Jump to Content

home > personnel

Project Personnel


Sue Arnold|

Steve Bauer|

Jennifer Flagg|

Joe Lane|

Jim Leahy|

Jim Peron|

Michael Anton Sciortino

Sumana Silverheels|

Vathsala Stone|

Doug Usiak|

Advisory Board Members


The Tech Transfer RERC operates in cross-functional teams, each assigned to work on a specific project. These project teams are led by university faculty and professional staff from multiple agencies. Each team leader has at least seven years of direct experience in assistive technology transfer, in addition to their prior qualifications in related fields. Junior staff bring their training in engineering, human factors and marketing to support the Demand Pull and Supply Push programs. The project staff are knowledgeable about technology transfer methodologies, and access relevant literature from a range of fields and sectors. They have contributed to the academic and professional literature on technology transfer, assistive technology evaluation, and consumer participation in research programs.

Stephen Bauer, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator, Project Director) earned a BS degree in Chemistry, and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University at Buffalo. Dr. Bauer is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University at Buffalo. Dr. Bauer has held appointments as an NIH/NCMRR Post Doctoral Fellow in Rehabilitation (1992-1993) and a UB Engineering Lectureship (1987-1990). Dr. Bauer was a staff researcher during this RERC's first cycle (1993-1998) and Director of R&D and Co-Principal Investigator in the second cycle (1998-2003). During that time Dr. Bauer developed and implemented the Demand Pull Technology Transfer program, based upon best practices drawn from the academic and private sectors. He led the team's search for advanced technologies, supervised technical teamwork, and established strategic partnerships with and between dozens of public and private sector organizations. After leading the past four Demand Pull Stakeholder Forums, Dr. Bauer is conversant in technologies underlying assistive devices in the fields of mobility, hearing, speech, and vision. He is the current chair of the RESNA, Special Interest Group on Technology Transfer and a member of the Assitive Technology Industry Association. His current interests include technology transfer, market research, public policy, assistive technology, and product design.

Joseph Lane, MBPA (Co-Principal Investigator, Director of Strategic Planning) is project director for the Tech Transfer RERC (T2RERC). He is also Director of the Center for Assistive Technology. Mr. Lane holds a dual Master's degree in Business and Public Administration, from the University of California, Irvine. He has worked closely with hundreds of inventors, RERC personnel, federal laboratory scientists and managers, and associated organizations nationwide. Mr. Lane has deliberately infused a very high level of consumer input into the process of assistive device evaluation. Mr. Lane is on the advisory board of numerous research centers, and is a member of the Federal Laboratory Consortium's Planning and Policy Board. As T2RERC project director, Mr. Lane oversees administrative and program responsibility, while performing specific tasks in support of the T2RERC's Strategic Goals and Annual Objectives.

James Leahy ( Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Development) holds a B.S. degree in Business Management and Accounting. He functioned as a project manager for twenty years in the private sector (i.e., Union Carbide and Bell Aerospace Textron) prior to joining the RERC staff. Mr. Leahy was the RERC's project administrator from 1993-1998, when the priority called for an open call for A/T related inventions. From 1998-2003, he implemented and directed the Supply Push technology transfer program, where he increased the quality of inventions we solicited and increased our success ratio for commercialization from five percent to fifty percent. Mr. Leahy has experience reviewing over one thousand prototypes and successfully commercializing nearly forty devices. Given his industry experience, Mr. Leahy was able to establish working relationships with Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Black & Decker, Lucent, and Texas Instruments) and initiated collaborative relationships with other RERC's.

Vathsala Stone, PhD (Co-Principal Investigator, Director of Evaluation) holds a Ph.D. degree in Educational Evaluation & Research Design from Florida State University, an MS in Science Education from North Carolina State University, a BEd in Physical Science & Math Education and a BS in Physical Science & Math, both from the University of Mysore, India. Dr. Stone specializes in qualitative and quantitative research design, program evaluation, psychometrics and curriculum development, as applied to special education and medical/health education. Dr. Stone leads the T2RERC's program evaluation and guides all research methods and data analysis.

The T2RERC regularly employs graduate research assistants for part-time work. Over the years, these students have contributed expertise in the areas of marketing, engineering, law, occupational and physical therapy, speech pathology or audiology. Student activities include (but certainly exceed) contributions to primary and secondary market research, marketing and technical reports, Internet research, CAD design, online survey development, and prototype development. These students have gone on to exciting professional careers in academia and industry or pursued higher academic degrees. Students have commented on the valuable experience and training gained through their work with the T2RERC. We are very thankful for the many fine students that who have contributed to the success of our Center.

T2RERC Affiliates

Top of Page ]

The WNY Independent Living Project, Inc. is the area's Center for Independent Living. Their family of agencies serves as a channel to the consumer community for the T2RERC, and coordinates local and national testing efforts. Their staff coordinates initial expert evaluation, review panels and focus group discussions of prototypes or concepts and can proceed to extensive testing by the targeted consumers, with and without disabilities locally, regionally, or nationally. When required, the Western New York Independent Living Project, Inc., can coordinate field tests at our Regional Testing Sites in eight New York cities, or National Testing Sites in Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Focus group moderators, portable video and sound recording equipment, and technicians to operate it, can be mobilized to any venue in the United States and beyond. Staff maintains extensive local and national databases of consumers with various disabilities and other potential participants. When required, input is also gathered from consumers who participate in disability-related conferences and events and collected through targeted direct mail survey.

Photo of Jennifer Fossa

Jennifer Flagg (Director AZtech) holds a BS in Business Management and Marketing from the University at Buffalo. She provides market analysis services to the Demand Pull Project, and also holds the position of Director of Marketing for AZtech. Her interests include focus group facilitation and secondary market research with an emphasis on uncovering the idiosyncrasies of niche markets within the disability industry.

Photo of Doug Usiak

Douglas J. Usiak, BS (Co-Principal Investigator, Director WNYILP) in Industrial Arts Education directed the consumer team work of the T2RERC. He is Executive Director of the WNYILP Family of Agencies. Mr. Usiak has received extensive training from NCIL on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 advanced training. Mr. Usiak was also directing the T2RERC's dissemination efforts until 2001, when he became Project Director for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living Management, also funded by USDE/NIDRR.

The Center for Assistive Technology (CAT), is housed within the School of Health Related Professions, at the University at Buffalo. CAT conducts research, education, service and policy projects addressing assistive technology for people with disabilities. The CAT staff provide support to the T2RERC, either directly as employees or indirectly as consultants.

Photo of Sue Arnold

Sue Arnold joined the Center for Assistive Technology as Business Manager in 2001. Ms. Arnold coordinates with the Director and Associate Director, personnel and account management for the CAT program. She has previous Center experience having worked for an industry-university cooperative research program before joining the CAT.

Photo of Jim Peron

Jim Peron oversees the Design & Fabrication Shop. The Shop has excellent capabilities for metal-, wood-, plastic-working; welding, molding and powder coating. Jim has more than twenty years experience as a fabricator and has served UB's faculty, staff and students for over six years. Services include general design and fabrication; design and fabrication of assistive devices; customization of housing and work environments; and student instruction. Jim has worked productively with T2RERC, the School of Public Health, the School of Architecture, the School of Medicine, individuals from the Buffalo Community and many other clients. Among his many contributions, he has prototyped and built a number of devices now being licensed and marketed including a wheelchair braking system, a low force refrigerator door opener and adjustable cabinetry.

Photo of Michael Anton Sciortino

Michael Anton Sciortino holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems from SUNY Fredonia and a Master of Science degree in Information Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is the webmaster for the RERC on Technology Transfer, the Center for Assistive Technology, and the School of Public Health and Health Professions and assists in web development for several projects including the Assistive Technology Training Online Project, Instant Access to Braille Project and the Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange. Mr. Sciortino's expertise lies in web and database development including HTML, SQL (Oracle and MySQL), Perl, PHP, CSS, ASP, Dreamweaver, IIS, and Apache.

Photo of Sumana Silverheels

Sumana Silverheels has a Bachelors degree in Physics, Electronics, and a Master of Arts degree in Social Science. Her expertise lies in the field of assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired. She coordinates the training program for the New York State Department of Social Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), housed at the Center. Ms. Silverheels has served as a Chairperson for the Standards Committee and the Steering Committee for the nine centers of CBVH. Ms. Silverheels is also responsible for configuring computers with recommended hardware, software and assistive devices for the Pilot Project of CBVH. Prior to working for the Center she worked as a Research and Development Engineer for an Electronics company in India.

[ Top of Page ]