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March 7, 2013

People of the Times

MilnerEducation scholar H. Richard Milner IV has been named the Dr. Helen S. Faison Chair in Urban Education, professor of education, and director of Pitt’s Center for Urban Education.

Milner, who will join the Pitt faculty in August, currently is associate professor of education and founding director of the learning, diversity and urban studies program in Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. He also holds academic appointments in Vanderbilt’s Department of Teaching and Learning and Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations.

Milner’s research, teaching and policy interests include urban education, teacher education, African-American literature, English education and the sociology of education. In 2010, the Harvard Education Press published his book “Start Where You Are But Don’t Stay There: Understanding Diversity, Opportunity Gaps and Teaching in Today’s Classrooms.” His forthcoming book is the “Handbook of Urban Education” (co-edited with Kofi Lomotey, editor of the Sage Encyclopedia of African-American Education).

Milner is a policy fellow of the National Education Policy Center. Currently, he serves as the editor-in-chief of Urban Education, a journal seeking focused analyses of critical concerns related to metropolitan communities across the globe.

His research has been honored with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s 2012 Outstanding Book Award and the 2010 Carl A. Grant Multicultural Research Award. He also is the recipient of an Early Career Award (2006) from the American Education Research Association. In 2012, Milner was honored with The Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus Award for his contributions to education research. During the 2013 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association in April, Milner will receive the Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for exemplary scholarship.

Milner has been a visiting scholar at Fisk University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas-Austin and York University.

Milner’s community service includes work with the 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee and with Room in the Inn Homeless Shelter in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He also is involved with several mentoring programs aimed at supporting students across their academic trajectories.

Milner earned MA and PhD degrees in educational policy and leadership from Ohio State. He earned MA and BA degrees in English education and English, respectively, from South Carolina State University.


The mission of Pitt’s Center for Urban Education, founded in 2002, is to research and disseminate evidence-based methods for improving urban education in Pittsburgh and the nation. The center’s three main areas of focus are research and practice, regional service and institutional advancement.

The Faison chair was established in 2006 to honor Pitt alumnus and emeritus trustee Helen S. Faison.

Faison’s career included service as the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ first female and first African-American principal of an academic high school as well as the Pittsburgh school district’s first African-American superintendent.

The Faison chair is funded by the Buhl Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Grable Foundation, with additional support from the Falk Foundation.


cookThe Swanson School of Engineering has appointed optimization researcher and author William Cook as John Swanson Endowed Chair and Professor of Industrial Engineering.

Known for his work involving the traveling salesman problem, Cook formerly was Chandler Family Chair, professor of industrial and systems engineering and adjunct professor of mathematics at Georgia Institute of Technology.

According to Bopaya Bidanda, Ernest E. Roth Professor and chair of industrial engineering, “Bill Cook is well-respected in engineering, mathematics and science because of his singular research in combinatorial optimization.”

The traveling salesman problem (TSP), first formulated in 1930 but which dates to the early 19th century, is utilized for optimization strategies. Simply stated, the problem seeks to find the shortest possible route that allows a traveling salesman to visit a given number of cities exactly once, and then return to the original city. The problem is applied across applications from logistics to computer chip design and even DNA computing and travel software. Cook’s 2006 book “The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Computational Study” (with David L. Applegate, Robert E. Bixby and Václav Chvátal) won the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize the following year from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

In a Scientific American article published last May, Cook wrote, “Finding a method that can quickly solve every example of the TSP would be a stunning breakthrough in mathematics. Using complexity theory, such a method would allow us to solve efficiently any computational problem for which answers can be easily verified. Most mathematicians expect this to be impossible.”

Cook’s research team found a route for 3,038 cities in 1992, breaking the previous record of 2,392; Discover magazine named it one of the top 50 science stories that year. In 1994 his team developed the Concorde computer program to analyze TSP solutions, which has reached as high as 85,900 cities. Eventually, Cook hopes to utilize his programming to solve a “world tour” of 1.9 million places on earth.

Cook earned his bachelor’s in mathematics from Rutgers University, his master of science in operations research from Stanford, and his PhD in combinatorics and optimization from the University of Waterloo.

Prior to Georgia Tech, he taught at Princeton, Rice, Universität Bonn in Germany, Columbia and Cornell.

Cook is an American Mathematical Society fellow, a National Academy of Engineering member, a University of Waterloo INFORMS fellow, a Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) fellow, and an I.E. Block community lecturer (SIAM). He has won the Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal, the Beale-Orchard-Hays Prize from the Mathematical Programming Society and an Alexander von Humboldt research fellowship.

He has written numerous publications and papers and authored and co-authored several books including “Polyhedral Combinatorics,” “Combinatorial Optimization,” “Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization” and “Research Trends in Combinatorial Optimization.” He followed “The Traveling Salesman Problem” in 2012 with “In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman: Mathematics at the Limits of Computation.”

His editorial duties have included editor-in-chief and founding editor, Mathematical Programming Computation, Mathematical Optimization Society and Springer Verlag (2008-present); editor-in-chief, Mathematical Programming, Series A (2003-2007); editor-in-chief, Mathematical Programming, Series B (1999-2003); area editor (Design and Analysis of Algorithms), INFORMS Journal on Computing (2003-2007); associate editor, Mathematical Programming (1990-2003); associate editor, INFORMS Journal on Computing (1992-2003); associate editor, Mathematics of Operations Research (1998-present).


Orthopedics This Week lists the top 19 sports-medicine specialists in America, and nine of them have ties to Pitt and UPMC.

Three of them are the practicing and teaching leaders of Pitt and UPMC sports medicine: Freddie Fu, Christopher Harner and James Bradley. The other six were trained as fellows, residents or, in one case, received his medical degree at Pitt.

“Of the 19, nine were trained here,” said Fu, noting that he, Harner and Bradley also came through the Pitt/UPMC sports medicine pipeline. “They were residents and they were fellows. It’s quite an honor. It speaks volumes about our clinical work, experience and education.”

The nine are:

• Fu, David Silver Professor and orthopaedic surgery chair, former president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and longtime Pitt team physician.

• Harner, a faculty member in orthopaedic surgery and, with Fu, one of the founding physicians of the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. He also is head team physician for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pitt and is the current president of AOSSM.

• Bradley, clinical professor in orthopaedics surgery at Pitt and head team orthopedics physician of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

• Neal ElAttrache, Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Foundation board chairman, Los Angeles Dodgers team physician and consultant to the PGA Tour, who earned his MD here and was a resident and fellow.

• C. Benjamin Ma, University of California-San Francisco chief of sports medicine, who was a resident and a fellow here.

• Brian Cole, Rush University Medical Center professor, chair of surgery at Rush Oak Park Hospital, Chicago Bulls team physician and Chicago White Sox co-team physician, who was a fellow here.

• Darren Johnson, University of Kentucky chair of orthopedic surgery and head orthopedic surgeon for Kentucky Wildcats athletics, who was a fellow here.

• Mark Miller, University of Virginia head of sports medicine and James Madison University team physician, who was a fellow here.

• Marc Safran, Stanford University associate chief of sports medicine, former team physician for several universities and a consultant to the NBA Players Association, who was a fellow here.


PetersonSara L. Peterson, a faculty member in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been inducted into the 2013 class of fellows by the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists. Peterson is one of just 14 people in the nation to receive the distinction this year.

Executive director Peter Rosenstein said: “Only a small percentage of O&P practitioners have demonstrated the commitment to the highest level of patient care through the pursuit of continuing education and service to their community required to earn the Fellow designation.”

Peterson currently participates in grant-funded research on microprocessor-controlled and non-microprocessor-controlled prosthetic knees as well as enriched autologous fat grafting for treating pain at amputation sites.

Peterson twice has been honored with the Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation Educator Award.


KeithThe Swanson School of Engineering has named John Keith as assistant professor and R.K. Mellon faculty fellow.

Keith’s appointment is funded in part through the 2012 Richard King Mellon Foundation grant to the University’s Center for Energy, in which Keith will participate.

His research focus will be on developing and applying multiscale computational methods to predict how to develop novel catalysts and enhance existing processes that convert CO2 and water into useful chemicals and fuels. In collaboration with experimentalists, this work is expected to contribute to finding economically feasible routes for energy solutions.

Prior to joining the Swanson School, Keith was an associate research scholar at Princeton. In addition to mentoring several graduate students, he was a lecturer and did research within a collaborative AFOSR-MURI program to better understand rhenium catalyzed CO2 reduction to CO and pyridinium catalyzed CO2 reduction to methanol.

Prior to that he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Electrochemistry at the University of Ulm (Germany). There, he used computational chemistry to model heterogeneous electrocatalytic reaction mechanisms, self-assembled monolayer metallization processes, and he contributed to the development of a reactive force field for gold surfaces and nanoparticles.

Keith received his BA in chemistry with high honors from Wesleyan University and his PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.


singhChandralekha Singh, faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy, was the co-chair of the second conference on graduate education in physics, organized by the American Physical Society and American Association of Physics Teachers at the American Center for Physics in Maryland Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The conference was a forum on how physics graduate education must respond to the challenges and opportunities in the 21st century.


Vonda Wright, faculty member in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, is one of 64 health professionals featured in Rodale’s book “What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health.” In a four-page section, she shares exercise suggestions, healthy dieting techniques, ways to lower disease risk and a recipe.


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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