From the Podium and Beyond

By Carol Olechowski

Pew, NIH Recognize Rangan 


Summer 2014 brought Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Prashanth Rangan two prestigious honors. In June, he was named a 2014 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Six weeks later, Rangan received a $1.43 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Rangan, an RNA Institute affiliated faculty member whose research focuses on developmental genetics and biophysics, was one of 22 outstanding early-career researchers honored by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The award provides flexible funding to support some of the most pressing health problems in the world.

The NIH grant supports Rangan’s study of the ways stem cells control their differentiation. Understanding the biology of stem cells, said the researcher, “can help with design of therapeutics for regenerative therapy” related to cancer and degenerative diseases.    

Theatre Major Stages an Encore

Here’s an announcement sure to be met with applause: The University’s theatre major returns this fall within the newly created Department of Music and Theatre.

“The re-established theatre major will provide an excellent curriculum that embraces performance, production, literature and history to give students a solid foundation for careers in the field, as well as continued study,” said Dean of Arts and Sciences Elga Wulfert. “I anticipate a bright future for both music and theatre.”

Svare Receives Fulbright

Fulbright Senior Scholar Bruce Svare will spend the Fall 2014 semester assisting Thailand’s higher-education system in developing a contemporary psychology program of study. While lecturing at Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University and Burapha University, the UAlbany professor of psychology and neuroscience will aid in curriculum development. Svare will also spearhead the expansion of both undergraduate and graduate psychology programs.

NIH Advisory Panel Appoints Belfort

Marlene Belfort

Photo credit: Joan Heffler

Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and RNA Institute affiliated faculty member Marlene Belfort has been named to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils. Panel members advise the NIH director on such issues as emerging scientific opportunities; rising public-health challenges; and knowledge gaps requiring special emphasis, strategic planning or coordination.

Belfort’s areas of interest include molecular biology and biochemistry, regulation of gene expression, and biology of introns. She joined the University at Albany faculty in 1985.

Liberty Terrace Earns LEED Gold Certification

Liberty Terrace

Photo credit: Mark Schmidt

Liberty Terrace, the apartment-style student-housing complex located near Indian Pond on the east side of UAlbany’s uptown campus, boasts many energy-saving, environmentally friendly features, including a geo-thermal heating and air-conditioning system; energy-efficient windows and doors; green roofing; rain gardens; and permeable pavement. The 20,000-square-foot facility has now earned more bragging rights – as the first building at the University to be designated a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold facility.

Granted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED certification verifies that a “green” building incorporates environmental, social and economic benefits throughout its entire life cycle.

Campus Center Expansion Begins

Campus Center Expansion

Designed and constructed more than four decades ago to accommodate a student body of 10,000, the Campus Center remains a hub of activity for the 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at the University. This summer, however, construction began on a $62.2 million expansion that will see new amenities – including a 400-seat auditorium, a two-level fitness center, and enhanced dining facilities that will house market-style food-service options – brought to the building.

Completion of the 21,000-square-foot East addition is set for September 2015. The 55,000-square-foot West addition will be completed in late 2016, as will 46,000 square feet of renovated space within the existing Campus Center. Spring 2017 is the anticipated opening date for the renovation and the West addition.