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Communities of Excellence

Communities of Excellence are an innovative and integrated approach to addressing critical societal challenges through impactful interdisciplinary research, education and engagement.

The university-wide initiative harnesses the strengths of UB faculty from disciplines across the university to confront grand challenges facing humankind.

The university is investing $25 million over the next five years in these Communities of Excellence and RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water), which was launched last year and was UB’s model for the Communities of Excellence.

Two of the three communitites are led by SEAS faculty. They are:

Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART). This community will build upon UB’s reputation as a leader in advanced manufacturing and design by developing the next generation of manufacturing technologies, processes and education that enable sustainable, cost-effective production of high-quality, customizable products. SMART will leverage university and regional strength in manufacturing and partner with regional companies to educate future manufacturing leaders and shape national policy.

The SMART community co-leaders are Kemper Lewis, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Kenneth English, deputy director of the Center for Engineering Design and Applied Simulation (formerly NYSCEDII); Omar Khan, associate professor of architecture; and Michael Silver, assistant professor of architecture.

Global Health Equity. This community will work to address the challenge of global health inequity by bringing together faculty and students from the health sciences and disciplines that are focused on the social, economic, political and environmental conditions that lead to inequities. This community will tackle problems ranging from a lack of access to sanitation for women and girls in poor countries to high rates of non-communicable diseases due to complex sets of factors, including tobacco use and the environment. 

Co-leaders of the Global Health Equity Community of Excellence are Li Lin, professor of industrial and systems engineering; Samina Raja, associate professor of urban and regional planning; Pavani Ram, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health; and Korydon Smith, associate professor of architecture.

The third community is:

The Genome, the Environment and the Microbiome (GEM). This community will work to advance understanding of areas that will enable development of personalized medicine and empower individuals to have greater control over and understanding of their health, the human genome and the human microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms living in and on the human body. Through collaboration among the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, GEM will enhance UB’s reputation in genomics to make UB a national model for promoting and increasing genomic literacy.

CBS Innovation Nation Features UB Water Lens
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For 1 in 7 people, finding clean water is a monumental challenge. undergraduate students and engineering professor James Jensen found a unique solution. Read the news release.