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February 5, 2015

People of the Times

Pitt faculty were among the winners of the Carnegie Science Center’s 2015 Carnegie Science Award winners.

• The Advanced Materials Award went to Steven R. Little,  Swanson School of Engineering. Little leads engineers and students as they collaborate with clinicians to use engineering to inform medicine. He has designed a process that controls drug release in the body, mimicking the way that the body releases signals naturally.

• The Catalyst Award went to Rory A. Cooper of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Cooper translates scientific and engineering discoveries into products that help people with disabilities. He strives to provide assistive technologies that empower people with disabilities to become more independent and have a higher quality of life.

• The Life Sciences Award went to Yadong Wang of the Swanson School of Engineering. Using a multidisciplinary approach combining chemistry, biology, materials science and engineering, Wang has created functional biomaterials to enable new treatments in regenerative medicine. His development of a cell-free, biodegradable artery graft offers a transformative change in vascular bypass surgeries.

• In the Emerging Female Scientist category, Fabrisia Ambrosio of the School of Medicine received an honorable mention.


John Wallace, Phillip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice in the School of Social Work, has been named a Dignity and Respect Champion by the Dignity and Respect Council of Greater Pittsburgh.

The award recognizes community members who embrace, embody and demonstrate the values of dignity and respect and who have championed and supported the cause.

Wallace co-founded the Homewood Children’s Village in 2008 as a child-centered, comprehensive community initiative whose mission is to improve the lives of Homewood’s children and to reweave the fabric of the community in which they live. He has brought students — from Pitt’s School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences as well as from Carnegie Mellon University — into Homewood where they have received hands-on experience to help advance the work of the Homewood Children’s Village by assisting in research that benefits children and their families.

Wallace also has created partnerships with the Pittsburgh Police Department, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, local neighborhood organizations, and others around individual children and their families to deliver high quality, evidence-based services and programs.

Local foundations such as the Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, as well as national funding sources such as the National Institutes of Health, support Wallace’s work at the Homewood Children’s Village.


Tammy Haley, faculty member in nursing at Pitt-Bradford, has been named director of UPB’s nursing and radiological science programs.

Haley has been at Pitt-Bradford since 2003. Her research focuses on women’s health issues, particularly those affecting rural adolescent women and children.

Before entering the classroom as an instructor, Haley practiced as a certified family nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health. She also has experience as a registered nurse in the pediatric and medical-surgical areas.

She earned her doctoral degree in nursing from the University in 2012, where she also earned her Master of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Public Health.


Laurie Sanders, faculty member in the Pittsburgh Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Neurology, will receive the William N. and Bernice E. Bumpus Foundation Innovation Award. The award is designed to provide support for the next generation of exceptionally creative thinkers with “high risk/high reward” ideas that have the potential to significantly impact the understanding of the cause and prevention of Parkinson’s disease.

The $300,000 award will enable Sanders to further investigate the underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. There is strong evidence that oxidative damage to proteins and lipids are a contributing factor to the development of Parkinson’s, but little is known about unrepaired mitochondrial DNA damage, which has been shown to lead to cell death. Sanders’ research will focus on the events that lead to mitochondrial DNA damage and could lead to crucial advances in the understanding of Parkinson’s disease and experimental therapeutics.


The Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering has named Kristi S. Anseth as recipient of the 2015 Bayer Distinguished Lectureship. Anseth is the Tisone Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, faculty member in surgery and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the University of Colorado-Boulder Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Anseth’s primary research is the design of synthetic hydrogel biomaterials that replicate the extracellular matrix surrounding living cells, creating scaffolds for the growth of new tissue.

The Bayer Distinguished Lectureship is presented annually and recognizes outstanding excellence in chemical education, outreach and research. The lecture is sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience.

Anseth will present lectures on April 23 and 24 in 102 Benedum.


Several members of the Pitt community assisted with the transition of new governor Tom Wolf.

Mark A. Nordenberg, chancellor emeritus, was part of Wolf’s transition steering committee; Everette James, director of the Health Policy Institute, chaired Wolf’s transition review team on aging; Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar and trustee Bill Strickland were members of the transition review team on higher education; School of Social Work Dean Larry Davis and School of Education urban education chair Rich Milner were members of the transition review team on education, and Allegheny County Health Department director Karen Hacker, a faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health, was co-chair of the transition review team on health.


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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