College Inducts Four into Science and Technology Hall of Fame
St. John Fisher College inducted four alumni into the College’s Science and Technology Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Thursday, September 26. The induction took place during the College’s Homecoming Weekend, which runs through Sunday, September 29.
Dr. Martha Mutschler ’71, Dr. Paul Kostyniak ’70, Dr. Joseph Vacca ’77, and Dr. Donald Muench ’55 all received the honor. The Hall of Fame was established in 2011 by the College’s Science and Technology Alumni Group. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to science and/or technology, science education, medicine or health-related fields, or who are noteworthy for their service to their community or the College. It is located in the Skalny Science Center.
Mutschler is a Professor and Vegetable Breeder in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. She was a member of the first co-educational class at Fisher in 1971, earning a B.S. in Biology in 1975. She then went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977 and 1979, respectively. Mutschler has been a faculty member at Cornell since 1979, working as a Vegetable Breeder/Geneticist on tomatoes and onions. Her work focuses on disease and insect resistance to reduce the use of chemical sprays in vegetable production, benefiting growers, consumers, and the environment. In addition, she has worked on issues of intellectual property, having served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Cornell Research Foundation (1989–2004) and on the Cornell University Patent Policy Committee. Her work on university, health, and agricultural intellectual property has been published in periodicals and books.
Kostyniak is Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Chairman of the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and Director of the Toxicology Research Center in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After earning a B.S. in Chemistry from Fisher, he received a Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Rochester in 1976. His primary research focuses on the toxicology of heavy metals, chlorinated organics, and antidote development. Kostyniak also works to assess risks of exposure to fresh water fish, and development of antimicrobial surface coatings. He has formed an interdisciplinary team in scientific inquiry on health issues related to toxic chemical exposure. His findings have been published in more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and more than 15 reviews, book chapters, and proceedings. Additionally, he has received two patents and has presented on numerous panels and speaking engagements. His work has been recognized with several awards, fellowships, and grants.
Vacca is currently Senior Vice President of the Early Success Sharing Partnerships group within Wuxi Apptec, Ltd., and a retired Vice President of Chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories. After receiving a B.S. in Chemistry from Fisher, he earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the State University of New York at Buffalo, joined Merck Research Laboratories in 1981 as a research chemist, and remained with the company in various capacities until 2011. During that time, he contributed to several primary research projects, including the discovery and development of HIV protease and integrase inhibitors, and HCV protease inhibitors. Vacca has over 100 publications and patents, and is the holder of many awards including: a Merck Directors Award given by the Merck Board of Directors (1998); PhRMA Discoverers Award (1999); Intellectual Property Owners National Inventor of the Year Award (1997); European Inventor of the Year (non-EU nation) (2007); American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Creative Invention (1999). In addition, he was named a Merck Research Laboratories Presidential Fellow in 2008 and a Hero of Chemistry by the ACS, and was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in August 2012.
Muench is a member of Fisher’s Pioneer Class of 1955 and Professor of Mathematics at the College. In 1974, he earned a D.A. in Mathematics at Idaho State University. He joined the Fisher faculty in 1966, and has taught both Mathematics and Computer Science, playing a major role in the development of the curricula in both majors. From 1968 until 1979, and again from 1996 to 1999, he was Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. For eight years, including two as Chair, he was a member of the Rank and Tenure Committee. He has published papers in matrix theory, geometry, and numerical analysis and presented national workshops on the use of computer programming in the teaching of Mathematics. In addition, he was a volunteer on four service teams to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Since 1955, he has been an active member of the Mathematical Association of America.
The four newest inductees join the inaugural class of inductees from 2011, including Dr. Robert Tuite, Sr. ’56, Dr. Tom Bonfiglio ’64, Dr. G. Thomas Crombach ’65, and Dr. Michael Naughton ’79.
From L to R: Inductees Dr. Joseph Vacca '77, Dr. Donald Muench ’55, Dr. Paul Kostyniak ’70 with Bob Curtis '78, President of the Alumni Board of Directors.