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January 9, 2014

People of the Times

Thomas E. McDermott, faculty member in electrical and computer engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, has been named an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) fellow in recognition of his contributions to modeling and analysis of electric power distribution systems and lightning protection, which have led to greater integration of renewable energy sources and to more reliable operation of the electric power system.

The IEEE board of directors confers fellow status  — its highest membership grade — on individuals with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest.

The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed 0.1 percent of the total voting membership.

McDermott’s technical accomplishments include the development of widely used software tools for engineering design; contributions to national standards for renewable energy integration; contributions to international standards for smart grid interoperability, and application guides for lightning protection of electric power lines.

McDermott recently joined Pitt’s full-time tenure-stream faculty after a career in private industry. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electric power at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania.

He has received the IEEE Fortescue Fellowship, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal and the IEEE Power and Energy Society Pittsburgh Chapter Outstanding Engineer awards.

In addition to serving in several roles with IEEE, he also contributes to Cigre, the International Council on Large Electric Systems based in Paris.


Sommer Elliott-Disque has been named director of counseling and student development at Pitt-Titusville.  She most recently was a program director at the Venango Training and Development Center.

Elliott-Disque earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at Pitt-Titusville and her master’s degree in mental health counseling at Walden University. She served an internship in the Pitt-Titusville counseling center 2012-13.

She is a member of Chi Sigma lota, the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counseling Association.


Mathematics faculty member Michael Neilan has won the Leslie Fox Prize in numerical analysis with the talk, “Conforming and Divergence-free Stokes Elements on General Triangular Meshes.”

The talk was based on his paper, co-authored with Johnny Guzman of Brown University, which appeared in the journal Mathematics of Computations.

The biennial Fox prize, awarded to an individual under age 31, was established in 1985 by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications in honor of mathematician Leslie Fox (1918-92). A prize committee reviews submitted papers and invites shortlisted candidates to give lectures at the Leslie Fox Prize meeting, then awards first and second prizes based on “mathematical and algorithmic brilliance” in tandem with presentational skills.


David Swigon has become graduate student director in the Department of Mathematics, succeeding Paul Gartside, who stepped down after serving for four years in the position.

Pat Markham is the math department’s new graduate student administrator. Markham, a graduate of Chatham University, also has more than 20 years of work experience at Chatham, most recently as nursing program coordinator.


Pitt-Bradford has named two new ex-officio members to its advisory board and reappointed 21 members. Ex-officio members serve on the advisory board because of the offices they hold.

Newly appointed ex-officio members are Maryann Anderson, superintendent of Kane Area School District, and Ronald L. Orris, executive director of the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Orris also is chairman of the board for Futures Rehabilitation Center in Bradford and the Bradford Water Authority and controller for the City of Bradford.

Members approved for new three-year terms are Timothy J. Asinger, Jack Campbell Jr., R. Michael Carlson, Carlyle C. Conn, William C. Conrad, Martin J. Digel, Susan Evans, Frederick W. Fesenmyer, Donald J. Fredeen, Andrea Gonzalez, Stephen P. Grillo, Kenneth C. Kane, Douglas E. Kuntz, William Leven Jr., Julie A. Marasco, Richard A. Masson, James M. McDonough, Elaine F. Northrup, Peter J. Pantuso, John W. Seltzer and William J. Wagner.


Larry E. Davis, dean of the School of Social Work and director and founder of the Center on Race and Social Problems, will be inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare Jan. 18.

The academy is an honorary society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in the field of social work and social welfare through high-impact work that advances social good.

Davis has been committed to social work research and scholarship for more than 40 years. He came to the University in 2001 from Washington University in St. Louis, where he had been a faculty member since 1977.

He has written, edited or co-authored five books and is the founder and chairman of the editorial board of the journal Race and Social Problems.

Davis also is the founder and leader of REAP, a consortium of race, ethnicity and poverty centers across the United States.


rosenblumNew York public radio station WQXR named the Boston Modern Orchestra Project album, “Möbius Loop,” composed by Mathew Rosenblum of the Department of Music, the Q2 Music Album of the Week for Dec. 16, 2013. See!/story/the-mind-bending-ear-opening-music-mathew-rosenblum/.


FiorentinoLisa Fiorentino, faculty member in nursing, has been named the director for the Center for Rural Health Practice at Pitt-Bradford, which will enable the center and the nursing program to collaborate on projects. She succeeds Youmasa Siewe.

Fiorentino, who directs the nursing and radiological sciences programs at Pitt-Bradford, will continue in those roles and to teach nursing. Her dual roles in the nursing programs on campus and with the center will allow the programs to work more closely with each other.

Fiorentino has served on the Pitt-Bradford faculty since 1985. She most recently completed a master of arts degree in anthropology from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where she also earned her doctorate and a master of science in nursing.


BudnyDaniel Budny, a faculty member in the Swanson School of Engineering, has been inducted into Purdue University’s Book of Great Teachers.

Budny, a former faculty member in Purdue’s College of Engineering (1989-2000), is associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and academic director of Pitt’s freshman engineering program.

He earned his BS in civil engineering and MS in environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University, and his MS in engineering mechanics and PhD in civil engineering from Michigan State.

Purdue’s Book of Great Teachers “bears the names of past and present faculty members who have devoted their lives to excellence in teaching and scholarship.” Honorees are chosen by Purdue students and faculty.

At Purdue, Budny received the Best Teacher Award in Engineering Education (1996) and the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award (1992-93).

Budny’s academic and professional interests are in the fields of basic fluid mechanics and in the development of programs that assist first-year engineering students by providing counseling and cooperative learning environments.

In addition, Budny has developed international service learning projects in South America for Swanson school undergraduates. This past summer, students in his international senior design experience course constructed a water distribution system in the indigenous Kuna Nega community near Panama City, Panama, with the support of Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

In 2011 his international learning project to build a water distribution system in Tingo Pucará, Ecuador, was recognized by EWB-USA with its Premier Project Award, which recognizes excellence in EWB-USA projects and highlights projects that deliver high quality, sustainable solutions to help meet the basic needs of partnering communities abroad.

Budny also serves as general program chair of the national First Year Engineering Experience Conference presented by Pitt, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.

In 2011 he was recognized as Professor of the Year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering.


Hillary Stitt has been promoted from retention specialist to program manager of the TRiO student support services program at Pitt-Bradford.

As program manager, Stitt will oversee the work of a retention specialist and academic adviser, both of whom are in the process of being hired following the departure of Margot Myers, former program manager, and Laura Bierbower, academic adviser.

Stitt earned a BS in rehabilitation services from Penn State in 2001 and an MS in school counseling from the University of Scranton in 2005, when she joined the Pitt-Bradford TRiO program at its inception.

TRiO is a federally funded program that supports students who may have a difficult time succeeding in college, specifically those who are first-generation students, have a disability or meet income-eligibility guidelines. The program serves 160 students at Pitt-Bradford.

The program provides individual academic support through one-on-one guidance, leadership development, financial literacy education, and career and graduate school planning assistance.

During their time in the program, students take a series of one-credit courses that help them tackle subjects appropriate to their standing, such as making the transition to college and  exploring majors.


The American Urological Association (AUA) named Timothy D. Averch, faculty member in urology and director of endo-urology at the School of Medicine, its 2014-15 Gallagher Health Policy Scholar.

Honorees spend a year learning health policy through national conferences and meetings, AUA mentoring and a weeklong seminar for surgeons.

Averch, who also is director of the UPMC Kidney Stone Center, earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Penn and his medical degree at Pitt.


Chris F. Kemerer, David M. Roderick Professor of Information Systems at the Katz Graduate School of Business, is among the INFORMS Information Systems Society’s 2013 class of distinguished fellows. The ISS distinguished fellow award recognizes individuals for “outstanding intellectual contributions to the information systems discipline.”

Kemerer earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn’s Wharton School and a PhD at Carnegie Mellon.

Formerly a faculty member in MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Kemerer has been on the Katz faculty since 1995. He also is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.


Allen DiPalma, has been serving as the University’s export control officer in addition to his responsibilities as director of the Office of Research, is assuming the full-time position of director of export controls.

Mark Redfern, vice provost for research, made the announcement last month.

Redfern noted:  “The scale and complexity of both have increased in recent years as our research efforts have grown and we have become a truly global university.  It has become necessary to separate these two roles by creating a full-time position for the director of export controls.

“Allen brings to this position an intimate knowledge of the complex regulations governing export control that will ensure the University’s compliance in this important area.  Allen’s leadership of the Office of Research has been important to our success during the past decade of unprecedented growth in our research activity and the increased complexity of regulations and requirements in this area.”

Kathy Sidorovich, director of the research administration office in the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, will work on an interim basis in the Office of Research as the transition occurs.

Recruitment for a new director of the Office of Research will begin early in 2014, Redfern said.


Peggie Miller Dunklin is leaving the Office of University Communications Jan. 17 to become director of budget and human resources in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

She has been a staff member in the communications services division since 1997, serving most recently as director of operations and new business.


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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