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March 31, 2016

People of the Times

Irene Hanson Frieze and Cheryl Begandy are among the recipients of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s 2016 Tribute to Women Leadership Awards.
Winners are recognized for their accomplishments and impact on the advancement of women.

Frieze, faculty member in psychology, is recognized in the education category; Begandy, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s director of education, outreach and training, is recognized in the science and technology category. PSC is a joint effort of Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University.

The YWCA awards will be presented at a May 26 luncheon at the Westin Hotel. For details on the event visit


Four faculty members are recipients of the 2016 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

They are: G. Reid Andrews, Distinguished Professor of History in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Rick Donato, faculty member and chair of the Department of Instruction and Learning in the School of Education; Dennis Galletta, faculty member in business administration and director of the doctoral program in the Katz Graduate School of Business; and Abdus S. Wahed, faculty member and director of PhD graduate program in the Department of Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health.

The annual award recognizes up to four faculty members who demonstrate outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctorate degree. Winners receive a cash prize of $2,500. They will be honored at a reception on April 5.


The American Academy of Arts and Letters has awarded music faculty member Amy Williams a 2016 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship. Two Goddard Lieberson Fellowships of $15,000, endowed in 1978 by the CBS Foundation, are given each year to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts.

Williams, currently on leave, is completing a 2015-16 Guggenheim Fellowship.


Women’s basketball head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio has been named the USA Basketball Women’s U18 national team head coach for the upcoming 2016 FIBA Americas championship.

McConnell-Serio will be joined by assistant coaches Kamie Ethridge, the current head coach at Northern Colorado, and Charlotte Smith, the current head coach at Elon. All three have gold medals as players for Team USA.

The 2016 FIBA Americas U18 championship will feature eight U18 national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The competition will take place July 13-17 in Valdivia, Chile, where the top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2017 FIBA U19 world championship.

USA women’s teams have a 48-2 overall record in U18 / junior qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.

Trials to select the 12-member USA roster will take place in May at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center has received the 2016 Carnegie Science Center Award for Leadership in STEM Education.

The STEM Education Award “recognizes an individual, team or organization that demonstrates leadership in building literacy in science, technology, engineering and math.”

The award recognized PSC staff members Pallavi Ishwad, Hugh Nicholas and Alexander Ropelewski, members of PSC’s bioinformatics education team, which has developed and implemented bioinformatics curriculums at the graduate, undergraduate and high school levels.

The PSC STEM team began training researchers in bioinformatics — the use of computational methods to analyze and interpret biological data — in 1987.

In 2001, members initiated a bioinformatics program at three minority-serving institutions (MSIs) through the National Institutes of Health-funded MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) program.

PSC’s MARC program has since provided bioinformatics training and mentoring to hundreds of students and researchers at MSIs and helped dozens of institutions across the country develop bioinformatics classes or full curriculums.

In 2007, PSC staff adapted MARC for a high school audience through the BEST (Better Educators of Science for Tomorrow) Program. Today 10 area high schools are offering a full or integrated bioinformatics curriculum thanks to BEST.

The PSC team will receive its award at a ceremony at the Carnegie Music Hall in May.


H.Richard Milner

H.Richard Milner

H. Richard Milner IV, director of the Center for Urban Education, Helen S. Faison Endowed Chair of Urban Education and faculty member in the School of Education, has been named a 2016 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

AERA Fellows are selected on the basis of their notable and sustained research achievements.

Milner’s policy, research and teaching interests concern urban education, teacher education, African-American literature and the sociology of education.
He has authored six books and is editor-in-chief of the journal Urban Education and co-editor for the Handbook of Urban Education.

Milner also is a policy fellow of the National Education Policy Center.

Founded in 1916, AERA is concerned with improving the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results.

This year’s cohort of 22 AERA Fellows will be inducted on April 9 during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.


The Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital has recruited internationally renowned cardiac surgeon Jose Pedro da Silva, who will join the team to serve both children and adults with complex congenital heart issues.

Da Silva, who developed a technique to repair defective heart valves that now is the standard of care around the world, is founding the Center for Valve Therapy at Children’s and will serve as its surgical director.

He comes to Children’s from Hospital Beneficencia Portuguesa de Sao Paulo, Brazil. He completed his residency training in general surgery and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Instituto de Assistência Médica ao Servidor Público Estadual in Sao Paulo. He also completed a fellowship in cardiovascular surgery at Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Da Silva is a member of the Brazilian Society of Cardiovascular Surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland.


Melissa Ibañez, director of financial aid and associate vice president of enrollment management at Pitt-Bradford and director of financial aid at Pitt-Titusville, has been recognized for her service to the Pennsylvania Association of State Financial Aid Administrators.

Ibañez received the association’s President’s Award for providing exemplary leadership during 2015.

In addition to managing UPB’s financial aid office and administering student financial aid programs, she is a certifying Veterans Administration official for the campus.

Before coming to Pitt-Bradford in 1999, she served as the associate director and director of financial aid at Syracuse University College of Law and as the assistant director of financial aid at Seattle University School of Law.

Ibañez holds both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

She is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the Standards of Excellence Peer Review Team, the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Northeast Association of Student Employment Administrators.


Nursing faculty member Sheila Alexander recently was accepted as a fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine (ACCM). Alexander was selected based on her commitment to the ideals and practice of multiprofessional critical care, her leadership and participation in the ACCM organization, and her contributions to advancing technical and cognitive aspects of critical care. Alexander’s work also has been recognized with the International Society of Nurses in Genetics’ Founders Award for Excellence in Education and the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 2015 Presidential Citation for Outstanding Contributions.


Jessica Ghilani

Jessica Ghilani

Jessica L. Ghilani, faculty member in communication at Pitt- Greensburg, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend grant for 2016. The grants support continuous full-time work on a humanities project for a period of two consecutive months. Ghilani’s stipend will advance work on her book examining volunteer military recruitment advertising strategies, “Selling Soldiering: Advertising for US Army Volunteers Since 1914.”





Nursing faculty member Yvette Conley, vice chair for research in the Department of Health Promotion and Development, received the 2015 ISONG Founders Award for Research at the International Society of Nurses in Genetics annual conference.

The award honors ISONG members who have demonstrated excellence in genomic nursing research. Conley has received significant federal funding for her genomic and epigenomic studies of patient outcomes after traumatic brain injury.


Katie Blackburn, Jumpstart site manager in the PittServes office, was recognized as a 2016 “Rising Star” at the annual Get Involved! Inc. Pittsburgh Service Summit.

The Western PA Rising Stars awards are presented annually to 21 local young professionals (ages 21-30) in the nonprofit, business and governmental sectors who dedicate their time and talent to community organizations and who are making a positive difference in the region.

The summit was held March 29 at Carlow University.

Get Involved! Inc. promotes civic engagement through leadership and development programs and initiatives.


Misti McKeehen, director of the Office of PittServes, and Penny Semaia, senior associate athletic director for student life, were among the nominees for the 2016 Coro Pittsburgh Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards.


Amanda Godley

Amanda Godley, a faculty member in English education and language, literacy and culture in the School of Education, has been awarded a 2016 Spencer Foundation midcareer grant.

She is one of only seven recipients in the nation.

The award provides support for faculty seven-24 years postdoctorate to further their research pursuits and to advance their understanding of compelling problems in the education field. Godley will research the use of computer processing for analyzing patterns of teacher and student discourse and interaction.



Eli Shorak, associate vice chancellor for business, has been promoted to vice chancellor for business and real estate.

He oversees support operations including Housing; Food Service; Parking, Transportation and Services; Panther Central; University Stores; Conference Services; and Property Management. He also has responsibility for the Petersen Events Center, the University of Pittsburgh Research Center and the University Club.

He plays a key role in planning and implementing the University’s real estate and land use activities. He is part of the team that navigates and guides the zoning and land use process and Pitt’s institutional master planning process with the City of Pittsburgh. He also has been active in community relations related to development and construction.

Shorak joined the University in 1990 as a financial analyst.

Brian Hamluk has joined the Division of Student Affairs as director of administration.

Hamluk will be responsible for the business operations of the division, overseeing and managing the student affairs budget, human resources, payroll, facilities and administrative support functions.

He will serve as a strategic adviser for the vice provost and dean of students, associate deans and senior staff, and oversee the daily operations of the division. He also will play a lead role in the development of the division’s strategic goals and initiatives, and will manage special projects.

Hamluk most recently was associate athletic director for administration at George Washington University, where he previously held positions in student affairs.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education at St. Bonaventure and a master’s degree in cultural foundations of education at Syracuse. He also holds a master’s degree in education and human development and a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington.
—Compiled by K. Barlow


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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