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September 3, 2015

What’s New at Pitt: People


The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year returned last week: 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

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher addresses the Class of 2019 at freshman convocation Aug. 26.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher addresses the Class of 2019 at New Student Convocation Aug. 26.

Felix Germain comes to the Department of Africana Studies as an assistant professor from a faculty position at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

He completed his PhD in African diaspora studies at the University of California-Berkeley in 2007. His research focuses on racism and social inequality in France and the United States, Caribbean migration to France and the U.S., labor relations and community organizations in the U.S. and France, contemporary Caribbean societies and gender relations.


Corinne Richards-Zawacki joins the Department of Biological Sciences as an associate professor from a faculty position in Tulane University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

She succeeds Rick Relyea as director of the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. Relyea left Pitt last year.

Richards-Zawacki earned her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. She uses amphibians as model systems.


Calum Matheson and Paul Johnson join the Department of Communication as assistant professors of public deliberation and civic life.

Matheson, whose PhD is from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, will lead the William Pitt Debating Union. Johnson, who completed his PhD at the University of Iowa, had been a non-tenure-stream lecturer and associate director of the debating union.

Lynn Clarke is director of speaking in the disciplines and director of public speaking. Her PhD is from Northwestern.

Eric English is a visiting lecturer and associate director of the William Pitt Debating Union. He earned his PhD at Pitt.


The Department of Economics welcomes David Huffman and Sofia Moroni.

Huffman, a full professor, received his PhD from Berkeley. He is joining the department from Oxford and has previously held positions at IZA in Bonn and at Swarthmore College. He will direct the University’s Experimental Economics Laboratory.

Huffman’s research lies in the areas of behavioral and labor economics. He will teach a graduate course in Behavioral and Experimental Labor Economics and undergraduate courses in Intermediate Microeconomics.

Moroni, an assistant professor, received her PhD in economics from Yale. Her main field is theoretical microeconomics, with an emphasis on game theory and contract theory.


3Benjamin Miller and Julian Gill-Peterson have joined the English department as assistant professors.

Miller, faculty member in composition with a specialty in digital research and pedagogy, earned his PhD at City University of New York and holds a bachelor’s degree in near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard and an MFA in poetry from Columbia.

Gill-Peterson, who recently received his PhD from Rutgers, is a faculty member in 19th and 20th-century children’s literature. His research has focused on gender studies, and he will bring expertise in queer theory to the children’s literature and childhood studies program.


Erin Peters, a lecturer in curatorial studies, occupies a new joint appointment based half-time in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and half-time at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. She earned her PhD in art history at the University of Iowa, with a specialization in Egyptian art. She spent two years as a research scholar in the Department of Egyptian Art and in the MediaLab Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Peters will teach one course a year in Pitt’s museum studies program. As part of her curatorial role at the Carnegie Museums, she will mentor interns while forging a new initiative to bridge the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Andy Warhol Museum.


Adriana Kovashka has joined the computer science department as an assistant professor. Her PhD is from the University of Texas-Austin. Her primary research area is computer vision, with overlap in machine learning, information retrieval, crowdsourcing and natural language processing.

Nick Farnan, who earned his BS and PhD in computer science at Pitt, now is a lecturer in the department. He had been a visiting lecturer and is the college in high school program liaison for the department.


Diego Holstein replaces Patrick Manning as director of the World History Center. Manning stepped down last month.


Raja Adal joins the Department of History as an assistant professor from a faculty position at the University of Cincinnati. Adal earned his PhD from Harvard. His research focuses on the introduction of art and music education in early 20th-century Egypt and Japan.


Lucas Mentch, a PhD candidate at Cornell, joins the Department of Statistics as an assistant professor. His research focuses on statistical learning theory (machine learning), nonparametric statistics, statistical computing and mathematical statistics.


Joining the music department faculty are assistant professors Shalini Ayyagari of ethnomusicology and Michael Heller and Aaron Johnson, both of jazz studies.

Ayyagari specializes in the music of South Asia.

Her PhD is from the University of California-Berkeley. Her research has explored the connections between South Asian regional music, subaltern studies, development studies and cultural tourism studies. She also teaches, publishes and conducts research on Bollywood film music.

In addition, Ayyagari is a tabla, violin and Balinese gamelan player.

Heller, most recently a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and a visiting lecturer here, studies musician-organized jazz festivals, the cultural history of the 1960s and 1970s New York loft scene, archival practices of jazz musicians, improvisation as social practice, sound studies and sensory ecology.

He has coordinated an oral history project with jazz musicians in New York, and works with the Society for Ethnomusicology’s special-interest group on historical ethnomusicology.

Heller also is a saxophonist, composer and ensemble director. His PhD is from Harvard.

Johnson completed a degree in musicology at Columbia in 2014 after a career as an electrical engineer with Telcordia and a jazz performer in New York.

Johnson has theoretical expertise in critical race theory. His research focuses on music and media in jazz.

He will teach seminars on topics in jazz as well as courses in improvisation, arranging and orchestration. He also will offer new undergraduate courses in jazz addressing issues such as race and ethnicity, media and cultural politics.

Johnson comes to Pitt from Bates College, where he was a visiting assistant professor.

No matter who, there was a T-shirt for you during last week’s Arrival Survival: T-shirts for selfies, T-shirts for Arrival Survival volunteers and supervisors, T-shirts for Pitt parents.

No matter who, there was a T-shirt for you during last week’s Arrival Survival: T-shirts for selfies, T-shirts for Arrival Survival volunteers and supervisors, T-shirts for Pitt parents.


In the College of General Studies, Boryana Dobreva has been named director of academic programs. She will be responsible for the development, management and assessment of the college’s academic programs and instructional curricula.

Dobreva comes to Pitt from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where she most recently served as director of global education.

She holds an MA and PhD in German studies from Pitt in addition to an MA in German philology from the University of Shumen, Bulgaria.

Steven Hernandez is veterans’ benefits coordinator and Leah Albert is outreach coordinator for the Office of Veterans Services, College of General Studies.

Hernandez, formerly department chair of the Air Force ROTC program at the University, recently retired from the United States Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. In his new position, Hernandez will be responsible for managing all military education benefits for student veterans at Pitt.

A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, he earned a master’s degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, and in computer resources and information management from Webster University.

Albert comes to Pitt from Chatham University where she was the transfer admissions counselor. She holds an MA in higher education from Geneva College. In her new position, Albert will be reaching out to prospective military-affiliated students and assisting them in their transition to the University.


In the Department of Philosophy:

Jennifer Whiting has rejoined the department as a professor of philosophy. Whiting taught at Pitt 1986-97, and has taught at Harvard, Cornell and the University of Toronto. She works in ancient philosophy — primarily Aristotle and Plato — and in ethics and in philosophy of mind. Her PhD is from Cornell.

New assistant professors are: J. Dmitri Gallow, Joseph “Jed” Lewinsohn and Erica Shumener.

Gallow earned his PhD at the University of Michigan. His work in metaphysics and the philosophy of science focuses on causation, counterfactuals, chance and the relations between them. In epistemology, he is interested in the rational norms governing partial belief states and their relationship to the kinds of rational norms that govern full belief states. He will offer a symbolic logic course and a graduate seminar in epistemology this fall.

Lewinsohn holds a PhD from New York University and a JD from Yale. His current research is primarily in moral and political philosophy, jurisprudence and the philosophical foundations of commercial law. He also has strong interests in early modern philosophy and the philosophy of Jewish law. Lewinsohn will be a Harvard Society Fellow for 2015-17.

Shumener, whose PhD is from New York University, works primarily in metaphysics and has interests in philosophy of science and epistemology. She will offer Concepts of Human Nature this term.

Also returning to the department is Thomas Berry, who earned his PhD here in 1998. Berry has been appointed a senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies. He most recently taught at the University of Toronto and also was a faculty member at Cornell. Berry’s areas of research are modern philosophy and social and political philosophy. He will offer Philosophy and Public Issues this fall.


Joining the Department of Political Science as assistant professors are Michaël Aklin and Michael MacKenzie.

Aklin holds a PhD in politics from New York University. Previously, he obtained a licence in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and an MA in political economy from the University of Essex (U.K.) He spent the 2014-15 academic year as a fellow at the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics at Penn and has been a visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

His work focuses on international and comparative political economy, in particular on understanding why some countries are able to reduce their vulnerability to major risks such as financial crises or environmental catastrophes.

MacKenzie holds a PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in political science and social statistics from McGill University.

In 2006-07 he worked as a policy analyst and facilitator with the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. Before coming to Pitt he was a Democracy Fellow and post-doctoral researcher at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard. His research interests include democratic theory, intergenerational relations, deliberation, political representation, institutional design and public engagement. Much of his work focuses on the political theory of intergenerational relations and the challenges of making long-term decisions in democratic systems.


Marc Coutanche and Karina Schumann join the Department of Psychology as assistant professors. Coutanche, also a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, specializes in neuroscience, neuroimaging and memory. His research is at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Coutanche investigates how connections — at the cognitive and neural levels — form within memory networks. He earned his PhD at Penn and most recently was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale.

Schumann’s research focuses on the psychology of conflict resolution and factors that help people build bridges and connect with one another, particularly under challenging circumstances. She completed her PhD in social psychology at the University of Waterloo and most recently was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford.

Former visiting lecturer Jennifer Cousins has been named a lecturer in the department. Cousins earned her PhD in educational psychology from the University of Arizona and completed a post doctoral fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Pitt. She will teach undergraduate courses including Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods and Evolutionary Psychology.


The Department of Religious Studies welcomes Jeanette Jouili, assistant professor of contemporary/modern Islam, and Benjamin Gordon, Perlow lecturer of classical Judaism and the ancient Near East.

Jouili authored “Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe.” Most recently a visiting assistant professor at the College of Charleston, Jouili previously held postdoctoral fellowships at Leiden, Amsterdam and Duke universities and was a Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell. Her PhD is from École des Hautes Étude en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

Jouili’s research and teaching interests include the anthropology of religion, Islam, Muslim diasporas, secular governance, pluralism, neoliberalism, subjectivity, ethics, gender and popular culture. Her main geographical areas are Western Europe and North Africa.

Gordon holds a PhD from Duke University, where he was the Lerner-Perilman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Jewish Studies for the past two years. Trained as a religionist and archaeologist with extensive textual and excavation experience, Gordon’s areas of specialization include the Jewish priesthood and temple cult, early history of Jewish architecture, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, the role of religion in ancient land management systems and religion and material culture and ecology. Gordon also will coordinate the Jewish studies certificate program.


Tarun Banerjee joins the Department of Sociology as an assistant professor. He earned his PhD in sociology at Stony Brook University this year, completing a dissertation on “Business Unity and the Collective Action of Large Corporations Faced With Protests in the U.S., 2005-10.” He will teach courses in quantitative methods, social movements and organizations, among other topics.


Nancy Allen has been named director of the Advising Center in the Dietrich School Office of Undergraduate Studies. She most recently was assistant dean in the College of Lifelong Learning at Immaculata University. She also has served as director of academic advising in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova; director of the Pre-Major Academic Advising Center at West Chester University; and associate dean of the college and dean of continuing education at Arcadia University, in addition to other professional positions and consulting roles.

Allen earned all of her degrees in English: a bachelor’s from Bucknell; an MA from Duquesne; and a PhD from New York University.


Joining the tenured/tenure-stream faculty as assistant professors in the Dietrich school are:

Miler Lee of biological sciences, whose PhD is from Penn’s School of Medicine; Seth Childers of chemistry, whose PhD is from Emory; Eitan Shelef of geology and planetary science, whose PhD is from Stanford; James Pickett of history, a PhD candidate at Princeton; Brian Batell of physics and astronomy, whose PhD is from the University of Minnesota; Michael Hatridge of physics and astronomy, whose PhD is from UC-Berkeley, and Jennifer Silk of psychology, whose PhD is from Temple.


Non-tenure stream faculty in the Dietrich school include:

— In biological sciences, lecturer 2 Suzanna Gribble, whose PhD is from the University of Utah; lecturers Erica McGreevy and Kathryn Gardner, and laboratory instructors Kim Payne and Jessica Robertson. McGreevy, Payne and Robertson hold PhDs from Pitt; Gardner earned hers at the University of North Carolina.

— In English, clinical assistant professor Matthew Lavin, whose PhD is from the University of Iowa.

— In Hispanic languages and literatures, lecturer Dolores Lima, whose PhD is from the University of Maryland.

— In history of art and architecture, lecturer Isabelle Chartier, who holds an MA from Université de Montréal.

— In linguistics, assistant instructors Gretchen Aiyangar, whose MA is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Kenneth DeHaan, whose MS is from Rochester Institute of Technology.

— In physics and astronomy, lab instructor Istvan Danko, whose PhD is from Vanderbilt.

— In psychology, lecturer Jennifer Cousins, whose PhD is from the University of Arizona.

— In theatre arts, lecturer Robert Frankenberry, whose master’s degree is from Carnegie Mellon.


New chairs and program directors in the Dietrich school are:

Kathleen Musante, chair, anthropology; Courtney Weikle-Mills, director of the children’s literature program; Jacques Bromberg, acting chair, classics; Taieb Znati, chair, computer science; Lise Vesterlund, chair, economics; Randall Halle, chair, German; Deane Root, chair, music; Robert Batterman, chair, philosophy, and Adam Leibovich, chair, physics and astronomy.



Five Pitt-Bradford staff members were promoted this summer to help lead UPB’s newly established Office of Enrollment Management. James Baldwin, formerly assistant dean of academic affairs, registrar and director of Science in Motion, assumed responsibility for the new office as its vice president of enrollment management.

Alex Nazemetz, director of admissions, and Melissa Ibañez, director of financial aid, both were promoted to associate vice president of enrollment management. Bob Dilks, director of transfer and nontraditional student recruitment, was promoted to assistant vice president of enrollment management. And Christina Marrone, previously associate registrar and assistant director of enrollment services, was promoted to registrar and director of enrollment services.


Darnell Barksdale and Ryan Coll are assistant directors in residential life and housing at UPB. Barksdale comes to Pitt-Bradford from Jackson State University, where he was residence life coordinator and assisted with intramural sports. Coll’s most recent collegiate experience was as a hall director at Western Wyoming Community College.


There have been changes in UPB athletics. Bret Butler, head men’s baseball coach and assistant athletic director, has been named interim athletic director following the resignation last month of Lori Mazza.

Two new coaches will be on the sidelines of UPB women’s sports this academic year. Sean Brown Sr. will lead the women’s basketball team. Brown comes to Pitt-Bradford after spending eight seasons as the top assistant with the Frostburg State men’s basketball program.

Assistant women’s volleyball coach Tom Roof will take over the duties of head coach this fall after former head volleyball coach Tina Phillips resigned to focus on coaching softball and fulfilling her role as assistant athletic director. Roof has helped coach the Panthers for six years.

In July, Pitt-Bradford named former YES Network correspondent Josh Horton as its new sports information director. Horton comes to Pitt-Bradford from Misericordia University, where he was the assistant sports information director.


Ryan K. Sowers is Pitt-Bradford’s new assistant director for annual giving. A 2015 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Sowers was an intern with Bowling Green’s corporate and foundation relations department. He raised more than $40,000 over two years while serving as chair of the university’s first undergraduate capital campaign.


On the academic side, Melissa Odorisio is the new laboratory administrator, teaching general chemistry, general chemistry labs, science education courses and introductory math.


New full-time faculty members are Claudio DiMarco, assistant professor of mathematics and director of the mathematics learning center; Ovidiu D. Frantescu, assistant professor of petroleum technology and director of the petroleum technology program; Joshua B. Groffman, assistant professor of music; Tracee L. Howell, assistant professor of English, director of the composition program and director of the writing center; Shelley A. Jack, visiting assistant professor of marketing; Shelly R. Klinek, assistant professor of health and physical education and director of the health and physical education program; Catherine A. Kula, visiting instructor and assistant director of the writing center; Sarah A. Lonzi, visiting instructor of exercise science; Duane E. Mitchell, assistant professor of business management; and Terry L. Stanley, visiting instructor of education.



Arjang Assad became Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration on July 1. He succeeded John T. Delaney, who stepped down after nine years and is serving on the faculty. Assad has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, most recently as dean of the University at Buffalo.


Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education

New staff in CIDDE for Pitt Online are instructional designers Diana Dill and Rae Mancilla and instructional technologist Amanda Piccolini.

New to CIDDE’s educational technology staff are instructional technology support specialists Sean Guesman and Cressida Magaro.

Joining CIDDE as a teaching support program coordinator is Jessica Knab.


Dental Medicine

Elizabeth Leslie is a new assistant professor at the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics (CCDG) in the School of Dental Medicine. She was a post-doctoral student at CCDG. New CCDG staff are MyoungKeun Lee, a biostatistician who will work on CCDG analysis projects, including genome-wide association study data; Jessica Ferraro, a research assistant for the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA); Toshiki Soejima, a research assistant for Pittsburgh Orofacial Cleft Studies and a former CCDG student; Andrea Warzynski and Helen Hawkey, clinical research coordinators and hygienists for COHRA; Judi Resick, research operations manager; and Joel Anderton, database manager.


Richard Montandon has joined the faculty as an assistant professor in dental anesthesiology.

New in the Department of Dental Hygiene are clinical instructor Elizabeth Lillios and clinical assistant professor Alicia Wicks.

Geoffrey Oakley, clinical instructor, and Antonia Teruel, assistant professor, have joined the diagnostic sciences department.

New assistant professors in oral biology are T. Jayaraman and Elizabeth Leslie.

Edward Adlesic has joined the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as a clinical assistant professor.

New faculty in orthodontics are Harrison Jo, adjunct instructor, and Lei Wang, visiting professor.

Jeffrey Bono has been named a clinical instructor and Danielle M. Cooper and Katelyn Woods are new adjunct assistant professors in pediatric dentistry.

Sarmad Bakuri is a new clinical assistant professor and Satish Kumar is a new assistant professor in periodontics.

Prosthodontics welcomes Troy Eans and Mara Mangini, clinical assistant professors.

The Department of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care has added clinical assistant professors Andrew Chang, Maurice Lewis and Gregory Semashko; assistant professors Sarah Grafton and Keith Richmond; and clinical instructors Alison Koop, Janel Marcelino and Jacqueline Scott.


Disability Resources and Services

Leigh Culley was appointed director effective July 1. Culley had been the interim director since last October, and was coordinator of services prior to that. She earned her BA in psychology at the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Education in Counseling from Pitt.



Gretchen Givens Generett is the community partnership fellow-in-residence at the Center for Urban Education. She is taking a yearlong leave of absence from Duquesne University, where she is a faculty member in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and director of the University Council for Educational Administration Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice, housed at Duquesne.


Cara Bliss, visiting clinical instructor and coordinator of the MS program in applied developmental psychology, and Brian Galla, assistant professor of motivation, have joined the faculty in the Department of Psychology in Education.

Bliss, a nationally certified school psychologist, has research interests in school-based mental health, social and emotional learning, implementation science, cross-cultural implementation of evidence-based programs and optimizing specially designed programming for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Galla, also a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, holds a PhD in educational psychology from UCLA and degrees from Notre Dame and Syracuse. He most recently was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Penn.

Galla’s laboratory and classroom field research aims to identify noncognitive factors that support academic achievement and positive youth development. He focuses in particular on the study of self-control and has a strong interest in mindfulness-based approaches to enhancing self-control and their potential to improve both health and academic achievement.


Byeong-Young Cho and Elizabeth Hufnagel have joined the Department of Instruction and Learning. Cho, an assistant professor of literacy and English language arts and a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, most recently was an assistant professor at Iowa State. Cho previously taught language and literature in secondary schools in Seoul, South Korea. His PhD in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on reading education is from the University of Maryland. Cho’s research interests focus on text comprehension and new literacies, reading engagement, reading assessment and disciplinary reading. Cho has expertise in reading comprehension and multiple-text comprehension. His research is focused on competent readers’ use of Internet reading strategies and conceptualizing and assessing higher-order thinking in reading.

Hufnagel, an assistant professor of science education, earned her PhD in curriculum and instruction, science education, at Penn State in 2014 and has been a visiting assistant professor at Pitt for the last year. She was a high school science teacher and a professional development instructor at the Urban Ecology Institute, both in Massachusetts. Before she was a teacher, Hufnagel was an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member and worked as an environmental scientist. Her current research centers on the intersection between emotions and learning about environmental science topics using discourse analysis.


Christopher Kline, a former faculty member in the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, has joined the Department of Health and Physical Activity as an assistant professor. With a PhD in exercise science from the University of South Carolina, Kline focuses his research on bridging the fields of exercise science and sleep medicine, specifically the bidirectional relationship between physical activity and sleep, the cardiometabolic health consequences of poor sleep and how sleep may be an important pathway through which physical activity improves health.


Tessa McCarthy is an assistant professor joining the Department of Instruction and Learning in the vision studies program from North Carolina Central University. She graduated from Vanderbilt with a PhD in special education with an emphasis on visual disabilities and has more than a decade’s experience as an instructor and consultant in orientation and mobility and visual impairments.


Jill Perry, executive director of the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate, is joining Pitt’s education faculty as a non-tenure-stream associate professor. Perry’s PhD in international education policy is from the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on professional doctorate preparation in education, organizational change in higher education, teacher professionalization and national/international teacher issues. She chairs the research and innovation advisory board of the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association.



In the Department of Bioengineering, new faculty are Takashi Kozai, assistant professor, and Fatima Syed-Picard, visiting research assistant professor.

Kozai received his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on understanding the biological tissue response to implantable technologies, especially in the cortex. Kozai’s research employs in-vivo multi-photon microscopy, functionally evoked electrophysiology, post-mortem multi-channel immunohistochemistry, impedance spectroscopy, device design and emerging biomaterial tools. He has invented several devices that led to two patents, three pending patents and a startup company.

Syed-Picard is investigating mechanisms driving tissue patterning in engineered constructs and developing methods to manipulate tissue patterning to generate personalized engineered tissues for regenerative therapy. She received an NIH Pathway to Independence Award to use principles of developmental biology to enhance craniofacial regeneration. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering are from the University of Michigan. She was an intramural research training fellow at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research before coming to Pitt, where she completed her PhD in bioengineering in 2013 as an NIH predoctoral fellow with a Ruth Kirschstein Individual National Research Service Award. Her graduate research focused on stem cell biology and scaffold-free approaches for craniofacial tissue engineering. Syed-Picard was a postdoctoral fellow in Pitt’s Department of Ophthalmology through the ocular tissue engineering and regenerative ophthalmology program, where she investigated the potential of dental stem cells for ocular regeneration.


In the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, new assistant professors are Susan Fullerton and Jason Shoemaker.

Fullerton earned her bachelor of science and PhD in chemical engineering from Penn State. Her research focuses on the development of materials for low-power electronics and next-generation batteries. She is a co-PI in the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology, which aims to develop low-power transistors and memory using 2-D materials that are only one atom or molecule thick.

Fullerton uses polymer electrolytes to enable the exploration of new regimes of transport in the 2-D materials, with the goal of developing a transistor with an operating voltage lower than the traditional complementary metal oxide semiconductor.  She also uses electrolytes for the development of a 2-D flash memory that would shrink memory to the ultimate limit of scaling. Fullerton and her co-PI, Alan Seabaugh of Notre Dame, are using ion transport to control electron transport in graphene — a single layer of carbon atoms.

Shoemaker earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara.

He comes to Pitt from the University of Tokyo, where he was a project assistant professor and computations group team leader and head of the systems biology research unit within the Kawaoka virology unit.

He previously was a research associate with the Japan Science and Technology’s ERATO Infection-Induced Host Responses Project, and visiting researcher at the Systems Biology Institute. He has published two patents in Japan.


In the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, John T. Sebastian is the McKamish director of the construction management program, and Leanne Gilbertson, Carla Ng and David Sanchez are new assistant professors.

Sebastian is president of a management consulting firm, Sebastian Consulting Solutions, LLC. He has more than 35 years of experience in the construction industry, ranging across a wide array of market segments from hotels and resorts to education, retail, aviation, multi-family, courthouses, correctional facilities, energy, highways, bridges, industrial and health care.

Projects have included design-build, design assist, general construction and construction management delivery methods for both public and private clients.

He earned his BS in civil engineering and MBA at Pitt.

Gilbertson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hamilton College and spent several years as a secondary school teacher before earning her PhD in environmental engineering at Yale. She completed postdoctoral research in Yale’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering.

Her doctoral research identified underlying material properties that govern carbon nanotube cytotoxicity serving as a foundation for the development of safer nanomaterial design guidelines. Gilbertson’s ongoing research aims to inform sustainable design of emerging materials and products to ensure that the realization of novel technologies offer improved functional performance and are inherently safer.

Ng, who will join the department in spring, earned her PhD in chemical engineering at Northwestern, where she was part of a team that modeled the bioaccumulation of legacy contaminants in Great Lakes food webs heavily altered by chemical pollution, species invasions and ongoing climate change.

Her postdoctoral appointment at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich focused on investigating the hazardous properties of industrial chemicals and their transformation products. She later was promoted to senior scientist, leading her own research team in projects investigating pesticide fate in tropical environments and the unique bioaccumulation behavior of perfluorinated alkyl acids.

Ng’s research interests are organized around the intersection of chemistry and biology: the development of mechanistic models for chemical fate in organisms, with a focus on emerging contaminants; understanding the links between ecological structures and socioeconomic systems and their influence on chemical fate; and investigating how key drivers of chemical fate affect the resilience of ecosystems — including human populations — to multiple anthropogenic pressures.

Sanchez, who also is assistant director of education and outreach for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, directs the design labs that focus on using sustainable design concepts to address energy and water grand challenges.

His current projects include renewable electrode materials for microbial fuel cells and the Electro-Fenton process; improving the energy efficiency of recirculating aquaponic systems; exploring the use of rapid prototyping for environmental sensors; and incorporating sustainable design/innovation into engineering curriculums.

He is a director for Pitt’s Design EXPO and a variety of the Mascaro center’s sustainability programs including the Manchester Academic Charter School “green week” and the teach the teacher program.


In the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, new assistant professor Samuel Dickerson received his BS in computer engineering and his master’s and PhD degrees in electrical engineering, all from Pitt.

Dickerson’s research interests lie in the area of electronics, circuits and embedded systems and, in particular, technologies in those areas that have biomedical applications.

He has expertise in the design and simulation of mixed-signal integrated circuits and systems that incorporate the use of both digital and analog electronics, as well as optics, microfluidics and devices that interface with the biological world. Dickerson was co-founder and president of Nanophoretics LLC, where he led the research and development of a novel dielectrophoresis-based lab-on-chip technology for rapidly detecting drug-resistant bacteria strains.


In the Department of Industrial Engineering, new assistant professors are Hoda Bidkhori and Bo Zeng.

Bidkhori, who holds a PhD in applied mathematics from MIT, comes to Pitt from the operations research and statistics group at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where she was a lecturer and postdoctoral associate. Her research focuses on decision-making under uncertainty and the development and implementation of robust and computationally tractable solutions for problems arising in manufacturing, logistics and business analytics.

Zeng, who comes from the University of South Florida, received his PhD from Purdue with a focus on operations research. His research interests include the development of solution methodologies for mixed integer programs (MIPs), stochastic and robust optimization, multilevel MIPs and sequential games, as well as their applications in energy systems, infrastructure systems, health care and bioinformatics.


In the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, new faculty are Sangyeop Lee, assistant professor; Xudong Zhang, associate professor; Wissam Saidi, visiting associate professor; and Irene Mena, visiting assistant professor.

Lee earned a PhD from MIT. His areas of expertise are in energy transport and conversion in micro- and nano-scales. Lee’s current research focuses on hydrodynamic phonon transport in low-dimensional materials, multi-scale simulation of phonon and electron transport from first principles and new materials for active control of thermal transport.

Zhang holds a PhD from the University of Michigan.  Zhang’s research program is focused on modeling, analysis and simulation of the human musculoskeletal system and its multi-scale components during functional, particularly dynamic movements, for advancement of fundamental knowledge, and improvement of injury prevention and treatment, human performance, and human-machine interactions and system design.

Saidi earned a PhD in physics at Ohio State. Saidi’s research group is focused on materials design from the nanoscale using quantum mechanical and multiscale simulations.

Saidi’s expertise is in atomistic modeling using approaches that span different accuracies and different length scales including quantum chemistry, quantum Monte Carlo, density-functional theory and force-field methods. Current research interests and applications of Saidi’s group include solar cells, electrochemistry, photocatalysis, corrosion, nanoparticles growth and morphology, ferroelectric oxides and Raman spectroscopy.

Mena’s area of expertise is graduate student professional development — specifically, how graduate students are prepared for and socialized into their future careers. Her current research interests include first-year engineering, developing engineering students’ professional skills and preparing engineering graduate teaching assistants for their teaching responsibilities.

She holds a PhD in engineering education from Purdue.


Facilities Management

Scott Bernotas was named associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management, effective Aug. 3.

Bernotas most recently was director of facilities and environment for the United States Naval Academy. In 29 years of service in the Naval Civil Engineer Corps, Bernotas led facility organizations across the U.S. and overseas.

A professional engineer, he holds a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, both in civil engineering.



Pitt-Greensburg Staff Association president Matt Zidek and secretary Sherra Moors will continue in their offices for 2015-16. New as officers are vice president Bob Smith and treasurer Linda Soltis.

Zidek is the assistant director of admissions for transfer and continuing education; Moors is an event coordinator with conferencing services; Smith is a senior systems analyst in computing services and telecommunications; and Soltis is the maintenance coordinator in building and plant maintenance.

Hired to full-time faculty positions at Pitt-Greensburg are: Meng Rowland, assistant professor of biochemistry; Victoria Causer, visiting instructor of statistics; Silvinia Orsatti, visiting instructor of Spanish; John Float, visiting instructor of mathematics; and Beth Uhrinek, visiting instructor of mathematics.

Hired recently to staff positions at UPG were Sarah Adams, police officer, and Joe Bleehash, director of plant maintenance.

In UPG athletics, assistant coach Kylynn Smith was promoted to head coach of the UPG women’s volleyball program. Smith is a 2010 UPG graduate who earned a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dan Keefe was promoted to head coach of the men’s soccer program after serving as assistant and associate head coach. Josh Weiss, a three-year starter and two-year captain for Pitt-Greensburg, was named assistant men’s soccer coach.

Two familiar faces will be coaching UPG’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams. DeeAnn Waters was appointed head cross-country coach and Erin Eaton was appointed interim assistant cross-country coach. The two women also coach the Pitt-Greensburg women’s basketball team: Eaton is head coach and Waters is assistant coach.


Information Sciences

7Alka Singh has joined the School of Information Sciences staff as its internship coordinator. Singh has been working to develop professional placement opportunities for iSchool students.


Bre Evans joined the staff as director of marketing and communications.

Faculty member Kip Currier is deputy chair of the library and information science program this academic year.

Leona Mitchell is a visiting professor of practice. The former IBM executive brings 30-plus years of business, entrepreneurial, technical, sales and leadership expertise. Mitchell is an alumna and former member of the school’s board of visitors.

Leanne Bowler has been named director of the Sara Fine Institute for Interpersonal Behavior and Technology, which explores humanistic questions about the relationships between people, information, data and technology.

Rosta Farzan is taking over as lead faculty member and co-PI of the iSchool Inclusion Institute, which encourages students from underrepresented populations to consider academic and career opportunities in information sciences.



New faculty at Pitt-Johnstown include: Marissa Brainard, laboratory instructor in biology; John Byrne, assistant professor, business management; Laura Dietz, assistant professor, psychology; Christopher Gabany, instructor, electrical engineering technology; Elizabeth Harkins, assistant professor, special education; Shawn Ingalls, assistant professor, justice administration and criminology; Mehdei Kafaeikivi, assistant professor, civil engineering technology; Zhen Lu, instructor, chemistry; Kurtis Pierce, instructor, respiratory care and director of clinical education for respiratory care/assistant director of allied health programs; and Michael Stoneham, associate professor of English and division chair of Humanities.

New staff at UPJ include: Emilee Baran, events manager; Nathan Cade, cleaner; Sui Chen, director of international recruitment; E. Ryan Clancy, admissions counselor; Dominick DiLoreto, area coordinator; David Finney, grounds supervisor; Shaquille Jenkins, cleaner; Lindsey Matson, student accounts specialist; Angela McMichael, library specialist; Holly Miller, building services supervisor; and David Wirfel, maintenance worker.



David Boone is a new faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. He joins the department after completing his PhD at Vanderbilt University and a Susan Komen Foundation-funded postdoctoral fellowship at Pitt with Adrian Lee.

As an assistant professor, his main teaching responsibility will be to run and develop the computer science, biology and biomedical informatics high-school outreach program into a deeper program based loosely on the junior year of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt, where he was a graduate teaching fellow. Boone will continue his research focused on the regulation and function of long noncoding RNAs in breast cancer.


The cardiothoracic transplantation program welcomed Matthew Morrell as medical director of lung transplant and welcomed back J.W. Awori Hayanga as a lung transplant surgeon.

Hayanga was a cardiothoracic transplant fellow in 2012 and brings training in cardiothoracic and critical care surgery, as well as extensive experience in treating patients with lung cancer and other malignancies. Morrell has been a member of UPMC’s clinical, research and administrative pulmonary teams.


The school’s new chair of the Department of Anesthesiology is Howard B. Gutstein, who comes to Pitt from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Gutstein’s research interests involve developing novel analytical methods and technologies to identify proteomic biomarkers, signaling mechanisms and epigenetic changes relevant to addiction, opioid tolerance and cancer pain. Gutstein earned his MD at Johns Hopkins University.


Mark Gladwin, distinguished professor of medicine and Jack D. Myers Professor of Internal Medicine, is the new chair of the Department of Medicine. Before joining the University in 2008, Gladwin was chief of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Pulmonary and Vascular Medicine Branch, where he investigated nitrite and nitric oxide in vascular medicine.

Gladwin received his BS and MD degrees from the University of Miami’s six-year honors program in medical education.


The school added 11 new faculty members to its Academy of Master Educators (AME). Jamie Johnston, professor of medicine and clinical director of the Renal-Electrolyte Division in the Department of Medicine, is AME director. Members are nominated by their peers. Those elected to the academy help other faculty members develop their teaching skills, and they are supported and encouraged to cultivate their own passion for teaching. Newly elected AME members were: Chung-Chou (Joyce) Chang, medicine, clinical and translational science and biostatistics (Graduate School of Public Health); Marie C. DeFrances, pathology; Stephanie B. Dewar, pediatrics; Ankur A. Doshi, emergency medicine; Scott Herrle, medicine; Jenifer E. Lee, medicine; Julie B. McCausland, emergency medicine and medicine; David G. Metro, anesthesiology; Charissa B. Pacella, emergency medicine; Tetsuro Sakai, anesthesiology; Reed Van Deusen, medicine; and Shanta M. Zimmer, medicine.


The School of Nursing has added new faculty members.

• In the Department of Health and Community Systems, Young Ji Lee is an assistant professor. Previously, Lee was a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. She earned her PhD at Columbia in nursing informatics.

Britney Kepler, an assistant professor in the department, recently earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Pitt. Her primary clinical interest lies in schizophrenia focused on auditory hallucinations. As a registered nurse, she worked at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) with various patient populations, including those with mood disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders. The majority of her practice has been with patients suffering from chronic and refractory schizophrenia on the transitional recovery unit at WPIC.

• In the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, professor Laura Fennimore has more than 30 years of experience in health care management. She recently served as the director of clinical programs at UPMC Health Plan, overseeing the case management team. Prior to that she had a number of leadership roles at UPMC Presbyterian. She earned both her master’s degree with specialization in oncology nursing and her doctorate in nursing practice with an emphasis in nursing administration from Pitt, after obtaining her bachelor’s in nursing science from West Virginia University. She has been an adjunct assistant professor at the School of Nursing since 2012.

Grace Campbell is an assistant professor in the department. She previously was a postdoctoral research fellow in cancer survivorship at the school. In 2014, she was awarded the Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation’s research fellow grant to support her work on “A Pilot Study of Falls and Near Falls in Women With Ovarian Cancer Receiving Neurotoxic Chemotherapy.”

Mary Bilitski and Eliezer Bose are new instructors.

Marilyn Hravnak, a long-time clinical faculty member, has been named a professor in the department. Her research interests cover cardiovascular acute and critical care, focusing on examining myocardial dysfunction after subarachnoid hemorrhage in terms of both potential causes and consequences. She is the primary investigator for a NIH/NINR-funded program on developing goal-directed perfusion therapy for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage injuries. She has been an acute care nurse practitioner in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at UPMC.

• In the Department of Health Promotion and Development, assistant professor Mandy Schmella formerly was a post-doctoral scholar at Magee-Womens Research Institute. She received the 2013 Vision Grant from the Preeclampsia Foundation and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research’s (NIH/NINR) predoctoral individual national research service award. Her dissertation explored the genomics of the endoglin pathway in preeclampsia.

Kelley Baumgartel is a postdoctoral scholar in the department. Her research looks at the epigenetic mechanisms for breast milk variability in mothers who deliver preterm and the relationship between breast milk variability and preterm infant outcomes.

• In the Department of Health and Community Systems, Lynn Baniak is a postdoctoral scholar.


Faculty joining the School of Pharmacy include:

— Christian A. Fernandez, a new assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He earned his PhD in pharmaceutics at the University of Iowa. His research focuses on identifying patients who may be genetically predisposed to developing an immune response to a drug, on identifying therapeutic means of blocking immune responses, and on developing a laboratory test that can identify asparaginase-sensitized patients prior to their next course of treatment.


— Thao Huynh, a new assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics. She is a graduate of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences. She went on to complete her PGY1 residency at Lancaster General Hospital and subsequent PGY2 specializing in oncology at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Her professional interests include global oncology research in personalized medicine, targeted immunotherapy and genetic variations in different ethnic groups and the subsequent responses to therapy.


Amanda Korenoski was appointed assistant professor and director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center of UPMC. She earned a doctorate in pharmacy and a master’s in health administration, both from Pitt.

She completed two post-graduate residency years at UPMC, focusing on pharmacy practice and health system pharmacy administration and recently completed a critical care residency at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.


Terence F. McGuire was named scientific administrator and research assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He holds a BS in chemistry and a PhD in biochemistry from Pitt. McGuire was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Said Sebti, where he investigated signaling pathways in normal and cancer cells and was trained in rational drug design of anti-cancer agents. He then joined the School of Medicine faculty, initially in pharmacology and subsequently in pediatrics. McGuire is assisting associate dean for research innovation and professor Xiang-Qun (Sean) Xie in developing the Computational Chemical Genomics Center.


James Stevenson was named assistant professor of pharmacogenomics in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics. He completed a pharmacogenomics and psychopharmacology fellowship at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His primary research interest is in identifying genetic predictors of medication response, with a focus on psychotropic medications. He earned his PharmD from the University of Michigan and completed a pharmacy practice residency and master’s degree in clinical and translational science at Illinois-Chicago.


Public and International Affairs

Paul Nelson, former director of GSPIA’s international development program, has been named the school’s associate dean. Before joining the University in 1998 he worked as a policy analyst for several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  His publications focus on NGOs, transparency in international organizations, the World Bank, the Millennium Development Goals, and human rights and development. His current research, “Religious Institutions and Voices in International Development,” is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Nelson earned his PhD in development studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Social Work

James Huguley has become an assistant professor at the Center on Race and Social Problems. Huguley came to the school in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English-secondary education from Providence College, a master’s in risk and prevention and a doctorate in human development and psychology from Harvard.

His research focuses on school-based interventions that promote positive academic and mental health outcomes for African-American youth.


Social work alumnus Melvin Cherry Jr., formerly an academic specialist in the Dietrich school’s Academic Resource Center, has joined social work as field coordinator for more than 100 master’s and bachelor’s degree students.


Rosalyn Christ has joined the social work staff as a finance administrator. She will oversee the school’s daily, short-term, long-term and research-related accounting and financial operations. She has been employed at Pitt since 2001, working with grants and other fiscal matters.


Penelope Miller has been named coordinator of the Center on Race and Social Problems. Miller is responsible for the center’s events management, website/communications management, project management and program development. She has held adjunct faculty appointments at Pitt and Community College of Allegheny County.


W. Randy Rice, a former project director for ResCare Workforce Services, has been named director of administration. He will manage and provide leadership and strategic direction to the school’s administrative, financial and operational functions. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Charleston and an MS in health administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.



Patricia McClain was named interim director of UPT’s nursing program July 1, following the retirement of Louise Schwabenbauer. McClain has been an instructor of nursing at UPT since 2013.  A registered nurse, she received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Clarion University and a master’s degree from Carlow University.


Elizabeth Flickner will start the fall term as a full-time visiting instructor of nursing. She has taught as an adjunct at UPT since 2013. A registered nurse, Flickner received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in nursing from Robert Morris University.


Jeffrey Dories is a full-time visiting assistant professor of English at Pitt-Titusville. Dories received his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College, a master’s degree from Buffalo State and a PhD from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


University Center for International Studies

John Frechione, associate director of the Center for Latin American Studies, will retire Sept. 30. He joined CLAS more than 30 years ago as assistant director of communications, and was acting director in 1998. He is the second-longest serving associate director of a UCIS area-studies center.


University Library System

New ULS staff include Kelly Bradish, reference/public services librarian at Pitt-Greensburg; Zachary Brodt, records manager at the Archives Service Center; Matt Burton and Nora Mattern, postdoctoral researchers in Digital Scholarship Services; Amanda Miller, public services librarian at UPG; and Ryan Splenda, reference/public services librarian in the business library.




Members of the Class of 2019 at New Student Convocation.


Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 1

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