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April 3, 2008


William C. de Groat, professor of pharmacology in the School of Medicine, has received the 2007 Reeve-Irvine Research Medal for his studies of the mechanisms underlying recovery of autonomic nervous system function following spinal cord injury.

The award is given annually by the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clark Foundation for highly meritorious scientific contributions in the area of spinal cord injury and repair.

The medal and a $50,000 cash prize were presented March 11.


Anthony Bledsoe, lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been named a National Academies education fellow in the life sciences for the 2007-2008 academic year. This honor is bestowed by virtue of his selection to and participation in the 2006 National Academies summer institute on undergraduate education in biology.

Bledsoe’s research focuses on two basic areas:

• The reconstruction of avian phylogenies through analysis of molecular and morphological data, and

• The use of estimates of phylogeny to gain insight into the ecology and biogeography of birds and basic mechanisms of evolutionary change.

The central goal of the work is to provide the historical framework necessary for analysis of the causal mechanisms responsible for the generation of avian diversity and ecological, anatomical and geographic variety.

A related goal involves contributions to the theory of systematics, particularly with regard to testing historical hypotheses about phylogeny and adaptation.


Marlin H. Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of electrical and computer engineering and telecommunications, was one of seven alumni of the Swanson School of Engineering honored at the 2008 distinguished alumni banquet March 20. The honorees are widely regarded as the top experts in their respective fields and hail from across the nation and the world.

Mickle is one of the longest serving engineering professors in Pitt history. He earned all his degrees at Pitt, completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1961 and 1963, respectively, and his PhD degree in 1967.

He is world-renowned for harnessing the power of radio waves in convenient, low-cost applications such as power harvesting. Currently, he directs the Swanson school’s Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Center of Excellence, an internationally recognized research laboratory for RFID technology. The U.S. Department of Defense established a standard RFID frequency for all UHF RFID applications based on Mickle’s research. Also, Ligonier-based Powercast Corp., which licensed RF power harvesting technology Mickle developed, won “Best in Show for Emerging Technology” at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show.

In 2004, Mickle established a trust to create the Ruth E. Mickle and Howard T. Mickle chairs —named for his parents — that will allow Pitt to attract and retain leading scholars in the electrical and computer engineering field.


UPMC has appointed J. Wallis Marsh Jr. as interim chief, Division of Transplantation, at the UPMC Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. He will oversee the day-to-day operations of the transplant division until a successor is named.

Marsh has been with Pitt for 14 years and is professor of surgery in the School of Medicine and co-director of the UPMC Liver Cancer Center. For the past four years, Marsh has been part of the UPMC international living-related liver transplant team in Palermo, Italy.

Marsh joined the School of Medicine as an assistant professor of surgery in 1985 and completed a one-year fellowship in liver transplantation under Starzl. In 1989, Marsh joined the faculty of the Washington University School of Medicine. He returned to Pitt in 1993.

In 2001, Marsh received his MBA at the Katz Graduate School of Business. He helped to develop current procedural technology coding software and computerized operative notes for the Starzl Transplantation Institute.

Marsh’s areas of research include computer technologies and improving outcomes of transplantation for patients with liver cancer.


Jon Darling, professor of sociology at Pitt-Johnstown, has been named acting vice president for Academic Affairs.

Darling joined the UPJ faculty in 1977 as an assistant professor of sociology. He was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 1981, and professor in 1992.

He received his PhD and MA in sociology from the University of Connecticut and a BA in psychology from the University of Maine.

At UPJ Darling has served as vice president of the Faculty Senate, chair of the sociology department, chair of the full professor review committee, chair and vice chair of the college status (tenure and promotions) committee, chair of several peer review committees and as a member of more than a dozen faculty committees.

From 1997 to 2001, Darling served as director of the Office of Community Outreach. Currently, he is chair of the UPJ Inclusive Community Task Force.

He created the Civic Action Network, a community leadership partnership involving UPJ and several local organizations.

Darling received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1996 and the UPJ advisory board Service-to-Community Award in 2003.


Christian Stumpf, assistant vice president of auxiliaries and director of the conference center at Pitt-Johnstown, was the recipient of the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I) 2008 Jack Thornton Distinguished Service Award, the most prestigious individual honor awarded by ACCED-I.

The award recognizes Stumpf for distinguished service to the collegiate conference profession and ACCED-I. Nominees must demonstrate service to the association through two or more of the following: service as an officer or board member at the national level; service as a regional director; service as a committee chair/project team leader, and service to an associated professional organization whose focus/mission is related to ACCED-I.

A 1994 UPJ graduate, Stumpf began his service with ACCED-I as a graduate assistant in the conference center at Pitt-Johnstown. Among his contributions, he has been a board member for two terms, chaired the annual conference three times, led the benchmarking study and the One-Stop Shop certification project and headed the membership, marketing and recruitment committee during a “member-get-a-member” campaign.


Donna Armstrong has been named director of teacher education at Pitt-Bradford. She will be responsible for overseeing scheduling, managing student-teacher supervisors and keeping abreast of changes in state teacher certification standards, including implementing changes in the state requirements for elementary teacher certification that will begin next year.

Armstrong will continue her duties as coordinator of elementary education until a replacement is named.

Last year Armstrong earned a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from Marshall University, and she holds an MA in leadership studies and an educational specialist degree as a supervisor of instruction from Marshall; a master of arts in elementary education from West Virginia University, and a BS in early/middle education from Bluefield State College.

Before coming to Pitt-Bradford, Armstrong held various teaching and administrative positions in West Virginia, including elementary school principal, central office administrator, dean of students and classroom teacher in elementary and middle schools.


The Case Foundation has announced that Fiona Cheong is a top 20 finalist for the Make It Your Own Awards. The program embraces a grassroots, “citizen-centered” approach to seeking funding.

Cheong is a Pitt associate professor of creative writing and a novelist.

Her project, Re-Imagining Our City, proposes giving young people of all backgrounds a say in shaping their city. A diverse council of teens from the Hill District and other areas will become partners in the design and building of a new urban green space.

Cheong said, “The teens will collaborate in hosting creative public conversations for their peers, for younger children and for adults in their communities, exploring what will make the green space stunningly beautiful, inspiring and accessible to all. Together, we will gather many different voices for a vision of the city we all want.”

The Case Foundation selected Cheong’s project from nearly 5,000 applications.

All top 20 finalists have received $10,100 and one year’s worth of counsel from the Case Foundation.

Individuals can vote online at The top four projects each will receive an additional $25,000 grant.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

We welcome submissions from all areas of the University. Send information via email to:, by fax at 412/624-4579 or by campus mail to 308 Bellefield Hall.

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