after expert in his field.”
Since joining UB in 2007, Siddiqui has progressively developed a nationally and internationally recognized clinical research program focused on endovascular neurosurgery and stroke treatment.
He leads the multidisciplinary Canon Stroke and Vascular Research Center at UB, which includes neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, physicists and biomedical engineers working collaboratively on cutting-edge neurovascular research.
He is the chief executive officer for the Jacobs Institute, an independent, not-for-profit institute that’s partners with UB and Kaleida Health to promote entrepreneurship to develop implements to address vascular and neurological diseases.
As a neurosurgeon, Siddiqui has special interest and expertise in the performance of complementary microsurgical, radiosurgical and endovascular techniques to comprehensively manage skull base and neurovascular diseases.
Siddiqui has more than 500 peer-reviewed publications; has led dozens of international, multicenter clinical trials; has served as chair of the Cerebrovascular Section for Organized Neurosurgery; and has trained residents and fellows who are now chairs of neurosurgical departments and members of all major prestigious institutions around the country.
As senior staff assistant for the senior associate and associate deans in the Office of Faculty Affairs in the Jacobs School, Tangalos is the first point of contact regarding faculty development and promotions.
She regularly meets with dozens of individual faculty members at all ranks to review their qualifications, personally revising CVs to conform to the university format, and offering helpful suggestions for improving CVs and personal statements.
Tangalos also has assisted new department chairs during periods of office staff turnover, helping to prepare dossiers for faculty promotion in a number of departments, including Urology, Family Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, Pediatrics and Structural Biology.
In addition, Tangalos plays a leadership role for the Jacobs School’s ad hoc promotions committees, helping to guide the selection of committee members, overseeing each committee meeting, assigning reviewers, providing and collecting reviewer evaluation forms, preparing materials for committee proceedings and conducting the voting process.
Tangalos’ colleagues praise her ability to make valuable innovations to the review process, citing her establishment of online dossier sharing. Working with the university’s Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (VPFA), Tangalos suggested using UB Box to upload and review digital dossiers; previously, dossiers and nominations were made by printed copy and/or thumb drive digital copy.
Her streamlined process was adopted in 2020 for all dossier submissions, and her practice of “bookmarking” dossier contents was found to be so useful that VPFA is now requiring it for all schools.
A UB staff member since 2013, Tangalos is the recipient of the Jacobs School’s 2021 John P. Naughton Award honoring outstanding professional staff who contribute significantly to the advancement of the medical school and its mission.
A member of the university community for more than 36 years, Taylor is responsible for a wide range of professional responsibilities in her current position in the Department of Ophthalmology, including scheduling and coordinating meetings, appointments and travel arrangements on behalf of the chair.
On a broader level, she prepares faculty promotion dossiers and reappointments, manages the state and research foundation budgets, and coordinates all continuing medical education activity within the department, which involves creating program brochures, collecting registration fees, tracking expenses and attending each conference.
Taylor is praised by her colleagues for her “creativity and dedication, dependability, leadership and initiative, and superlative administrative skills.”
Her work extends well beyond her job description, as she manages the entire resident application process, as well as scheduling all medical students and residents who rotate through the ophthalmology department.
Her understanding of resident requirements helps trainees reach their goals; their respect for her myriad contributions to the department prompted the ophthalmology residents to formally honor Taylor with a special tribute of thanks and appreciation at their graduation ceremony.
A UB staff member since 1993, White worked in the Student Health Center, Office of Admissions and the Office of International Admissions before assuming her current position as director of graduate enrollment in the Jacobs School.
Far exceeding her scope of responsibilities in the Jacobs School, White has co-led UB’s Academic Health Center (AHC) Recruitment Collaboration since its creation in 2017. The initiative aims to reach more prospective students and pre-health advisers, and White has been called “highly instrumental” in the group’s successes, including overseeing extensive communications to UB undergraduates, AHC website updates, creation of an AHC logo, a tabletop recruitment banner and flier, and recruitment webinars.
She also had a leading role in planning the vice provost for enrollment management’s 2021 Graduate Enrollment Management Summer Retreat, an interactive, virtual gathering that required significant coordination of presenters, content preparation and follow through.
In 2019, White co-chaired a subcommittee for the vice provost for enrollment management’s annual resource planning process (ARPP) to consider proposals to fund virtual campus tours. Once the initiative was approved, she worked with participating UB graduate units on collaborative digital marketing campaigns to increase targets for brand awareness, applications and enrollment in the university’s master’s programs.
In addition, she chaired, on behalf of the vice provost for academic affairs, the 2018-19 working group that re-envisioned the UB Undergraduate Research Conference. After the in-person event was cancelled due to the pandemic, she helped create fully virtual national conferences each year from 2020 to the present.
Zivadinov has devoted his career to the study of multiple sclerosis (MS), and he and his team have made numerous impactful discoveries in the field.
Zivadinov conducts what has been described as “seminal, groundbreaking and highly cited” research, which has earned him a global reputation as an expert in MRI imaging, MS and other neurological disorders. He has published more than 500 articles and 850 abstracts in leading peer-reviewed journals with an H-index of 85.
Zivadinov joined the UB faculty in 2003 and, since 2004 has served as director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center in the Department of Neurology, establishing the center as a world leader in performing quantitative MRI analysis in neurodegenerative disorders.
In addition, he directs the Center for Biomedical Imaging at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center. He has also served as executive director of the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium.
Zivadinov’s research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, commercial companies, foundations and the pharmaceutical industry. He is principal investigator, co-PI or co-investigator on a dozen current research grants totaling nearly $8 million. He has secured more than $50 million in research grants for collaborative research projects involving UB investigators, as well as national and international collaborators.
A dedicated educator, Zivadinov has advised 13 doctoral students and 24 master’s students, and has served as a major adviser for more than 30 fellows.