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April 2, 2015

People of the Times

Pitt’s chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, initiated new members March 30 at the University Club.

In addition to graduate and undergraduate students, new members included:

Steven M. Albert, chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the public health school. His research centers on the assessment of health outcomes in aging and chronic disease and aims to promote healthy behaviors in older individuals.

Germán Barrionuevo, a faculty member in neuroscience. His research focus is synaptic plasticity and biophysical properties of neurons in the CA3 region of the hippocampus, which is involved in encoding new contextual memories, spatial working memory and spatial pattern separation.

Ellen R. Cohn, associate dean for instructional development, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). Her interests span the areas of cleft palate, dentofacial and craniofacial disorders, clinical training in speech-language pathology, pharmacy-based and small-group communication, and instructional and telerehabilitation-based applications of electronic communication.

She also coordinates the University Honors College-SHRS Bachelor of Philosophy program for undergraduate student researchers.

• Gaurav Goel, hematology-oncology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He has multiple translational research publications, with a recent focus on using pharmacokinetics to improve therapy for colon cancer.

Abhijit Roy, research associate in biomedical engineering. He has experience in synthesis, processing and characterization of nanostructured biomaterials for regenerative medicine and biomedical applications.

Gurprataap Singh Sandhu, resident in general internal medicine in the international scholars track at UPMC. His research examines the effects of androgen antagonists in therapy-resistant metastatic prostate cancer.

Shilpa Sant, faculty member in the pharmaceutical sciences and bioengineering departments. She leads a multidisciplinary research program at the interface of biomaterials, controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering. The goal of her research is to develop tissue-engineered tumor models that recreate the structure, biology and behavior of cancer in the body.

Jennifer E. Woodward, associate vice provost for research operations and a faculty member in surgery and immunology. Her research involved transplantation immunology with a focus on models and mechanisms of transplantation tolerance through co-stimulatory blockade.

Sigma Xi is the honor society of scientists and engineers that recognizes scientific achievement. The mission of Sigma Xi is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering and promote the public’s understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition.


DiviaThaniDivia Thani Daswani, a Pitt-Bradford alumna who launched India’s leading luxury travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller and serves as its editor-in-chief, will be the keynote speaker at UPB’s commencement ceremony April 26.

In addition to delivering the keynote address, Thani, who graduated in 2001, will receive the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association’s Alumni Award of Distinction.

An Indian citizen, she has been part of teams that launched five international magazines in India. She launched Condé Nast Traveller in 2010 after serving for three years as features editor of Vogue India. Condé Nast Traveller now has eight separate international editions, including the United Kingdom, India, China and Russia.

In addition to managing the daily operations of the print magazine, Thani oversees content creation across multiple digital platforms, including a website, apps, social media and advertising communications and events.

Her duties include chairing and mediating industry forums and conferences around the world. She also advises various state tourism boards and aviation and hospitality experts in understanding the Indian luxury traveler.

In 2012, she was an inaugural recipient of the Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni for contributions to the international community through their professional achievements and impact on society.


Four faculty members have been named winners of the 2015 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. They are Panos Chrysanthis, Department of Computer Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Donald V. Moser, Katz Graduate School of Business; Catherine Palmer, Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Department of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, and Peter Wipf, Department of Chemistry in the Dietrich school.

The award recognizes faculty members who demonstrate outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctorate degree.

Part of the University’s mission is training the next generation of professional scholars. Essential to this task are faculty who provide intellectual and personal leadership that helps to support, encourage and promote the personal and professional development of students. The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring recognizes as many as four faculty members each year who demonstrate outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctoral degree.

Winners receive a cash prize of $2,500.


David A. Harris, distinguished faculty scholar in the School of Law, has won a 2014-15 Jefferson Award for Public Service. The honor recognizes individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.

A leading authority on issues related to racial profiling, Harris writes and teaches about police behavior and regulation, law enforcement, and national security issues and the law.

In addition to his scholarly work, Harris does professional training for law enforcement agencies nationwide in order to improve police procedure and public safety.

In 2014, Harris served on Mayor Bill Peduto’s screening committee to choose Pittsburgh’s new police chief. He also was a member of District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s working group on taser use.

Harris is the author of  “Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science,” which focuses on police and prosecutorial agencies and their resistance to adopting empirically proven, science-based investigative methods and techniques into their procedures. He also is the author of “Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing” and “Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work.”

Harris’ scholarly articles about traffic stops of motorists from underrepresented populations and about stop-and-frisks influenced the national debate on profiling and related topics. His work led to federal efforts to address racial profiling and to legislation and voluntary efforts in various states and in hundreds of police departments.

Established in 1972, the Jefferson Awards Foundation is the country’s longest standing organization dedicated to celebrating public service.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation partnered with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Highmark and the BNY Mellon Corporation in making the award.


Kim C. Coley, faculty member in the pharmacy school’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, was appointed to the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association editorial board for the journal Pennsylvania Pharmacist. Coley will serve a two-year term.

Pennsylvania Pharmacist is a peer-reviewed journal that includes feature articles as well as member, legislative and regulatory news. It reaches more than 2,300 Pennsylvania pharmacists.


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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