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February 22, 2007


Three Pitt faculty members recently received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that fund their emerging careers as teachers and researchers. The awards encourage using the classroom to include women and underrepresented minorities in a particular field.

Recipients are Shigeru Amemiya, assistant professor of bioanalytical chemistry and electrochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences; Kevin P. Chen, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Paul E. Lego faculty fellow in the School of Engineering, and Daniel Zuckerman, assistant professor of computational biology in the School of Medicine.

Amemiya received a five-year, approximately $560,000 grant to support his development of novel chemical sensors that would improve the ability to monitor such hard-to-detect biological, environmental and medical substances as the anticoagulant heparin. Amemiya has published five papers about using the sensors to detect heparin and hopes to expand the sensors’ use to other chemical substances.

Amemiya’s grant also funds two Pitt graduate students as full-time research assistants and one or two undergraduate students as summer research assistants. As his research progresses, Amemiya will incorporate his findings into his teaching curriculum to bridge classroom and laboratory learning.

Chen’s work involves the latest generation of optic fibers known as microstructured fibers that feature a layout of holes positioned around a central core to guide light through the fiber. Unlike previous optic fibers, microstructured fibers notably concentrate light.

The NSF awarded Chen a $400,000, five-year grant to enhance the sensitivity, response and power transfer capabilities of these fibers, potentially expanding their practical use.

Along with his research, Chen proposed a general training course in optical engineering for all engineering students as well as extracurricular undergraduate workshops in robotics. Such courses will reach out to people underrepresented in engineering by providing an open and accessible forum.

Zuckerman received a five-year, approximately $825,000 grant for the development and use of novel computational approaches for studying the dynamics of large biological molecules such as proteins. Zuckerman and his co-workers are developing mathematical algorithms and software for understanding the complex behavior of proteins — especially large changes in their 3-dimensional structure, which could affect their interaction with other molecules. Zuckerman’s grant also will support the development of an introductory textbook for biophysics and computational biology students, aimed at beginning graduate students or advanced undergraduates from a wide variety of backgrounds.


James A. Shaver, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, received the Peter J. Safar Pulse of Pittsburgh Award for 2007 by the American Heart Association (AHA), Pittsburgh Division. The award was presented Feb. 10 at the 2007 Heart Ball.

Shaver has been a member of the Pitt faculty for more than 40 years. He is responsible for opening and directing the first cardiac catheterization laboratory at UPMC. From 1971 until 1994, Shaver was director of cardiology at the School of Medicine. His clinical and research interests have focused on valvular heart disease, adult congenital heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the physiologic basis of heart sounds and murmurs.

He has received numerous awards and honors related to his teaching including the Kenneth E. Schuit Award for the medical school dean’s Master Educator in 2002 and the Cardiovascular Fellows Teaching Award for 1993.

Since 1971, Shaver had been director of the cardiovascular fellowship training program and only recently stepped down from this position. He has trained more than 200 cardiologists over the years, many of whom now practice in western Pennsylvania.

Shaver has been an active member of the American Heart Association at the local, state and national level since 1968. From 1968 until 1981, Shaver participated in the research, professional education and executive committees of the then-Western Pennsylvania Heart Association and was president of the organization from 1980 to 1981.

The American Heart Association, Pittsburgh Division board of directors and the Heart Ball committee created the Pulse of Pittsburgh Award in 2003 to recognize an individual’s leadership in the fight against heart disease and stroke. In 2004, the committee changed the name to the Peter J. Safar Pulse of Pittsburgh Award in honor of the late Safar, distinguished professor of resuscitation medicine at Pitt who also was known as the “Father of CPR.”

The Pittsburgh Division of the AHA also has established the James A. Shaver Research Fund to provide future scientists the opportunity to advance their research in the field of cardiovascular medicine.


Daniel Romesberg, senior lecturer and undergraduate adviser in sociology, has won the inaugural Ampco-Pittsburgh Prize for Excellence in Advising.

Undergraduate students and department chairs in the School of Arts and Sciences were asked to submit faculty names to the school for consideration.

Romesberg, who has been advising undergraduates in sociology for 10 years, also has created an extensive internship program, with opportunities at more than 150 regional programs and agencies.

Romesberg has four degrees from Pitt — a bachelor’s in sociology, master’s degrees in sociology and social work and a PhD in sociology.

It was no surprise to sociology department chair John Markoff that Romesberg won the $5,000 award. “Dan’s always there for the students, whether it’s about their academic progress, applying to graduate school or going into the job market,” said Markoff. “He’s a splendid classroom teacher, too. Students sing his praises and often talk about how Dan has helped them with major decisions about their studies or careers.”


Cardiac surgeon Thomas G. Gleason has been named director of the new Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease of the UPMC Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute. He also was appointed associate professor of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine.

As director of the new center, he will oversee clinical and translational research aimed at improved and innovative techniques and technologies for patients with thoracic aortic or valvular diseases.

Gleason specializes in the repair of thoracic aortic diseases including aneurysms, dissections, traumatic injuries and heritable disorders such as bicuspid aortic valve and Marfan syndrome. His surgical expertise spans thoracic aortic reconstructions, endovascular stent-grafting, valve-sparing root replacement, aortic and mitral valve repair, off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery and surgery for atrial fibrillation.

Prior to joining UPMC, Gleason was a cardiovascular surgeon at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, where he was director of the thoracic aortic surgery program in the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.

Gleason chairs the task force on guidelines for thoracic aortic surgery for the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and is a member of the society’s endovascular task force and its workforce on evidence-based medicine.


The Pitt Alumni Association has selected Jeff Gleim, director of the Ohio State University Alumni Association’s advocates program, to be associate executive director of Pitt’s program.

At Ohio State, Gleim was responsible for more than 200 alumni clubs and organizations worldwide. He was instrumental in developing the advocacy program’s new strategic plan and generating new sources of revenue.

Prior to working at Ohio State, Gleim served in the Speaker’s Office of the Ohio State legislature for seven years.

At Pitt, Gleim will oversee the communications, marketing, membership, student involvement and outreach areas within the Alumni Association.


Stephen Emery has joined the staff of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC as clinical director of the hospital’s new Center for Fetal Medicine and co-director of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center at Magee, in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

A specialist in fetal intervention, Emery also has been named assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Pitt’s School of Medicine. He formerly served as co-founder and co-director of the Fetal Care Center at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and assistant professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.

Emery is focusing on the development of a program in fetal intervention at Magee, treating fetal abnormalities in the womb to minimize problems and increase the chances for a healthier child at birth.

Since 1981, in-the-womb surgery has been used for a variety of conditions, including spina bifida, heart and circulatory problems, hernias, intestinal blockages, selected tumors and other malformations. Even so, such surgical intervention remains high risk for mother and baby.

More recently, surgeons have used small needles and cameras to enter the womb and, sometimes, the fetus, to try to fix a developing problem. “These minimally invasive techniques will likely be much less risky,” Emery said.

Emery’s research is focused on minimally invasive in-utero repair of structural congenital heart defects.

“We’re working closely with pediatric cardiologists to go to the next level of fetal surveillance — beyond fetal heart rate, ultrasound and even color Doppler,” said Emery, referring to a specialized ultrasound device. “We can use tissue Doppler to look at the way the fetal heart wall moves and how well it can squeeze and pump. We want to be able to tell far in advance when a fetus is in trouble.”

Emery joined the Cleveland Clinic in 1997, where he was co-founder and co-director of the Fetal Care Center and director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Hillcrest Hospital.

He is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine. In addition to the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Emery is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Susan Gillis Kruman, clinical instructor in the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, has been named Teacher of the Year/University Level by the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Gillis Kruman is the program head for the dance minor at Pitt and directs the University Dance Ensemble. She has danced professionally in New York City with the Virginia Laidlaw Dance Theater and the Shoestring Dance Ensemble. The first director of Dance Alloy, a local professional contemporary dance company, she also served as its resident choreographer.

Gillis Kruman developed the arts education project, which offers multi-sensory teaching for high school, undergraduate and graduate seminars on the history of dance, and “The Early Moderns,” a multimedia CD-ROM on dance from 1880 to 1935. She has presented local and international dance workshops, master classes, and choreography and dance-technology sessions.

Gillis Kruman’s honors include the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Professional Honor Award in 1993, the Eastern District Honor Award in 2003 and the National Dance Association Presidential Citation in 2005. In addition, Pitt’s Office of Student Affairs recognized her for teaching excellence in 2000, based on a survey of Pitt students who stated that Gillis Kruman had had a “significant or positive impact” on their lives.


Linda Tashbook, international comparative law librarian at Pitt’s Barco Law Library, has been appointed as a mediator in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Recent new local court rules require that all civil cases, except those involving social security or habeas corpus, go through mediation, arbitration or early neutral intervention. Tashbook, who holds MLS and JD degrees from Pitt, is the first representative of Pitt’s law school to be selected for this pioneer program.

Tashbook is a Fulbright senior specialist who teaches advanced legal research classes at the School of Law; she also is an adjunct faculty member at the School of Information Sciences. In addition to working full time as a law librarian at Pitt for nine years, Tashbook has maintained a private law practice since 1997.


Nancy McCabe, director of the writing program at the Bradford campus, has been awarded a $5,000 fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) to revise and edit a manuscript.

McCabe, who has been teaching at Pitt-Bradford since 2001, was one of 68 artists named an individual creative artist fellow by the PCA. She is completing a book titled “Flight Patterns: Memoir of a Marriage.”

She describes the book as part childhood, part young-adulthood memoir. “It’s the story of how I came to decide to get married at 19 and what followed,” McCabe said.

She received the fellowship in the category of Literature — Fiction or Creative Nonfiction.

By awarding annual fellowships, the PCA’s Individual Creative Arts Division works to encourage and enable outstanding Pennsylvania artists of all backgrounds to perform their work and display it to the public.

Qualified arts professionals review applicants’ work samples and support materials.


A paper by Andrew T. Rose, associate professor of civil engineering technology at the Johnstown campus, has been selected for the Best Paper Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice.

The article, “Graphical Communication Using hand-Drawn Sketches in Civil Engineering,” was published in the October 2005 issue of the society’s journal.


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