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February 18, 2016

People of the Times

History faculty member Marcus Rediker’s film, “The Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels,” which has won numerous awards, will air on more than 100 Public Broadcasting System affiliates during Black History Month.

Locally, the film will air on WQED World Channel Digital 2 on Feb. 22, 23 and 27.

Joshua Thorpe, faculty member in the pharmacy and therapeutics department in the School of Pharmacy, has been appointed associate editor for the journal Research in Social & Administrative Pharmacy. Thorpe will be responsible for reviewing submitted manuscripts in the areas of modeling methods and analytics, measurement and pharmacoepidemiology.

Mary Margaret Kerr, chair of the Department of Administration and Policy Studies in the School of Education, has been elected to the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial Board of Directors. Kerr will focus primarily on the memorial’s new learning center.

Law faculty member Michael J. Madison has been elected a member of the American Law Institute (ALI). According to ALI, the 61 new members bring a wide range of perspectives and areas of expertise to ALI’s work of clarifying the law through restatements, principles, model penal codes and uniform codes.

Madison joins other Pitt Law faculty who are ALI members: Ronald Brand, Douglas Branson, John Burkoff, Dean William M. Carter, Jr. (ex officio), Pat Chew, Lu-in Wang, Charles Cohen, Judith K. Fitzgerald, Vivian Curran, Arthur Hellman, Anthony Infanti, Penina Lieber, Rhonda Wasserman, William Luneburg and Cyril Fox.

Madison writes and teaches about intellectual property law and policy, and about questions concerning the production and distribution of knowledge and innovation.

John Brigham, faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has won the 2015 Professor of the Year award from the Pittsburgh section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The award will be presented Feb. 20.

Brigham was director of the ASCE Pittsburgh section, 2012-15.

He teaches courses on structural analysis and computer methods. As principal investigator of the computational diagnostics and inverse mechanics group, Brigham and his research team investigate fundamental concepts in mechanics and computation spanning a broad range of applications, from assessing service life of civil, marine or aircraft structures to diagnosing physiological changes in biological structures.

School of Education faculty member Maureen W. McClure is a winner of the National Education Finance Conference Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow Award.

The award is given annually to 10 higher education-affiliated professionals who have displayed exemplary research and practice in the field of public education finance.

McClure is a faculty member in administrative and policy studies and a senior research associate in the Institute for International Studies in Education. She chaired the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, 2004-07.

McClure’s research focuses on education for the next generation. Her approaches to insuring educational access range widely, from tracking new globally available distance-education technologies to monitoring state-level support for U.S. public schools and assisting in the rebuilding of educational systems in nations that have recently experienced a national crisis. To this end, McClure has worked alongside colleagues in Bosnia, China, Indonesia and Iraq, among other nations.

Matt Kropf, faculty member in energy science and technology at Pitt-Bradford, received a patent for a process and system for ultrasonically cleaning titanium particles contaminated with cutting oils and lubricants.

The new process is more environmentally friendly than the traditional method, which requires high temperatures and a lot of water mixed with highly concentrated industrial soaps and a long period of agitation. The new method cleans the chips with mildly warm water and a low concentration of biodegradable soap in a short amount of time.

The Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering has named the University of California’s Gábor A. Somorjai the 2016 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer.

Somorjai is chemistry faculty member at the University of California-Berkeley and faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory managed by the University of California.

The Covestro Distinguished Lectureship recognizes excellence in chemical education, outreach and research.

As the 2016 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer, Somorjai will present lectures May 5 and 6.

Another Pitt faculty member has been awarded the Association for Psychological Science’s Rising Star designation. The honor recognizes early-career psychology researchers whose innovative work has advanced the field and signals potential for continued contributions.

Rebecca B. Price, a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, shares the honor with Melissa-Evelyn Libertus, Department of Psychology within the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and Ming-Te Wang, a faculty member in the School of Education and Department of Psychology. Announcement of the honor for Libertus and Wang, who are research scientists at the Learning Research and Development Center, was published in the Feb. 4 University Times.

Price’s research focuses on identifying neurocognitive factors that possess a relationship with human anxiety, depression and suicidality. She is interested in developing computer-based interventions that target brain function and predicting the best treatment to match an individual patient’s needs. Her recent endeavors include studies of various novel interventions for anxiety and depression, including studies of the effects of intravenous ketamine on suicidal cognition.

Price also is president of the neurocognitive therapies/translational research special interest group within the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Melissa Yancy is the 2016 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for her book of short stories.

“Dog Years” will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press later this year. The award also includes a cash prize of $15,000.

Miriam Bird Greenberg is the winner of the 2015 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Her debut full-length poetry collection, “In the Volcano’s Mouth,” will be published this fall by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Starrett prize is awarded for a first full-length book of poems. Named after the original director of the University of Pittsburgh Press, it carries a cash award of $5,000 in addition to publication.

David Shapira, executive chairman of the Giant Eagle board of directors, has been named the Visiting H.J. Zoffer Chair in Leadership and Ethics at the Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration (CBA).

Shapira primarily will focus on enhancing academic programs in leadership and ethics, although he also will engage with Katz and CBA students in such areas as entrepreneurship, supply-chain management, and organizational behavior and human resources.

The Zoffer chair honors Dean Emeritus H.J. Zoffer, who served as dean of the school for more than 28 years and remains on the faculty.

In celebration of his appointment, Shapira will present a public lecture April 12. n


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

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

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