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April 28, 2011

People of the Times

Among those faculty in the Schools of the Health Sciences whose work has been acknowledged recently with awards and accolades are:

RobertsJames Roberts of the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Magee-Womens Research Institute, was awarded the 2011 President’s Distinguished Scientist Award by the Society for Gynecologic Investigation.

The award is made annually to a senior investigator who has made significant and lasting contributions to scientific research and reproductive medicine.

sherwoodPaula Sherwood of the School of Nursing has received a Fulbright Scholarship to help develop curriculum and the research agenda at the University of Finland School of Nursing. In addition, she will study how families in Finland care for loved ones with cancer and compare those experiences with family caregivers in the United States.

WukichDane Wukich, a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of the UPMC Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Center, recently participated in the international Charcot foot task force in Paris.

The American Diabetes Association and the American Podiatric Medical Association convened the task force of experts to make recommendations on diabetic Charcot foot syndrome.

BoningerMichael Boninger, chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, was selected by the faculty of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to receive the 2011 New Jersey Medical School PM&R Teaching Award.

Boninger is a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society.

Brad Dicianno of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine recently received the Young Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

The award honors a member of the association who has demonstrated outstanding performance in the areas of teaching, research and/or administration, has an academic rank of associate professor or lower and is no more than five years past residency/fellowship training.

SowaGwendolyn Sowa, a faculty member in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, and assistant dean for medical student research, was selected by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as this year’s recipient of the President’s Citation Award for her abstract titled, “Alterations in Intervertebral Disk Matrix Homeostasis by In Vivo Dynamic Compression.”

As part of the award, her work was highlighted in the February 2011 edition of The Physiatrist.

• Julie Childers of the medical school’s section of palliative care and medical ethics in the Division of General Internal Medicine, received the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Award for Young Investigators in the junior faculty category.

Childers was recognized for her proposal, “Managing Opioid Misuse in Palliative Care Settings: How Prepared Do Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellows Feel?”

engberg• Sandra Engberg, chair of the School of Nursing’s Department of Health Promotion and Development, was appointed as associate dean for clinical education at the nursing school.

Engberg maintains an active research program in incontinence and in alternative interventions for women and older-adult populations.

prochownik• Denise Charron-Prochownik has been named interim chair of nursing’s health promotion and development department. She also maintains an active research program in pediatric diabetes.


• Daniel Patterson, a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Emergency Medicine and director of research at the Center for Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania at UPMC, recently was named one of 10 2010 EMS Innovators, an award sponsored JEMS Emergency Medical Services.

Through numerous studies on the safety culture of EMS, the teamwork/conflict levels between providers and the effects of sleep and fatigue levels on providers, Patterson has been able to show industry-wide trends that can improve safety in the field.

connamacherRobert Connamacher of the School of Medicine has been selected by the Student National Medical Association for induction in the SNMA Hall of Heroes. The distinction is bestowed on individuals who serve premedical and medical students and who help diversify the physician workforce.

Connamacher, who is outreach coordinator for diversity programs at the medical school, has helped increase the number of African-American health workers in medicine. He is a faculty adviser for undergraduate American medical students and the Undergraduate Minority Association of Medical Students at Carnegie Mellon.

In 2008, Connamacher received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Health Education Foundation.

Pitt’s Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy has named law school adjunct professor Joseph S. Hornack, attorney and partner at the Pittsburgh law firm of Healey and Hornack, as the recipient of a Dick Thornburgh faculty academic support grant. The award will support the steps necessary for Hornack to develop a seminar course to be offered at the School of Law during the 2012-13 academic year.

This term, Hornack is teaching The Law of Disability Discrimination. His proposal is for a student who has completed this course to conduct research in a fall 2011 course titled Archive Research: Dick Thornburgh’s Commitment to Persons With Disabilities. The results of that research will assist Hornack in developing the new seminar course.

RebeizMark Rebeiz, a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been named a 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, a distinction that carries a two-year, $50,000 grant.

As a new Sloan fellow, Rebeiz joins 118 young scientists from 54 universities in the United States and Canada. He is the fourth Sloan fellow from Pitt in the past three years.

Rebeiz works at the forefront of evolution, comparing the genes of an individual with a new trait to the genes of its predecessors. His most recent research focuses on the evolution of fruit flies. A newly evolved characteristic is often simply the result of an old gene being expressed in a new way, Rebeiz explained. He seeks to understand how and why regulatory switches change to produce novelties, that is characteristics with no genetic precedent.

Rebeiz said that his work could be applied to human genetics as a way to better understand how switches are altered in ways that can lead to disease and deformities.

Nancy Tannery, associate director for user services at the Health Sciences Library System, was elected as chair for 2011-12 of the Libraries in Medical Education, a special interest group of the Northeastern Group on Educational Affairs of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Isabelle Champlin, a faculty member in anthropology at Pitt-Bradford, has received the UPB 2011 Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award for excellence in teaching.

In choosing an award recipient, the chairpersons of Pitt-Bradford’s five academic divisions reviewed letters of recommendation, student evaluations, syllabi and grade distribution. They also considered the teachers’ knowledge of subject matter and their advising and dedication in working with students beyond the classroom in such activities as research projects.

Champlin, who has taught at UPB for 40 years and is director of the international studies program, annually leads students on a spring break trip to study Mayan ruins in Mexico. She also has accompanied students to Japan and has helped them uncover artifacts at archaeological sites in the Allegheny National Forest.

In 2005, Champlin received the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association’s Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2009, she was recognized by the YWCA of Bradford with its Outstanding Leader Award.

BartonPitt has hired Bill Barton as assistant men’s basketball coach.

Regarded as one of the top recruiters on the East Coast, Barton arrives at Pitt with more that 15 years of combined coaching experience including each of the last four seasons at the NCAA Division I level. He spent the last season as an assistant coach at Marshall University.

Prior to his stint at Marshall, Barton spent three seasons at Duquesne University (2007-10), including two years as associate head coach.

Barton replaces Pat Skerry, who was named head coach at Towson University.

Three Rivers Youth will present its Nellie Leadership Awards May 6, honoring community leaders who champion the cause of youth and families.

Among this year’s winners are Robert Hill, vice chancellor for Public Affairs, who is being honored for education and civic engagement, and Pitt trustee George Miles Jr., executive chair of Chester Engineers and retired president/chief executive officer of WQED Multimedia, who is being honored for public broadcast education.


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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