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July 7, 2016

People of the times

Patrick McKiernan has joined the School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics as an associate professor.

An expert in metabolic liver disease, McKiernan has been appointed director of the pediatric hepatology program at Children’s Hospital, where he joins the hospital’s Center for Rare Disease Therapy.

McKiernan comes from Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the United Kingdom, where he had been a hepatologist in the liver unit since 1994. He trained in medicine and pediatrics at Queen’s University in Belfast.

He specializes in treating children with inherited metabolic disease and has an interest in developing less invasive therapies to help patients avoid or delay the need for liver transplantation.

He is involved in research on stem cell therapy for metabolic liver diseases and recently was a U.K. principal investigator on a stem cell study involving children with urea cycle disorders and Crigler-Najjar syndrome.

McKiernan also has a special interest is tyrosinemia, an inherited disorder caused by an enzyme deficiency that can lead to life-threatening liver and kidney failure.

Scott Beach, associate director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) and director of its survey research program, will take on the role of interim UCSUR director in September.

UCSUR director Richard Schulz announced last December his plan to step down, effective Sept. 1. (See Dec. 10, 2015, University Times.)

Schulz, who directed UCSUR for 17 years, will return full-time to aging research and directing the University’s gerontology program. In addition to directing UCSUR, Schulz also is Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry and associate director of Pitt’s Institute on Aging.

Carrie Leana

Carrie Leana

Pitt business faculty member Carrie Leana, director of the Center for Healthcare Management, has been elected a fellow of the Academy of Management. The organization, with more than 18,000 members in 123 countries, bills itself as the largest organization in the world devoted to management research and teaching.

The fellows group recognizes and honors members of the Academy of Management who have made significant contributions to the science and practice of management, and provides them with opportunities for fellowship and a forum for discussion.

Michael W. Dickey, faculty member in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, began a four-year term July 1 as a member of the NIH Center for Scientific Review’s Language and Communication Study Section.

Study sections review grant applications and make recommendations to the appropriate National Institutes of Health national advisory council or board; they also survey the status of research in their fields of science.

Members are selected on the basis of competence and achievement in their discipline as evidenced by the quality of their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other scientific activities, achievements and honors.

Mary Besterfield-Sacre

Mary Besterfield-Sacre

Mary Besterfield-Sacre, the Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow of Industrial Engineering and director of the Engineering Education Research Center at the Swanson School of Engineering, is the winner of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) 2016 Betty Vetter Research Award.

Besterfield-Sacre was recognized for research that has made a significant contribution to an understanding of issues related to women in engineering.

WEPAN’s recognition is based on extraordinary service, significant achievement and model programs that are aligned with WEPAN’s purpose to be a catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education and the workforce to promote the inclusion and success of diverse communities of women.

The awards were presented last month at WEPAN’s 2016 change leader forum in Broomfield, Colorado.

WEPAN is a network of thought- and change-leaders from institutions, organizations and agencies that uses research-based knowledge and strategies to create and sustain inclusive, equitable cultures in engineering and works to develop a diverse and innovative engineering workforce.

Alan D. George, a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida, has been named professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

He also has been named to the Ruth and Howard Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson school.

George succeeds Mahmoud el-Nokali, who has served as interim department chair since June 2015.

George joined the University of Florida faculty in 1997. He led the committee that created the university’s first supercomputer center and he founded and leads the National Science Foundation Center for High-performance Reconfigurable Computing, which features more than 30 industry, agency and academic partners.

His research is in high-performance architectures, networks, systems, services and apps for reconfigurable, parallel, distributed and dependable computing.

He previously was a faculty member in the joint college of engineering at Florida State University and Florida A&M University.

George earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and master’s in electrical and computer engineeering from the University of Central Florida. His PhD in computer science is from Florida State.

George is a fellow of the IEEE for contributions in reconfigurable and high-performance computing.

Prior to his academic career, he worked as a computer engineer for General Electric and as a senior computer engineer and group leader for Lockheed Martin (formerly Martin Marietta).

Faculty members John M. Jakicic and Kirk I. Erickson have been appointed to the physical activity guidelines for Americans advisory committee by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

As part of the advisory committee, they will collaborate with 15 other national experts in the fields of exercise science and public health to produce the 2018 edition of these federal exercise recommendations.

Based on the latest science in the fields of health, nutrition and physical activity, the physical activity guidelines for Americans provides information on how adults and children can improve their health through regular exercise. The first guidelines were issued in 2008; subsequent reports are planned every 10 years.

Jakicic is the chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity in the School of Education and director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center. His research focuses on the relationship between physical activity and long-term health outcomes, including weight management and prevention of chronic medical conditions.

Erickson is a psychology faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and holds appointments within the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and Center for Neuroscience.

He is associated with the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and the Alzheimer Disease Research Center and is the director and principal investigator of the Brain Aging and Cognitive Health Lab.

Erickson’s research focuses on the effects of physical activity and obesity on brain health and function throughout the lifespan.

Bradford native and former Pitt-Bradford star pitcher Zach Foster has been named UPB’s head baseball coach.

Foster played for six years in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system and was the first Pitt-Bradford player and first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) athlete to be drafted when the Pirates called his name in the 49th round in 2008.

Foster played for the UPB Panthers 2005-08 and earned a bachelor’s degree in sport and recreation management in 2012.

Most recently, Foster has worked in the UPB admissions office, a position he’ll be leaving to assume full-time coaching duties.

He’s also been the strength and conditioning coach at Pitt-Bradford, and was the top assistant on this spring’s Panthers team that reached the AMCC playoffs.

He succeeds his former coach, Brett Butler, who stepped down to assume full-time duties as UPB’s director of athletics.

—Compiled by K. Barlow 

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