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A team of four University at Buffalo computer science students won first place for developing a computer program that allows people to browse the Internet without a mouse or keyboard at two recent hackathons held at Kent State University.

Despite its underworld connotations, the original meaning of hack is to code and build programs for computer software. A hackathon is a gathering, often involving students, that asks participants to develop programs in an intense, deadline-oriented environment.

Mackenzie “Mack” Ward, a junior majoring in computer science and mathematics, and his teammates – Pritesh Gupta, Gabriel Holodak and Zach Wieand – developed a program that uses the computer’s webcam to monitor the user’s face. As the user tilts his head up and down, or from left to right, the page he is viewing moves in that direction, thus eliminating the need for a mouse or keypad.

The team wrote the code and demonstrated the program within 37 hours. It could be especially useful for people suffering from ailments that limit the use of their hands.

Also, sophomore Nate Burgers received $2,000 and an iPad after competing in MHacks, a 36-hour codefest featuring more than 1,000 competitors. He placed in the top 10, and won the prize for the most technically difficult hack.

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The Northtowns Boys and Girls Clubs honored the hard work and years of service of its staff, board members and three special award winners at its annual dinner held at Acqua Restaurant & Banquets in Buffalo.

Scott Henderson was recognized as Volunteer of the Year. He has been involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs since he started coming to the club after school at age 6.

Greg Doel, owner of Crazy Jake’s in North Tonawanda, was given the Northtowns Award. He has been a friend of the clubs for several years and has hosted various fundraising events.

John W. Danforth Co. was honored as Community Leader of the Year. Chief Executive Officer Duke Reilly accepted the award.

The new officers were inducted. They are: president, Ryan Hanretty, AXA Financial; vice president, Jeff Kloetzer, Stieglitz Snyder Architecture; treasurer, Randy Pollard; secretary, Charlie Watson, Ferguson Electric. Elected for a three-year term to the board of directors were JoAnne Schwartz, M&T Bank; and Charlie Watson, Ferguson Electric.

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Amy Gancarz, a postdoctoral associate in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, was honored for her work during the seventh annual Neuroscience Research Day held at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center.

Gancarz received the first-place Beverly Bishop Poster Award in the event’s poster session for her research outlining how cocaine use and withdrawal can alter the molecular structure of the brain. Her poster was chosen as the best from the more than 40 presented that day.

Neuroscience Research Day, sponsored by the Buffalo Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, was held concurrently with the research institute’s conference on Neuroscience Research on Substance Abuse.

More than 60 researchers from across the State University of New York system attended the conference and several UB scientists made presentations, including Gancarz’s mentor, David Dietz, from UB’s department of pharmacology and toxicology; Caroline Bass, also from the department of pharmacology and toxicology; and Samir Haj-Dahmane, senior research scientist at the institute.

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Brian D. Rusk, of Amherst, was re-elected to his 26th consecutive one-year term as president of the General Pulaski Association, a Polish-American leadership group for upstate New York.

Rusk, a public relations consultant, is host of the Rusk Report on WWKB Radio. Other officers are: first vice president, Sandi Schmid; second vice president, Kenneth Graber; treasurer, Edward Reska Jr.; secretary, Jerome Inda; sergeant at arms, Stanley Pulaski Sr.; chaplain, the Rev. Michael Burzynski; and honorary directors, Renee Harzewski, Dr. Jack Kotlarz and William M. Skretny Jr.

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Barry L. Gan, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University, has written a book titled “Violence and Nonviolence: An Introduction.” The book introduces five popular misconceptions about violence and nonviolence and seeks to dispel them. Gan presents new research to show that a fundamental change in mass opinion is necessary for nonviolence to be effective on a global scale.

Gan hopes his book will bring attention to the Center for Nonviolence and its mission to spread knowledge and understanding on nonviolent resistance.

Gan earned his doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees, all in philosophy, from the University of Rochester. He has taught at St. Bonaventure University for 30 years.

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Hilbert College introduced the Hawks Under 40 to honor four Hilbert graduates under the age of 40. The inaugural honorees are: Michael Gabor, Class of 2010; Karen Kalwicki, Class of 2006; Jason Luna, Class of 1996; and Jonathan Rajewski, Class of 2004. The honorees were selected for their impact on business, community, research, artistic, leadership, educational, philanthropic endeavors and commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Hilbert College.

Gabor is one of the first students to receive both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Hilbert. After earning his bachelor’s, he returned to pursue one of the college’s newly established graduate programs. He served as an assistant men’s soccer coach, was involved in the Graduate Student Association and graduated with a master’s degree in criminal justice administration. He is a global financial crimes compliance anti-money laundering investigator with JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Kalwicki was a highly honored scholar and athlete, excelling in both women’s soccer and softball at Hilbert. She received the McGrath Award and Mary Edwina Bogel Award upon graduation. She currently works as a paralegal at Neighborhood Legal Services Inc., a nonprofit agency, and has been a member of several civic organizations, including the Project Homeless Connect to Buffalo Planning Committee and the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless.

Luna was among the first to receive a four-year degree from Hilbert. After graduating from the University at Buffalo Law School, he began his career as an assistant district attorney. In 2005, he opened a personal injury law firm, Jason C. Luna, PLLC. He is also a volunteer with a number of civic groups, including the Valley Community Association, a not-for-profit organization in Buffalo’s Old First Ward that organizes events such as River Fest and the city’s original St. Patrick’s Day parade. Luna has been an Alumni Association board member, established an endowed scholarship for Hilbert students, worked as an adjunct instructor in criminal justice and, most recently, was elected to serve on the board of trustees.

Rajewski, an assistant professor at Vermont’s Champlain College, oversees the Sen. Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation at Champlain, works as a digital forensic examiner for the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and is a frequent presenter, media expert and private and government consultant in topics dealing with electronic investigations, cyber security and identity theft.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com