UB welcomes 154 new faculty

Pablo Mitchell teaching a class.

Pablo Mitchell, the Thomas B. Lockwood professor of Latinx history in the Department of History, teaches a class. Photo: Douglas Levere

Release Date: September 21, 2023

“To advance our Top 25 Ambition, it is our institutional priority to recruit and retain the best and brightest faculty from across the disciplines — including in areas of great societal importance. ”
Satish K. Tripathi, president
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo welcomed 154 new full-time faculty to campus this semester in what is believed to be the largest cohort of new faculty at UB since joining SUNY in the 1960s.

UB announced in January plans to hire this year and next upward of 200 full-time faculty, attracting some of the most promising and established researchers and scholars from across the country. The initiative, “Advancing Top 25: Faculty Hiring,” is considered transformative for UB.

It’s an unprecedented opportunity to move the university’s long-range Top 25 Ambition forward and grow the faculty ranks in four key interdisciplinary areas of university strength and global importance: democracy and society, human health, sustainability and transformational technology.

“To advance our Top 25 Ambition, it is our institutional priority to recruit and retain the best and brightest faculty from across the disciplines — including in areas of great societal importance,” says President Satish K. Tripathi. “We have an extremely accomplished cohort of new faculty joining our university again this year.”

The majority of the 154 hires are part of the Advancing Top 25 hiring initiative, made possible by an historic investment from New York State.

Ian Sellers, professor of electrical engineering, works with PhD student David Shaibu in the lab. Photo: Peter Murphy

“One of the most prominent characteristics of Top 25 public research universities is that they have best-in-the-nation academic departments and programs,” says A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “By conducting groundbreaking research and scholarship, and providing transformative educational opportunities for our students, UB faculty are the drivers of program strength. We are excited to welcome these new faculty to UB to help us continue expanding our impact and reach.” 

The new faculty say they were attracted to UB for several reasons: the Top 25 Ambition; the commitment to academic freedom and diversity; the culture of collaborative, cross-disciplinary research; and the university’s deep engagement in the Buffalo region. 

Among them is Ian Sellers, whose research is focused on next generation solar cells and new materials for space photovoltaics. Sellers came to Buffalo from the University of Oklahoma.

“I was excited by UB’s interest in developing sustainable programs in renewable energy and their vision to lead in this area,” says Sellers, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Vision, collaboration appealing

Neuroscientist Sandra Kuhlman, associate professor of physiology and biophysics, likes UB's emphasis on collaborative, cross-disciplinary research. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

In the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Sandra Kuhlman, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, says UB has the ideal balance of expertise across relevant disciplines to make a major, long-lasting impact in her field of neuroscience.

“The research community has a long track record of doing collaborative, cross-disciplinary work and is well supported by university-wide initiatives that provide the infrastructure necessary to perform state-of-the-art experiments,” says Kuhlman, who came from Carnegie Mellon University. “This creates an exciting atmosphere for scientific discovery, as well as an excellent training environment for the next generation of medical researchers and doctors.”

Marina Oktapodas Feiler, assistant professor of epidemiology and environmental health, says the resources for research to flourish at UB are “outstanding.” Photo: Douglas Levere

Similarly, Marina Oktapodas Feiler, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, sees “great opportunities for rigorous, interdisciplinary science and research” in her study of environmental health among maternal and pediatric populations.

She feels well supported in her teaching and research at UB.

“Absolutely,” says Feiler, who came to UB from Temple University. “As new tenure-track faculty, I have been given the opportunity to focus on my research and grant writing. This was very important to me. The resources for research to flourish at UB are outstanding.”

A ‘vibrant campus’

Amanda Aykanian, assistant professor of social work, calls UB “a good fit” for her research and teaching interests. Photo: Douglas Levere

Pablo Mitchell is excited to be at a major public research university like UB after teaching for many years at Oberlin College, a small, private college in Ohio.

“The campus is so vibrant, both in terms of the students and the faculty,” says Mitchell, the Thomas B. Lockwood professor of Latinx history in the Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences. “I was also drawn to UB by the fact that the faculty continue to be so engaged in their research and scholarship throughout their careers.”

Amanda Aykanian, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, also was impressed — both by UB and its School of Social Work.

“I think it’s a good fit for me, my research and my teaching interests,” says Aykanian, who was previously at the University of Texas at Arlington. “I was looking to transition to a university with a lot to offer in terms of support, resources and opportunities for collaboration. UB seemed to meet those requirements and then some.”

This year’s class of new faculty reflects the university’s desire to further diversify its faculty. That commitment to diversity and inclusion by the university and the Graduate School of Education attracted Brittany Jones. Jones, a scholar in Black history education, came to UB from Michigan State University. She is a member of the fall 2022 cohort of UB's Visiting Future Faculty  (VITAL) program.

“Where so many other institutions only claim to care about diversity and inclusion, the Graduate School of Education has taken actionable steps to diversify its faculty,” says Jones, assistant professor of learning and instruction.

Brittany Jones, a scholar in Black history education and assistant professor of learning and instruction, notes that while many institutions claim to care about diversity and inclusion, the Graduate School of Education “has taken actionable steps” to diversify its faculty. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Experiencing Buffalo

New faculty also have recognized that the Buffalo region is a good place to live, work and raise a family. The region is affordable, offers many cultural and recreational opportunities, and has a strong sense of community.

“The welcome and support we have been given by everyone in Buffalo has been very nice. My family and I are excited to be here,” Sellers says.

“As someone who enjoys time outdoors, I am impressed with the extensive rails-to-trails pathway system,” Kuhlman says. “It is actually quite easy to ride a bike from Buffalo to Niagara Falls.”

Aykanian has been living in the Elmwood Village and has enjoyed walking the neighborhood admiring the old homes and architecture. She’s also heard Buffalo has great food and is eager to try the restaurants her students recommended.

“I didn’t know much about Buffalo and had never spent much time in the city, but everyone I know who has lived here or does live here seems to love it,” Aykanian says. “I’m excited to get to learn more about why that is.”

“As we enter the second year of Advancing Top 25: Faculty Hiring, and with the support of our current faculty, department chairs and deans, I am confident that we will continue attracting impressive faculty to UB who will further our university’s reach and impact,” Weber says.

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