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September 30, 2004

People of the Times

Frederick S. Pettit, professor and Harry S. Tack Chair in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was honored last week during the 10th International Symposium on Superalloys.

Proceedings of Superalloys 2004 symposium will be dedicated to Pettit, a recognition that has been conferred only since 1972. Because the symposium is held every four years, Pettit will be just the ninth person to receive this honor.

Pettit joined the Pitt School of Engineering materials science and engineering department (then the metallurgical and materials engineering department) in 1979 and chaired the unit until 1988.

“Remarkably, when Fred was chairman, he carried a full teaching load and a larger research load than anyone in the department,” recalled a friend and departmental colleague, Gerald H. Meier. Materials science and engineering students have voted Pettit the department’s outstanding teacher a number of times, Meier noted.

Pettit’s research focuses on degradation of materials at elevated temperatures by oxidation, hot corrosion and erosion, and the use of coatings for protection. His work emphasizes such high-performance, high-temperature materials as superalloys, intermetallics, composites, and coatings for use in advanced combustion systems.

The Superalloys 2004 symposium gives researchers, manufacturers and users a forum to present the latest technical knowledge about the class of high-strength, high-temperature alloys commonly known as superalloys.


James M. Roberts, director of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the School of Medicine, has received the Duane Alexander Award for Academic Leadership in Perinatal Medicine from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Conferred this month during an NICHD conference on maternal, fetal, neonatal and reproductive medicine, the award is presented yearly to a distinguished academic leader who has enhanced the education of young clinician scientists and promoted their careers in perinatal medicine.

A member of the National Academies Institute of Medicine since 2002, Roberts has committed the past 15 years to finding a solution to preeclampsia, a little-appreciated cause of death and injury to mothers and babies.

Characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling of the hands and face, preeclampsia affects some 5 percent of pregnancies. Currently, the only treatment is immediate delivery.

Roberts leads the largest-ever clinical trial regarding preeclampsia in the United States, which aims to enroll 10,000 women over five years to study whether using vitamins C and E has any preventive effect on the disorder. The 14-center nationwide trial being run through the NICHD’s maternal fetal medicine network began enrolling patients in 2003 and preliminary data is expected by late 2006.


Georgine Materniak, Pitt Pathway program manager in career services, Division of Student Affairs, recently was selected as one of seven new fellows of the American Council of Developmental Education Association (ACDEA) for 2004-2005.

ACDEA is a consortium of professional associations concerned with learning assistance and developmental education in colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.

ACDEA fellows are selected in recognition of their long-term contributions to the field of learning assistance and developmental education. Selection is considered to be the highest honor bestowed on professionals in the field who have a national reputation and whose contributions have been exceptionally meritorious.

Materniak, who has been at Pitt for 31 years, was recognized for her work in establishing national standards for learning assistance programs under the auspices of the Council of Advancement for Standards in Higher Education, and for helping create certification standards for learning assistance under the National Association for Developmental Education.

She and the other new fellows will be inducted today (Sept. 30) at the National College Learning Center Association conference in Baltimore, Md.


Freddie H. Fu, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, and noted sports medicine physician at UPMC, was appointed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell to serve on the newly created Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs.

Fu is one of 15 prominent Pennsylvania residents appointed to a two-year term on the new commission. The group’s mission is to serve as Gov. Rendell’s liaison to the Asian American community. The group will advise the governor on policies, procedures, legislation and regulations that affect the commonwealth’s Asian American community and that will enable responsiveness to the needs of Asian Americans.

The commission also will develop, review and recommend to the governor policies in the areas of health and human services, housing, education, employment, business formation and development, public accommodations and in contracting practices and procedures.

Fu, who is the David Silver Professor of orthopaedic surgery, has been chairman of Pitt’s orthopaedic surgery department since 1997; he has been the head team physician for Pitt’s Department of Athletics since 1986.

Fu is known worldwide for his pioneering surgical techniques to treat sports-related injuries to the knee and shoulder and his extensive scientific and clinical research in the biomechanics of such injuries. Because of his reputation, Fu attracts both athletes and non-athletes from all over the globe.


Richard L. Simmons, distinguished service professor of surgery and chairman emeritus, Department of Surgery at the School of Medicine, last week was awarded the Peter Medawar Prize of the Transplantation Society at the XX International Congress of The Transplantation Society in Vienna, Austria.

Simmons, who also is vice-chair of surgical research and professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry at the medical school, was recognized for his advances in infection control and transplantation-related immune responses, both of which have had a profound impact on the practice of surgery worldwide. The Medawar Prize, which is acknowledged as the world’s highest award for outstanding contributions to the field of transplant medicine, honors individuals for their discovery or focused body of work in experimental or clinical transplantation.

Simmons earned his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency in surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He completed clinical and research fellowships in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He then served in the Army Medical Corps as an investigator in the Division of Surgery at Walter Reed Army Institute in Washington, D.C. While on a tour of duty in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968 at a swift boat base in the Mekong Delta, Simmons was chief of the Army research team.

In 1987, after 19 years on the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine departments of surgery and microbiology, Simmons joined Pitt’s medical school as the George Vance Foster endowed professor and chair of the Department of Surgery. He became the medical director of UPMC in 1996.

Throughout his career, Simmons has received numerous honors, including the annual award from the Southwestern Chapter of the American College of Surgeons and the Gift of Life Award from the National Kidney Foundation of Western Pennsylvania.

In 1994, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and in 2003, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, as well as a certificate for “Highly Cited Researcher” from the Institute of Scientific Information.

Simmons has edited or co-authored 15 books and has written or co-authored more than 1,200 articles for professional journals, primarily on transplantation, immunology and surgical infections. In the past five years, he has delivered more than a dozen named lectures in this country and abroad.

Simmons is past chair of the Surgical Forum and past president of the Society of University Surgeons, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Surgical Infection Society.


The Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) will recognize Louis Sullivan, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as the recipient of the 2004 Porter Prize, an award established in 1983 by Milton and Adrienne Porter to recognize outstanding and exemplary performance in the field of health promotion.

Sullivan was secretary of HHS from 1989 to 1993. In this post, he managed the federal agency responsible for the major health, welfare, food and drug safety, medical research and income security programs serving the American people.

In 1993, he returned to Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and resumed the office of president, a post he had held for eight years prior to being named to his post at HHS. He stepped down from MSM in 2002, with the title president emeritus.

Sullivan is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and is the recipient of 51 honorary degrees. He serves on several boards, including United Way of America, Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, Medical Education for South African Blacks, Africare, International Foundation for Self Help and Southern Center for International Studies, and serves on the editorial board of Minority Health.

Sullivan also serves on the boards of CIGNA, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 3M Corporation, Household International, Georgia Pacific and Equifax. He was the founding president of the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools. Sullivan also chairs the advisory council of the AHC’s Network of Health Promoting Universities, of which Pitt is a member.

He graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College in 1954 and earned his medical degree, cum laude, from Boston University School of Medicine in 1958.

The Porter Prize was established in 1983 by the Health Education Center, Inc., to heighten awareness of health promotion and disease prevention. It is named in honor of Milton Porter (1910-1996), founding chairman of the Health Education Center, now an affiliate of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Porter also served as a director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Institute.

The Porter Prize has been administered by GSPH since 1999. Sullivan will speak Oct. 6 at GSPH when he will accept the Porter Prize.


Nancy Grove, director and associate professor of nursing at Pitt-Johnstown, recently received a $24,000 Nursing Education Grant, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation. The funds provide educational grants or scholarships to nursing students attending the UPJ nursing program during the 2004-2005 academic year.

Grove had received a similar grant for the 2003-2004 academic year also from the foundation. That $26,000 grant was distributed to 22 graduating nursing students.


Kong Ho, assistant professor of art at Pitt-Bradford, and several students and community volunteers are painting an 80-ft.-by-46-ft. mural on the side of a building in Mount Jewett.

The 88-year-old building at 4 E. Main St., along U.S. Route 6, which runs through Mount Jewett is owned by Bruce Burdick, who is directing the project and serves as an advisory board member at Pitt-Bradford. He also sits on the board of the Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau.

Ho is a seasoned muralist who has painted murals all over the world, including in his native Hong Kong. This mural is designed in the shape of the Pennsylvania state map with highlighted lines showing U.S. Route 6. Ho also used major rivers to help separate the different scenes or images within the mural.

“It is my honor to lead this public art project and to serve our community,” Ho said. “I believe that this is an opportunity for me to return something back to the community.”

Among the volunteers on the project is Ho’s wife, Martie Geiger-Ho, an instructor of art at Pitt-Bradford.

The mural project is being sponsored in part by the Lumber Heritage Region, the McKean County Industrial Development Council and the McKean County Council of the Arts.


The Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association will present Betsy Matz with the PBAA 2004 Teaching Excellence Award during the annual Alumni and Family Weekend next month.

The PBAA Teaching Excellence Award recognizes a member of the Pitt-Bradford faculty who has exemplified the established educational principles, shown dedication in teaching and excelled in his or her area of specialty.

Matz, an associate professor of business management and chair of the department, will be honored for her commitment to excellence in education and to the success of her students, as well as her involvement in campus activities and her continued influence on the lives of many students.

Matz came to Pitt-Bradford in 1989 to teach courses in business management. Prior to coming to Pitt-Bradford, she taught business management courses at the Cattaraugus County (N.Y.) campus of Jamestown Community College and at Olean (N.Y.) Business Institute.

She earned a M.B.A. from St. Bonaventure University and a bachelor’s degree in Russian literature from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.


The science in motion program at the Bradford campus, which brings state-of-the-art biology and chemistry labs and equipment to secondary schoolchildren in the region, has a new director and assistant director.

James Baldwin, assistant dean of academic affairs and registrar, has been named the program’s new director. Lisa VanGorden, a science in motion mobile educator, will serve as the program’s assistant director.

As director, Baldwin will supervise overall operations of the program, which is now in its fourth year at Pitt-Bradford. He will also be responsible for developing and supervising the program’s budget and its personnel; working as a liaison with other science in motion schools, especially Juniata College, where the program originated; serving as a contact person for area legislators, and helping to write grants for the program.

Baldwin also was named to the UPB president’s cabinet. He has been serving as assistant dean of academic affairs and registrar since coming to Pitt-Bradford in February 2000. Previously, he was the registrar at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.

Baldwin holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance and a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

VanGorden has been a mobile educator for the science in motion program since April 2001. As a mobile educator, and now as the program’s assistant director, she will continue to be responsible for planning, preparing and purchasing equipment and supplies for the labs, and organizing and leading teacher workshops on campus. VanGorden will continue to coordinate program visits in schools in McKean, Elk, Potter, Cameron and Warren counties.

Prior to working in the science in motion program, VanGorden, who is certified to teach biology and general science in Pennsylvania, was a long-term substitute at Oswayo Valley High and conducted field research on amphibians and invasive plants through Pitt-Bradford’s Allegheny Institute of Natural History.

She received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in education from Pitt-Bradford in 2000.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 3

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