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February 17, 2005

Faculty Chancellor’s Award Winners Named

Winners of the 2005 chancellor’s awards for distinguished teaching, research and public service were announced by Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg last week.
Teaching award recipients are: Pat Chew, School of Law; Kevin P. Kearns, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA); James E. Seitz, Arts and Sciences (A&S), Department of English; Mark S. Strauss, A&S, Department of Psychology, and Linda A. Winkler, Pitt-Titusville, Division of Natural Sciences — anthropology and biology.
The Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award winners are: Marcia Landy, A&S, Department of English; Malcolm R. McNeil, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Communication Science and Disorders; Hrovje Petek, A&S, Department of Physics; Rick Relyea, A&S, Department of Biological Sciences, and Judith Yang, School of Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Landy, McNeil and Petek were honored as senior research scholars, that is, those working in the field more than 12 years after earning their highest degree; Relyea and Yang were honored in the junior scholar category.
Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award winners are: Isabel L. Beck, School of Education and the Learning Research and Development Center, and Sharon E. Connor, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The winners of the three faculty awards will be recognized, along with winners of the annual chancellor’s awards of excellence for staff (see Feb. 3 University Times) at Pitt’s 29th annual honors convocation on Feb. 28.
Each of the faculty awards carries a $2,000 cash prize plus a $3,000 grant for the recipient’s work, administered through the home school. Winners’ names will be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the William Pitt Union, and a reception will be held in their honor this spring.
Chancellor Nordenberg sent letters to the winners drawing on the information provided in support of the winners’ nominations and the letters of recommendation from peers and other authorities to cite some of their accomplishments.

• Law professor Pat Chew was recognized by the chancellor as a pioneer in teaching methods who inspires her students and for teaching excellence in a wide variety of law courses over 19 years. Chew’s teaching settings include large introductory courses, field-based practica, upper-level seminars and classes specifically designed for undergraduate students in a study-abroad environment, Nordenberg noted.
“In response to the changing nature of the practice of law and your ongoing focus on issues related to diversity, you have designed seminal classes in alternative dispute resolution and conflict and culture,” Nordenberg wrote.
“You incorporate interdisciplinary and international examples to prepare your students to work with counterparts in other fields and nations,” he added.
• GSPIA’s Kevin Kearns was honored for significant contributions to teaching and curricular development over 17 years, including his role in the creation of several master’s specializations such as the nationally recognized nonprofit management program.
“As the director of the new Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, you are working to enhance the teaching of professional ethics and accountability throughout your school’s core curriculum,” Nordenberg wrote.
In the classroom, the chancellor noted, Kearns combines theory with his research interests and experiences in management consulting to help produce graduates who hold national and international management leadership positions and who emulate Kearns’s professional behavior. Outside the classroom, Kearns has impacted Pittsburgh’s nonprofit community by leading seminars for local executives, the chancellor stated.
• James Seitz of the English department was recognized for his dedication and contributions as director of composition to Pitt’s writing across the curriculum effort.
“You have developed imaginative courses incorporating a sequence of linked reading and writing assignments that have served as national models for serious undergraduate writing instruction,” Nordenberg stated. “You foster intellectual growth and curiosity in your students through a supportive process of critical inquiry and you excel in leading skillfully structured class discussions.”
Nordenberg noted that Seitz is a 2003 winner of the Tina and David Bellet Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award and brings distinction to Pitt as a Carnegie Scholar. “Your individual efforts stand as an inspiring example of excellence in the role of University teacher,” Nordenberg wrote.
• Psychology’s Mark Strauss was recognized for his tireless efforts and dedication to students in and out of the classroom over 26 years. “Your teaching excellence has been demonstrated in large, introductory classes and smaller, upper-level seminars, and you are able to convey your excitement about your research to students at all levels,” Nordenberg noted.
The chancellor also praised Strauss, who is co-founder and director of the University’s Office of Child Development, for fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty and students. “In addition, you present issues in your courses in an interdisciplinary manner and have developed a popular applied course that expands your students’ views of your field by bringing in professionals from the community,” Nordenberg said.
“The University is proud to reward your many contributions by granting you its highest teaching award,” he added.
• Pitt-Titusville’s Linda Winkler has taught an average of four courses per term over 16 years while maintaining a robust research program, Nordenberg noted.
In addition, the chancellor pointed to Winkler’s summer field work on primate behavior in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and her community health service trips to Tanzania. “In these settings, the energy and commitment you demonstrate produce unique and memorable learning experiences,” Nordenberg wrote.
“You foster excitement in your students, broaden their minds and develop their research skills, resulting in undergraduate student presentations at professional conferences and joint publications,” Nordenberg noted. “You have enriched the learning environment of the Titusville campus in many ways, including creating and advising an organization for nontraditional-aged students, advising the travel club and presenting with your students at brown bag luncheons.”
• Senior research scholar Marcia Landy of the English department was acknowledged by Nordenberg for scholarship in cinema studies. “[You] have shown through your work how the contemporary drive toward greater and greater specialization need not result in narrow intellectual work,” Nordenberg wrote. “Your ability to cross-contextualize your work in a fiercely interdisciplinary, translational manner clearly sets your work apart as a singular achievement as a teacher, mentor, speaker and writer.”
The chancellor noted that Landy considers science fiction on par with common sense and argues that the equation between the two shows the various ways in which science is intertwined with, rather than dissociated from, cultural considerations.
Landy’s accomplishments and supporting materials demonstrate that she has achieved national and international eminence in her field, Nordenberg added.
• Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Malcolm McNeil is a leader in the field of human communication and its disorders, the chancellor wrote. “You have made seminal contributions to the study of and the definition of the complex neurological disorders of aphasia, apraxia of speech and the dysarthrias,” Nordenberg stated. “You altered the course of your discipline with your resource allocation hypothesis about the language problems of individuals with aphasia.”
In 2004, the senior research scholar was elected chair of the board of governors of the Academy of Aphasia, an honorary society of the world’s leading neurologists, neuropsychologists, neurolinguists and speech-language pathologists, Nordenberg noted, as well as receiving past honors from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences.
“Your outstanding record adds to the distinction of the University of Pittsburgh,” Nordenberg added.
• Senior scholar Hrovje Petek of physics was recognized as an international leader in ultrafast spectroscopy and dynamics and a world-renowned researcher in the development and application of two-photon photoemission spectroscopy, which is used to study molecular and atomic processes at the femtosecond (10 to the minus-15 second) time scales, Nordenberg stated.
“Your experiments have addressed such scientific problems as the nature of photo-induced surface reactions and how the energy distribution of excited electrons evolve in solids,” Nordenberg wrote. “Your work may lead to applications such as ultrafast switching and information processing, as well as atomic manipulation of matter and, therefore, it is of great interest for advanced technologies in the 21st century.”
• Junior scholar Rick Relyea of biological sciences works at the interface of several biological fields, including ecology, evolution, animal behavior, toxicology and biochemistry, the chancellor noted.
“You study the ecology and evolution of anti-predator responses in amphibians and have demonstrated how environmental cues can alter the morphology and behavior of tadpoles in response to the presence of predators, producing dramatic changes in species interaction,” Nordenberg wrote.
Relyea also is a leading expert on the ecology and evolution of phenotype plasticity and the impact of pesticides on amphibian populations whose work has appeared on the PBS series, “Nature — The Triumph of Life,” Nordenberg noted.
“Your rise to prominence in your discipline has been nothing short of spectacular,” he added.

• Engineer’s Judith Yang was recognized for the pioneering use of electron microscopy to determine the underlying physics governing processes such as corrosion and oxidation, Nordenberg stated. “This research is a critically important aspect of materials science and engineering, yet few researchers possess the background and talents to make such high-level contributions to our knowledge of complex corrosive systems,” the chancellor wrote. As an example, he cited Yang’s new technique, used to investigate the early stages of oxidation, called in situ, ultra-high vacuum transmission electron microscopy.
“Also, you have developed new techniques that extend the applicability of electron microscopy to studying the kinetics of reactions in a range of controlled environments,” Nordenberg pointed out.
Public Service
• Isabel Beck of the education school and LRDC was honored for continuing service and technical assistance over many years to schools and school districts, for developing instructional reading strategies, for volunteering time to the Pittsburgh Public Schools instructional staff and for her ongoing educational research, the chancellor stated.
“Your ability to identify strategies through research, your ability to bridge the gap between research and practice and your willingness to share your time and expertise with a number of school districts make you unique in your field,” Nordenberg wrote.
Beck’s direct work with teachers and schools is only the most visible part of her public service contribution, Nordenberg noted. “You have advised and guided professionals in the field who are trying to prepare publications, write summary reports, draft responses to frequently asked questions and all of the other ‘behind the scenes’ activities necessary to make a national effort effective,” the chancellor stated.
• Pharmacy’s Sharon Connor was honored by the chancellor for volunteer efforts to help populations in Pittsburgh and elsewhere who need access to pharmaceutical services. “You have been a driving force in finding creative solutions to the crucial issue of providing adequate medications to those in need,” the chancellor stated.
Connor’s volunteer work includes servicing three health care for the homeless clinics each week and, with her students, assisting patients at the North Side Christian Health Center to complete pharmaceutical care applications and counseling patients on medication side effects and the need for compliance with medication and diet recommendations.
She also has taken two unpaid leaves of absence to work in Africa, the chancellor pointed out, supervising an inpatient pharmacy and managing a cost-recovery system in Kenya, and working as a pharmacist in Ethiopia with the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
“Your work has brought honor to yourself, your profession and the University of Pittsburgh,” Nordenberg wrote.

—Peter Hart

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