Published April 5, 2017
Two UB doctoral students presented their research at SUNY Research Today and Tomorrow at Empire State College on March 7, highlighting the UB Office of Fellowships and Scholarships’ campaign to support outstanding graduate students.
The students, Corey Damon and Anibal Davalos, are PhD candidates in chemistry and UB scholarship winners.
Damon, who received the Presidential Fellowship, plans to earn his doctorate by the end of the calendar year and find a job in the Western New York area.
“I chose to pursue my PhD in chemistry to develop materials with everyday applications that improve the world around us,” he says.
A third-year graduate student and recipient of the Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship, Davalos said the fellowship has been a “gratifying experience,” allowing him to take advantage of great opportunities.
“For one, I was able to go to a conference partially financed by Schomburg,” Davalos says. “Being allowed the opportunity to present my work at Empire State College was insightful. Not only was I able to share my ideas and gain new perspectives on my work, but I was also able to network with other scientists in and beyond the UB system across a variety of fields.
“In addition,” he says, “the fellowship also gave me access to numerous workshops and research lunches that have been useful with respect to conveying my research as effectively as possible, either for a presentation or a grant. I believe it will be a great help toward my future endeavors.”
The Presidential Fellowship is “UB’s most prestigious fellowship used to recruit and support the best graduate students,” says Elizabeth A. Colucci, director of fellowships and scholarships.
The Schomburg Fellowship is also prestigious, Colucci says. She describes the award as a diversity fellowship designed to support students in doctoral and master’s level programs across the university.
“It’s intended to go to students who can demonstrate that they would contribute to the diversity of the student body, especially those who can demonstrate that they have overcome a disadvantage or other impediment to success in higher education,” she says.
Both the Schomburg Fellowship and the Presidential Fellowship allow UB to recruit and retain the highest-caliber graduate students, according to Colucci.
“This year we’ve moved to having the decanal units receive funding allocations for these awards in the fall so that they can best use them in the recruitment of outstanding graduate students,” she explains. “These prestigious graduate fellowships support exceptional graduate students here at UB.”
In Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, Damon spoke about his research on the development of hybrid antifouling/fouling-release materials that was recently published in the Journal of Bioadhesion and Biofilm Research. His article warns of the complications that arise from biofouling and the accumulation of marine organisms on ship hulls and other submerged surfaces. Besides increasing the energy demands of boats and ships, biofouling may lead to the introduction of invasive species, a major concern for the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.
Davalos’ project is based on the development of versatile macrocycles with the ability of binding transition metals.
“Transition metals are used as catalytic centers in many organic reactions,” Davalos says. “A main concern with metal-catalyzed reactions is the decomposition of the metal during a catalytic cycle, which decreases the efficiency of the reaction.”
“The macrocycles were designed to fit a single metal inside their cavities. It is foreseen that such a structural conformation will act as a metal fortress, protecting the metal and increasing substrate selectivity during a metal-catalyzed reaction.”
This year, Davalos and other Schomburg fellows have been presenting their research to the Schomburg community through “research lunch” presentations, and gathering as a group, Colucci says. The new class of presidential fellows will attend a reception with President Satish K. Tripathi this spring.
“We are attempting to build community in both fellowship groups,” Colucci says. “These are new activities coming out of the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. The presidential and Schomburg fellowships have been an important tool in the support of our graduate students. These scholars contribute to the depth and breadth of our graduate student body.
“We are delighted that Corey and Anibal were able to represent the University at Buffalo at the SUNY Graduate Research Conference,” she says.