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April 3, 2003


Julie d’Itri, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, won a Fulbright Award to teach and study at the Schuit Institute of Catalysis at Eindhoven University of Niemantsverdreit in the Netherlands this fall.

D’Itri will teach a class on environmentally benign chemical processing using the active learning instructional method, which has been advocated by the National Science Foundation for the last several years. Rather than the traditional lecture method, active learning involves teams of students working on projects and solving real-world problems. Teachers also help students set goals, while working with the students to evaluate their progress.

Her research will be directed to understanding the elementary chemical reaction steps involved in catalysis using bimetallic surfaces.

“By understanding the molecular level occurrences during the catalytic activation of chemical bonds, chemicals can be produced more selectively, with fewer by-products,” d’Itri said. “And previously less desirable components can be converted into valuable chemicals.”

Established in 1946, the Fulbright programs promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.


Grady Roberts Jr., associate dean for admissions and student affairs at the School of Social Work, received a plaque of appreciation from the National Deans and Directors of Graduate Social Work Admissions last month. Roberts was recognized “for his many years of excellence and dedication as a truly outstanding ambassador for the profession of social work.”


School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences faculty members received honors recently.

Michael Boninger, associate professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Julie Fritz, assistant professor, Department of Physical Therapy, has won the Rose Award, given by the Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Her paper, “The Role of Fear-Avoidance Beliefs in Acute Low Back Pain: Relationships With Current and Future Disability and Work Status,” was co-authored by Anthony DeLitto, associate professor and chair of physical therapy, and Steven George, a graduate student in rehabilitation science.

SHRS adjunct instructor Paul Brach, also in the physical therapy department, has won a Vargas International Hand Therapist Teaching Award.


The Johnstown campus advisory board presented the sixth Service-to-Community Award to Jon Darling, UPJ professor of sociology, last month.

This award recognizes students, faculty and staff who have actively contributed to the quality of life in the Johnstown region.

Darling was cited for his involvement with volunteerism, including his activities in support of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

He has designed program reviews for “Learning for Life,” which is administered by the Penns Run Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps/AmeriCorps program.

Darling also was instrumental in the formation of the Civic Action Network, a free public database of community information created to serve 10 counties of southwest central Pennsylvania. This program has since been transferred to the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania and now informs Pennsylvania communities of available human services, public events and community outreach opportunities with the objective to link all available community resources.


Andrew T. Rose, assistant professor of civil engineering technology at the Johnstown campus, has received the 2002 Outstanding Professor of the Year Award from the Pittsburgh section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Rose has taught both engineer-in-training and professional engineer review courses for the Johnstown chapter of PSPE and has volunteered as a proctor for the MATHCOUNTS regional competition.

He also was selected as the 2002 Phi Eta Sigma Teacher of the Year. He has served as member-at-large and program chair for the ASCE Pittsburgh section geotechnical group and is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. He currently serves as a board member of AMD&ART, Inc., Johnstown.

He serves as the faculty adviser for the UPJ Society of Undergraduate Engineers.


Johnstown campus wrestling coach Pat Pecora was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame, the fifth Hall of Fame into which he has been inducted in his 27-year career at Pitt-Johnstown.

Pecora previously was inducted into the Cambria County Hall of Fame (1998), West Liberty State College Athletic Hall of Fame (1998), Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame-East Boro Chapter (1999) and the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2001).

Pecora was named UPJ’s wrestling coach in 1976 following one season as the wrestling coach at East Allegheny High School in North Versailles. In the 27 years since, Pecora has led the Mountain Cats to NCAA Division II National Championships in 1996 and 1999. His teams have won 16 regional titles and have finished in the nation’s top-20 on 20 occasions.


The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) has named winners of its UPG Outstanding Faculty Member and Alumnus of the Year awards.

The 2002 winners are Randi Koeske, associate professor of psychology, and Thomas D. Horan, UPG director of Campus Safety and Security, a UPG graduate in administration of justice. The two were recognized with cash awards at the UPG honors convocation April 5.

Koeske’s award will support her research and instructional materials. Horan’s award is a cash stipend to be given in his name to a deserving UPG freshman.

Koeske has taught psychology at UPG since 1989. She directs the annual UPG campus survey and serves on the UPG assessment task force.

She was nominated based on a vote of UPG students.

Horan has been director of UPG Campus Safety and Security since 1999. He has been in police work for 26 years.

He is active in Boy Scouts of America, the U.S. Department of  Justice and the Adopt a School Program.


Merrill J. Egorin, co-director of the molecular therapeutics/drug discovery program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), has received the Elliott Osserman Award for Distinguished Service in Support of Cancer Research from the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

The award recognizes his three years of service on the organization’s scientific review panel.

Egorin is one of a 26-member panel of physicians and cancer researchers from the United States and Canada who volunteer their time to review grant applications submitted to the ICRF from Israeli cancer researchers.

The New York-based Israel Cancer Research Fund, founded in 1975, is the largest single source of private funds for cancer research in Israel and the only organization in North America devoted solely to supporting cancer studies by Israeli researchers.


Kenneth A. Foon, an expert in immunotherapy and cancer vaccine therapies, has joined the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) as co-director of the biological therapeutics program and as co-director of the hematologic malignancies program.

Foon, whose recruitment was supported by part of a $3.6 million gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation, also has been appointed professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

Foon is focusing his research on the development of new and promising anti-cancer agents and the rapid translation of these agents into effective therapies for cancer, with a particular emphasis on lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukemia — a cancer of the white blood cells and bone marrow.

Lymphoma and leukemia are included in a class of hematological malignancies — cancers of the blood cells — that remain difficult to cure and are associated with debilitating and adverse side effects.

Prior to joining UPCI, Foon was a director of clinical development at Abgenix, Inc., a biotechnology company in California, focused on the development and commercialization of antibody therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. In addition to his position at Abgenix, Foon was a clinical professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Stanford University.

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