Campus News

Russo to receive Norton Medal

 The Chancellor's medal.

The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is UB's highest honor.


Published April 26, 2021


Thomas A. Russo, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine who has been a leader in educating the public about COVID-19, will be awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB’s highest honor, as part of the university’s 2021 commencement season, taking place April 30 through May 16.

UB alumnus Dexter Johnson, NASA Technical Fellow for Loads and Dynamics, and Peter Rogerson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Geography, will receive the UB President’s Medal in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

Also this commencement season, SUNY honorary doctorates are being presented to UB alumnus C.K. “David” Chu, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia, and UB alumnus and longtime faculty member William Kinkel, founder of the Dent Neurologic Institute.

The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is presented annually in public recognition of a person who has, in Norton’s words, “performed some great thing which is identified with Buffalo … a great civic or political act, a great book, a great work of art, a great scientific achievement or any other thing which, in itself, is truly great and ennobling, and which dignifies the performer and Buffalo in the eyes of the world.”

Dr. Thomas Russo.

Thomas A. Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, will receive the Norton Medal at the Jacobs School commencement ceremony on April 30.

Earning his undergraduate degree from Tufts University and his medical degree from McGill University, Russo completed a clinical and research fellowship in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School and Tufts-New England Medical Center. He was a senior staff fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s Laboratory of Clinical Investigation for five years before joining the UB faculty in 1994.

Russo’s research focus is on pathogenesis, and drug and vaccine development against extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and a new pathotype of Klebsiella pneumoniae. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has educated and informed the university, health care providers, the public and businesses about how best to manage this evolving crisis.

Russo teaches medical students in lecture settings and small-group sessions, and teaches clinical patient care to medical students, residents and fellows at the Buffalo VA Medical Center (Buffalo VAMC). In addition, he mentors students, residents and fellows in his laboratory.

As a practicing physician, he cares for hospitalized patients at the VAMC.

Among his numerous awards are the SUNY Inventor Award, recognition as one of UB’s Top 100 Principal Investigators, and the Stockton Kimball Award for consistent academic accomplishment, significant research discoveries and contributions to the progress of UB and the Jacobs School.

The UB President’s Medal, first presented in 1990, recognizes “outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community.”

Dexter Johnson.

Dexter Johnson will receive the President’s Medal at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ undergraduate ceremony on May 15.

A member of NASA since 1990, Johnson is widely recognized for his professional excellence and dedicated service. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honors throughout his career. These include NASA’s Exceptional Service and Equal Employment Opportunity Medals; the Celestial Torch Award – Aerospace Pioneer of the Year from the National Society of Black Engineers; the UB Alumni Association Achievement Award – Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award; the UB Engineer of the Year Award from the UB Engineering Alumni Association; a Buffalo Mayoral Proclamation; and the Diversity and Inclusion Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

An associate fellow of the AIAA, Johnson received all of his academic degrees from UB — a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, and master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering. A dedicated UB alumnus, he has been a member of the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2017 and previously served on the UB Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council from 2009-15. For the past year, he has also served on the President’s Advisory Council on Race.

Peter Rogerson.

Peter A. Rogerson, an award-winning scholar in the field of geographical analysis, will receive the President’s Medal at the College of Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Ceremony on May 15.

Rogerson’s work has led to significant advances in spatial statistics, demography, migration, criminology and public health. His research encompasses the study of demographic change, including the trends and nature of residential mobility of the U.S. population, and the development of statistical methods to quickly detect and examine changes in geographic patterns, such as incidents of crime or disease. Rogerson’s scholarship is renowned for its breadth of applications, which transcend academic and professional boundaries, and are making a tangible impact on society.

A UB faculty member for more than 35 years, Rogerson holds an adjunct position in the Department of Biostatistics in addition to his appointment as a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography. He was a recipient of the UB Exceptional Scholar – Sustained Achievement Award in 2002.

Throughout his career, Rogerson has held a variety of leadership roles, including working with the New York State Department of Health, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Widely recognized for his contributions to his field, Rogerson has received the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship; additionally, he was resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.

C. K. "David" Chu.

C.K. “David” Chu is internationally renowned for his seminal work in antiviral and anticancer drug discovery. He has developed numerous therapeutic agents to treat a wide array of conditions, including shingles, hepatitis B, HIV and cancer.

Chu, who’s highly regarded research has brought antiviral drugs to clinical practice and improved the lives of countless patients worldwide, will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate of Science at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ commencement ceremony on May 15.

Professor and director of the Drug Discovery Group at the University of Georgia for 40 years, Chu has been awarded more than 60 U.S. and 100 international patents. He co-founded the companies Pharmasset and ATEA Pharmaceuticals, which explore novel antiviral therapeutics.

An elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Inventors, Chu received a 2001 MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, which is awarded to fewer than 5% of NIH investigators. He also received the Anthony Holy Award from the International Society of Antiviral Research, the John Montgomery Award from the International Round Table Society for his work in nucleosides and nucleotides, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Seoul National University.

Dr. William Kinkle.

A pioneer in the field of neuroimaging, William Kinkel is world renowned for his research and leadership in the treatment of neurologic diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease. His expertise and innovative teaching have made UB and the Dent Neurologic Institute world-class training facilities for neuroimaging.

The recipient of a SUNY Honorary Doctorate of Science, Kinkel will be recognized at the Jacobs School’s commencement ceremony on April 30.

A passionate educator, Kinkel established the first fellowship training programs dedicated to neuroimaging; today, they stand as two of only five neuroimaging fellowships in the nation. He is consistently sought out by medical professionals from around the world for his expert assessment and diagnosis, and is credited with enhancing the outcomes of countless patients.

A UB alumnus and a longtime faculty member, Kinkel has been a leader in the UB and Western New York communities as program director of UB’s neurology residency program, member of the Neurosciences Task Force of the Western New York Health Sciences Consortium, chief of the Neuroimaging Center of Excellence and chairman of neurology at Millard Fillmore Hospital.

Over the past 50 years, Kinkel has profoundly shaped future generations of students and professionals in his field, and in 2017, was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Neuroimaging.


Congratulations to all, but especially Dr. Russo! I’ve definitely learned a lot from you over the past year.  Thank you for your service, and for representing UB and the whole Buffalo community so well!    

Elizabeth Lesswing