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August 30, 2012

What’s New at Pitt: People

The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year has returned: The proliferation of laundry carts, redirected traffic, upperclass student volunteers pointing the way to newcomers and their families during Arrival Survival.

But for many at Pitt, the hazy days of summer have been anything but lazy: Facilities were renovated; faculty and staff came and went; academic programs were established.

The University Times asked deans and other school officials to provide a brief look at “What’s New? People, Places and Things” in their areas. The summaries that follow are not all-encompassing, but rather are overviews of school news based on material submitted by the units. Information previously published in the University Times was not included here.

The listings were coordinated by Kimberly K. Barlow.


Bradford Campus

UPB will host two Confucius Institute scholars this year. Yidan Huang and Liulin Zhang will teach Chinese language and culture to UPB students and present seminars and noncredit courses to the community.

Both are graduate students in the College of Chinese Language and Literature at Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. Huang teaches Chinese as a second language at Wuhan and holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching Chinese as a second language from Central China Normal University. Zhang earned her bachelor’s degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language from Wuhan and is pursuing a master’s degree in the same area. Her areas of study include linguistics, literature, psychology, English translation, Western culture, logic, science of religion and international business.

Stephen Robar, associate professor of political science, is the new associate dean of academic affairs. He had been the chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Marietta Frank has been appointed interim director of Hanley Library.

Patrick Daniel has been named the new women’s basketball coach. He comes from Kenyon College, where he was the assistant coach.

Registered nurse Nicole Stark is the new director of UPB’s Student Health Services, taking the place of Bonnie McMillen, who will be staying on as a part-time nurse in the health center.

New full-time faculty members are James W. Carlson, visiting assistant professor of management; Jennifer L. Forney, visiting instructor of hospitality management; Juan “Jenny” Gu, visiting instructor of biology, and Joshua R. Meddaugh, visiting assistant professor of political science.

welcome2pittsign.acr4Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education

Joseph Cornibe has joined the staff as manager of the educational technology services group. A former executive officer and flight commander in the U.S. Air Force, Cornibe holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and most recently was a project leader and consultant on knowledge-sharing projects at Deloitte Consulting.

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Michele Colvard has joined the school as executive director for staff personnel and senior assistant dean.  She is responsible for strategic management, staffing and organization development and serves as liaison with Human Resources for the Dietrich school and the College of General Studies.

Colvard most recently was assistant vice president for academic affairs at Chatham University. In 2006-07 she was assistant to the provost at Pitt, serving as the primary liaison for the National Research Council’s assessment of research doctorate programs.

New administrators in the school include department chairs Bryan Hanks, anthropology; Gordon Mitchell, communication; Shelome Gooden, linguistics, Anil Gupta, philosophy, and Suzanne Staggenborg, sociology, as well as acting chairs Lina Insana, French and Italian languages and literatures; Katheryn Linduff, history of art and architecture, and Andrew Weintraub, music.

Acting director of the film studies program is Daniel Morgan.

New tenure/tenure-stream faculty include associate professors Mariagiovanna Baccara in economics and Josef Werne in geology and planetary science, as well as assistant professors Michele Reid-Vazquez in Africana studies; Daniel Lambrecht in chemistry; Sewon Hur in economics; Cory Holding and William Lychack in English; Armando Garcia in Hispanic languages and literatures; Shirin Fozi in history of art and architecture; Rachel Mundy and Emily Zazulia in music; Yan Dong in neuroscience; Japa Pallikkathayil in philosophy; Melissa Libertus in psychology, and Kehui Chen in statistics.

New non-tenure stream faculty include assistant professors Michael Meyer in English, Gavin Steingo in music and Sergey Frolov in geology and planetary science; assistant instructor Wan-ching Hsieh in East Asian languages and literatures, and lecturers Candice Damiani in biological sciences, Sheng Xiong in mathematics, Cynthia Lausberg in psychology and Milica Bakic-Hayden in religious studies.

M. Cooper Harriss has joined the Department of Religious Studies as a post-doctoral associate. Harriss earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2011 and taught at Virginia Tech. His research and teaching interests center on the intersections of religious thought and practice with African-American cultural production (especially literature, performance and vernacular music); the concept of race in Western and American intellectual history; the religious and theological valences of the concept of irony, and the impact of preachers and preaching on African-American literature.

Harriss authored the book “Race and the Religious Unconscious: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology.”

Michael Tillotson joins the Department of Africana Studies as an assistant professor from Asante Institute. Tillotson holds a PhD in African-American studies from Temple. His research focuses on Africana theory and methodology, African-American politics and social thought, Reconstruction, critical race theory and African-centered psychology.

Andrea Berman, a new assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, comes from the University of Colorado and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She completed her PhD at Yale. Berman’s research interests focus on structural and biochemical studies of the biogenesis of the T. thermophile telomerase RNP movement through the TERT protein active site during the catalytic cycle of telomerase.

Angie Cruz joins the Department of English as an assistant professor from Texas A&M University. Cruz, whose research focuses on creative writing, earned her MFA at New York University and has had two novels published.

Washington University’s Jennifer Josten joins the Department of History of Art and Architecture as an assistant professor. She completed her PhD in history of art at Yale. Her research focuses on 20th-century art of Latin America, 19th-century art of Europe and the Americas and ancient art of Mesoamerica.

Benjamin Rottman joins the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor from the University of Chicago, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. Rottman completed his PhD in cognitive psychology at Yale. His research focuses on the cognitive science of causal learning, investigating innovative basic issues in the learning of causal categories, and exploring applications of basic issues in real problem-solving domains.

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science welcomes Joyce van Leeuwen, its second A. W. Mellon Fellow in the history of science. Van Leeuwen has an MA in classics from Radboud University in the Netherlands and is about to defend her dissertation, “The Tradition of the Aristotelian Mechanics: Text and Diagrams,” at Humboldt University in Berlin.

At Pitt, she will be working on a study of the diagrams in the texts of the Aristotelian Mechanics, from the earliest Greek manuscripts to the editions, translations and commentaries on the Mechanics in the late Renaissance, focusing on the changing roles of these visual representations over time.

Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research has selected Pitt history department chair and professor G. Reid Andrews as a Nathan I. Huggins lecturer. He will present three lectures: “African-American Visions,” “Afro-Latin Voices” and “Social Justice Visions” Oct. 2-4. Information on the lecture series is at

Department of Computer Science part-time faculty member Paul Covaleski received the Students’ Choice Award from the College of General Studies Student Government.

volunteer.njbComputer science faculty member Rami Melhem received the 2012 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. This award recognizes faculty members who demonstrate outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctorate degree.

Two new staffers joined the Department of Computer Science. Undergraduate program administrator Angela Ellis previously had a similar role in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  Outreach coordinator Tasha Rauso plans on growing the department’s diversity initiatives as well as coordinating partnerships between the department and school districts, alumni and other University departments.  She earned a master’s degree at Pepperdine University.

Associate professor of French Todd Reeser will be on leave for the academic year as a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The year-long residential fellowship will enable him to finish his book on Platonic sexuality in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Reeser also received three short-term external fellowships for next academic year at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the Beinecke Rare Books Library at Yale and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Laura Paler and Stephen Chaudoin are new assistant professors in political science. Paler completed her PhD in political science at Columbia University and is spending the 2012-13 academic year as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Her research focuses on how different sources of government revenue (such as natural resource rents, foreign aid and taxes) affect political behavior; how information and transparency affect accountability, and the determinants of conflict and post-conflict reintegration.

Chaudoin graduated from Emory University with an MA in political science and a BA in economics. He completed his PhD at Princeton. His dissertation focused on international dispute resolution mechanisms and international trade disputes.

The Department of French and Italian languages and literatures is hosting two long-term guests this year.

Post-doctoral associate Andrew Ryder previously was a visiting professor at Emory University and at Al-Quds Bard College in Abu Dis, Palestine. He earned his PhD at Emory in 2010. His areas of research include intersections between French and Arabic thought, new approaches to materialism in continental philosophy and French modern literature.

Giuseppina Pellegrino of the University of Calabria will be housed in the Italian program as Distinguished Fulbright Professor in the spring term. Pellegrino is a scholar of media and technology and her current research focuses on the representation of women and immigrants in the Italian media.

History has two new assistant professors, both of whom work on early-modern European and Atlantic history.

Pernille Røge was a lecturer in history at the University of Cambridge, where she received her PhD. Her research focuses on early modern Europe, specializing in the intellectual, political and administrative history of France and its colonial empire in European and global contexts.

Molly Warsh earned her PhD at Johns Hopkins and was a faculty member at Texas A&M. For the last two years she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, VA.

Graduate School of Public Health

Stephen M. Albert has been named chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. Albert’s research centers on the assessment of health outcomes in aging and chronic disease, including physical and cognitive function, health service use and the cost of care, quality of life and clinical decision-making.

Faculty member Patricia Documet of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences has been named scientific director of the Center for Health Equity. The center aims to understand and reduce health disparities in underserved populations, particularly those in western Pennsylvania.

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

classof2016.acrJoining the faculty this fall as assistant professors are:

• Kevin Morrison, who was a political science faculty member at Cornell. He holds a PhD in political science, an MA in economics from Duke University and a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics.

• Marcela Gonzalez Rivas, who was a faculty member in city and regional planning at Cornell. Rivas holds a PhD in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics.

• Ilia Murtazashvili, who holds a PhD in political science and a master’s degree in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin. He is the co-author of the 2012 book “Arms and the University: Military Presence and the Civic Education of Non-Military Students.”

Greensburg campus

Changes at UPG resulting from eight Volunteer Early Retirement Plan staff departures include:

• Karen Antoniak, formerly director of Academic Support Services, now is director of Human Resources and will provide HR support service to both faculty and staff. She also serves as sexual harassment liaison for staff on campus.

• Dolly Biskup, the campus president’s executive assistant, also will be chief of academic support services. Her responsibilities include supervising the faculty secretaries and administering the performance impacted workplace program, the staff professional development program, the “You Make a Difference” recognition program, the annual staff recognition luncheon and the Campus Beautification Community Circle.

Registrar Linda Smith will be responsible for scheduling classes, determining academic honors, certifying graduates, preparing for summer orientation and academic registration and other curriculum management tasks.

Linda Soltis, formerly administrative assistant in maintenance/facilities management, will become maintenance coordinator with responsibilities for all purchasing and administrative duties in the department, including evaluating quality and suitability of products, as well as processing orders and requests and dispatching technicians.

Robert Smith, senior systems analyst, is serving as interim director of  information technology services.

In other faculty and staff changes on the UPG campus:

Danielle Brush was hired as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Services where she will work with student activities, orientation and residence life. She is a graduate of Waynesburg University and served as a hall director at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA. She is pursuing a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

Gawain Emanuel, visiting instructor of English, was named director of academic advising.

Chelsea Huet was hired as event coordinator in conferencing services. She previously worked as a special events and marketing assistant in the University’s Career Development and Placement Assistance office.

• Robert Kauffman is the new director of plant maintenance. He previously served as supervisor of maintenance at Penn State-New Kensington. His responsibilities include new construction, maintenance and repair of all buildings and facilities, and direction of the department’s staff, skilled workers, custodians and groundskeepers.

Jenna Konyak was hired as the graduate assistant resident director of College Hall. She also will serve as co-adviser to the outdoor adventure and community service residential living community. She recently graduated from Siena College and is pursuing a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education at IUP.

Olivia Long is an assistant professor of biochemistry. A Pitt graduate, Long most recently taught at St. Vincent College.

Russell Phillips III was hired as an assistant professor of psychology. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently taught at Missouri Western State University.

Joel Sabadasz, former director of academic advising, will continue to teach U.S. history on a part-time basis.

• Timothy Sheets was hired as an assistant professor of education. A graduate of Duquesne University, he most recently taught in the Bentworth School District.

• Al Thiel now is the director of campus activities and Village adviser in the Office of Student Services. He will direct co-curricular, leadership and service programs and will advise Student Government and the Campus Activities Board. Thiel, who holds an MS in higher education from IUP, previously worked at Iona College.

• Stacey Triplette joins the faculty as an assistant professor of French and Spanish. She is a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley.

• Gretchen Underwood was hired as an assistant professor of communication. A graduate of Purdue University, she most recently taught at Penn State-Greater Allegheny.

• Chuck Wigle has been named head women’s soccer coach. He will continue to serve as an assistant soccer coach to the men’s team. A St. Vincent College graduate, Wigle has coached youth soccer teams in western Pennsylvania.

• Jim Turnley was hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach. He previously served as assistant varsity coach at Quigley Catholic and Hopewell Area high schools. He is a graduate of IUP.

• DeeAnn Waters was hired as an assistant women’s basketball coach. A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, she served as a volunteer assistant for the Bobcat women’s team last year. Her other experience includes coaching Hempfield Area and Derry Area high school basketball teams.

traffic.acrHealth Sciences Library System

Jeff Husted has been promoted to head of collections, where he is responsible for collection development of electronic and print resources, including materials selection and acquisition, analysis of usage and trends, vendor relations, serials management and oversight of the acquisition budget.  Husted has been at HSLS since 1997, when he earned his BS in biology at Pitt. He earned an MLIS from the School of Information Sciences in 2009.

Tristan Lucchetti, formerly National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Regional office (NN/LM MAR) administrator, has moved into the HSLS director’s office to become HSLS business manager. Lucchetti will oversee the financial operations of the NN/LM MAR, and also will assume responsibility for HSLS business operations and human resource functions, including budget monitoring and planning, employment/payroll records and travel and reimbursement requests.

Humanities Center

Sabine von Dirke of the German department is the new associate director of the Humanities Center.  She has published on various aspects of German culture after World War II, including counter-cultural developments, transatlantic cultural transfers and migration issues. Her current research explores how aesthetic culture negotiates the current pressures of globalization, especially in the representation of white-collar employment in literary discourse.

Arjuna Parakrama, dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is a senior fellow at the Humanities Center this year. His research explores issues of collective trauma and language norms with respect to the use of English in Sri Lanka.

Naomi Paik, an assistant professor in American studies at the University of Texas-Austin, will be an early-career fellow at the center. She will pursue research entitled “Rightlessness: Testimonies From the Camp in Narratives of U.S. Culture and Law.”

Visiting scholar Piotr Gwiadza comes to the center from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where he is an associate professor of English. While at the Humanities Center, he will pursue research entitled “Explaining America: Poetry in the Age of Empire.”

Internal fellows at the center in the fall term are: Edouard Machery of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, whose project is “Evidence and Cognition”; Francesca Savoia of  French and Italian languages and literatures, whose project is “An 18th-Century Paradigm of Acculturation: Giuseppe Baretti’s Commonplace Book,” and Jennifer Waldron of English, whose project is “Shakespeare and the Senses: Language, Affect, Performance.”

In the spring term, internal fellows will be Marah Gubar of English, whose project is “Acting Up: Children, Agency and the Case for Childhood Studies”; Irina Livezeanu of history, whose project is “The New Generation and the Avant-Garde: Ideas, Art and Politics in Romania, 1914-1947,” and Adam Shear of religious studies, whose project is “The Transmission of Medieval Jewish Texts and Early Modern Books.”

Johnstown campus

New faculty include: Dawn Drahnak, instructor of nursing; George “Skip” Glenn, assistant professor of  business/marketing; Joanna Harrington, visiting instructor of science education; Chandana Jayasooriya, instructor of electrical engineering technology; Jeremy Justus, visiting assistant professor of English; Charles Kanyi, assistant professor of chemistry; Marissa Landrigan, assistant professor of English writing/literary journalism; Derek Leben, assistant professor of philosophy; Kim Lee-Asonevich, assistant professor of business management/entrepreneurship; Paul Lucas, instructor of communication; Gregory Petyak, assistant professor of accounting and finance, and Khayyun Rahi, visiting assistant professor of energy and earth resources.

School of Education

Sean Kelly and Linda DeAngelo have joined the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies as assistant professors.

Kelly received his PhD and MS degrees in sociology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He focuses on the social organization of schools, student engagement and teacher effectiveness.

DeAngelo’s research areas include diversity issues; student learning and change in diverse environments; the differential effect of institutions on students; pipeline and educational transitions; outcomes for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students, and interaction and conditional effects.

She earned both her PhD in education and MA at UCLA.

New assistant professor Thomas Akiva is part of the applied developmental psychology program. His research focuses on psychological experiences of youth in organized activities during out-of-school time, such as in after-school programs and community-based organizations.

He earned a PhD in education and psychology, an MS in psychology and an MA in educational studies at the University of Michigan.

Ming-Te Wan has joined the psychology in education department as an assistant professor, bringing with him research that emphasizes the interplay of developmental processes among adolescents — whether they are academic, career, social, emotional or behavioral — and based on family, school and community contexts.

He received his doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard.

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

New faculty members are Chris Brown, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders; Dilhari DeAlmeida, assistant professor in the Department of Health Information Management, and David Wert, research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy.

Brown is interested in how humans perceive and process sound signals, including speech. He received his PhD from Loyola University, where he studied perception and basic psychoacoustics. He completed a post-doc at Arizona State University, where he honed his interest in cochlear implants and finding ways to improve speech perception by implant users. Much of his current work involves a fusion of basic and applied research.

DeAlmeida’s doctoral dissertation research at Pitt highlighted the multiple uses of the ICD-10-CM coding system, evaluating the documentation requirements needed for accurately capturing the codes along with identifying which clinical areas would need the most documentation attention in order to accurately code in ICD-10-CM. DeAlmeida earned a master’s degree with a concentration in health information systems at Pitt and her bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology at the University of Toronto.

Wert earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science at Penn State, a master’s degree in physical therapy at Slippery Rock and a PhD in rehabilitation science at Pitt. His academic and research interests include neurosciences, geriatrics and human disease as well as the metabolic cost of movement, Parkinson’s disease, gait/balance and aging.

School of Information Sciences

Sheila Corrall has joined the school as a full professor and chair of the library and information science program. She was professor and chair in librarianship and information management at the University of Sheffield, U.K., where she was head of the information school, 2006-10.

She holds a master’s degree in classics from Cambridge; a postgraduate diploma in librarianship from the Polytechnic of North London; an MBA from the Roffey Park Management Institute; a master’s in information systems from the University of Southampton, and a certificate in higher education from Sheffield.

She also has worked in public libraries, including the British Library, and in academic libraries at Aston University, the University of Reading and the University of Southampton.

Other new faculty members are Brian Beaton and Rosta Farzan.

Beaton will teach in science and technology studies, digital humanities and archives areas. He completed his PhD this year at the University of Toronto. His dissertation, “Everyday Data,” explored local and community information practices in the period just before personal computing. He earned his MA in the humanities and social thought program at New York University. For the past five years he has taught in the University of Toronto’s Department of History and within the American studies program at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Farzan most recently held a postdoctoral research position with the Human Computer Institute’s social computing lab at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2009, she earned her PhD in Pitt’s intelligent systems program. Her research interests include socialization of newcomers, participation and commitment in online communities, social navigation and social information filtering, social web technologies, personalized information access and community-based user modeling.

School of Medicine

Nathan Yates is a new associate professor of cell biology in the School of Medicine and director of the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Center for the Schools of the Health Sciences. Yates, a chemist, comes to the University from Merck and Co., where he most recently was scientific director of the molecular biomarker laboratory in the Division of Exploratory and Translational Sciences. His research area is the application of mass spectroscopy for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease and integration of technologies to simplify the analysis of clinical samples.

School of Nursing

Denise Charron-Prochownik is the new chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Development. Cynthia Danford has joined the department as an assistant professor.

In the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, Annette De Vito Dabbs has been appointed chair and Paula Sherwood has been named vice chair for research. Susan Miller and Elizabeth Crago have joined the department as assistant professors.

Mijung Park has joined the Department of Health and Community Systems as an assistant professor.

School of Pharmacy

Irene Gathuru joined the school in the spring as an instructor in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics and scientific director of the department’s program evaluation and research unit program. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada-Reno and her master’s degree in public health and PhD in chronic disease epidemiology at Pitt. Her doctoral research focused on socio-environmental risk factors of obstructive lung disease.

She recently was accepted into the RAMP to K program, a mentoring program for junior faculty to become independently funded researchers.  Her research is focused on health disparities and asthma management in adolescents.

James Coons joined the faculty this summer as an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics. After receiving a PharmD at Pitt in 2000, he completed a residency in pharmacy practice at the University of Virginia Health System before completing a specialty residency in cardiology pharmacy practice at Pitt.

He has worked as a clinical pharmacy specialist in cardiology at Allegheny General Hospital.

His research will focus on the optimal use of antiplatelets and anticoagulants in the setting of acute coronary syndromes and percutaneous coronary intervention.

Shilpa Sant joins the school as an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She was a Ruth Kirschstein NRSA interdisciplinary training fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard and the Center for Bioengineering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Sant received a PhD in pharmaceutical technology from the University of Montreal. Her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and master’s degree in pharmacology are from the University of Mumbai.

Her post-doctoral research involved fabrication of functionalized bioinspired materials and scaffolds applicable for heart valve and tooth germ tissue engineering. She will continue to work on functionalized biomaterials and microfabrication technologies to develop in vitro 3-D tissue models for drug discovery and the study of pathophysiology of disease as well as drug delivery approaches for disease treatment and regenerative medicine.

Vinayak Sant also has been named an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He completed his BS in pharmaceutical sciences and MS in pharmaceutics at the University of Pune, India. He earned a PhD in pharmaceutics at the University of Mumbai, with specialization in novel drug delivery systems. He did postdoctoral research in nanotechnology for solubility and bioavailability enhancement at the University of Montreal.

He has nine years of industrial experience with expertise in novel oral and parenteral dosage form development, nano/microparticulate delivery systems for solubility enhancement and cGMP manufacturing for IND/NDA filings.

He will be responsible for the non-thesis based master’s program in pharmaceutical sciences.

School of Social Work

Catherine (Katie) Greeno, a member of the faculty since 1999, has been named associate dean for research. Greeno’s research has aimed to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and community practice.  Her current studies focus on long-term outcomes for people discharged from a long-stay state psychiatric hospital as part of its closure, and the implementation of reformed standards for case management for mental health consumers in Allegheny County. She holds a doctorate from Stanford.

Former associate dean for research Hide Yamatani has been named director of the newly created Office of Strategic Planning and Quality Assurance. Yamatani’s responsibilities include leading efforts related to the school’s deficit, asset and momentum maintenance management, and optimization of learning outcomes and benefit-equity among various student groups, such as: regional/main campus, full- and part-time, age, gender, racial/ethnic groups.

Keith Caldwell has been named Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program director. He was the school’s director of career services and alumni affairs, with teaching responsibilities in both the BASW and MSW programs. His areas of interest include nonprofit management, community practice and cultural competency.

Swanson School of Engineering

Cheryl Bodnar, grants developer in the school, has joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in a non-tenure stream teaching position. She earned a PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Calgary. Bodnar also will be involved with the department’s undergraduate programs, including undergraduate advising, and in the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accreditation process.

Steven R. Little has been appointed chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. He is an associate professor and Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow, Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Immunology.

New faculty in engineering include:

Bryan Brown, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering. He comes from Cornell, where he was a research associate in clinical sciences and biomedical engineering. Brown earned his BS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in bioengineering at Pitt.

Hai (Helen) Li and Thomas E. McDermott are new assistant professors in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Li received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tsinghua University, China, and earned her PhD at Purdue. She worked for Qualcomm, Intel and Seagate Technology before joining the faculty at Polytechnic Institute of New York as an assistant professor. Her research interests include architecture/circuit/device co-optimization for green computing systems, emerging memory design, neuromorphic hardware and 3-D integration technology and design.

McDermott specializes in circuit simulation, electric power distribution systems, distributed wind and solar integration, lightning protection, power quality and power electronics applications.

He also is president of MelTran, a Pittsburgh-based power system consulting company. He specializes in applied R&D for distribution systems and smart grid applications, distributed resource interconnection, custom software development and electromagnetic transient studies. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD from Virginia Tech.

Gelsy Torres-Oviedo is assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering and part of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Pitt. She obtained her BS degree in physics at the University of Texas-Austin and a PhD in biomedical engineering at The Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins.

Her research is focused on motor adaptation of locomotion and balance control in humans, considering both the plasticity of the brain and the role of biomechanics in movement. She is particularly interested in the adaptability of muscle coordination during motor learning tasks, especially in patients with cortical lesions.

Cheryl A. Bodnar is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. She has worked as an educational training manager with the University Health Network in Toronto, creating summer training program activities for undergraduate students, scientific and professional development workshops for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and coordinating a variety of public and K-12 outreach initiatives. She holds certification as a training and development professional from the Canadian Society for Training and Development.

Bodnar’s research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques such as problem-based learning, games and simulations in undergraduate classes as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the chemical and petroleum engineering curriculum.

In addition, she is actively engaged in the development of a variety of informal science education approaches with the goal of exciting and teaching K-12 students about regenerative medicine and its potential.

Paolo Zunino is a new faculty member in mechanical engineering and materials science. He earned his master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Politecnico di Milano and a PhD in applied mathematics at the Ecole Polytecnique Fédérale de Lausanne. He served as an assistant professor in applied mathematics, numerical analysis and scientific computing at Politecnico di Milano, 2005-11.

Zunino’s scientific activity is focused on the development of mathematical models and numerical approximation methods and their application to engineering and life sciences. He has worked on biochemical transport in the cardiovascular system and, more recently, on controlled drug release.

New staff in the Swanson School of Engineering include: Janet L. Littrell, director of distance learning; Paul A. Kovach, director of marketing and communications; Leslie Karon-Oswalt, senior graphic designer, and Matthew Manzo, senior web designer.

In bioengineering, Lindsay Rodzwicz has been named administrator of the Coulter program. She oversees the program’s administration, budgets, marketing and development.

Research engineer Jarad Prinkey has joined the engineering school staff to build, repair and design data collection software in the Augmented Human Performance Laboratory, the Human Movement and Balance Laboratory, the Medical Virtual Reality Center and other labs.

Alexis Nolfi joined the tissue mechanics laboratory of Steve Abramowitch as a research technician in May. She has bachelor’s degrees in bioengineering and psychology from Pitt.

New staff in the vascular bioengineering laboratory of David Vorp are: Deb Cleary, who provides both administrative and laboratory support for the department related to Vorp’s lab; researcher Joe Pichamuthu, who has undertaken responsibilities related to the management and other essential functions of the lab, and manager Jayashree Rao, who is responsible for the lab’s day-to-day functions.

Titusville campus

Jeff Ledebur has been named director of the Learning Center. He most recently was the community service coordinator at Westminster College.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in school counseling at Westminster.

Ledebur is the first full-time director of the center, which offers students assistance in writing, mathematics, reading comprehension, study skills, goal setting, note taking, test taking strategies and time management. Hours at the center have been expanded to 37.5 hours per week.

New faculty on the campus include: assistant professor of sociology Matilda Spencer, who earned her MS in administration of justice at Shippensburg University; visiting instructor of psychology Laura Terwilliger, who earned her MA in clinical psychology at Edinboro University; assistant professor of biology Robin Choo, whose PhD in toxicology is from the University of Maryland, and interim director of nursing Louise Schwabenbauer, whose MS in nursing is from Edinboro/Slippery Rock/Clarion universities.

University Honors College

Ryan Gayman joins the UHC staff as the community engagement adviser for undergraduate students.

This new position connects students’ academic interests to opportunities that will impact the University, local, national and/or international communities. While an undergraduate at Pitt, Gayman was a Student Government Board member and worked in the Student Organization Resource Center. In 2012, he won the Humanity in Action Fellowship and received his BA degree with a double major in anthropology and urban studies.

University Library System

Jennifer Chan is the 2011-12 Diversity Fellow in the University Library System’s Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing.

Prior to pursuing her MLIS degree at Pitt, she worked in the Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) Library system as a library associate. She holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies from Louisiana State University.

Also at ULS, David Grinnell has joined the Archives Service Center as a reference and access archivist. He has 13 years of experience at the Heinz History Center, where he held several positions including chief archivist.

Grinnell earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Albion College and completed his MLIS degree at Pitt.


Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 1

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