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April 30, 2015

People of the Times

Rory Cooper, faculty member in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher are among 25 members of the newly formed Envision Downtown advisory committee.

The civic and community leaders will help to develop and guide implementation projects that will improve mobility, accessibility and livability in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Envision Downtown is a privately funded, independent public/private partnership created by Mayor Bill Peduto and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to craft a 21st-century vision for the sustainable and efficient development of a Downtown for all.


CarterWilliam M. Carter Jr., dean of the law school, has been appointed a new member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Judicial Independence (PCJI). The state Supreme Court established PCJI in 2005 amid growing concerns over unwarranted criticism of courts across the country. Membership has included leaders from Pennsylvania’s state and federal courts, attorneys and academicians.

The commission has led initiatives highlighting the importance of an impartial and independent judiciary, including:

• Sessions to explain Pennsylvania’s merit retention system and why reviewing the body of a judge’s work can help voters make selections in retention elections.

• Forums to improve judiciary/media relationships, including discussions on court funding in the context of an independent, functioning judicial system.

• Programs to help enhance civics education through daylong programs across the state with K-12 social studies teachers.

• A forum, co-hosted with the National Constitution Center, based on the book, “Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide,” featuring local and national jurists discussing how they presided over difficult high-profile cases.

The commission’s goals will continue to be vigilance in recognizing threats to judicial independence; work to promote fairness, impartiality and accountability in the judicial branch, and efforts to improve civics education.


MattisRonald Mattis, faculty member in engineering at Pitt-Bradford, has received UPB’s  2015 Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award for excellence in teaching.

Yong-Zhou Chen, faculty member in mathematics, who nominated Mattis for the award, said: “Over his nearly 30 years of service on our campus, Ron has proven himself to be a dedicated and talented teacher.”

Mattis was chosen for the award by the chairpersons of Pitt-Bradford’s five academic divisions.

The chairpersons review letters of recommendation, student evaluations of teaching, syllabi and grade distribution. They also consider the teachers’ knowledge of subject matter and their advising and dedication in working with students beyond the classroom in activities such as internships and research projects.

The award is open to any full-time faculty member who has taught at Pitt-Bradford for at least three consecutive academic years.

“Ron’s teaching evaluations are always well above the engineering school mean,” Chen said. “He always pays attention to students’ understanding of the material, problem-solving ability and class participation.”

As director of the two-year engineering program, Mattis helps students find internship opportunities and assists them in transferring to the University’s Pittsburgh campus to complete  their degrees. He regularly communicates with the Swanson School of Engineering to coordinate the UPB engineering program and keep its curriculum up-to-date.

Mattis has taught at Pitt-Bradford since 1985. He was a W.C. Foster Fellows Visiting Fellow at the U.S. Department of State Verification and Compliance Bureau, Office of Nuclear Affairs, and has served as a consultant for the department.


William C. de Groat, distinguished professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, has received the Ferdinand C. Valentine Award from the New York Academy of Medicine. He was recognized for his studies of the neural control of the lower urinary tract and the mechanisms underlying voiding dysfunction after spinal cord injury.

The Valentine Medal and Lectureship has been awarded annually for more than 50 years to those who have advanced the science and art of urology.


Edward M. Stricker, dean of the University Honors College, Bernice L. & Morton S. Lerner Chair and University Professor of Neuroscience, has won the 2015 Distinguished Career Award from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

The society is an international organization of scientists who are interested in the biological bases of food and fluid intakes.

Stricker had an active research laboratory for 41 years (1967-2008), during which time his work was funded continuously by Canadian and U.S. federal agencies. His research focused on the brain mechanisms that integrated control of water and NaCl consumption with complementary neuroendocrine secretions and kidney function. He also helped formulate and published widely on a popular model of recovery of function following brain damage that relates closely to Parkinson’s disease.


Anthony A. Grace has won the William K. Warren Research Award, which is given every two years to a senior investigator who has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of schizophrenia.

Grace is a distinguished professor of neuroscience and a faculty member in psychology and psychiatry.

His research interests lie at the interface of neurobiology and psychiatry. Experiments conducted in his laboratory combine in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological recordings of identified neurons with behavioral and neuroanatomical techniques to study central dopaminergic systems, with the ultimate goal of determining the neurobiological correlates of mental disorders and the modes of action of psychotherapeutic drugs.

His ongoing studies into the neurobiology of schizophrenia involve study of the interaction of the prefrontal cortex and antipsychotic drugs with subcortical dopamine systems, and examining the impact of developmental disruption on limbic system function, as a model for the pathophysiological changes underlying schizophrenia in humans.


School of Education staff member and Pitt student Teresa Phipps Lane has won the 2015 Newman Award for International Intergenerational Project Initiatives.

The grant provides funding for students in the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) to pursue programmatic development or research initiatives that enrich the lives of the citizenry of a developing country.

Lane will use the grant to travel this summer to Bolivia, where she will work with indigenous Quechua children and elders on a trilingual children’s book.

Lane also is a linguistic anthropology major — concentrating on rural indigenous populations — in the College of General Studies and is pursuing certificates in global studies and Latin American studies in UCIS.


GillSandra L. Kane-Gill, a faculty member in pharmacy and therapeutics in the School of Pharmacy, has been appointed to a three-year term as an editorial board member of Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory, a peer-reviewed quarterly journal.


The University’s Innovation Institute has appointed Robert Stein as director of its Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE). Stein had been serving as interim director since early 2014.

He joined the IEE in 2005 and has held various senior leadership roles serving Pittsburgh’s growing entrepreneurial, family and closely held businesses.

Under Stein’s leadership, the IEE expanded its service offerings to help economically depressed communities in the region through grants from the Small Business Administration and the Economic Development Administration.

Pamela Ondeck, faculty member in management at Pitt- Greensburg, has won the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award.

The award recognizes excellence in classroom instruction, as well as devotion to the development of students. Ondeck combines 15 years of experience in corporate accounting with more than 25 years of classroom interaction to create a learning environment that develops the ability of her students to think in an independent and logical manner. She teaches the range of accounting classes, including intermediate accounting, advanced accounting, financial accounting, corporate financial accounting, accounting information systems and auditing.


skidmoreElizabeth Skidmore, a faculty member in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Occupational Therapy, has been inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Association Roster of Fellows, which recognizes occupational therapists who have made a significant contribution to the continuing education and professional development of AOTA members.


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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