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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI to honor 19 recipients of its
Alumni Association Excellence Awards

Award winners to be feted Saturday, Feb. 9 at awards brunch

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 23, 2002 -- The University of Rhode Island will honor 19 recipients of its Alumni Association Excellence Awards during a brunch on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom.
For information and tickets, please call David Nicolato at 874-4604.

The award winners are:

Joel A. Gallen ’79
In 1979, when URI senior Gallen decided to forego a promising offer from Xerox for a summer mailroom job at a New York talent agency, his parents feared the worst for their son’s future. Today, with a successful production company, a string of critically-acclaimed television series—specials like Unplugged and The MTV Movie Awards—and two new feature films, Not Another Teen Movie and Zoolander, to his credit, producer/director Gallen needs no excuse for his career decisions. In September 2001, he was approached by the four major networks to produce and direct a worldwide television broadcast to benefit victims of the September 11 attacks. In just six days Gallen assembled more than 80 top entertainers for America: A Tribute to Heroes, a live telethon that raised more than $150 million and attracted 89 million viewers in the U.S. alone—17 million more than watched last year’s Academy Awards. Not bad for a guy who started in the mailroom.

Marc Upshaw ’84
Upshaw has a knack for turning obstacles into opportunities. After a series of knee injuries hampered a promising college basketball stint with the Rams and wiped out a shot at the NBA, Upshaw learned perseverance. After a few unsatisfying jobs, the speech communication graduate established himself as a top insurance salesman, and his company offered him the chance to start his own agency in North Carolina. When recession hit in the late ’80s, business dried up, so the Upshaws moved back to Atlanta. During the construction boom for the Atlanta Olympics, Upshaw landed a job securing worker’s compensation personal injury contracts. Then, in the mid-90s, he founded Global Diagnostics, which now provides consulting services and medical testing equipment and staffing for 12 doctors and all prisons in the state of Georgia. Upshaw and his wife, Debra, live in Conyers, Ga., with their two daughters.

Mark E. Felag ’84, M.S. ’90
One minute Felag is a volunteer firefighter for Narragansett Fire Co. #3, the next he is an executive board member of the Providence Engineering Society or volunteering in the Pop Warner Football League. He has served as president of both St. Casimir’s Church Parish Council in Warren, R.I. and the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers. He also served on the Advisory Committee for the State Employee Charitable Appeal. Chief civil engineer for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Felag was a leadership donor to both the College of Engineering and the Convocation Center. In 1991, he was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers. Recently he has been a board member for the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island where he served on the executive committee and co-chaired the major fund-raising gala. Felag, his wife, Adela, and their four children live in Warren.

Marie C. DiBiasio ’61, M.A. ’68
DiBiasio has been an elementary school teacher, an assistant professor at URI, a deputy superintendent in Bristol, a director for two divisions of the Rhode Island Department of Education, and an assistant dean and associate professor at Roger Williams University Center. With her appointment last summer as the first dean of the newly created Roger Williams University School of Education, it’s no stretch to say that DiBiasio has had an impact on all phases of education in Rhode Island. DiBiasio, who earned her Doctor of Education from Boston University, was the recipient of the 1990 Special Recognition Award for Major Literacy Efforts in Rhode Island and the 1984 Literacy Award from the Rhode Island Council of the International Reading Association. She and her husband, Guy, have two children and live in East Greenwich.

Barry M. Barovick ’71, M.A. ’74
Barovick is the president and CEO of Grubb and Ellis Co., an international real estate firm headquartered in New York City with 8,000 employees across the globe. Previously, Barovick was the global director of real estate advisory services for Ernst and Young where he managed about 400 professionals around the world. He has served as an adjunct professor of geography and land use planning at Ramapo College. He has written many articles on real estate and is the author of the Ernst & Young Almanac and Guide to U.S. Business Cities. He has been active with URI’s College of Business Administration as a guest lecturer and has assisted in fund-raising. His daughter, Alison, is now a URI sophomore in the business college. Barovick lives in Fair Lawn, N.J., with his wife, Jane, and son Daniel.

Mostafa M. Omar, Ph.D. ’82
A native of Egypt, Omar was convinced by the late Pharmacy Dean Heber Youngken to come to URI for his Ph.D. Last year, Omar endowed a chair in natural product chemistry in Youngken’s honor at the College of Pharmacy. Now the president of PhytoCeuticals, Inc., of Elmwood Park, N.J., and scientific advisor to Egypt’s Ministry of Health, Omar says he owes his success to URI and Dean Youngken. As the founder and president of the seven-year-old PhytoCeuticals, Omar is a pioneer in phytochemistry and was the first to perfect a stable, topical vitamin-C skin care preparation suitable for cosmetic use. Omar holds a patent on the pharmacological effects of Aloeferon, the active ingredient in aloe vera, which is used in treating second- and third-degree burns and skin inflammation. He also invented a natural medicine to treat the skin disease vitiligo. Omar, his wife, Azza, and their two children live in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

Seven recipients from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.

Paul M. Baggenstoss, Ph.D. ’91
Systems engineer Baggenstoss is considered a pioneer for his research enabling submariners to sort out huge numbers of underwater sounds detected by sonars. Finding a sound emitted by another submarine amidst the huge amount of "clutter"—sounds created by mammals and fish—is like finding a needle in a haystack. Thanks to his research, there have been dramatic improvements in classifying such sounds. The full impact of Baggenstoss’ work in the statistical classification field may take years to fully appreciate since it is still quite new. His research will enhance automated systems, allowing Navy sonar personnel to better sort through the acoustic clutter in shallow water environments, enabling them to make quicker and more accurate decisions regarding the multitude of acoustic signals surrounding their subs and ships. The Newport, R.I., resident holds four patents and patent disclosures. He was awarded NUWC Excellence in Science Award.

Clifford M. Curtis, M.B.A. ’96
Curtis began his career as a mechanical engineer at NUWC in 1970. He has distinguished himself as an inventor, a technology manager, a collaborator and integrator of technology, an experienced negotiator, and as an accomplished structural analyst. As project manager for the Advanced Launchers Project, the Portsmouth, R.I., resident headed the development of technologies allowing the submarine launcher system to meet the noise performance requirements of the Seawolf-class submarines, as well as significant noise reduction improvements to the Los Angeles-class submarine launcher systems. In other words, he played a major role in making the submarine launchers as quiet as possible to avoid detection. He was also crucial to the Adaptable High Speed Undersea Monitor Program, which led to a demonstration of record underwater projectile velocity, breaking the underwater sound barrier. His team received the 1997 Naval Sea Systems Command Field Activity Engineer of the Year Award. He and his wife, Susan, have two children.

Brian F. Harrison, Ph.D. ’96
In the post-cold war era, the shift in undersea warfare emphasis from open ocean operations to those in shallow coastal waters has presented many challenges to the scientists and engineers at NUWC. Harrison’s pioneering research efforts have contributed significantly to the ability of the Navy to detect and locate potential adversaries in shallow waters. He has distinguished himself as an expert in underwater acoustic source localization and surface clutter (noise) rejection. Harrison has built on the dissertation work he first began with URI’s Richard Vaccaro, and his efforts at Division Newport are now leading toward improved passive sonar localization capabilities for submarine spherical arrays (listening devices at the front of the subs). As a reflection of his extensive research and technological accomplishments, Harrison was a co-recipient of the 1996 NUWC Excellence in Science Award. He and his wife, Janet, live in Bristol, R.I.

Colin J. Lazauski, M.S. ’90
Jessica A. Ward ’94, M.S. ’99
As members of Division Newport’s Technology and Application Division, Lazauski and Ward teamed to develop and apply a methodology for the analysis of potential acoustic impact of U.S. Naval training and testing activities on marine mammals. Their work advanced the field of marine mammal acoustic impact assessment by integrating computational acoustic propagation analysis, simulated at-sea vessel scenarios, marine mammal distribution, and impact criteria. The methodology gives the Navy and private firms the ability to determine the potential effects of their underwater acoustic emissions on marine mammals and allows them to assess and mitigate the impacts. The program has been written into an environmental impact study for the East Coast Shallow Water Undersea Training Range and for San Clemente Island. Lazauski has almost 20 years experience as an electronics engineer specializing in acoustics at the Newport center. Ward brought seven years experience as an ocean engineer and oceanographer specializing in marine mammals to the team. Their seemingly divergent backgrounds and experience formed the basis for an interesting partnership that has made a significant contribution to the center’s efforts in environmental awareness and compliance. Lazauski and his wife live in West Kingston, R.I., while Ward and her husband, Matthew, live in Saunderstown, R.I.

Wayne C. Tucker, M.S. ’71, Ph.D. ’87
Tucker began working at NUWC in the Marine Materials "Sphere of Excellence" program. For the past 10 years, the Exeter, R.I., resident has distinguished himself in the field of materials research and critical material problem solving. He developed a method of bonding urethane launch seals to titanium flanges on the Tomahawk missile capsule launching system without using an acid etch, an accomplishment once considered impossible. Tomahawk missiles are used aboard Seawolf submarines. More than 200 capsules have been repaired using the technique, and have remained in service for 10 years. The technique was awarded a U.S. patent. Tucker has patented seven other techniques involving adhesives and coatings and was recently named a NUWC Division, Newport Science and Technology Fellow. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, the Navy’s third highest award.

Roy L. Streit, Ph.D. ’78
Streit began his outstanding career in Newport as a mathematician investigating new concepts for processing data from submarine sonar system sensors. His early research led to the development of algorithms and sensor designs for submarine towed sonar arrays. His efforts established state-of-the-art methods for reduced noise hydrophone group designs, resulting in two patents. In simple terms, Streit has been working to make these devices as quiet as possible. After earning his doctorate at URI, he conducted research as a visiting scholar at Stanford and Yale. In the mid-1980s, he expanded his research, initiating innovative investigations into the use of speech recognition methods using hidden Markov models to analyze broadband underwater acoustic signals. For his research with neural networks, Streit was granted four U.S. patents. He is currently developing mixture methods for spectral tracking in sonar and remotely-sensed hyper-spectral imaging systems. He lives in Portsmouth, R.I., with his wife, Nancy, and their children, Adam, Andrew, and Katherine.

Donald P. Sullivan ’71
A graduate of URI’s College of Business Administration, Sullivan has been both a vice president and the treasurer of the Alumni Association Executive Board and has served on the Planning, Finance, and Budget Committees. He is a strong supporter of URI athletics and is an advisor to the Ram Fund, an undergraduate finance/investment course funded by the Alumni Association. In 1994, Sullivan was named Accountant of the Year by URI’s Accounting Department. He is an excellent ambassador for URI, having served as president, treasurer, and coach of the North Kingstown Soccer Association and as former director of the American Lung Association of Rhode Island. He is a partner with Sullivan & Company, Certified Public Accountants in Providence and lives in North Kingstown, R.I. with his wife, Melanie, and their two children, Mary and Brian.

Donna Ross
Whether joining her husband, Mark ’64, to support scholarships, the Great Performances series, the Ballentine Hall renovation, the Annual Fund, or even serving as honorary co-chair of the 2000 Winter Gala, Donna Ross is one of URI’s great friends. She remains active as a committee member for the gala and continues to attend numerous cultural, academic, and athletic events on campus. Last fall, Donna and Mark Ross attended the College of Arts and Sciences donor luncheon where they met the six new recipients of their endowed scholarship. When Ross and her husband served as honorary co-chairs of the Winter Gala, they helped organize an evening of warmth and romance in historic Newport that raised funds for alumni scholarships and grants. The couple lives in Warwick, R.I.

Wesley C. Lessard
As the president of Tase-Rite Co., Inc., Peace Dale, a wholesale and retail meat processor and supplier of Italian foods, Lessard and his business have been beefy supporters of URI. Lessard, whose wife, Beth, is a URI alumna, has supported the Rhode Island Rams Athletic Association—and most specifically the URI football program—with several donated and discounted items. In addition to giving company-related donations to RIRAA auctions, he and his staff at Tase-Rite have provided and prepared numerous cookouts. Lessard is president of the football booster group, the Fifth Quarter Club, and is a season ticket holder for men’s basketball. He is also a member of the Silver Ram Club for his continuing financial support of Rhody Athletics. In addition, he has provided gifts for the College of Business Administration’s golf tournament. He and his wife live in North Kingstown, R.I.

Kimberly A. Rose ’78
President of River Bend Athletic Club in Peace Dale, R.I. since 1979, Rose, who earned her degree in marketing management, chaired last year’s Winter Gala and has served on the Gala Committee for five years. She is one of the reasons that the gala has raised $500,000 for scholarships. As chair, Rose oversaw committees for corporate support and live and silent auctions, and coordinated volunteers from the Student Alumni Association. In the past, she worked on behalf of the Blue White Fund and helped out with Alumni Association phonathons. Locally, she chaired the 2001 Spring Ball for South Shore Mental Health, hosted a fashion show for the South County Museum, and established the Tina Luciano Scholarship that has funded scholarships to local high schools since 1990. She is a Sponsor in Perpetuity of Ducks Unlimited and will co-chair the 2002 Ocean State Sponsor’s Dinner with her husband, Steven DiMasi.

Marisa L. Vincent ’98
Vincent teaches English as a Second Language to 25 sixth graders at Esek Hopkins Middle School in Providence and tutors middle school youngsters in math and English for the Rhode Island Children’s Crusade. A double major in psychology and education, her passion for dance led her to revive URI’s Ramettes dance team. Working with the Athletic Department and key alumni, Vincent brought back the precision dance team to URI basketball games in 1997. First a dancer/coach as a senior, Vincent is now the coach/choreographer of the popular dance unit. Vincent is a great ambassador for URI. Working as a program specialist for the Charitable Trust Division of Hasbro, Inc., Vincent helped develop the first Employee Volunteer Program that resulted in the development of a mentoring program in the Pawtucket School System that she coordinated. Vincent lives in Cranston, R.I., and is an instructor for the Modern Jazz Dance Company of Providence.

John L. Creech ’41
Whether excelling in ROTC and horticulture programs at URI, assisting fellow soldiers in a World War II prison camp in Poland, or heading international horticultural expeditions, Creech has exemplified leadership. He was decorated by the U.S. Army for maintaining the health and morale of those in the prison camp and awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. After earning his master’s degree and doctorate from the Universities of Massachusetts and Maryland respectively, he led nine expeditions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in search of plants with economic, medicinal and ornamental potential. He then became the third director of the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He was the first director of the University of North Carolina Arboretum, and he has received every major American horticultural award plus the British Gold Veitch Memorial Metal. His book, The Bonsai Saga, How the Bicentennial Collection Came to America, details his rich experience in Japan when he negotiated a bequest of bonsai plants to the National Arboretum. He lives in Columbus, N.C., with his wife, Elaine.

For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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