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February 18, 1999

Chancellor's research, public service award winners announced

Winners of the 1999 Chancellor's Awards for Distinguished Research and Public Service were announced yesterday.

Public service award recipients include: Douglas W. Chew, of biological sciences; Karen Engro, law; Phillip E. Smith, English, and Tracy M. Soska, social work.

Research award winners in the senior scholar category are: Dennis P. Curran, chemistry; J. Thomas Rimer, East Asian languages and literatures, and Savio L-Y Woo, Musculoskeletal Research Center. Winners in the junior scholar category are: Nicole Constable, anthropology, and Patrick J. Loughlin, electrical engineering.

The faculty members will be recognized, along with winners of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Awards (see Feb. 4 University Times) at Pitt's annual honors convocation, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. in Carnegie Music Hall.

The awards include a $2,000 cash prize for each recipient, plus $3,000 for that faculty member's work. Winners' names will be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the William Pitt Union.

Public Service Biological sciences lab instructor Douglas W. Chew was honored for working with teachers and students to enrich high school science curricula. "Thousands of high school students from the surrounding area have benefited from the teachers you have trained, the lab equipment you have made available, and the college biology majors you have recruited to do volunteer work in the schools," Chancellor Mark Nordenberg wrote in a letter to Chew.

The chancellor praised Karen Engro, associate professor of law, for helping Pitt law students to assist the less fortunate. "Law students trained in your clinic have assisted area citizens with medical, disability and discrimination issues and provided them with representation within a variety of legal forums," Nordenberg wrote to her. "Also, your contribution to the Children and Families HIV/AIDS Network, the National Hemophiliacs Foundation, and the numerous other helping agencies further attest to your efforts to improve the general welfare of the community." English department professor Phillip E. Smith was recognized for helping to save Calliope, the region's only nonprofit organization dedicated to folk music and allied arts. "This organization was in dire financial straights when you assumed your role of president of Calliope's board of directors in 1997. Through your tireless efforts, creative planning and sound fiscal management, the organization has righted itself and an important part of western Pennsylvania's folk heritage has been salvaged," Nordenberg wrote.

Tracy M. Soska, continuing education director for the School of Social Work, was honored for a range of public service commitments. "The list of your community service is long and includes a myriad of different programs largely centering on youth service and mentoring," Nordenberg wrote. "Your involvement in these many activities is extraordinary and may best be reflected in a statement by Larry R. Foulke, president of the board of trustees of the Pleasant Hills Public Library, when he said, 'Thanks to Soska's tireless effort, our community will have more than just an expanded library; we will have a lifelong community learning center bridging our community's past with its future.'" Research The distinguished research awards recognize faculty with outstanding and continuing records of research and scholarly activity, in junior scholar and senior scholar categories. Junior scholar Nicole Constable, associate professor of anthropology, was honored for studies of Filipino domestic workers and Asian mail-order brides. The studies "highlight important issues of ethnicity, gender and power that are extremely relevant to contemporary society," Nordenberg wrote. He also cited Constable's national and international eminence as an outstanding scholar in her field.

Senior scholar Dennis P. Curran, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and Bayer Professor, won praise from the chancellor for pioneering work in the use of stereoselective reactions involving radical species. "Your development of new synthetic strategies based on the use of highly fluorinated reagents and substrates opens up exciting new possibilities in carrying out chemical reactions in parallel," Nordenberg wrote.

Junior scholar Patrick J. Loughlin, assistant professor of electrical engineering, was cited for his work on the analysis of signals that vary with time. Nordenberg wrote, "Your new methods of signal analysis are not only of great theoretical interest but they also have many practical applications in such diverse areas as biomedicine, sonar, radar, the automotive industry, seismology and machine fault analysis." Of senior scholar J. Thomas Rimer, professor and chairperson of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Nordenberg wrote: "You won special praise for your scholarship, translations, editing work and art exhibitions, in which you have, in an impressive variety of ways, introduced Japanese poetry, drama, fiction and art to the English-speaking world." The chancellor praised senior scholar Savio L-Y Woo for contributions to sports medicine. Woo, A. B. Ferguson Professor and Chair, and director, Musculoskeletal Research Center, was cited for his pioneering study of the properties of soft tissues, such as cartilage and ligaments. "Your research describing the fundamental properties of these tissues has resulted in the development of new mathematical models that describe their function," the chancellor wrote. Woo's work has led to significant improvements in the treatment and repair of joint injuries, Nordenberg added. The featured guest speaker at this year's honors convocation will be David Levering Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. University Professor at Rutgers and 1994 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.

— Bruce Steele and Peter Hart

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