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June 14, 2012

People of the Times

singhPhysics faculty member Chandralekha Singh will receive the American Association of Physics Teachers distinguished service citation at this summer’s AAPT meeting.

A life member of AAPT, Singh has served on the committee on international physics education, the committee on graduate education in physics and the programs committee.

Her work in physics education research has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Physics, Physics Today and Physical Review.

Singh co-edited three Physics Education Research Conference proceedings and the May 2010 issue of the American Journal of Physics focusing on the Gordon Conference on Experimental Research and Labs in Physics Education.

In addition to educational research in advanced courses, she has conducted research on cognitive issues in learning physics and improving student problem-solving and reasoning skills.

AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists and industrial scientists with more than 10,000 members worldwide. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching, AAPT provides awards, publications and programs that encourage teaching practical application of physics principles, support continuing professional development and reward excellence in physics education.

In addition, Singh recently was elected to fellowship in the American Physical Society (APS) for her contributions to physics education. The nonprofit APS is the world’s second-largest organization of physicists, representing more than 50,000 members in academia, national laboratories and industry.

Singh’s APS citation stated, “For pioneering research extending the impact of physics education research to advanced topics, especially quantum mechanics, and for leadership in organizing physics education activities at the national level.”

Singh currently is chair of the APS Forum on Education.

pummerTara Pummer, a faculty member in pharmacy and therapeutics at the School of Pharmacy, was elected chair of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association editorial review board for a two-year term beginning last month.

Pummer assisted in the coordination of the Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Drug Information Center merger with the Pittsburgh Poison Center.

The DI center provides clinically relevant drug information to improve the quality of life of patients and assists physicians and other health care professionals in the use of medication. Pummer oversees the daily operations of the Drug Information Center and assisted with the expansion of the center’s services.

Pummer also was involved in the design and implementation of a searchable electronic document management system at the center. Her areas of focus include biomedical literature retrieval and evaluation as well as the development of effective teaching methods.

David Willey, a physics instructor at Pitt-Johnstown, served as a delegate to last week’s American Physical Society national summit in New York City. Willey was one of 10 scientists taking part in the think tank, the goal of which was to countermand federal funding cuts by raising the importance of science in the minds of the voting public.

Willey has dedicated his professional career to promoting science awareness and emphasizing the everyday application of physics in people’s lives. In addition to having taught at Pitt-Johnstown since 1975, he has traveled around the globe and been featured on U.S. and international television demonstrating the various principles of physics.

In 1998, he broke the Guinness World Record for walking the longest distance on fire (165 feet), an event that took place on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. (See University Times June 11, 1998.)

For 10 years, he was a regular guest on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” where he earned the nickname “Mad Scientist.”

Piervincenzo Rizzo, a faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering, has been named the recipient of the 2012 Achenbach Medal.

Presented by the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring, the Achenbach Medal recognizes a young investigator, within 10 years of earning a PhD, for outstanding research contributions in the field of structural health monitoring.

In addition to structural health monitoring, Rizzo’s academic and professional interests are in the fields of nondestructive testing/evaluation, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, as well as the implementation of embedded sensor networks for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures.

The medal is named in honor of Jan Achenbach, professor emeritus at Northwestern University.


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