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December 9, 2010

People of the Times

nordenbergThree Pitt administrators, including Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, have been named to Gov.-elect Tom Corbett’s transition team.

Corbett selected 400 people to serve on 17 committees that will examine 25 state departments and agencies and help formulate policy, choose key personnel and recommend ways to cut costs.

Nordenberg will co-chair the education committee.

Also appointed to the transition team were Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor and general counsel, who will serve on the budget, pensions and revenue committee, and Everette James, associate vice chancellor for health policy and planning and former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, who will serve on the health and aging committee.

Chrysanthis_P.JPGComputer science faculty member Panos K. Chrysanthis was selected as a 2010 Distinguished Scientist of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. Chrysanthis is the first Pitt faculty member to receive this distinction.

The Distinguished Members program recognizes ACM members with at least 15 years of professional experience who have helped advance the practical and theoretical aspects of computing. The 2010 honorees comprise 47 computer scientists and engineers from corporations and academic institutions worldwide.

Chrysanthis is best known for his contributions to the principles, protocols and prototypes of systems that allow distributed transactions and data processing to be performed in situations where power and resources are in short supply. These include data streams, web databases and mobile and sensor databases.

Chrysanthis also is the founder and director of Pitt’s Advanced Data Management Technologies Laboratory, which pursues a broad focus on user-centric data management for scalable network applications.

mulvey_e_newsPsychiatry faculty member Edward P. Mulvey was one of 18 national experts named by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to the newly created Office of Justice Programs science advisory board. The board is designed to bridge the divide between research and practice in criminal justice fields.

Mulvey directs law and psychiatric research in the School of Medicine.

Moe-lgEric Moe, a faculty member in the Department of Music and co-director of the Music on the Edge program, is one of 10 composers from seven states selected for a paid residency at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark house in New York’s lower Hudson Valley.

Cheryl Ruffin, employee relations specialist, was chosen as the November Dignity and Respect Champion for her work as the pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Pittsburgh in counseling, mentoring and listening to others in times in need.cheryl ruffin

The award was bestowed by the Dignity and Respect Campaign, which is designed to join individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses and corporations under the principle that everyone deserves dignity and respect.

Ruffin also is a mentor through Amachi Pittsburgh, where she guides children who have an incarcerated parent.

Janet L. Grady, chair of the Division of Nursing and Health Sciences at Pitt-Johnstown, has been selected for fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing. Grady was one of 116 nurse leaders nationally inducted into the academy last month.

Janet Grady_006Criteria for fellowship include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care.

Grady, who in July was named interim vice president for Academic Affairs at the Johnstown campus, joined Pitt-Johnstown in 2007 as director of the nursing program, having taught in the program from 1993 to 2000. She also was  a faculty member and associate academic dean at Mount Aloysius College; chief nursing officer and principal partner, clinical services and performance improvement for Windber Medical Center, and instructor and term coordinator at the Conemaugh School of Nursing.

Milos Hauskrecht, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science, recently accepted the Homer R. Warner award from the American Medical Informatics Association as primary author of the paper, “Conditional Outlier Detection for Clinical Alerting.”

The award is presented annually for the paper that best describes approaches to improving computerized information acquisition; knowledge data acquisition and management, and experimental results documenting the value of these approaches.

Hauskrecht shares the award with the paper’s co-authors: computer science colleagues Michal Valko and Iyad Bata; Gilles Clermont of the Department of Critical Care Medicine, and Shyam Visweswaran and Gregory Cooper of the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

Matcheri Keshavan, a faculty member in psychiatry at the School of Medicine, will receive the 2010 Pittsburgh Schizophrenia Award Dec. 10 at the annual Pittsburgh schizophrenia conference.

Keshavan, who also is Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and vice chair of public psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, focuses his research on individuals at risk for schizophrenia, the factors that lead to clinical symptoms and the importance of early interventions to prevent the progression of the illness.

Pam_SmithburgerPamela Smithburger, a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, has been appointed chair-elect of the safety committee of the clinical pharmacy and pharmacology section of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Bernard D. Goldstein, a faculty member in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and former Graduate School of Public Health dean, has been appointed to chair an ad hoc committee that will conduct a study to help define the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to incorporate sustainability concepts into its programs.goldsteinb

The study’s goal is to build on existing sustainability efforts in the EPA by strengthening the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection within the agency’s decision-making process.

The Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has announced the appointment of two associate deans.

Eleanor Feingold, vice chair in the Department of Human Genetics with faculty appointments in that department and in the Department of Biostatistics, has been appointed associate dean for education at GSPH.

Feingold’s primary role will be the direction and management of graduate education activities. She also will help to implement the strategic goals and objectives of the school and assist with the accreditation process.

Feingold maintains a teaching and advising role and has been active in various educational committees including the committee to develop the master of public health program in human genetics.

She serves as graduate program director for the human genetics component of the interdisciplinary biomedical sciences PhD program and director of graduate studies for the Department of Human Genetics.

Cindy Bryce has been named associate dean for student affairs, effective Jan. 1. In addition, she will have a primary faculty position in the Department of Health Policy and Management, where she currently holds a secondary appointment.

Bryce will be responsible for the administration of the GSPH student affairs office and will direct its activities in recruitment, admissions, graduation, student awards, special events and career services. She will contribute to Association of Schools of Public Health reports and oversee compliance with the Council on Education for Public Health’s student requirements.

Currently, Bryce is director of degree-granting programs in clinical research and associate director of degree-granting programs in medical education at Pitt’s Institute for Clinical Research Education. She also is a core faculty member of the Center for Research on Health Care at the School of Medicine; an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law; a faculty member in medicine, and a secondary faculty member of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

SinghChandralekha Singh, a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been named chair of the editorial board of Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research. Singh is a frequent contributor to the journal.

The goal of Singh’s research is to identify sources of student difficulties in learning physics both at the introductory and advanced levels, and to design, implement and assess curricula/pedagogies that may reduce these difficulties. The objective is to enable students to develop critical thinking skills and to become good problem solvers and independent learners.

Salomé Skvirsky-Aguilera, a newly minted PhD in English, is the recipient of the 2010 Eduardo Lozano Memorial Dissertation Prize, sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies. The prize is awarded annually for the best doctoral dissertation at Pitt on a topic related to Latin America, the Caribbean or Latin American communities in other countries. It carries a cash award of $1,250, which is co-funded by contributions from the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and other donations.

The prize honors internationally renowned librarian Eduardo Lozano, who developed and directed the Latin American collection at Hillman Library from 1967 until his death in 2006.

Skvirsky-Aguilera was nominated for her dissertation, titled “The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema From Brazil and the U.S., 1960-2005.” She is an assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

For the first time since the prize’s inception in 2007, the prize committee awarded an honorable mention. The recipient is María Andrea Castagnola, who recently earned her PhD in history. Her dissertation was titled “Rethinking Judicial Instability in Developing Democracies: A National and Subnational Analysis of Supreme Courts in Argentina.”

Tina Phillips, coach of Pitt-Bradford’s women’s volleyball team, was named Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year. The team captured the regular-season title with a 9-0 mark and then claimed UPB’s first-ever conference tournament title, securing the AMCC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In 2005, Phillips was honored as the AMCC softball Coach of the Year.

Among those at the Schools of the Health Sciences whose work has been acknowledged recently with awards or accolades are the following:

altschulerEric Altschuler, a faculty member in the Department of Neurological Surgery, School of Medicine, recently was elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society. The society is a statewide organization that addresses the concerns of neurosurgeons and patients in the prevention and treatment of neurological trauma and illness.

Altschuler specializes in hydrocephalus treatments, spinal neurosurgery, neurosurgical trauma and stereotactic neurosurgery.

Deborah Opacic, program director of physician assistant studies in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, was chosen by her students, peers and the awards committee of the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants as the recipient of the 2010 PA Educator of the Year Award.

• Eugene N. Myers, Distinguished Professor and emeritus chair of the MyersDepartment of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, has been the guest of honor and lecturer at several locations recently, including the annual educational conference of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Cairo; the Department of Otolaryngology at the American University of Beirut, and the 32nd Turkish National Congress of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery.

In addition, Myers was elected honorary president of the Balkan Society of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and was a visiting professor at the University of Alexandria.

FuFreddie• Freddie H. Fu, David Silver Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine and UPMC, recently received the 2010 ENDOS Medical Science and Technology Award–International Endoscopy for Outstanding Leadership. Fu was presented with the award at an international endoscopy conference in Macau, China, by Chinese government officials, including those from the Department of Health and Department of Science.

Pamela Martini, purchasing coordinator at Magee-Womens Hospital pharmacy, was named the Pharmacy Technician of the Year by the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA). The award is given to the pharmacy technician who has demonstrated a professional attitude, shown leadership in the training of other technicians, is involved in PPA and other professional organizations and/or community service activities and has shown overall pride in their work as a pharmacy technician. Martini serves as a lead technician at Magee-Womens Hospital.

• Dexi Liu, a faculty member in pharmaceutical sciences, School of Pharmacy, was appointed chair of the membership committee for the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

• Janice Pringle, a faculty member in pharmacy and therapeutics, School of Pharmacy, served on the State Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) impact panel. The goal of SBIRT is to develop and implement training programs to teach medical residents the skills to provide evidence-based screening, intervention and referral to treatment for patients who have, or are at risk for, substance use disorders.

• Raman Venkataramanan, a faculty member in pharmaceutical sciences, was appointed editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Analytical Chemistry.

Venkataramanan also was elected as a member-at-large of the executive committee of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. He will serve on the committee for three years.

• Shelley Zomak, director of the UPMC Presbyterian Cardiothoracic Transplant Unit, received the 2010 International Transplant Nursing Society (ITNS) Transplant Nursing Excellence Award. This honor is given annually to a transplant nurse who exemplifies the ITNS mission of promoting excellence in transplant clinical nursing through the pursuit of professional growth opportunities, interdisciplinary networking, collaborative activities and transplant nursing research.

• Gilbert Brenes, a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, recently received the Individual Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Rehab Facilities. PARF is a statewide organization of facilities serving individuals with physical, mental, social and/or emotional disabilities. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a strong commitment, dedication and interest in working with people who have disabilities.

• Two faculty members in orthopaedic surgery and neurological surgery in the School of Medicine, recently received an award from the Council on Brain Injury (CoBI).





Mark R. Lovell, who also is founding director of the UPMC Sports Medicine concussion program, and Michael Collins, assistant director of the program, were honored for their work on concussion and sports-related brain injuries.

The mission of CoBI is to fund education related to brain injury, conduct and support research for more effective treatments and advocate for improved services.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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