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August 28, 2014

What’s New at Pitt: People

The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year has returned: The proliferation of laundry carts and upperclass student volunteers pointing the way to newcomers and their families during Arrival Survival.

But for many at Pitt, the hazy days of summer have been anything but lazy: Facilities were renovated; faculty and staff came and went; academic programs were established.

The University Times asked deans, unit heads and others: “What’s New at Pitt?” The summaries that follow are overviews of school news based on material submitted by the units. Information previously published in the University Times was not included here.

The listings were coordinated by Kimberly K. Barlow and Marty Levine.



Arts and sciences

The Department of Political Science welcomes new faculty members Michael Aklin and Katherine Francis.

Aklin joins the department as an assistant professor. A specialist in the politics of environmental sustainability and international and comparative political economy, he is particularly interested in understanding why some countries are able to reduce their vulnerability to major risks such as economic or environmental catastrophes.

Aklin received his PhD from New York University. During the 2014-15 academic year he will be on leave as a fellow at the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics at Penn.

Francis has been appointed a lecturer and will serve as one of the two advisers for the department’s undergraduate majors. She received her PhD this year from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign, and is interested in American politics, particularly legislative politics and the U.S. Congress.

Kevin Binning joins the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor from the University of California, where he was a visiting and postdoctoral scholar. He also is a research scientist at LRDC. Binning completed his PhD in psychology at the University of California-Santa Barbara with an emphasis on social psychology and a minor in quantitative methods. His research focuses on how status and respect influence personal and organizational well-being in ethnically diverse contexts.

Also appointed assistant professor were Scott Fraundorf, whose PhD is from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign, and Tristen Inagaki, whose PhD is from UCLA.

Fraundorf, most recently a postdoctoral research associate at University of Rochester, will be a research scientist at LRDC. He will conduct research on how long-term learning and experience contribute to reading and language processing and on how learners judge their own learning and memory.

This fall he will teach a graduate seminar on mixed effects statistical modeling.

Inagaki, whose research interests are in social affective neuroscience, social relationships and health and social connection will join the department in winter 2015.

Lecturer Jennifer Ganger will teach undergraduate courses in developmental psychology, language development, experimental child psychology and behavior genetics. She earned a PhD in cognitive science at MIT and completed postdoctoral work in developmental psychology at Pitt.

Christina Simko is a new postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology. She received her PhD at the University of Virginia, where her dissertation examined political discourse in times of crisis in American history, including an analysis of political discourse in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She has a contract with Oxford University Press for a book on the politics of consolation, based on her dissertation research. She will use her fellowship to complete the book, work on papers in progress and collect data for a new book project.

New in the Department of Theatre Arts are assistant professor Dennis Schebetta, lecturer on costume design Karen Gilmer and teaching artists Kimberly Griffin and Ricardo Vila-Roger.

Schebetta, whose MFA is from Virginia Commonwealth University, is a writer, director, actor and teacher of film and theatre. He has taught acting, directing, screenwriting and playwriting at schools including Carnegie Mellon, University of Washington, Bellevue College and VCU. He will head the MFA pedagogy program and will teach acting I in the undergraduate program.

Most recently, Schebetta won the Ellen Weiss Kander Award in the Steeltown Film Factory Competition for his script “My Date With Adam.” He has worked as an actor in several off-off-Broadway theatres and has been seen locally in “August: Osage County,” “Shining City” and “Camino.”

Gilmer’s MFA is from Boston University. She worked as assistant costume designer at the Hunting Theatre Company and has been a freelance costume designer. In 2009 she won the African-American Council of the Arts Award for Best Costume Design for August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars.”

Her lectures and research interests include costume, dress and fashion history, African American theatre and history, mask design and construction, millinery, textile dyeing and painting.

Griffin, an actor and educator, holds an MFA from the University of San Diego and The Old Globe in classical performance. She will teach voice and movement and introduction to performance, and will serve as a mentor and acting coach for undergraduate performers.

Vila-Roger, a Pittsburgh-based actor, singer and director, studied acting, directing and voice at the University of Colorado. He will teach introduction to performance and serve as a mentor and acting coach for undergraduate performers.

The Department of Philosophy has two new assistant professors, Jessica Gelber and Michael Caie.

Gelber comes to Pitt from Syracuse University. She earned her PhD at the University of California-Berkeley. Her research focuses on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, history of modern philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology.

Caie, whose PhD is from the University of California-Berkeley, works primarily on issues in philosophical logic, epistemology and philosophy of language.

The Department of Mathematics has added three new lecturers: ShiTing (Ellen) Bao, Thomas Everest and Linhong Wang, who will teach courses ranging from beginning calculus to the advanced undergraduate level.

Bao’s expertise is in partial differential equations. She has been a visiting assistant professor at Pitt since 2011 and holds a PhD from Rutgers.

Everest, who earned his PhD at Pitt, has expertise in functional analysis. He joins the department from Indiana University, where he was an assistant professor.

Wang’s expertise is in associative rings and algebras. Her PhD is from Temple and she comes to Pitt from Southeastern Louisiana University, where she was an assistant professor.

Lara Putnam has been appointed chair in the Department of History. She is the department’s first female chair.

The history department has five new faculty members this fall: assistant professors Niklas Frykman and Mari Webel and visiting assistant professors Michel Gobat, Emily Winerock and Michael McCarty.

Frykman, whose PhD is from Pitt, taught at Claremont McKenna College. He specializes in 18th-century U.S. and Atlantic history.

Webel, whose PhD is from Columbia, specializes in African history. She most recently held a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory.

Gobat, currently on the faculty at the University of Iowa, will teach courses this year on Latin American history.

Winerock, who received her PhD from the University of Toronto, specializes in early modern British history and the history of dance.

McCarty, who received his PhD from Columbia, will teach courses on Japanese and East Asian history.

Jacques Bromberg joins the Department of Classics as an assistant professor. Most recently a visiting assistant professor at Duke, he completed his PhD at Penn. His research interests focus on Greek and Latin literature (especially drama and rhetoric), ancient athletics, history and philosophy of science/medicine/technology, Indo-Iranian philology and classical reception studies. He will be teaching Beginning Greek I and Greek Tragedy this fall.

Christopher Nygren has joined the Department of History of Art and Architecture as an assistant professor. Nygren, whose PhD is from Johns Hopkins, has spent the past year as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Emory. He will teach undergraduate courses on topics in Renaissance and Baroque art, and will team-teach a graduate seminar on historiography and methodology in the discipline.

Rachael Heiser, formerly undergraduate program administrator in the Department of Industrial Engineering, has joined the Department of History of Art and Architecture as administrator for undergraduate and graduate programs in art history and architectural studies.

Joining the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures are:

Maria Dolores Bollo-Panadero, a lecturer/language coordinator in Hispanic languages and literatures. Her PhD is from Michigan State.

• Lecturer Tania Perez Cano, whose PhD is from the University of Iowa.

Kahlil Chaar-Perez, a postdoctoral fellow who holds a PhD from Harvard. His work centers on the intellectual world of 19th-century Cuban and Puerto Rican elites and its links to hemispheric and transAtlantic flows of ideas, capital and peoples.

Mike Gonzalez, emeritus professor of Latin American studies, University of Glasgow. He will join the department as a visiting professor of Spanish for the fall term.

Camila Pulgar Machado, a visiting scholar through the Fulbright faculty development program. She will work with Juan Duchesne-Winter.

Joining the German department are Mihaela Petrescu as a visiting lecturer for the 2015 academic year and Olivia Landry as a postdoctoral fellow. Both earned PhDs at Indiana University. They will teach courses in the beginning and intermediate language sequence as well as on minorities in post-war Germany.

The Department of Chemistry welcomes assistant professor Peng Lui, who will teach the graduate advanced organic chemistry I course. He earned his PhD at UCLA and most recently served a postdoctoral appointment there. His research focuses on computational modeling to quantitatively describe the origins of reactivity and selectivity in organocatalytic and transition metal-catalyzed reactions.

Peter Bell joins the department as a recitation and laboratory instructor in Chemistry for Health Related Professions and Organic Chemistry I. He earned his PhD at Pitt. His research involves the preparation of phenylenevinylene conjugated dendrimers for use in dye sensitized solar cells.

The Department of Economics has hired two assistant professors, Rania Gilheb and Douglas Hanley.

Gilheb is completing her PhD in economics at Boston University. Her research looks at couple labor supply decisions to understand the role that the husband’s level of education plays in determining a woman’s labor supply decision. She also uses a novel instrument (heterogeneity across dioceses in the availability of nuns to teach in Catholic schools that arose due to Vatican II) to evaluate the educational success of Catholic schools. She will teach Labor Economics and Labor Market Analysis II.

Hanley is completing his PhD in economics at Penn. His research interests focus on endogenous growth, technological change and firm dynamics. He will teach Intermediate Macroeconomics and Computational Methods in Economics.

The Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures is welcoming new faculty:

James Coleman, who holds a PhD from Yale, will be a visiting assistant professor of Italian. Coleman comes to Pitt from Johns Hopkins. He is a scholar of the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance whose work is particularly concerned with the connections between literature, philosophy and politics, as well as with the interactions among Italian humanists during this period.

Rémi Fontanel, maître de conférences in the Department of Cinema and Audiovisual Studies at the Université Lumière Lyon 2, will be the first scholar to come to Pitt on a newly established exchange with Lyon 2. During his fall-semester visit he will teach courses on French cinema.

Dario Biocca, who holds a PhD from Berkeley and currently is at the University of Perugia, Italy, will be the Italian Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in the spring term. Biocca will teach a course on the history of human trafficking in Italy and France.

Patrick Samzun, whose PhD is from Université de Grenoble, is a visiting scholar in residence in the department for the entire academic year. His work focuses on the notion of Diderot, Restif de la Bretonne and Charles Fourier as “co-operators” in the imagination of a “liberal” sexual utopia.

Patrick Fogarty joins the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences as graduate administrator for six departments: French and Italian languages and literatures, Hispanic languages and literatures, classics, German, East Asian languages and literatures and Slavic languages and literatures. Fogarty holds a BA in international studies from Allegheny College and has Peace Corps experience as an English teacher in Kazakhstan.

Anne Carlson joins the Department of Biological Sciences as an assistant professor from the University of Washington, where she was a postdoctoral fellow. Carlson completed her PhD in physiology and biophysics at Washington. Her research utilizes electrophysiology and structural biology to study the function and small molecule-mediated regulation of voltage gated K+ channels in the Ether-a-go-go (Eag) family.

Other new tenure-stream faculty in the Dietrich school, all assistant professors, are:

• In anthropology, Tomas Matza, whose PhD is from Stanford.

• In communication, Caitlin Bruce, whose PhD is from Northwestern.

• In computer science, Adriana Kovashka, PhD candidate at the University of Texas-Austin, and Daniel (Wonsun) Ahn, whose PhD is from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign.

• In English, Peter Campbell, whose PhD is from the University of Illinois/ Urbana-Champaign; Robert Clift, whose PhD is from Indiana University, and Jinying Li, whose PhD is from New York University.

• In linguistics, Karen Park, whose D. Phil is from Oxford, and Matthew Kanwit, a PhD candidate at Indiana University.

• In physics and astronomy, Tae Min Hong, whose PhD is from the University of California-Santa Barbara, and Roger Mong, whose PhD is from the University of California-Berkeley.

• In statistics, Zhao Ren, a PhD candidate at Yale.

Non-tenure stream faculty hires in the Dietrich school include:

Kyongok Joo, an assistant instructor in East Asian languages and literatures. Joo holds an MA from Columbia and an MS from Connecticut State.

Susan Rice, a senior lecturer in music. Her doctorate is from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign.

Debra Artim, a lecturer in neuroscience. Her PhD is from Pitt.


At the Katz school, Rabi Chatterjee has been named associate dean for master’s and executive programs. Chatterjee joined the Katz faculty in 1996 and has extensive research and consulting expertise in customer-focused development and management of products and services.

Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education

Instructional designer Meiyi Song, who worked at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, has joined the teaching support staff, working with faculty on a variety of projects, including video learning classes, new workshops and course redesigns.

Laurie Cochenour, senior instructional designer, joined the Pitt Online team from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she was e-learning policy coordinator.

Dental medicine

Alumnus Joseph Ambrosino is a new instructor and director of the Center for Continuing Dental Education. He has been in private practice as well as practicing from a community health perspective in western Pennsylvania.

Joseph Giovannitti, most recently the interim chair of the Department of Dental Anesthesiology, assumed the chairmanship of that department on July 1.

Charles Sfeir, interim associate dean for research, was appointed on July 1.

Kenneth Etzel has retired as associate professor and associate dean for student services and admissions.

Christine Wankiiri-Hale is now associate dean of student affairs. She has taught in the Department of Restorative Dentistry/Comprehensive Care and served as vice chair of that department. Elizabeth Bilodeau, who was co-chair of admissions in the Office of Student Services with Wankiiri-Hale, is now director of admissions.

Kathleen Vergona retired after serving on the faculty for 37 years. She taught anatomy and histology and contributed heavily to the geriatric initiative at the University.

Alumnus Chloe Huey joined the dental hygiene program as an instructor.

Matilda Dhima was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Prosthodontics.

In the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care, Ron DeAngelis became vice chairman and Filip Barbaric and Sarah Grafton are new full-time assistant professors.


New faculty in the school include:

Elizabeth Hufnagel, visiting assistant professor of science education, Department of Instruction and Learning. Hufnagel earned her PhD in curriculum and instruction from Penn State. Her research centers on the intersection between emotions and learning about environmental science topics using discourse analysis. She was a high school science teacher and professional development instructor at the Urban Ecology Institute, both in Massachusetts. Before becoming a teacher, Hufnagel was an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member and worked as an environmental scientist.

Lori Delale-O’Connor, associate director of research and development at the Center for Urban Education and research assistant professor of education. She holds a PhD in sociology from Northwestern. A former social studies teacher in the Boston Public Schools, she most recently was a research scientist at Child Trends, a nonprofit research center focused on improving the well-being of children across the life span. Her research interests include youth transitions to college and career, parent involvement in education and school choice.

Gina Garcia, assistant professor of higher education management in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies. She holds a PhD in higher education and organizational change from UCLA, where she was a research analyst at the Higher Education Research Institute. Her research interests center on issues of equity and diversity within higher education, with an emphasis on the organizational culture and identity of Hispanic-serving institutions and the retention, success and identity development of Latina/Latino college students.

Lindsay Page, assistant professor of research methodology in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies and research scientist at LRDC. She most recently was a lecturer in statistics and a researcher at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard. She earned an EdD in quantitative policy analysis in education at Harvard. Her research interests are in the areas of quantitative methods and their application to questions regarding the effectiveness of educational policies and programs across the preschool-to-postsecondary spectrum.

Laura Roop, director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (WPWP), a teacher-centered professional development program hosted by the School of Education. Roop earned her PhD in English and education at the University of Michigan. She directed the Oakland Writing Project, a Michigan-based National Writing Project site; more recently she was coordinator of school-research relations and lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Education. Roop will develop and promote core WPWP programs; offer outreach and professional learning opportunities to writing project teacher fellows and other educators; raise funds on behalf of WPWP, and develop and promote partnerships with local, state and national organizations.

Sharon Ross, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity. Her research focuses on physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in children, with a special interest in Hispanic/Latino populations. Ross received her PhD in biobehavioral health from Penn State. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group at the University of South Carolina.


New faculty in the Swanson school are:

• In the Department of Bioengineering, Kurt E. Beschorner, research assistant professor, and Joseph T. Samosky, assistant professor and director, Simulation and Medical Technology Research and Development Center.

Beschorner received his PhD in bioengineering at Pitt. His research includes developing and applying innovative methods to model and assess the tribological interaction between shoe and floor surfaces in order to prevent slips and falls; identifying the personal and environmental factors that contribute to falls from ladders and developing strategies to reduce these falls, and assessing the negative effects of multifocal lens glasses (bifocals/progressive lenses) on walking balance and identifying compensation strategies that improve balance.

Samosky received his doctoral training in the joint Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and received a PhD in medical engineering from MIT. He most recently was a researcher and systems engineer with the Simulation Group of CIMIT, the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and was an instructor at Harvard medical school. His research focuses on user-centric design and engineering of real-time interactive systems that enhance learning and improve patient care and safety.

He is the co-developer of the Combat Medic Training System (COMETS, currently commercialized by CAE Healthcare as the CAE Caesar simulator), an interactive, sensor-enhanced full-body autonomous simulated trauma patient that supports field training in casualty care.

• In the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Chris Wilmer, assistant professor.

Wilmer received his PhD from Northwestern. He most recently held a nine-month postdoctoral fellowship in chemistry at Harvard. His research focuses on designing new hypothetical materials and exploring their potential using computer simulations. He has worked on metal organic frameworks (MOFs) that showed promise for improving natural gas fuel tanks in cars, and in helping to capture greenhouse gases. He co-founded a company, NuMat Technologies, that currently is mass-producing MOFs and developing them into products.

• In the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Murat Akcakaya, assistant professor, and Alexis Kwasinski, R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy and associate professor.

Akcakaya received his PhD in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. He comes to Pitt from a faculty position at Northeastern University. His research interests are in statistical signal processing and machine learning with applications to radar signal processing, biologically inspired sensing, noninvasive electroencephalography (EEG) based brain computer interface systems, and physiological signal analysis for health informatics.

Kwasinski’s field research included studying the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Sandy, and the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and how microgrids could help return power to damaged areas more quickly than traditional infrastructure.

He held two positions in industry before earning his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign.

He then joined UT-Austin as a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering.

• In the Department of Industrial Engineering, Mohammad Mousavi, who will join the faculty in January as an assistant professor.

Mousavi received his PhD from the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. His research is broadly focused on the formulation and analysis of stochastic models of complex systems. He is particularly interested in the areas of stochastic modeling and simulation, and their synergistic application to problems arising in financial and energy markets, call centers, health care and online markets.

• In the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Tevis D. B. Jacobs, assistant professor.

Jacobs received his PhD in materials science and engineering from Penn, where he also did his post-doctoral work. His primary expertise is in conducting mechanical testing using in-situ electron microscopy to directly quantify behavior under ultra-low loads. His research focuses on uncovering the atomic-scale processes governing the mechanics of materials and interfaces at the nanoscale, with application to nanoscale devices and nanomanufacturing.

Also in the Swanson school, Minking K. Chyu, Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor and former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, has been appointed the inaugural associate dean for international initiatives, as well as the inaugural dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in China. When SCUPI opens in fall 2015, Chyu will spend part of the academic year in China.

Brian Gleeson, Harry S. Tack Chair, professor of materials science and director of Pitt’s Center for Energy, succeeds Chyu as department chair of mechanical engineering and materials science.

General studies

Jennifer Engel has been named director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Engel comes to Osher following 15 years with the Sarah Heinz House, a Boys & Girls Club on the North Side, where she most recently served as director of outcomes and performance management. She holds an MS in applied developmental psychology from the School of Education.

Health and rehabilitation sciences

New faculty are: Andi Saptono, health information management; Juleen Rodakowski and Lauren Terhorst, occupational therapy; Andrew Lynch and Joel Stevans, physical therapy; Goeran Fiedler, Mary Goldberg and Jason Hare, rehabilitation science and technology, and Matthew Darnell, Megan Frame, Yosuke Kido, Corey O’Connor, Katherine Perlsweig, Kathleen Poploski, Scott Royer and Joshua Winters, all in sports medicine and nutrition.

Health sciences

Brian Primack has been named assistant vice chancellor for research on health and society. Primack will continue as associate professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science.

In the newly created position, Primack will work with all of the health sciences schools to advance research on the impact of societal changes on health.

Primack graduated from Emory medical school. He completed his medical residency and earned a PhD in clinical and translational science at Pitt. He combines his expertise in the social and biological sciences by studying both the positive and negative effects of complex social phenomena on health outcomes. His current grant from the National Cancer Institute examines emerging forms of tobacco use.

Dietrich A. Stephan has been named chair of the Department of Human Genetics and associate director of the Institute for Personalized Medicine, a collaborative initiative between the Schools of the Health Sciences and UPMC. He will lead the institute’s efforts in population genetics and translational acceleration of new discoveries. He was the founder and head of Silicon Valley Biosystems, a diagnostics company. Stephan received his PhD from Pitt.

Health Sciences Library System

Rose Turner has joined HSLS as a reference librarian. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Her experience includes employment at Hewlett Packard in Denver and the Health Sciences Library at University of Colorado Anschutz medical campus.


Lucas Berenbrok was named assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics. He received his doctorate from Pitt and completed a post-graduate year one residency in community practice with Kerr Drug/Walgreens and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill.

Jennifer Pruskowski is a new assistant professor with special practice in pain and palliative care. She received her doctorate from Wilkes University and completed both a post-graduate year one residency in pharmacy practice and a post-graduate year two pharmacy residency in geriatrics at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

Bridget Walker, named assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, is director of the pharmacy business administration program. She completed the executive Master of Business Administration program at the Katz school.

Information sciences

David Thaw joined the school’s faculty with a secondary appointment in July. Hired by Pitt’s School of Law, Thaw is a law and technology expert and frequent presenter on issues of cybersecurity, privacy regulation and cybercrime.

Amelia Acker joined the library and information science program as assistant professor. She received her PhD from UCLA in 2014. Her research interests are in archival science, cultural informatics, infrastructure studies, mobile communication and information technologies, personal digital archives and science and technology studies.

Innovation Institute

Babs Carryer, a serial entrepreneur and educator, has been appointed director of education and outreach. In addition, biotechnology industry executive Evan Facher joined the institute’s Office of Enterprise Development as associate director.


In the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Peter Hurh became the medical director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, which opened at Monroeville’s UPMC East on July 1 and provides specialized rehabilitation care after stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and surgeries.

Beth Stepanczuk joined the department as assistant professor after earning her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completing her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation, where she was chief resident.

Christine Cleveland became an assistant professor in the department after completing its spinal cord medicine fellowship. She received her medical doctorate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and completed the physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at UNC hospitals.

Matthew Maxwell is a new assistant professor and assistant director of sports medicine. He is a graduate of the department’s physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program.

David Stone, a new assistant professor and a faculty member in the sports medicine fellowship program, received his doctorate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed the physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at New York University and a sports medicine fellowship at Braintree Hospital in Massachusetts.

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has added new faculty:

Alicia Puskar, an instructor in the sports medicine/concussion division, received her PsyD from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She was a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow in Pitt’s sports concussion program and specializes in concussion management at all levels of sports participation including professional, collegiate, high school and recreational.

Patrick Burn is a full-time assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He received his DMP degree from the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and completed his podiatric surgical residency at UPMC South Side. He is program director of podiatric medical education at UPMC Mercy and also provides teaching and resident oversight for UPMC Mercy’s podiatric residency program.

John Fowler is an assistant professor in the Division of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery. He received his MD from Temple University and did his orthopaedic residency training at Temple University Hospital.

Luke Henry is an instructor in the sports medicine/concussion division. He earned his doctorate in clinical neuropsychology from Université de Montréal. His clinical practice specializes in neuropsychology patients with mild traumatic brain injuries.

MaCalus Hogan, an assistant professor in the foot and ankle division, graduated with an MD from Howard University. At the University of Virginia he completed a year as an NIH musculoskeletal tissue repair and regeneration research fellow.

Kevin Bell is a research assistant professor in the Orthopaedic Robotics Laboratory and the Ferguson Laboratory for Ortho and Spine Research. He received his PhD in bioengineering from Pitt and has been a laboratory manager in the Ferguson Laboratory since 2006.

Other new faculty in the school are:

Louise D’Cruz, assistant professor of immunology, earned her PhD in molecular biology from the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna and completed postdoctoral training at the University of California-San Diego. Her research interests include molecular mechanisms that regulate the development and survival of natural killer T cells and the cells’ function during infection.

Marijn Ford, assistant professor of cell biology, received his PhD from the Cambridge (UK) Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. His work focuses on structural biology, with particular emphasis on protein X-ray crystallography and characterization of dynamin-related protein fusion and scission.

Daniel Forman, professor of medicine, comes to Pitt from the Harvard medical school faculty. He completed training in cardiovascular medicine and nuclear cardiology at Beth Israel and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. His current investigations involve cardiovascular disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction; vascular and skeletal muscle function in Gulf War veterans, and sleep apnea.

Robin Lee, assistant professor of computational and systems biology, received a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine from the University of Ottawa and completed a research fellowship in cancer biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His research focuses on understanding TNF-induced signal transduction circuits and regulation of NF-Kb-driven transcription through competition on target promoters.

Peter C. Lucas, associate professor of pathology and of pediatrics, received his MD and PhD at Vanderbilt University. He taught most recently at the University of Michigan medical school and has clinical expertise in molecular anatomic and breast surgical pathology. He studies the relationship between chronic inflammation and the development of vascular, metabolic, and neoplastic diseases, particularly the role of an NF-Kb signaling pathway controlled by the three-protein CBM (CARMA, Bcl10 and MALT1) complex.

Linda McAllister-Lucas, associate professor of pediatrics and chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, earned her MD and PhD at Vanderbilt. She also comes to Pitt from Michigan, where she was associate director of the medical scientist training program. Her research interests include molecular mechanisms of inflammatory and neoplastic disease, with emphases on oncoprotein promotion of lymphoid malignancy and the contributions of G-protein coupled receptor-dependent signaling in cancer pathogenesis and inflammatory disease.

Bryan McIver Hooks, assistant professor of neurobiology, received a PhD in neurobiology from Harvard and comes to Pitt from a postdoctoral associate position at the Janelia Farm research campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia. His research focuses on understanding the development, function and plasticity of primary motor cortex circuitry.

Bradley Molyneaux, assistant professor of neurology, received his MD and neurobiology PhD at Harvard, where he was chief resident in neurology and completed fellowships in neurocritical care and in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Molyneaux’s research interests include mechanisms of cerebral cortex development and repair, genes controlling the development of cortical projection neuron subtypes and early corticospinal motor neuron specification events.

Roderick O’Sullivan, assistant professor of pharmacology and chemical biology, earned his PhD in molecular biology from the Institute for Molecular Pathology in Vienna and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. His investigations focus on telomere replication, disruption of ASF1 protein-mediated histone exchange and the role of the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway for telomere homeostasis in normal and cancer cells.

Inderpal (Netu) Sarkaria, assistant professor and vice chair of clinical affairs, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, received his MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Sarkaria completed general and thoracic surgery residencies at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. His research focuses on minimally invasive and robot-assisted pulmonary and esophageal surgery approaches, as well as molecular profiling of esophageal diseases and lung cancer.

Matthew Smith, assistant professor of ophthalmology, received his PhD in neural science from New York University and completed postdoctoral training at Carnegie Mellon and Pitt. His research interests include visual system evaluation using neurophysiological and computational approaches and characterization of functional connectivity among neurons and how connectivity patterns relate to visual perception and cognition.

Jianhua Xing, associate professor of computational and systems biology, earned a PhD in theoretical chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley and completed postdoctoral fellowships there and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Current investigations focus on quantitative systems biology studies of mechanisms that regulate the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and its role in cancer and other diseases.

Associate dean for faculty affairs Ann E. Thompson will become vice dean of the School of Medicine on Oct. 1.

Thompson is professor and vice chair (professional development) of the Department of Critical Care Medicine and medical director for clinical resource management at Children’s Hospital. She was chief of pediatric critical care 1981-2009 and was interim chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine 2006-08.

Thompson received her medical degree from Tufts. After completing her pediatric residency training at the Tufts New England Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she trained in anesthesiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and did a fellowship in pediatric critical care and research at CHOP, which is where she held her first faculty position.

Luis De la Torre has joined the school as an associate professor of surgery in the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery. He is also founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children at Children’s Hospital. The center will provide multidisciplinary medical and surgical care for children with disorders of the bowel or rectum. De la Torre pioneered a less invasive surgical approach to the treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease and was founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children and chief of pediatric surgery at the Hospital Ángeles Puebla in Mexico.

Dario A.A. Vignali has been recruited to the Department of Immunology, where he serves as professor and vice chair. At the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Vignali is co-leader of the cancer immunology program and co-director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center.

The Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, has recruited three sickle cell experts: Solomon F. Ofori-Acquah, Laura De Castro and Gregory J. Kato for the Ryan Clark Cure League under the University’s Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI) and UPMC.

Ofori-Acquah will lead a newly created Center for Translational and International Hematology, part of VMI, which will guide new research programs and partnerships with sickle cell disease programs in Africa.

De Castro will lead efforts to develop novel clinical and translational research programs, along with several related clinical services.

Kato, professor of medicine, and De Castro, associate professor of medicine, are with the UPMC adult sickle cell disease program. Ofori-Acquah, associate professor of medicine, is a research scientist. Kato, a former director of the sickle cell vascular disease section at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will lead the UPMC Sickle Cell Disease Research Center of Excellence.


Judith Callan is a new assistant professor in the Department of Health and Community Systems. She earned her PhD here and was program director and research coordinator for the mood disorders treatment and research program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Christine Feeley joined the faculty as assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Development. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and was a post-doctoral fellow at Emory University.

Christopher Imes is an assistant professor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care. He recently completed a two-year term as a post-doctoral scholar here after earning his PhD at the University of Washington.

Dan Li, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Community Systems, earned a PhD at the University of Miami.

Carolyn Weiner, joining the school as assistant professor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, completed her doctorate at Florida State.


Marietta Frank is the newly appointed director of Hanley Library at UPB. A librarian at Hanley since 1989, she most recently was its interim director.

Sue Gleason has been named director of the Academic Advising Center at Pitt-Bradford. Previously, Gleason was the center’s academic adviser, an assistant director of financial aid and administrative assistant for the Admissions Office and Office of Financial Aid.In her role as director, Gleason works closely with faculty, including providing advising training for new faculty. She assists with student orientations and is responsible for the early intervention program and for monitoring student progress. In the classroom, Gleason teaches one section each year of Freshman Seminar and several management courses within the Division of Management and Education.


Three new division chairs have been chosen at UPG. Dean Nelson, associate professor of statistics, will chair the natural sciences division. Sayre Greenfield, professor of English, will chair the humanities division. Paul Adams, associate professor of political science, will chair the behavioral sciences division.

Jacqueline Horrall has been appointed assistant vice president for academic affairs at UPG.

Also at UPG, Matthew Blair was promoted to technology support manager in the computing services and telecommunications department.

New faculty at UPG are Thomas Crowley, a 2014 UPG graduate, visiting instructor of theatre; Glenson France, visiting professor of economics; Jennifer Paul, biology laboratory instructor, and Geoffrey Wood, assistant professor of sociology.

Bradley Miner joined the Pitt-Greensburg staff as study abroad coordinator.

Sheila Kudrick is now coordinator of alumni affairs at UPG.

Stephenie Przepiora joined the Pitt-Greensburg housing and residence life office as the graduate resident director of College Hall. She also will serve as co-adviser of the outdoor adventure and community service living community. This is a two-year appointment.

Hadara Katarski joined the UPG athletic department as the assistant cross country coach. Daniel Keefe is UPG’s new assistant men’s soccer coach.

Patricia M. Duck, director of Pitt-Greensburg’s Millstein Library and coordinator of Pitt’s regional libraries, retired after 28 years of service.

UPG’s “Nurse Patty,” Patty LaMantia, retired after 18 years as director of UPG’s campus health center.

Elected as officers of the Pitt-Greensburg Staff Association were Matthew D. Zidek, president, and Sherra Moors, secretary.

Zidek is assistant director of admissions for transfer and continuing education, and Moors is an event coordinator with The Conference Place.

Gayle Pamerleau, director of counseling, is the UPG staff association vice president and Robert W. Smith, senior systems analyst, is treasurer.


Joining the UPJ faculty this academic year are:

Laura Aughinbaugh and Elizabeth Katrancha, both assistant professors of nursing; Kimberly Douglas, instructor in English composition; Tuangtip Klinbubpa-Neff, assistant professor of English literature; Jacqueline Myers, instructor in early childhood education; Serdar Tumkor and Kurt Klavuhn, both assistant professors of mechanical engineering technology; Luis Bonachea, assistant professor of biology; Ryan Kerrigan, assistant professor of energy and earth resources; Marsha Grimminger and Robert Grimminger, both assistant professors of chemistry; David Goldberg, assistant professor of history, and Rick Kutz, instructor of psychology.

Joining the Pitt-Johnstown staff are Kayla Fyock, alumni relations coordinator; Edward Ostrowski, campus police officer; Jesse Pisors, executive director of development and alumni relations; Kirstie Pividori, donor relations coordinator; Luke Trotz, admissions counselor, and Mandy Waters, library associate.


Gerald Sayers was hired in June as campus police officer at UPT. Sayers has 21 years of law enforcement experience. Following a career with the Oil City police department, from which he retired in 2001, he most recently was an investigator for U.S. Investigations Services in Grove City, where he provided background checks for government employees.

Leslie Bailey joined the UPT staff in May as student services coordinator and works in the Office of Student Accounts and the Office of the Registrar.

Public and international affairs

Joining the faculty as assistant professors are Jeremy Weber and Meredith Wilf.

Weber specializes in the economics of energy, with an emphasis on the impact of the natural gas boom and the economics of development. He most recently was a research economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and taught at Johns Hopkins as an adjunct faculty member in its master’s program in applied economics. He spent a year in rural Peru researching the workings of coffee grower cooperatives with the support of the Fulbright program. He earned his PhD in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wilf, who specializes in international political economy, currently is completing her doctoral dissertation at Princeton. Her expertise spans trade policy and financial regulation, financial crises and ongoing financial global governance. Her teaching interests include international organizations, international law, globalization, comparative political economy and the political economy of development.

Public health

Todd Reinhart has been named associate dean for faculty affairs, overseeing all faculty activities including appointments, promotions and tenure. He takes over from Robert Ferrell, who has retired. Reinhart joined the faculty in 1997.

Ron Voorhees has been appointed Center for Public Health Practice director and associate dean for public health practice. Voorhees is professor of public health practice in the Department of Epidemiology and a senior program adviser to the Allegheny County Health Department, where he served previously as chief of the Office of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Mark S. Roberts became the director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Roberts is chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, and holds secondary appointments in medicine, industrial engineering, and clinical and translational science.

David Finegold has been named the director of the multidisciplinary Master of Public Health program. Finegold, who specializes in biochemical genetics and pediatric endocrinology, holds appointments as professor of human genetics, pediatrics and medicine. He succeeds Ronald LaPorte, who has retired.

In the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Tiffany Gary-Webb has joined the Center for Health Equity as an associate professor. Formerly of Columbia University.

She researches interventions to prevent and reduce morbidity associated with diabetes.

Supriya Kumar is a new assistant research professor. He uses computational modeling to assess the effect of policy changes, such as access to sick days in workplaces, on transmission of infectious disease.


In the Office of the Registrar, Travis Wisor has been promoted to senior associate University registrar. Previously, he had been an assistant University registrar and manager of information resources. An 11-year Pitt veteran, he is also the office’s communications liaison and one of the PeopleSoft student records functional leads.

Christopher Coat is the office’s new assistant University registrar for course and classroom scheduling. Previously he was the Pitt-Titusville registrar for five years as well as assistant professor of biology for 20 years. He will be responsible for overseeing course and classroom scheduling operations and will serve as the PeopleSoft academic advisement functional lead.

Jennifer Bronson is associate University registrar for information technology. She previously was Chatham University registrar for nine years. She will lead a team of system analysts with Registrar’s office and University system support responsibilities. She also will serve as one of the PeopleSoft student records co-functional leads.

University Library System

New people are: Charlotte Myers, reference and public services librarian in the business library; Berenika Webster, coordinator of strategic assessment in ULS administrative services; Yi Xu, visiting scholar in the East Asian Library and Mandy Waters, library associate at Pitt-Johnstown.

New in ULS information technology are Amanda Barber, instructional technology support; Clinton Graham, systems developer, and Evan Soward, systems administrator.

In ULS research and educational support, new staffers are Thomas Lee, library storage clerk; Bryan McGeary, overnight building supervisor, and Justin Wideman, library specialist.

Other new library specialists are Shannon Motter at Pitt-Titusville and Lauren Murphy in the Frick Fine Arts library.

Social work

Joining the school are:

Mary Ohmer, associate professor. Ohmer received her PhD at Pitt. She has more than 25 years’ experience in community organizing and development, working with residents and community, social service, corporate, government and philanthropic organizations to promote community change and sustainability.

Jamie Booth, assistant professor. Booth earned her PhD in social work at Arizona State. Her research focuses on the role of context and identity in the stress process and the impact of differential stress experiences on health disparities in minority populations, and strives to identify protective factors that can be enhanced to mitigate these outcomes.

Tiffany Lumpkin, lecturer. She was program director of two family engagement models, family group decision making and conferencing and teaming, at Small Seeds Development. Her research interests include prevention and reduction of health, social and economic disparities.

Tony Gacek, director of constituent relations. He most recently was executive director of a Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Vanessa Beck and Cecily Davis, field education coordinators. Beck earned her master’s degree in social work at Pitt.  She has her license in social work and is working toward her clinical license.

Davis received her MSW at Pitt with a concentration in community organizing and social administration. She has more than 10 years of experience practicing in the area of children and families.

Laura Krizner, administrative assistant with the Center on Race and Social Problems. Krizner received her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Pitt and previously was a medical records coordinator at UPMC.

University Center for International Studies

Luke Peterson joins Pitt as the 2014-2015 UCIS visiting professor in contemporary international issues. The position is funded by an endowed gift from William F. Benter and the Benter Foundation.

Peterson will teach undergraduate and graduate courses on such topics as Palestine-Israel, History and Conflict; Modern Iran, and the Middle East in the Media. In addition to teaching, Peterson will participate in the Global Studies Center’s outreach programs, presenting at schools, universities and community organizations throughout the tri-state region.

He comes to Pitt via Kings College at the University of Cambridge.

University Center for Social and Urban Research

Noam Shoval has joined the UCSUR faculty as a visiting scholar. An associate professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, his time at Pitt is sponsored by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Shoval is a geographer with expertise in the implementation of advanced tracking technologies in various areas of spatial research such as health, tourism and urban studies.He also will be teaching courses for Jewish studies, religious studies and history, urban studies, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the graduate certificate program in gerontology.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 1