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Two named recipients of UB’s Meyerson mentoring award

Concept of mentoring featuring a small figure climbing stairs as a larger hand places the steps down. .

The Meyerson award honors faculty members for the crucial guidance and support they provide undergraduate students to help them develop the necessary skills for research, creativity, critical thinking and innovation.

By CHARLES ANZALONE

Published January 19, 2022

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“As a flagship public research institution, UB provides countless opportunities for undergraduate students to enrich their academic journey. Faculty members such as Professors Clark and Ziarek are critical to making those connections happen. ”
Ann Bisantz, dean of undergraduate education

UB faculty members Stewart Clark and Lukasz “Luke” Ziarek have been named recipients for the 2021-22 President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring, UB’s highest honor given for undergraduate mentoring.

The Meyerson award honors faculty members for the crucial guidance and support they provide undergraduate students to help them develop the necessary skills for research, creativity, critical thinking and innovation.

It was established through a generous gift by the late President Emeritus Martin Meyerson, who served as UB’s 10th president, and his wife, Margy Ellen, to recognize exceptional teaching and mentoring at the university.

“The Meyerson award allows the university to recognize the outstanding work our faculty do in engaging with and mentoring undergraduate students,” says Ann M. Bisantz, dean of undergraduate education.

“As a flagship public research institution, UB provides countless opportunities for undergraduate students to enrich their academic journey. Faculty members such as Professors Clark and Ziarek are critical to making those connections happen,” Bisantz notes.

headshot of Stewart Clark.

Stewart Clark

Clark, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, was described as “absolutely the most dedicated and passionate faculty member in his approach to mentorship,” by David M. Dietz, his department chair.

“It is essential to highlight that this is a pattern that has been in place since the very earliest days of his career,” Dietz, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, wrote in his nominating letter. “His impact is strong and has been utterly life-changing for so many individuals that any attempt to document them all would be nearly an impossible task in any letter!”

Dietz cited successful undergraduate research assistants and papers they have written while under Clark’s guidance.

“Success is directly attributable to embracing the lab culture that Dr. Clark fosters,” Dietz wrote. “Everyone has something to contribute, and students can be full participants in the discovery process. These are hallmarks of an effective and meaningful mentorship environment, and I am so pleased that Dr. Clark can offer that to our students.”

headshot of Lukasz “Luke” Ziarek.

Lukasz “Luke” Ziarek

Ziarek, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was praised for his “long history of excellent teaching and mentoring at the undergraduate level,” by his department chair, Jinhui Xu.

Currently, Ziarek serves as the department’s co-director of undergraduate studies.

“He has been recognized at the department, university and school levels for his teaching, winning four awards for his undergraduate course on Programming Languages — one of the most important areas in computing science,” Xu, professor of computer science and engineering, wrote in his nominating letter.

“Since joining UB in 2012, Dr. Ziarek has demonstrated an exceptional and sustainable passion for promoting undergraduate education, engaging undergraduates in research, providing mentoring to students at all levels, and promoting educational innovation in the computer science and engineering department,” Xu wrote.

As co-director of undergraduate studies and co-chair of the Undergraduate Affairs Committee, Ziarek has organized CSE Open Days, the CSE Open House for progressive students, and Computer Science Education Week to help undergraduates engage with high school and middle school students, and worked to redesign the undergraduate curriculum, according to Xu.

 “He introduced a novel cross-course collaboration between first-year and senior undergraduate students,” Xu wrote. “He has won six awards in teaching and education, four of which are for his teaching innovation. Students rank him high as a teacher, researcher and mentor.”