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November 20, 2014

People of the Times

Mark Roberts, faculty member and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health, was presented the Career Achievement Award of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) at the group’s annual meeting.

The award recognizes distinguished senior investigators who have made significant contributions to the field of medical decision making.

Roberts, a physician and health policy expert who devises mathematical models to assess the impact of medical decisions, has been an active member of the SMDM since 1984 and served as its president 2008-09.

He joined the faculty of Pitt School of Medicine in 1993 and since 2010 has chaired public health’s Department of Health Policy and Management.

He studied economics as an undergraduate at Harvard College and completed a master’s degree in public policy and health policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government while attending medical school at Tufts.

His unconventional background allowed him to bring quantitative methods and modeling techniques to the study of medical decision making.

Myriam Hunink, chair of the SMDM awards committee, called Roberts an evangelist for introducing sophisticated modeling techniques from the field of industrial engineering and operations research to the field of medical decision making.

“He has a gift for translating the key aspects of a clinical problem to an industrial engineer and being able to explain the subtleties of complex modeling to clinicians. He has made major contributions in the area of end-stage liver disease, the national liver allocation system and the optimal timing of living-donor liver transplantation,” she said.


DunnGraduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) faculty member Bill Dunn and Dean John Keeler have been elected fellows of the National Academy of Public Administration and were inducted in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13. GSPIA is one of only two schools to have two fellows elected this year.

Two other current GSPIA faculty members, Carolyn Ban and Louise Comfort, were elected previously.

The National Academy of Public Administration is an independent, nonprofit and non-partisan organization established in 1967 to assist government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent organizations.

KeelerChartered by Congress to provide non-partisan expert advice, the academy’s unique feature is its nearly 800 fellows — including former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives and public administrators.

The academy helps the federal government address its critical management challenges through in-depth studies and analyses, advisory services and technical assistance, Congressional testimony, forums and conferences, and online stakeholder engagement. Under contracts with government agencies, some of which are directed by Congress, as well as grants from private foundations, the National Academy of Public Administration provides insights on key public management issues, as well as advisory services to government agencies.


Daniel ColeDaniel G. Cole, faculty member in mechanical engineering and materials science at the Swanson School of Engineering, has been named director of the school’s nuclear engineering program.

Cole, who joined the Pitt faculty in 2006, has served as interim director of the nuclear engineering program since 2013, shortly after the death of the program’s previous director, John D. Metzger, in October 2012.

Cole’s research interests include nanoinstrumentation, precision motion, energy harvesting and nuclear instrumentation and control.

He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

He later joined Lord Corp. in its mechanical R&D group with research focusing on broadband noise and vibration control.

In 2001 he was appointed senior research scientist at Duke University, and in 2004 he was promoted to research assistant professor in mechanical engineering.


Katie Morris has been appointed as Pitt-Titusville’s new financial aid counselor.

Morris earned a BS in elementary education with a minor in criminal justice from Edinboro University.

Prior to coming to Pitt-Titusville, Morris was employed as a substitute teacher in the Erie and Titusville school districts.

Morris’ duties will include counseling individual students and their parents regarding financial aid eligibility and responsibility, in addition to participating in various recruiting and informational events.


drabThe Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association presented Scott R. Drab, faculty member in the pharmacy and therapeutics department at the School of Pharmacy, with the 2014 Pharmacist of the Year Award during the group’s annual conference.

The award is presented to a pharmacist who has demonstrated dedication to the profession of pharmacy, contributed time and effort to the various professional organizations, furthered the profession of pharmacy through community service and embodied those qualities of attitude and leadership that exemplified the profession.


The executive council of the Pennsylvania State Modern Languages Association (PSMLA) has named Silvina Orsatti, part-time instructor of Spanish at Pitt-Greensburg, winner of its 2014 PSMLA Educator of the Year Award. The award recognizes individuals for their distinguished teaching and professional contributions in world languages and cultures.

Orsatti, who teaches three sessions of elementary Spanish at Pitt-Greensburg, is a doctoral candidate in education at Pitt.

She earned an MS from Boise State University and a BA in Spanish language and literature from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a degree in engineering electronics with an emphasis in control systems from the Universidad Nacional de San Juan.

She combines her interest in technology and education as an independent technology integration consultant and develops presentations that assist fellow educators in incorporating technology into their world language classrooms.

Most recently, she has focused on digital storytelling, presenting on the subject at several conferences. She also presented sessions on the use of the iPad and mobile apps for interactive activities and digital storytelling for Pitt-Greensburg’s Community for the Advancement of Teaching.

Orsatti’s experience includes teaching Spanish at The Kiski School and English as a Foreign Language at public and private schools in Argentina. In the corporate world, she worked for Middlebury Interactive Languages and Pearson School as a world languages curriculum specialist.


The American Association of University Women (AAUW) awarded an American Fellowship to Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, faculty member in theatre arts.

American Fellowships, AAUW’s oldest and largest funding program, date back to 1888 and support women scholars who are completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research or finishing research for publication.

Jackson-Schebetta will use her fellowship to support fulltime work on her monograph, “Son tus huellas el camino: The Spanish Civil War and the De-colonial Imagination in the Americas.” Her project examines the theatre, performance and dance of Puerto Rican, Cuban, peninsular Spanish, Anglo-American and African-American populations, 1931-43.

She earned her PhD in theatre history, theory and criticism from the University of Washington and her MFA in theatre pedagogy, with a specialization in voice and movement for the actor, from Virginia Commonwealth University.


friezeFaculty member Irene Frieze was one of the winners of the 2014 Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement. The award recognizes individual contributions to social justice and democracy by Pitt alumni, faculty, staff or students.

The award honors the memory of the late Iris Marion Young, a philosopher and activist for gender equity and a faculty member in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in the 1990s.

Frieze is a faculty member in psychology, business administration and women’s studies. She was a founding faculty member of Pitt’s women’s studies program (now the gender, sexuality and women’s studies program) in 1972. She directed the program 1984-89 and 1993 and continued to be an active member of the program’s steering committee until 2014. Frieze also has served as the chairperson for the University Senate ad hoc committee for the promotion of gender equity as well as the Senate’s ad hoc committee for the support and advancement of women.

Other winners were alumna Yumna Rathore and senior Joseph Thomas.

Awardees were honored at a Nov. 6 reception that included a panel discussion on race and education in Pittsburgh.

The Iris Marion Young Award is sponsored by the gender, sexuality and women’s studies program; the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Students; the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and the Center for Urban Education.


During the School of Medicine’s annual curriculum colloquium, which was held last month, faculty members were honored for outstanding contributions to medical education.

The following are the winners of this year’s teaching awards:

• The Kenneth E. Schuit Award recognizes basic science and clinical faculty for education-related contributions to the School of Medicine curriculum: Elmer J. Holzinger, medicine, and Peter F. Drain, cell biology.

• The Sheldon Adler Award for Innovation in Medical Education  recognizes individual achievement in innovation in medical education: Susan M. Dunmire, emergency medicine.

• The Donald S. Fraley Award for Medical Student Mentoring recognizes individuals for their service as mentors to medical students: Shanta M. Zimmer, medicine.

•The Clerkship Preceptor of the Year Award recognizes faculty clinical preceptors who consistently provide outstanding clinical instruction in the clerkship setting for Pitt medical students: Amanda Brown, pediatrics; Sean E. Button, pediatrics; Stacey C. Cook, pediatrics; Ankur A. Doshi, emergency medicine; Jody Brown Glance, psychiatry; Jean C. Harwick, ophthalmology; Heather L. Hohmann, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences; William I. Levin, medicine; Angela Lu, neurology; Gary H. Tabas, medicine; Gregory A. Watson, surgery; Dawna H. Woodyear, medicine; VyVy N. Young, otolaryngology.

The William I. Cohen Award for Excellence in Clinical Skills Instruction recognizes faculty who consistently provide outstanding clinical skills instruction for first- and second-year medical students: Beth A. Peterson, emergency medicine; Reed W. Van Deusen, medicine.

• The Award for Excellence in Clinical Precepting recognizes clinical preceptors who consistently provide outstanding clinical instruction in a community setting for Pitt medical students: Charles E. Reese, medicine; Marc J. Schneiderman, family medicine; Katerina A. Zavaras, pediatrics.

• The Clinical Educator of the Year Award recognizes faculty who consistently provide outstanding clinical education in a third- or fourth-year elective course: Roberto J. Ortiz-Aguayo, psychiatry and pediatrics; Adam Z. Tobias, emergency medicine.

• The Award for Outstanding Mini-Elective recognizes faculty who volunteer their expertise to present a mini-elective for first- and second-year students. These electives provide students with the opportunity to pursue areas of interest and personal growth in areas outside of the traditional core curriculum: Antoine B. Douaihy, psychiatry; Alison S. Howells, medicine; Joe Suyama, emergency medicine; Peter J. Veldkamp, medicine.

• The Excellence in Education Awards, chosen by the Class of 2016 for valued contributions and dedication to teaching of the organ systems: course director — Jenifer E. Lee, medicine; lecturer — R. Harsha Rao, medicine; small-group facilitator — William P. Follansbee, medicine.

• The Excellence in Education Awards, given by the Class of 2017 for valued contributions and dedication to teaching of the basic sciences and organ systems: course director — John B. Schumann, neurobiology; lecturer — James D. Tew Jr., psychiatry; small-group facilitators: Esa M. Davis, medicine; Ivonne M. Daly, critical care medicine; Joe Suyama, emergency medicine.


singhChandralekha Singh, faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC), has been named a fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

Singh has conducted pioneering research on teaching and learning of quantum mechanics for almost two decades.

She also has made major contributions in the areas of cognitive issues in learning physics, teaching effective problem solving, assessment of learning and impact of peer interaction on learning and co-construction of knowledge.


valentaWilliam T. Valenta Jr. has been named assistant dean for MBA and executive programs in the Katz Graduate School of Business. He will oversee both the MBA and EMBA worldwide programs as well as the Center for Executive Education.


The School of Nursing held its annual Cameos of Caring awards gala Nov. 8 to celebrate the profession and to help alleviate the shortage of nurses by promoting nursing as a viable and rewarding career choice. This year 68 nurses from 54 health care facilities were honored.

Among the honorees was Elizabeth Katrancha, a nursing  faculty member at Pitt-Johnstown, who won Pitt’s nursing educator award.

The awards gala has raised more than $1.2 million for the Cameos of Caring Endowed Nursing Scholarship program since the fund’s establishment in 2001. The scholarship supports practicing nurses who want to continue their education.


kullerLewis Kuller, former chair of the Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, has been named the winner of the John Snow Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Royal Society for Public Health in England.

The award annually recognizes an outstanding scientist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research. Awardees are chosen for their contributions to the improvement of human health or substantial reduction in burden of disease through innovations in public health practice based on clear epidemiologic foundations or implementation of epidemiologic approaches to the solution of health problems. Their contributions are practical, explicit and applied, rather than theoretical or implicit.

Oscar Alleyne, director of epidemiology at the Rockland County Health Department in New York and chair-elect of the APHA epidemiology section, said: “Dr. Kuller was selected because of not only his enormous body of work contributing to the field of epidemiology, but also his impact on students and the next generation of epidemiologists.”

The award commemorates John Snow, a 19th-century British physician credited as one of the founding fathers of epidemiology.

Kuller made significant contributions in the study of cardiovascular disease and the use of noninvasive techniques, such as ultrasound, to detect early heart disease in people without symptoms. He also is recognized for his research on the risks and prevention of cancer, as well as the study of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kuller received his medical degree from George Washington University and completed his residency in medicine at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. At Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, he earned a doctorate in public health before joining the faculty there.

In 1972, he came to Pitt to chair the epidemiology department, which he led for 30 years.


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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