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April 16, 2015

People of the Times

Members of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have chosen Nancy E. Davidson, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter, as their president-elect for 2015-16. She officially becomes president-elect at the AACR annual meeting this month and will assume the presidency in April 2016.

Davidson also is a distinguished professor of medicine and pharmacology and chemical biology, associate vice chancellor for cancer research, Hillman professor of oncology, and professor at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Her work focuses on clinical and translational breast cancer research, cancer biology and treatment, and the role of apoptosis and mechanisms of epigenetic regulation of gene expression of the estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) gene in breast cancer treatment.

She will work with the AACR board of directors and the AACR membership, which includes more than 35,000 members in 101 countries, to further the association’s mission to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication and collaboration.

Davidson has been involved in AACR since 1988.


Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, was elected chair of the Engineering Deans Council executive board of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The two-year term will begin June 17.

The Engineering Deans Council is the leadership organization of engineering deans in the United States and has 344 members, representing over 90 percent of all U.S. engineering deans. It sponsors an annual colloquium to review public policy issues that affect engineering education and encourages engineering deans to communicate with their congressional delegations regarding these issues. Public policy issues range from economic development and the engineering workforce to support of federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. The council also supports a yearly dean’s institute that focuses on issues such as curriculum development, enrollment and retention, diversity, faculty collaboration with industry and the globalization of engineering education.


Alison Stones, an emeritus faculty member in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, has been awarded a medal, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, by the Ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, République Française for her four-volume book, “Manuscripts Illuminated in France, Gothic Manuscripts 1260-1320.” It was published by Harvey Miller and Brepols in 2013 and 2014.


Judge Debra Pezze will be this year’s Pitt-Greensburg commencement speaker. UPG’s commencement will be held April 25 at 11 a.m. on Ridilla Field.

Pezze has served for more than two decades on the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County. Her judicial assignments include work in the family, civil and criminal divisions of the Court of Common Pleas.

Pezze earned a BA in philosophy from Penn State and a JD from Duquesne University School of Law.

She is a member of the Pitt-Greensburg advisory board.


John V. Williams, an international authority on the epidemiology of respiratory viral infections, has been named chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital. He also is a faculty member in the School of Medicine’s pediatrics department.

Williams comes to Pittsburgh from Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was a faculty member in pediatrics, pathology, microbiology and immunology. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and completed medical school at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University. He trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital and Pitt’s School of Medicine, and then in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt.

During his fellowship at Vanderbilt, Williams began working on human metapneumovirus (MPV) just after the virus was discovered as a cause of acute respiratory infections. Over the years, his team has described the clinical features and epidemiology of MPV. His lab discovered that the major outer protein of MPV, the F protein, binds to cellular molecules called integrins to enter cells and initiate infection. His group also identified the MPV F protein as the target of antibodies that prevent infection, and showed that the F protein was an effective vaccine candidate.

More recently, his lab has been responsible for identifying that MPV and other acute respiratory viral infections cause impairment of certain lung immune cells via a cellular signaling pathway that previously only had been associated with chronic infections and cancer. For this work on MPV, Williams was presented the 2014 E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research, the most prestigious research award in academic pediatrics.


Two administrators have been named in the School of Nursing.

• Faculty member Rosemary L. Hoffmann was appointed coordinator of online programs. She developed the school’s first online program, the clinical nurse leader program.  The school now offers 15 online graduate and certificate programs. Hoffmann is the program director of the clinical nurse leader area of concentration.

Scott Coulson was promoted to director of the educational technology and innovation department. ETI is responsible for the school’s technology and instructional support services.


The School of Nursing annually presents the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes those faculty members who best represent the school’s commitment to excellence in teaching. Initiated in 1989, the award goes to one tenured faculty member and one non-tenure-stream faculty member for their efforts to encourage student development, their use of innovative teaching methods and the integration of their research with their teaching endeavors.

Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob presented the most recent Distinguished Teaching Awards to Linda A. Dudjak and Jennifer Hagerty Lingler.

Dudjak won the award in the tenured category. A nominator said of her teaching: “The quality of Dr. Dudjak’s classroom presentation and the content of her course was one of the factors which encouraged me to pursue admission to the MSN program.”

Lingler  won in the non-tenure-stream category. An excerpt from her nomination said: “Dr. Lingler’s students declare that she is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and cares about what she is teaching. She clearly demonstrates what I consider to be outstanding teaching qualities.”


Craig Hartburg, chairman of Pitt-Bradford’s advisory board since 2005, will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction, the University’s highest honor, at this year’s commencement ceremony April 26.

Hartburg has been a member of UPB’s advisory board since 2000 and serves on its executive committee and governance council. Additionally, he has been a member of Pitt’s Board of Trustees since 2009, one of two trustees from Pitt’s regional campuses.

Hartburg attended Pitt-Bradford, 1973-75, then completed his bachelor’s degree at the University.

He and his wife, Nancy, have established the Craig and Nancy Hartburg Family Scholarship for students who are graduates of Bradford Area High School and participate in the Blue and Gold Society or who are eligible for the labor scholarship program at Pitt-Bradford.

In 2010, Hartburg was honored as the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association’s Distinguished Volunteer, having been an active alumnus almost since he graduated. He has served in various posts in the PBAA.


Mary Margaret Kerr, chair of administrative and policy studies in the School of Education, has been approved for funding from the Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence as part of the Innovation in Education Awards 2015 program.

Kerr’s proposal, “Developing a ‘Best Practices’ App for Research for Pitt Undergrads,” will receive funding for May 1, 2015-April 30, 2016.


In honor of his contributions to furthering international education at the University, Minking Chyu received the 2015 Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement last month.

Chyu is the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and inaugural associate dean for international initiatives at the Swanson School of Engineering, and the inaugural dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in China.

Presented by the University Center for International Studies, the Sheth International Awards recognize international achievements by a current faculty member and by an alumnus of the University.

The awards were established in 2012 by Madhu and alumnus Jagdish N. Sheth and the Sheth Family Foundation.


Lorraine Novosel, faculty member in the School of Nursing, recently was honored with the Judith Braun Award for Research Excellence during the National Gerontological Nursing Association convention. The annual award recognizes someone who is advancing the practice of gerontological nursing through his or her research.

Novosel received the award for her study “Primary Care Nurse Practitioners Preparedness as a de Facto Mental Health Provider for the Depressed Older Adult.” This is part of her research that looks at barriers to depression care in primary care situations, as well as the factors of depression-cardiovascular disease comorbidity.


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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