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March 17, 2011

People of the Times

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation have awarded commissions for new musical works to eight composers, moeincluding Eric Moe, a faculty member in the Department of Music and co-director of the Music on the Edge program.

Koussevitzky commissions, which aim to perpetuate the late Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky’s efforts to encourage contemporary composers, are awarded annually on a competitive basis and are open to performing organizations or individuals.

Manuscripts of Koussevitzky commissioned works are archived in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

In honor of Black History Month, School of Social Work Dean Larry E. Davis was chosen as one of “Today’s Social Workers” by the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The designation recognizes influential African-American social workers who continue to help shape the social work profession.


Davis, who also is the Donald M. Henderson Professor and the director of the Center on Race and Social Problems, focuses his professional interests on interracial group dynamics; the impact of race, gender and class on interpersonal interactions; African-American family formation, and youth. He has received research funding from sources including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Sandra D. Mitchell, chair of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, was elected as a member-at-large of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) section for the history and philosophy of science. The section promotes the exploration of scientific research and arguments by looking at their basic structure to determine the strength of presented evidence and to reveal what may be hidden assumptions.

mitchellAs a member-at-large, Mitchell will assess the section’s performance and role in AAAS, urge section officers to establish working panels on interdisciplinary subjects and help involve members in professional interaction, among other responsibilities.

Mitchell is a philosopher of biology whose research centers on scientific explanations of complex behavior and the best approach for representing multilevel, multicomponent systems. She is the author of numerous articles and books, among them the recently published “Unsimple Truths: Science Complexity, and Policy,” which argues that as science unravels the complexity of nature and society, long-held assumptions about linear causes, reductive explanation and simple predict-and-act decision-making need to be revised.

RebeizMark Rebeiz, a faculty member in biological sciences, has been named a winner of a 2011 Sloan Research Fellowship. Sloan fellowships recognizes early-career scholars who demonstrate outstanding promise and potential in one of seven fields.

Rebeiz was honored for his work in computational and evolutionary molecular biology.

The School of Law has appointed Justine Kasznica executive director of the Innovation Practice Institute.

Kasznica has worked as a practicing corporate attorney and a business consultant for a number of Pittsburgh robotics and high-tech start-ups. Since 2009, she has led ReefBot, a Pittsburgh-based team she helped establish that develops and uses underwater robotic technology for coral-reef education and conservation efforts.

In 2008, Kasznica served as a law clerk for the Hon. Thomas Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pittsburgh.

Prior to that, Kasznica spent two years as a commercial litigation associate for WolfBlock in Philadelphia. While there, she also taught constitutional law seminars at Princeton University.

Pitt’s Innovation Practice Institute develops experiential and cross-disciplinary learning and immersion opportunities for students. Pitt law students, faculty and members of the bar collaborate in supporting various innovations, including the creation and evaluation of cutting-edge technologies, the development of new neighborhood economies, the commercialization of medical innovations and the study of the legal services strategies and culture.

rescherNicholas Rescher, Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy, has been awarded the premier Cross of the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz erster Klasse) of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of his contributions to philosophy and to German-American cooperation in the philosophy field.

Author of more than 100 books, Rescher has been teaching philosophy for 60 years, beginning at Princeton in 1951, and has served on the faculty at Pitt since 1961. He has lectured at many German universities, and he has made extensive contributions to scholarship regarding Leibniz and Kant.

Rescher’s honors include the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Humanistic Scholarship, the Belgian Cardinal Mercier Prize and the Thomas Aquinas Medal of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

An honorary member of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College, Rescher has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the European Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, the Institut International de Philosophie, the Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He has been awarded honorary degrees from seven universities on three continents.Twyining

John Twyning, until recently chair of the Department of English, has been named associate dean of undergraduate studies in the School of Arts and Sciences. Twyning also is former director of the literature program in the English department.

brumbleEnglish faculty member H. David Brumble has been named interim chair for the spring term, with a permanent chair expected to be named prior to the fall term.

Pitt-Bradford has named Tonya Ackley as the coordinator of its new Office of Community Engagement and the Harriett B. Wick Chapel.

Ackley previously served as the director of residential life at UPB.

Ackley is the primary resource person for students who want to get involved in community service or who are looking for information on internships related to their academic majors and/or interests. Likewise, she is the primary contact for community groups that want to connect students with volunteer opportunities through their organizations. Ackley

Ackley also is responsible for administering Wick Chapel events and activities, working with Conference Services, Facilities Management and Auxiliary Services to coordinate use of the chapel for public and private functions.

John Innocenti, president of UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, has been named this year’s Corporate Gift of Life Awardee and Thomas Kleyman, chief of  Pitt’s Renal-Electrolyte Division, with faculty appointments in medicine, pharmacology  and cell biology and physiology, has been named Medical Gift of Life Awardee by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Serving the Alleghenies.

Innocenti and Kleyman will receive their awards at the foundation’s annual Kidney Gift of Life gala on March 19 at the Circuit Center and Ballroom on the South Side.

Kevin Ho, a medical school faculty member and the event chair, said: “In addition to Mr. Innocenti’s leadership within the UPMC hospital system, he served as our NKF corporate walk chairman in 2009 and 2010, making public appearances and attracting both sponsorship and contributions.”

Kleyman, who also is director of the Pittsburgh Center for Kidney Research, is being honored for his contributions to kidney research.


“Dr. Kleyman has contributed to our general understanding of how the kidneys process sodium and continues to advance nephrology research on multiple fronts,” Ho said.

David Geller, Richard L. Simmons Professor of Surgery at Pitt and co-director of the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, is being honored by the American Liver Foundation Allegheny Division at its annual Tribute to Excellence.

Honorees are recognized for supporting the American Liver Foundation and for their efforts to fight liver disease.

GellerGeller’s clinical interests center on the evaluation and management of patients with liver cancers. He has pioneered laparoscopic liver resections, and specializes in performing laparoscopic radiofrequency ablations of liver tumors.

Geller is a member of many professional and scientific societies.

He has active research grants from the NIH, and also is the principal investigator on industry-sponsored clinical trials for liver cancer.


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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