Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

March 6, 2014

People of the Times

Three Pitt faculty members have been named 2014 Sloan research fellows: Marlene Cohen, Department of Neuroscience; Sergey Frolov, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Michael Neilan, Department of Mathematics.

The awards are made in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research.


At Pitt-Greensburg’s annual staff recognition luncheon, Brian Root, assistant director of housing and residence life, was announced as winner of the President’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff. The award recognizes staff members who have demonstrated a consistent pattern of extraordinary dedication to the University above and beyond the candidate’s job responsibilities.

Root began his career at Pitt-Greensburg as a student, graduating in 2004 with a BA in English writing. He earned a master’s in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and returned to Pitt-Greensburg to serve as resident director, 2006-09. After a year away from the campus, he returned in the summer of 2010 as the assistant director of housing and residence life.

Root also serves as the director of the outdoor adventure and community service living community, as well as the adviser to the Circle K Club and the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, through which he leads the campus’s primary alternative spring break trip. Root is UPG’s employee campaign coordinator for the United Way campaign. He also is a member of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association’s board.

Root serves as president of the Kiwanis Club of Greensburg and is a “big” with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Laurel Region. He is a campus co-chair for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Also at the awards luncheon, Root was one of five UPG staff members recognized by their colleagues. Through the “You Make the Difference” program, UPG staff members are recognized for special efforts and achievements. Any member of the campus community, including staff, faculty, administrators, students, advisory board members, parents of students, alumni and the general public can recognize a Pitt-Greensburg staff member for extraordinary service to the University. In addition to Root, the four staff members recognized this year were:

Jane Hoch, administrative secretary in academic affairs.

Jodi Kraisinger, director of University relations and institutional advancement.

Al Thiel, director of student activities and academic village adviser.

Dorothy Zilic, assistant director in career services.


Joseph Glorioso, faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine, has received a Pioneer Award from the peer-reviewed journal Human Gene Therapy.

As part of the journal’s 25th anniversary celebration, the journal’s publishers appointed a panel to identify 12 scientists who have made seminal contributions to the field. The journal will publish a “pioneer perspective” by each of the awardees during 2014.

Glorioso’s essay, “Herpes Simplex Viral Vectors: Late Bloomers With Big Potential,” was published in the journal’s February 2014 issue.


Pitt-Greensburg has hired Robert Spain as the second men’s soccer coach in the 16-year history of the program.

Spain was an assistant coach at Moravian College last year. He also worked for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy during the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup championship seasons. He spent the 2010 season as an assistant coach and goalkeeper coach with the men’s and women’s programs at Waldorf College.


Andrew Watson, a faculty member in the School of Medicine’s surgery department and medical director of the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM), was honored by Healthcare IT News as one of nine winners of the 2014 H.I.T. Men and Women Awards.

The awards  honor “the game changers and trailblazers in health care IT (information technology).”

In addition to his CCM duties, Watson is a practicing surgeon and medical director for telemedicine for UPMC, as well as chief medical information officer for UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. He was voted by the readers of Healthcare IT News as one of three winners in the “shapers and influencers” category.

Considered one of the leading forces in the advancement of mHealth (mobile health) in clinical settings, telemedicine is involved in nearly a third of his practice to increase access and convenience for patients. He serves on the board of the American Telemedicine Association.


Jennifer Russell, faculty member in learning sciences and policy in the School of Education,  has been chosen as an outstanding reviewer for 2013 by the American Educational Research Association. AERA is an international professional organization with the primary goal of advancing educational research and its practical application.


Kathryn R. Puskar, a faculty member in the School of Nursing’s Department of Health and Community Systems,  has been appointed to the new position of associate dean for undergraduate education in the school.

Puskar will be responsible for maintaining and advancing the quality of the baccalaureate program as well as providing oversight of BSN program accreditation and evaluation. With more than 620 students, the undergraduate program accounts for more than half of the school’s enrollment.


Assad Panah, who directs Pitt-Bradford’s petroleum technology, environmental science and geology programs, was recognized by the American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) for his support and development of superior pre-college scientific talent.

Panah received the award during the annual convention of the National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS) and the AJAS, held concurrently with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)annual meeting last month. At the convention, 250 junior scientists from 27 states made research presentations, which were evaluated by AAAS scientists and members of the NAAS.

Panah is president of the NAAS, which oversees the senior and junior academy of sciences in the United States.  He also served as NAAS president in 2003-04.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

We welcome submissions from all areas of the University. Send information via email to:, by fax at 412/624-4579 or by campus mail to 308 Bellefield Hall.

For detailed submission guidelines, visit “Deadlines” page.