Students honored at UB's annual celebration of academic excellence

Published June 19, 2023

Two students from the School of Architecture and Planning were recognized with awards at UB's 2023 Celebration of Student Academic Excellence.

The award-winning projects were among 11 student works presented by the School of Architecture and Planning as part of the Student Showcase, which features research and creative projects completed under the mentorship of UB faculty.

The showcase was coordinated by the UB Experiential Learning Network (ELN) and took place on April 26, 2023, in UB's Alumni Arena.

Rocco Battista (MArch '23) received two honors for his thesis research titled: There’s a Bag Between Us: Generating an interface between human and fungal environments.

The thesis project received the UB Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity Award, recognizing outstanding Student Showcase projects superior in presentation, content and scope; and the UB Sigma Xi "Companions in Zealous Research" Award, which recognizes projects that promote the public's understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. 

Rocco’s thesis was completed in Fall 2022 under the advisement of architecture faculty members Christopher Romano (chair) and Randy Fernando (committee member).

“There’s a Bag Between Us” aims to generate a physical and ephemeral interface between human and fungal environments. Through analysis of human activity and natural processes this thesis questions how mycelium can be interlaced into the built environment. The research has four main goals. One, destigmatizing fungi by broadcasting mycelium-based bio-composites to a larger audience. Two, revealing human impact on the planet by examining the cycles that the natural world follows. Three, understanding the performative functions of mycelium at both the micro and macro scale. Four, creating an assemblage of mycelium components that grow together into a monolithic assembly.

Anya Morgan (BAED '23) was also honored with the UB Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity Award for her indepdendent research project, "Comprehensive Analysis of Lake Placid, NY Housing Crisis: A Review of the Relationship Between COVID-19 and Tourist Based Economies." 

Morgan's analysis shows that COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in Lake Placid’s housing and economy. With no legislation to protect residents from housing issues and an economy that demands for tourists at a time of crisis, there is a major concern for how Lake Placid will evolve sustainably. While several projects address these issues, few have residents in mind as the primary concern.

Recommendations for the issues faced by Lake Placid should include strict legislation regarding the zoning of Airbnbs and short-term rentals, a government employed position for Airbnb regulation, as well as community rooted affordable housing development. Overall, there must be more community involvement regarding the decisions and planning of the village for Lake Placid to maintain its unique character.