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February 22, 2001

15 winners of chancellor's faculty awards for teaching, research, public service announced

Winners of the 2001 chancel- lor's awards for distinguished teaching, research and public service, announced this month, will be honored at Pitt's annual honors convocation.

Teaching award recipients are: Donald B. Egolf, Department of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); E. Bruce Goldstein, Department of Psychology, FAS; James R. Johnston, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine; Gordon R. Mitchell, Department of Communication, FAS, and Lu-in Wang, School of Law.

The Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award has senior and junior scholar categories. The senior research category recipients are: Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, Department of Health and Community Systems, School of Nursing; John Markoff, Department of Sociology, FAS, and David Pratt, Department of Chemistry, FAS.

In the junior research category, the recipients are: Julie Fiez, Department of Psychology, FAS, and Vittorio Paolone, Department of Physics and Astronomy, FAS.

Public service award winners are: Stephen J. Bagnato Jr., Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine; Willa M. Doswell, Department of Health Promotion and Development, School of Nursing; Thomas P. Foley Jr., Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine; Roger D. Klein, Department of Psychology in Education, School of Education, and Margaret M. Mahoney, School of Law.

The 15 faculty members will be recognized, along with winners of the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Award for Staff Employees, at Pitt's 25th annual honors convocation on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. in Carnegie Music Hall.

(For the list of staff award-winners, see University Times, Dec. 7, 2000.) Each of the faculty awards carries a $2,000 cash prize plus a $3,000 grant for the recipient's work. Winners' names will be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the William Pitt Union.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg sent letters to the winners, citing some of their accomplishments.

Teaching The chancellor wrote to Donald B. Egolf, "Your individual efforts stand as an inspiring example of excellence in the role of University teacher." Nordenberg praised Egolf for sustained teaching excellence over 30-plus years and for introducing technology into his courses, including having students construct web sites to enhance their learning, which the chancellor said has attracted national attention in the communications field.

"Your expertise has been recognized by the U.S. Office of Education where you have served as a reviewer of grants related to the use of technology to assist students with special needs," Nordenberg wrote.

The chancellor recognized E. Bruce Goldstein for long-standing devotion to the teaching of undergraduates. "Over the past 31 years," Nordenberg wrote, "you have shared your fascination and enthusiasm for aspects of psychology through your teaching and textbook writing, and have been a spokesperson for undergraduates in your department."

Nordenberg further praised Goldstein for providing a supportive environment in and out of the classroom. "As director of the undergraduate program in psychology, you have brought a new level of professionalism to the advising office and have had a significant impact on curricular review and revision."

James R. Johnston was cited by Nordenberg as a role model for the next generation of physicians, demonstrating empathy, gentle humor and respect for students and patients while emphasizing the human side of medicine and stressing the importance of compassion and curiosity.

"This honor, more particularly," Nordenberg wrote, "recognizes the overall excellence you have achieved across your many teaching roles in the medical school, including large group lecturer, problem-based learning facilitator, workshop leader, clinical educator, research supervisor, mentor and advisor to a large number of students."

The chancellor praised Gordon R. Mitchell for "the energy and leadership that you bring to the impressive breadth of your teaching." Nordenberg also pointed to Mitchell's role as director of debate for the William Pitt Debating Union, which has resulted in national prominence for its members. "You set high standards in every setting and encourage students to become better citizens, while taking personal interest in them and treating their opinions with respect," the chancellor wrote.

Mitchell also earned praise for mentoring students, involving them in research and publishing activities, and supervising graduate teaching assistants and student interns while maintaining a high level of scholarship.

Lu-in Wang was cited by Nordenberg for inspired teaching, flexibility, accessibility and excellent student rapport, among other qualities. "Your dedication to course preparation and organization results in clear lectures and dynamic classes that promote lively discussion in a supportive atmosphere," the chancellor wrote. "Your strong scholarship in the area of hate crimes has led to invitations to speak across the country, and you have shared this interest with students through your courses and seminars," he added.

Research The chancellor recognized senior scholar Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob for pioneering strategies using electronic devices, ranging from monitors to interactive robots, to improve the lives of those with mild cognitive and physical disabilities. "You won special praise," Nordenberg wrote, "for your research in identifying factors which influence compliance with preventive and treatment regimens and for developing strategies to improve compliance in children, adults and the physically and cognitively impaired."

Senior scholar John Markoff was cited by the chancellor for outstanding skill in three academic disciplines, sociology, history and political science, and for scholarship on the causes of the 1789 French Revolution. "Your work has raised new and far-ranging theoretical issues concerning the basic nature of social protest and revolution," Nordenberg wrote. "Your outstanding record of research and scholarship adds to the distinction of the University of Pittsburgh," he added.

Senior scholar David Pratt was recognized by Nordenberg as "one of the world's pre-eminent spectroscopists." Pratt, the chancellor pointed out, had achieved national and international eminence for work "in the area of ultra high resolution visible and UV spectroscopy, which has significantly advanced our understanding of the structure and dynamics of polyatomic molecules." Nordenberg also said that Pratt's experiments have shed light on how water and other solvent molecules interact with organic molecules.

Junior scholar Julie Fiez was cited for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the processing of word information in the human brain and for the influence her research into the mechanisms of information processing and learning is having on the field of cognitive neuroscience.

"Through the use of positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques," the chancellor wrote, "you have provided unprecedented insight into the mechanisms by which the brain converts words from their orthographic to their phonological form."

Vittorio Paolone was cited for his research and experimental observations of the predicted but previously unobserved tau neutrino, believed to be one of the 12 fundamental constituents of the universe. Nordenberg praised junior scholar Paolone for "your leadership, vision and pioneering efforts in the DONUT experiment by marrying the older techniques of emulsions with modern automatic scanning and measuring methods along with electronic triggering in observing the tau neutrino," which possibly can account for much of the "missing matter" that holds the universe together.

Public Service Stephen J. Bagnato Jr. was praised for his advocacy for children in the field of developmental psychology, for involvement in projects such as the Early Childhood Initiative, the Scaling Progress in Early Childhood project, and Early-CHILD, and for his commitment to the empowerment of children, families and communities. "Your service over the past five years to facilitating more integrated interagency partnerships has been exemplary," Chancellor Nordenberg wrote. "You have achieved particular distinction for your specialization in early childhood assessment, and program evaluation strategies, for preschool children at developmental risk or who have neurodevelopmental disabilities and neurobehavioral disorders."

Willa M. Doswell was recognized for her work in delaying the onset of premature sexuality and curbing destructive behavior in early adolescent girls living in underprivileged circumstances. "Your work as the founder and director of the NIA Project is exemplary," the chancellor wrote. "You have sought to build self-esteem in these young women, to empower them to make healthy decisions and to mentor them in the building of constructive, positive relationships with peers, teachers and adult role modes."

Girls at Lincoln, McKelvey and Frick schools have benefited from Doswell's work, Nordenberg wrote. "In giving these young women a 'sense of purpose,' the Swahili meaning for the word 'NIA,' you have brought honor to yourself, your profession and the University of Pittsburgh."

The chancellor wrote that Thomas P. Foley Jr. had achieved international distinction for medical humanitarianism in several countries in Eastern Europe. "During the 1980s you were instrumental in establishing screening for hypothyroidism to prevent mental retardation among Polish children," Nordenberg wrote. "You organized collaborative postgraduate medical education programs in endocrinology, toxicology and general pediatrics with Project HOPE."

With the rise of thyroid cancer following the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Foley was asked by authorities at the United Nations and in the Ukraine for medical assistance, Nordenberg wrote. "You again contributed your time and energy and expertise in setting up programs in the Ukraine similar to those you had established in Poland."

Chancellor Nordenberg pointed to Roger D. Klein's unique form of public service, which blends "your talent for teaching, knowledge of teaching research and extraordinary communication skills."

Klein has the ability to distill scholarship and communicate the important elements of it to the public in an interesting, accurate and responsible way, Nordenberg wrote.

"You have used your exceptional communication skills to educate the public on topics from medicine to education," the chancellor pointed out, including as a reporter for CNBC's "America's Vital Signs" and PBS's "Health Week." "You created 'The Psychology Minute,' a digest of current research" airing on KQV, the chancellor also noted. "You have been particularly effective in communicating findings from the field of psychology."

Klein's broadcast career began locally in 1981 on Channel 11, where he filed weekly medical reports for more than eight years.

Margaret M. Mahoney was recognized for her long history of public service in the fields of family law and child advocacy. "You have achieved distinction for your work on behalf of non-traditional families, whose members are not bound by blood or marriage," Nordenberg wrote. "Your work has helped countless indigent families navigate the complex legal system in dealing with issues like spousal abuse and child custody."

The chancellor cited in particular Mahoney's work with the Neighborhood Legal Services Association and Court Appointed Special Advocates, and the externship programs she established for Pitt law students with the two organizations.

–Peter Hart

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