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September 1, 2016

People of the Times

Swanson School of Engineering faculty member Anne M. Robertson has been appointed to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) neuroscience and ophthalmic imaging technologies study section at the Center for Scientific Review.

Robertson, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, is William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Engineering and founder and director of the Swanson school’s Center for Faculty Excellence.

Members of NIH study sections are responsible for reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the appropriate national advisory council or board for funding.

The appointment of study members is based on the scientists’ demonstrated competence and achievements in their disciplines. Potential study members also must have demonstrated outstanding results in their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. NIH officers in charge of selecting new study members take into account mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group.

Robertson’s four-year term ends June 30, 2020.

Robertson’s research is focused on cerebral vascular disease and mechanobiology and she directs a multi-institution program on cerebral aneurysm research.

Michael Schneider, a faculty member in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS), has been appointed by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as a member of its advisory panel on assessment of prevention, diagnosis and treatment options.

The panel helps to refine and establish research funding priorities and ensure that the research PCORI supports centers on the outcomes that matter to patients and other health care decision makers.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

Schneider holds a doctor of chiropractic degree and a PhD in rehabilitation science. After 30 years of clinical practice, he made the transition to academic research. His work at SHRS is involved with clinical research studies focused on back and neck pain. Schneider was among the first researchers in the United States to receive a PCORI comparative effectiveness grant, which is designed to test the effectiveness of three different nonsurgical treatment approaches for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.

More information about the panel is available at

Yvette Perry Conley, a faculty member in nursing and human genetics in the School of Nursing, will be honored as 2016 honorary fellow in October at the American Academy of Nursing’s annual policy conference.

The honorary fellow designation recognizes the contributions of outstanding professionals who are outside of the nursing profession.

Conley is director of an NIH-funded training program, Targeted Research and Academic Training of Nurses in Genomics, which educates pre- and post-doctoral scholars. She has been a primary faculty member for the National Institute of Nursing Research Summer Genetics Institute for 15 years, where she has assisted more than 300 nurse-scientists. An expert in the field of molecular genetics, Conley has focused her research on variability in patient outcomes in the context of conditions such as traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Honorary fellows are selected by the academy’s board of directors. Nominees must be sponsored by three academy fellows and demonstrate extraordinary contributions to nursing and health care.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising has selected the Swanson school’s transfer peer mentoring program as an Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Award Winner as part of its 2016 annual awards program for academic advising. The advising program dedicated to transfer students at the Swanson school is directed by Christopher Kirchhof.

The Outstanding Advising Program Awards annually recognize programs that document innovative and/or exemplary practices resulting in improvement of academic advising service. This award will be presented during the group’s annual conference in Atlanta this fall.

Stephen Strotmeyer, director of computer-assisted telephone interviewing operations and a senior research specialist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research, has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Mt. Lebanon school board.

Adam Shear has been named one of two editors of the Association for Jewish Studies’ AJS Review, published by Cambridge University Press. Shear is the director of the Jewish studies program and a faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Department of Religious Studies.

Founded in 1969 as a forum for exploring methodological and pedagogical issues in the field of Jewish studies, AJS has grown to be the largest learned society and professional organization representing Jewish studies scholars worldwide. As a constituent organization of the American Council of Learned Societies, AJS represents the field in the larger arena of the academic study of the humanities and social sciences in North America.

Richard Schulz, director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research, Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry and associate director of Pitt’s Institute on Aging, has received the Gerontological Society of America’s Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award.

The award is given to individuals who have fostered excellence in the field and who have had a major impact on it by virtue of their mentoring. The mentor must have had an influence on students or junior colleagues, as evidenced by the number and accomplishments of their proteges. The mentor’s influence on the next generation of gerontologists also may be evident through training programs, research on and written materials associated with pedagogy (e.g., textbooks, articles), supervising research or providing clinical training.

The award will be presented at the society’s annual scientific meeting in November.

Evan Facher has been promoted to senior director of innovation commercialization and Alex Ducruet is the director of licensing at Pitt’s Innovation Institute. Prior to joining the Innovation Institute in 2014, Facher was president/CEO of biotech firm SironRX. Ducruet joined the Innovation Institute as a technology licensing manager in 2005.

Charles J. “Chip” Burke III, a clinical associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the School of Medicine, received the Walter Yaciuk Award at the USA Hockey 2016 Annual Congress.

USA Hockey’s coaching education program presents the award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the program as a volunteer.

Burke has been associated with USA Hockey for more than 20 years and has served on the safety and protective equipment committee for 15 years.

He is past president of the NHL Team Physicians Society. He also served on the organization’s executive committee and on the NHL injury analysis panel.

Burke was the team physician for the Pittsburgh Penguins for 24 years and also served as team physician for the U.S. hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Swanson School of Engineering faculty member Karl Johnson, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in chemical and petroleum engineering, has been named the program chair for the 2018 American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting. He also is co-director of Pitt’s Center for Simulation and Modeling and a National Energy Technology Laboratory faculty fellow.

Johnson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at Brigham Young University and his PhD in chemical engineering at Cornell.

Nathan Whitehurst has been named head men’s soccer coach at Pitt-Bradford. He comes from Allegheny College, where he has been an assistant coach since 2012.

He was assistant coach at Emory & Henry College, an NCAA Division III institution in Emory, Virginia. He also was head varsity boys coach at Abingdon High School, where he led the squad to three consecutive district championships and a 41-8-2 record and was named 2011 District Coach of the Year and Co-Regional Coach of the Year.

Whitehurst was a four-year athlete on the men’s soccer team at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina, where he was named co-captain his senior year. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management there in 2008.

He earned a master’s degree in sport management and kinesiology from East Tennessee State University in 2011.

Pitt women’s basketball head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio led Team USA to gold at the 2016 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Championship in Chile, capping off a perfect 5-0 record at the tournament with a 109-62 victory against Canada in July.

McConnell-Serio and the United States U18 Women’s National Team are coming home from Chile with gold around their necks after beating Guatemala, Brazil, Venezuela and Puerto Rico on their way to the final round.

As a player, McConnell-Serio won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games and a bronze at the 1992 Olympics, along with gold medals at the 1985 R. William Jones Cup, 1986 FIBA Americas Championship and 1991 World University Games.

She also helped lead the U.S. to gold as an assistant coach at the 2011 World University Games, giving her six gold medals and seven overall as a player and coach for Team USA.

—Compiled by K. Barlow



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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