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February 3, 2000

Faculty honored for teaching research, public service efforts

Winners of the Chancellor's Awards for Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service were announced this week.

Teaching award recipients are: Susan A. Albrecht, of the School of Nursing's health and community systems department; L. Keith Brown, of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) anthropology department; Martin Greenberg, FAS psychology; Joanne J. Viano, Greensburg campus humanities division; and Rhonda Wasserman, law school.

Research award winners in the senior scholar category include: Anthony A. Grace, FAS neuroscience; Martha E. Pollack, FAS computer science; and Charles A. Perfetti, FAS psychology. Winners in the junior scholar category are: Kevin D. Ashley, law; and Robert H. Getzenberg, of the School of Medicine's pathology department.

Public service award winners are: George E. McClomb, of the School of Social Work; Karen S. Peterson, of the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH)'s health services administration department; Sudhakar P. Reddy, of the School of Medicine's medicine department; Anthony J. Silvestre, of GSPH's infectious diseases/microbiology department; and Barbara E. Spier, of the nursing school's health and community systems department.

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

For the list of staff award-winners, see story on this page.

Each of the faculty awards includes a $2,000 cash prize plus $3,000 for the recipient's work. Winners' names will be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the William Pitt Union.

Public Service The chancellor wrote to George E. McClomb: "Your early role in helping to found what is now the Alma Illery Health Center has helped countless individuals in need and your work on behalf of the elderly and those suffering from sickle cell anemia is a great credit to you." More recently, McClomb has devoted an exceptional amount of time and energy to improving the lives of disabled persons, Nordenberg pointed out.

Karen S. Peterson's leadership in addressing a myriad of public health issues across the state is "truly meritorious," the chancellor wrote. "Your work with the Rx Council of Western Pennsylvania, Traveler's Aid Society, Women's Center and Shelter, Planned Parenthood, and the Pennsylvania Public Health Association has bettered the lives of countless individuals."

As the principal founder of the SHARE Foundation, Sudhakar P. Reddy helped to bring first-world medical knowledge and computer technology to meeting India's health care needs. Reddy also established the SHARE program, which "has also gone a long way toward providing affordable and effective health care and health care education to thousands of poor people who live in rural villages throughout India," Nordenberg wrote. "Your contributions to the citizens of your home country are exceptional."

Anthony J. Silvestre has served on the administrative board of every HIV/AIDS organization in this area, and he was instrumental in creating the first statewide HIV prevention plan for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. "Your recognition in 1978 by Advocate Magazine as one of the top 100 national community leaders, and your winning the Lambda Foundation's 1986 Man of the Year Award were well-deserved honors," Nordenberg wrote. "So, too, does your dedication to both scholarship and public service make you a most deserving recipient of this award by the University of Pittsburgh."

The chancellor said Barbara E. Spier has worked hard and effectively over the last decade to improve the quality of life for the elderly — developing exercise programs, as well as health screening and immunization programs.

"In all of these activities and others," Nordenberg wrote to Spier, "you have linked scholarship with service and have served as an exemplary model for many of your students who have also involved themselves in service projects on behalf of the elderly. You are well deserving of the Florence Nightingale Corporate Citizen Award, which you received in 1999, and of this recognition" by Pitt.

Research Senior scholar Anthony A. Grace was honored for pioneering the investigation of neuronal signaling pathways that control movement and emotion.

"By combining cellular electrophysiological and anatomical approaches, you have provided an unprecedented insight into the ways in which the brain controls the flow of information," Nordenberg wrote to Grace. "Your studies have shed light on the neurobiological basis for schizophrenia and generated invaluable insight into the mechanism of action of drugs used to treat this devastating disease."

Charles A. Perfetti won praise for his research's impact on linguistics, discourse processes, reading, education and neuroscience.

"The University is proud to honor you for your landmark research on interactive models of reading, dissecting the role of phonological processing during the reading of Chinese, and for your recent research concentrating on mapping cognitive components during reading onto particular regions of the brain," Nordenberg told the senior scholar.

Senior scholar Martha E. Pollack was honored for significant contributions to the artificial intelligence (AI) field in the areas of planning, natural language understanding, and reasoning systems.

"The theory of rational computational agents has been significantly advanced by your work," the chancellor wrote to Pollack. "The University is proud to honor your work as a founder of one of the central approaches to reasoning about plans and intentions. In addition, your work on simulation and testbed systems broke methodological ground and spurred much subsequent work in experimental AI."

Kevin D. Ashley, a junior scholar, was praised for developing a revolutionary AI model of case-based reasoning in law. Nordenberg wrote to Ashley: "This award honors your development of a cognitive science model of practical ethical reasoning and an AI model of ethics case comparison as well as your pioneering work in applying AI to research in legal and practical ethical reasoning."

Junior scholar Robert H. Getzenberg is a model translational researcher working at the interface of basic biomedical research and clinical medicine. The chancellor wrote to him: "Your studies focusing on the proteins that make the scaffold that organizes the nucleus in both normal and cancerous cells have led to both diagnostic tools and novel treatment strategies that may have a substantial impact on the early detection and management of prostate and bladder cancer."

Teaching In a letter to Susan A. Albrecht, Nordenberg said the honor recognizes her 22-year commitment to developing nurses as leaders and educators.

"As a facilitator of learning, you have encouraged, nurtured and inspired students to achieve their goals," Nordenberg wrote to Albrecht. "Outside of the classroom, you have involved undergraduate and graduate students in your research and mentored them in preparing presentations and publications. You are perceived as a strong advocate for students and faculty and have taken leadership roles in teaching-related activities in your school."

The chancellor praised L. Keith Brown's "enthusiastic dedication" over the past 33 years to teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.

"Your success in engaging students in stimulating discussions in large undergraduate classes is impressive and you have developed innovative ways to integrate your research and teaching," Nordenberg wrote to Brown.

"Your students clearly recognize your passion for teaching, for anthropology and for the study of Japan." The chancellor said Brown's reputation as an exceptional teacher and caring mentor attracts graduate students from across the country to the anthropology department.

Martin Greenberg was honored for 30 years of teaching excellence. He has developed new psychology courses, mentored junior faculty and graduate students, and chaired and served on many thesis and dissertation committees.

"Students are excited and challenged by your courses as you incorporate a variety of examples and experiences to encourage their interest in theory and the application of the scientific method to the study of psychology," the chancellor wrote. "You provide students with the advantages of attending a research university by integrating your research into your classes and arranging internship and research opportunities for undergraduates."

For the last 33 years, Joanne J. Viano has taught various courses to majors and non-majors at the Greensburg campus, including French, English composition, medieval literature, the Bible as literature, and college skills.

"You have been meticulous in course preparation and refine your courses each time they are taught," Nordenberg noted. "You care deeply about your students, accommodate their various learning styles and encourage them to strive for excellence in their studies. Your own commitment to lifelong learning, ranging from studying biblical Hebrew to your medieval studies at Cambridge University during your summers, infuses your courses with new ideas and your students with your passion for learning."

Rhonda Wasserman's clear organization of courses and ability to explain difficult concepts and facilitate class discussion have had a lasting impact on Pitt law students over the last 14 years, Nordenberg wrote.

"You incorporated computer technology into your courses in innovative ways and your web site has received national recognition from your peers," the chancellor wrote to Wasserman. "The importance you place in developing critical thinking and communication skills is evident in the impressive amount of written feedback you provide to student writing." Wasserman also has been a faculty adviser to the Pitt Law Women's Association and other student organizations.

The featured guest speaker at this year's honors convocation will be JŸrgen Mittelstrass, of the University of Konstanz in Germany. Mittelstrass, one of Germany's most influential philosophers, has been a visiting fellow at Pitt's Center for the Philosophy of Science.

–Bruce Steele

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