UB President's Medal.

The UB President’s Medal recognizes extraordinary service to the university.

Murphy Among Three to Receive UB President’s Medal

By UBNow Staff

Published April 16, 2024


UB faculty members Timothy F. Murphy, MD; Deborah Duen Ling Chung, PhD; and Venu Govindaraju, PhD; are this year’s recipients of the UB President’s Medal in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

Alumnus James Marks, MD, a former executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former U.S. assistant surgeon general, will receive a SUNY honorary degree.

There is no recipient this year for the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal.

The UB President’s Medal, first presented in 1990, recognizes “outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community.”

The President’s Medal will be presented to Chung, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and to Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and vice president for research and economic development, during commencement ceremonies for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Govindaraju will receive the medal at the graduate commencement at 9 a.m. May 18; Chung will receive the award later that day at the undergraduate ceremony set for 5 p.m.

Murphy, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology; senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and director of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, will receive his medal at a date as yet to be determined.

Timothy Murphy.

An internationally recognized expert in respiratory infections, Timothy F. Murphy, MD, has transformed understanding of bacterial infections in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and vaccine development for otitis media (ear infections) and COPD. He has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health for 40 years, and his work has resulted in 230 publications, 13 patents and chapters in the major textbooks of medicine, pediatrics and infectious diseases.

Murphy is founding director of the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which has been funded by the NIH since 2015. The CTSI advances research throughout UB and with its partners to reduce health disparities and improve health in our community and nation. The CTSI team of some 40 faculty and 18 staff has catalyzed a transformation of the clinical and translational research environment through education and training, streamlining clinical research, advancing data science, providing expertise to engage our entire community in clinical research and creating genuine partnerships with influential community partners.

In 2019, UB launched the Community Health Equity Research Institute under Murphy’s leadership. The institute works closely with community partners and engages faculty from all 12 UB schools to support research that addresses the root causes of health disparities, while developing and testing solutions to the social determinants of health that cause disparities.

In response to a national shortage of clinician scientists, Murphy directs a T35 NIH training grant — now funded for 12 years — that introduces medical and pharmacy students to careers as clinician scientists. The goal is to increase the shrinking number of clinician scientists in the U.S. biomedical research workforce, with an emphasis on recruiting individuals from underrepresented groups.

Deborah Chung.

A prolific scholar with over 600 peer-reviewed journal publications, Deborah Duen Ling Chung, PhD, specializes in materials science and engineering, particularly smart materials, multifunctional structural materials, concrete, thermal management, battery electrode materials, carbon fibers and nanofibers, composite materials and their interfaces, electronic packaging materials, electromagnetic interference shielding materials, and vibration damping materials.

She was named a fellow last year of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest scholarly societies in the United States.

A UB faculty member since 1986, Chung is the recipient of numerous other honors, including the Charles E. Pettinos Award from the American Carbon Society, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, the SUNY Outstanding Inventor Award, an honorary doctorate from the University of Alicante and the Hsun Lee Award, jointly awarded by Institute of Metal Research (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science.

According to the 2022 ranking from Stanford University that examined 315,721 researchers (living and deceased) in the field of materials research, Chung is ranked No. 13 overall, No. 10 among those who are living and No. 1 among females.

Chung is a dedicated teacher, having mentored nearly 40 PhD graduates and received the Teacher of the Year award from the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. The books that she has authored include “Functional Materials,” “Carbon Materials” and “Composite Materials.” Due to her interest in inspiring young people to pursue science careers, she is the editor of the book series “The Road to Scientific Success: Inspiring Life Stories of Prominent Researchers.”

Chung is a fellow of The American Carbon Society and of ASM (the former American Society for Metals) International. She is also an affiliate faculty member with UB’s RENEW Institute, a university-wide, multidisciplinary research institute that focuses on complex energy and environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are connected.

Venu Govindaraju.

Venu Govindaraju, PhD, established UB’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, and the National AI Institute for Exceptional Education, and is founding director of the Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors at UB.

An internationally known authority in artificial intelligence (AI), Govindaraju is credited with major conceptual and practical advances, with six books, six patents and close to 500 refereed publications.

He has received numerous peer honors and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) (2015), Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) (2013), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2010), Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) (2009), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (2006), and the International Association of Pattern Recognition (IAPR) (2004). He received the Outstanding Achievements Award from the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (IAPR/ICDAR) (2015) and the IEEE Technical Achievement Award (2010).

Govindaraju’s seminal work in handwriting recognition was at the core of the first handwritten address interpretation system used by the U.S. Postal Service. He has active and continuous grant awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Throughout his 25-year career, he has secured more than $95 million in sponsored funding from various federal and state agencies, as well as industry, including the recent $20 million grant from the NSF and the Institute of Education Sciences to establish the National AI Institute for Exceptional Education at UB.

Govindaraju earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur — from which he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award (2014) — and PhD from UB. In a teaching career spanning more than two decades, he has graduated 44 doctoral students and 17 master’s students as their primary thesis adviser. Govindaraju also received the Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award (2016) from UB.

James Marks.

A pioneer in public health and health equity, and a global leader in child and maternal health, health promotion and chronic disease prevention, James Marks, MD, has dedicated his career to reducing health disparities and improving access to quality health care.

A 1973 graduate of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, he will receive a SUNY honorary degree in science at the Jacobs School’s commencement on April 26.

 At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Marks oversaw all grantmaking, research and communications activities for the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. He led efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, rank the health of all U.S. counties and, with the Federal Reserve, bring together the fields of community development and public health.

Before joining the RWJF, Marks held important leadership roles in public health, including serving as assistant surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Throughout his tenure, Marks developed and advanced systematic ways to detect and prevent chronic diseases, monitor their major risk factors, and improve reproductive and infant health.

A public health leader for more than 45 years and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Marks is an accomplished scholar and highly sought-out expert who has received numerous state and federal awards, and served on boards and committees for national public health organizations.

As a UB alumnus, Marks has remained deeply connected with his alma mater, serving as an invited speaker and meeting with aspiring medical students. In 2018, Marks and his wife, Judi, BA ’69, M.Ed. ’72, created the James and Judith Marks Family Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to students in the Jacobs School.