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June 27, 2013

People of the Times

Chair Harvey Borovetz, left, and Sanjeev G. Shroff, associate chair, Department of Bioengineering. The department won the 2013 Chancellor’s Affirmative Action Award. Associate Chair, Department of Bioengineering

Chair Harvey Borovetz, left, and Sanjeev G. Shroff, associate chair, Department of Bioengineering. The department won the 2013 Chancellor’s Affirmative Action Award.

The Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering is the recipient of the 2013 Chancellor’s Affirmative Action Award.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg presented the award to department chair Harvey Borovetz, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering, at Senate Council’s June 12 meeting. The $2,500 prize is given annually to an “outstanding University program area or individual that has made a significant contribution in affirmative action.”

The chancellor noted that the award selection committee praised the efforts of the Swanson school to establish a culture of inclusion and noted that the Department of Bioengineering is “a clear leader in developing innovative and successful diversity programs.”

The department offers a summer program for high school students from underrepresented groups in underserved areas, providing them with the tools they need to succeed in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. This program has helped recruit talented students to attend Pitt.

In addition, the department has established a partnership with the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C. — one of the nation’s oldest historically black colleges and universities — from which Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering draws talented undergraduate and graduate students to enroll in its doctoral studies program.


The University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) has named the winners of the Steven D. Manners Faculty Development Awards for promising research and infrastructure projects on campus. The awards honor the memory of Manners, who was the center’s assistant director when he died in 2000. His research and service to the center and the University community were dedicated to improving social conditions in the urban environment.

The awards are made in two categories: research development grants to support pilot research in the social, behavioral and policy sciences, and infrastructure development awards aimed at enhancing faculty capabilities to carry out interdisciplinary research in the social, behavioral and policy sciences.

The 2013 Manners award winners are:

Brian Beaton and Rosta Farzan, School of Information Sciences, for “Information Needs in the Local Nonprofit Sector: The Challenge of Measuring and Reporting Impact.”

This pilot study will focus on the challenges that community organizations and agencies experience in trying to manage and present data that captures their positive impact on Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. It will lead to the development and implementation of new tools and systems that will enable community organizations to more effectively document their success at mission-related initiatives.

•  Kathryn Monahan, Department of Psychology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, for “Risks That Reward: Positive Risk-Taking in Adolescence.”

This project will focus on a newly developed measure of positive risk-taking, to test the association between positive and negative risk-taking, to examine how adolescents evaluate the benefits and costs of positive and negative risk-taking and to illuminate how risk and protective factors for negative risk-taking are associated with positive risk-taking.

Ming-Te Wang, Department of Psychology in Education, School of Education, for “School Engagement and Positive Youth Development.”

Enhancing student engagement is believed to be the key to addressing problems of low achievement, high levels of student boredom, alienation and high dropout rates in urban schools.

This project will develop valid measures of school engagement then test and validate the measures and examine whether school engagement is associated with adolescent educational and behavioral outcomes and whether these associations differ by demographic characteristics.


Two medical school faculty members were among the winners of The New Pittsburgh Courier’s 2013 Women of Excellence Awards.

Charlotte Brown is a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry.

Esa Matius Davis is a faculty member in the Department of Medicine.


RicciThis fall UPMC Senior Services will honor Edmund Ricci, faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health and associate director of evaluation science at the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University, as its 2013 Senior Services Caregiver Champion.

Ricci is being recognized for caring for his wife, Joanne, while demonstrating exceptional leadership in his own career. Joanne suffered from a neurological degenerative disorder for six years before her death in 2009.

Charles Reynolds, director of the Aging Institute and senior associate dean at the School of Medicine, nominated Ricci. “Dr. Ricci’s current work and dedication to the Aging Institute is driven by his personal experience as a caregiver. He wishes to improve the services available to caregivers. Dr. Ricci has harnessed his personal life experiences and turned them into motivation for his work as an investigative scientist at the Aging Institute,” said Reynolds.

Ricci’s main technical areas are evaluation and survey research methods. He focuses on the study of elder minority health disparities, long-term care services and institutions, emergency and disaster medicine, and substance abuse intervention programs.


WalkerDeborah Walker, student conduct officer, has received the 2013 Alumni Advocacy Volunteer of the Year Award from the Pitt Alumni Association.

The award is given to an individual who helps to promote the cause of higher education at the state level, and recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond in advocating on behalf of the University.

Walker has volunteered with America’s Promise, the Urban League of Pittsburgh’s Campaign for African American Achievement, the FBI Adopt-a-School Program and the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations. She is chair of the student programming committee on the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Board of Directors.

In 2010, the Pittsburgh City Council appointed Walker to the Pittsburgh Citizens Review Board  as a law enforcement specialist, where she served as board chair. In 2011, Walker was elected president of the Staff Association Council. Last year she was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve on the Governor’s Commission on African-American Affairs.


susko-upjJeanne Susko, director of Pitt-Johnstown’s Office of Community Education and Outreach, has been awarded the Service to Community Award by UPJ’s advisory board. The award recognizes students, faculty and staff who have contributed to the quality of life in the region.

Barbara Parkins, advisory board chairwoman, said Susko  “is a selfless individual who puts the needs of others first and always with a smile.”

Susko is involved with the Women’s Help Center, Junior Achievement and the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center.


School of Law faculty member and former dean Mary Crossley is one of six participants in a fellowship program called scholars in residence, recently launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Network for Public Health Law.

Designed to bring the expertise of legal scholars to assist public health agencies in tackling critical issues, the program also provides field experience to the scholars, who work with local and state health agencies on public health law issues related to chronic diseases, virus surveillance and tuberculosis, among other topics.

Known for her scholarship in disability and health law, Crossley will work with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to identify the most effective and innovative ways in which health officers can address the growing burden of chronic diseases through interventions targeting risk behaviors and the social determinants of health. Privacy laws and laws regulating the Internet are among the areas that Crossley will examine as she analyzes the legal questions raised by novel interventions.


Anne M. Robertson, faculty member in mechanical engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, is one of 19 women faculty selected to participate in ELATE at Drexel, a collaborative project of Drexel University and Drexel University College of Medicine. This leadership development program is designed to advance senior women faculty in academic engineering, computer science and related fields into effective leadership roles within their schools and universities.

Fellows begin the first of three week-long, in-residence sessions when they meet for the first time July 31 and conclude with a symposium in March 2014.

She was the first woman hired into a tenure-track position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and served as director of the graduate program in mechanical Engineering 2004-08.

Robertson also is a member of the faculty in the Department of Bioengineering and a research professor at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.


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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