4 Faculty Members Receive SUNY Research Awards

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: April 17, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Four University at Buffalo faculty members were among 20 of their colleagues from SUNY campuses across the state who were honored for their research and scholarship at the SUNY Research Foundation's annual awards dinner held on Monday in Albany.

The UB honorees are Robert J. Genco, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the departments of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, and Microbiology, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Andre Filiatrault, professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, and director of the Structural Earthquake Engineering Simulation Laboratory, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Gilberto Mosqueda, assistant professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering; and Doreen Wackeroth, associate professor in the Department of Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.

Genco, who also serves as vice provost and director of UB's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), received a Lifetime Achievement Award, given to faculty members who have served SUNY students for at least 25 years, are greatly respected by students for their efforts in and out of the classroom, and are respected by their peers for extraordinary achievement and leadership in their fields.

Genco has enjoyed a world-renowned career as a researcher, teacher and university, professional and community citizen. He served as chair of the Department of Oral Biology for 25 years and under his tutelage the department achieved a reputation as one of the world's most respected programs in oral biology, attracting the most talented students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from around the globe.

Widely recognized as a world leader in his field -- he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science in 1988 -- Genco has made important contributions in a number of areas, notably the integration of basic and clinical periodontal research, the immunology of periodontal diseases and the association between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

He and his colleagues were among the first to report a connection between gum disease and heart disease and stroke, and led studies relating infection to diabetes mellitus and obesity

His research has resulted in more than 350 publications, 10 U.S. patents and one European patent, and has been funded for four decades by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

A leading expert on shake-table testing of structural and nonstructural building components, Filiatrault received an Outstanding Researcher/Scholar Award in recognition of the contributions he has made to his field, including inventions and significant honors he has received from his peers.

He has contributed significantly to UB's outstanding reputation in the field of earthquake engineering research through his work on the design of seismic-resistant steel and wood structures, the development of novel methods for energy dissipation and self-centering of structures, and, most recently, for his advanced mechanistic understanding of nonstructural component failure. He has served in leadership positions on two key projects aimed at making wood-frame structures safer in earthquakes: the CUREE/Caltech FEMA-funded Wood Frame Project and, more recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded NEESWood project. Conducted at UB in 2006, NEESWood was featured on CNN, as well as on the History and Discovery channels, and brought worldwide recognition to the university.

Filiatrault has published widely in top peer-reviewed journals. An active advisor of graduate students, he was named 2007 Professor of the Year in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Mosqueda, another UB earthquake engineer, received a Rising Star Award from the Research Foundation. The award is presented to newer faculty members for the promise they show at having published their work or received external funding or a patent or license for the first time.

Mosqueda's research focuses on minimizing the loss of life and property damage after earthquakes. He is making significant contributions in three important areas: developing hybrid simulation methods for evaluating the performance of structures under extreme loads, developing new testing capabilities and procedures for evaluating the experimental seismic fragility of nonstructural building components and contents, and experimentally evaluating the progressive collapse in steel-frame buildings. He has won a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award and an NSF-NEES (Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation) Award, both highly competitive research grants funded by the NSF.

Mosqueda has published 10 papers in top peer-reviewed journals, and has advised a large number of Ph.D. students.

A theoretical particle physicist, Wackeroth also has been named a "rising star" by the Research Foundation.

Her research aims to confront and challenge our understanding of the fundamental forces of nature and the mechanism of mass generation at the quantum level through precision experiments at high-energy particle accelerators. These accelerators generate tremendously powerful collisions between subatomic particles, and provide Wackeroth and other high-energy physicists with their best chance yet to answer some of the most basic questions in science, such as what are the very smallest building blocks of matter and how do they shape the physical world?

While other physicists seek more direct evidence of new particles, Wackeroth focuses on indirect evidence, the so-called virtual effects left by new particles during experiments conducted in these particle accelerators.

The recipient of a NSF CAREER Award, she has been a reviewer for NSF grant proposals in theoretical high-energy physics.

Wackeroth used funding from the CAREER grant to develop a summer institute aimed at getting high school students interested in physics.