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November 21, 2013

People of the Times

MorgensternThe University Center for International Studies has announced the appointment of two new center directors: Scott Morgenstern as director of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and Nicole Constable as director of the Asian Studies Center, both effective Jan. 1.

Morgenstern has been a faculty member in political science here since 2005. His research focuses on political parties, electoral systems and legislatures in Latin America.

He replaces Kathleen Musante, who is stepping down after holding the directorship for 12 years.

Morgenstern has served on several CLAS committees and was the primary investigator on a USAID grant for the agency’s political party development program. Earlier in his career, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa, where he added Samoan to his language fluency.

Constable has been a Pitt faculty member since 1993. She is a faculty member in anthropology with geographic specialization in Hong Kong, China, the Philippines and Indonesia. Her research focuses on cross-border marriages, Internet ethnography, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, and religion and labor protests among migrant workers.

ConstableConstable was associate dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, 2005-12, with responsibilities for graduate studies and research, and was acting director of the Asian Studies Center in 2005.

She teaches a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses in cultural anthropology focusing on gender, anthropological and feminist theories, research methods and ethnographic writing.


Four Pitt faculty members have been awarded 2013-14 core Fulbright U.S. Scholar grants. Administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program provides teaching and/or research opportunities to U.S. faculty and experienced professionals in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

AndradePitt’s 2013-14 recipients are:

Susan Andrade, an English faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, who has been awarded a Senior Scholar Fulbright-Nehru Award at Christ University in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.  While in India from January to May 2014, she will conduct classwork and research into the concept of realism theory in contemporary Indian and African literature.

AracJonathan Arac, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English in the Dietrich school, who has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for American studies at the University of Naples L’Orientale in Naples, Italy. While in Naples from March to June 2014, he will work on his nonfiction book, tentatively titled, “The Age of the Novel in the United States, 1850-1950.”

In addition, Arac will teach a related course on the history of the American novel, which will closely examine Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”

• Peter Brusilovsky, chair of the information science and technology program in the School of Information Sciences, who has been awarded a Fulbright-Nokia Distinguished Chair in Information and Communications Technologies at the University of Helsinki.

BrusilovskyBrusilovsky is focusing his Fulbright research on creating online learning tools for teaching computer and information sciences. He is working with research teams at three Finnish institutions — Aalto University, Helsinki University and the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology. He is conducting the first of two Fulbright research sessions through the end of this month; the second session will take place April-June 2014.

Valerian E. Kagan, vice chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Graduate School of Public Health, who has been awarded a Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair in Environmental Studies at McMaster University in Ontario.

KaganKagan is conducting his Fulbright research through the end of December. While in Canada, he will continue his research into developing substances that would assist the human body in mitigating the effects of harmful levels of radiation. The substances would potentially be used in incidents such as a “dirty” bomb attack or a nuclear power plant failure; they also could be useful in radiation therapy during cancer treatment.

Established in 1946 by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Annually, the program sends approximately 800 American professionals to 155 countries to lecture, research and participate in a range of endeavors.


YatesBill Yates, faculty member in otolaryngology, neuroscience and clinical and translational science and co-director of the Research Conduct and Compliance Office in the School of Medicine, has been named editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

The journal, published by the American Physiological Society, is one of the oldest journals in the field of neuroscience.


At a Veterans Day ceremony last week on the Johnstown campus, UPJ President Jem Spectar was presented with The Seven Seals Award for the campus’s support of veterans.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presents the award at both the state and national levels to honor significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative or support that promotes the ESGR mission: to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States.


Following the tradition of poetry slams, a physics slam at the University of Minnesota pitted six physicists against each other to see who could give the clearest, most enjoyable presentation about their work. The winner was Pitt’s Vladimir Savinov, with “Crazy Vlad Talks About Global Conspiracies.”

The event was sponsored by the American Physical Society’s division of particles and fields communication, education and outreach committee. Each physicist had 10 minutes to win over a crowd of 900; the best talk was chosen via an audience applause meter.

Savinov prepared by watching videos of colleagues who had posted lectures and science talks on YouTube. His YouTube research revealed that many of the talks simply were “no fun.” He then developed his own presentation, about the mysterious overabundance of matter versus antimatter in the universe, by focusing on how he could make it entertaining as well as educational.

The competition can be viewed at


MusanteKathleen Musante, director of CLAS and faculty member in anthropology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health, has been awarded the Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement, established to recognize the contributions of a current Pitt faculty member to furthering international education.

Musante was selected for the award in recognition of her work supporting study-abroad programs for students as well as the scholarship of researchers across the world. As CLAS director, Musante transformed the University’s Pitt in Cuba program into a full-semester Spanish language-intensive program offering courses in Spanish and Cuban cinema, literature and culture. She was instrumental in founding Pitt in Ecuador, an eight-week summer program that immerses students in the Ecuadorian Amazon, offering hands-on exposure to the region’s biodiversity and the problems faced by its indigenous people.

She also spearheaded the development of Panoramas, a web-based academic resource available to scholars of Latin America and the Caribbean worldwide.

Musante has conducted research on food security and gender inequality in rural communities throughout Latin America and the United States over the past 40 years, working with a broad range of international agencies and foundations.


Stephanie Harriman McGrath, faculty member in the School of Pharmacy, has won this year’s Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award from the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.

McGrath is active in the community pharmacy curriculum. She also serves as a primary preceptor for Pitt’s community pharmacy residency program and as a preceptor for both the introductory pharmacy practice experience and the advanced pharmacy practice experience.

She also coordinates the SilverScripts experience, which allows first-year pharmacy students to care for real patients at local senior centers.

She is a 2007 Pitt graduate and completed a community practice residency. After residency, McGrath accepted a dual dispensing and clinical position with Rite Aid with the goal of creating a patient care practice where she could teach pharmacy students and residents how to care for patients. In 2009, McGrath became a certified American Pharmacists Association immunization and CPR trainer. She has taught classes where over 500 pharmacists were certified.


Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg has been named a member of the Global Learning Council (GLC) Carnegie Mellon University has established as part of an initiative to better understand student learning using emerging technology.

Termed the Simon Initiative, the project “will harness CMU’s decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.”

The initiative’s GLC is composed of education and technology leaders who share a commitment to develop standards, identify best practices and encourage engagement through the use of science and technology. The GLC is dedicated to open sharing of data and best practices among institutions and across sectors to improve learning outcomes for all.

As part of the initiative, CMU will provide open access to the world’s largest bank of educational technology data — detailed data about how people learn and how effective learning software can be designed and deployed.


Liz Lyon will begin an 18-month stint in January as a visiting professor at the School of Information Sciences. Her primary appointment will be in the library and information science program.

Lyon is associate director of the Digital Curation Centre and director of UKOLN at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.


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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