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July 10, 2008


Jeffrey A. Kant, professor of pathology and director of the Division of Molecular Diagnostics in the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, was elected to a three-year term on the nomination and awards committee of the Academy for Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists.

Kant also directs the molecular genetic pathology fellowship program, and the clinical molecular genetics program within the overall genetics fellowship program. He is chair of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) biochemical and molecular genetics resource committee and a member of the CAP molecular pathology and genetic test advisory committees. Kant was instrumental in establishing the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), served as AMP’s first president and is the 2005 recipient of the first AMP Leadership Award.

Kant also serves as a member of the steering committee and co-chair of the model test workgroup for the CDC-RAND Corporation Model Genetic Test Report project.


J. Karl Johnson, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and National Energy Technology Laboratory faculty fellow, has been selected to receive the 2008 DOE Hydrogen Program R & D Award. This award is given annually by the U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Program Review.

Johnson’s award citation reads “In Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Hydrogen Storage Technologies.”

Johnson joined the department in 1995 after completing a National Research Council research associate fellowship at the Naval Research Laboratory. His research involves molecular modeling of complex systems using the tools of statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and equations of state. The overall goal of his research is to develop accurate engineering models that have a sound theoretical basis.


Pitt’s Johnstown campus has announced four staff appointments that were effective July 1.

Jeanne Susko has been named director of the reorganized Department of Community Education and Outreach at UPJ.

Formerly operating under the name Outreach and Professional Services, the new department will coordinate the campus’s personal and professional development non-credit programs and will be responsible for developing and expanding community partnerships. In addition to programs including the help, understanding, guidance and support (HUGS) program, the Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum and Project Click Safe, Community Education and Outreach will continue to administer educational youth programs including the SAT Super Series, the learning, enrichment and recreation network (LEARN) program and the Junior Naturalist Outdoor Adventure Camp.

Susko began her career at Pitt-Johnstown in 1974 in the office of Admissions and Student Aid and later moved to the office of Housing and Residence Life where she was employed for six years. Following a brief hiatus from Pitt-Johnstown, Susko worked as a temporary consultant in the office of Housing and Residence Life and the Registrar’s office. She is a cum laude graduate of Pitt-Johnstown with a BA in communication.

A recipient of the 2005 UPJ President’s Staff Award for Excellence in Service, Susko holds board appointments with the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, Women’s Information Network and Women’s Help Center. She also is a member of the planning committee for the upcoming Richland Community Days celebration.

Stephanie Korber has been named director of adult and continuing education. Korber will direct the newly realigned unit, formerly known as adult education.

In her new role, she will be responsible for adult undergraduate educational programs and will serve as administrative liaison for graduate programming offered through the John P. and Joyce Murtha Center for Continuing Education and Professional Development. The center currently offers a Master of Social Work program in partnership with the School of Social Work.

Korber began her career at Pitt-Johnstown in 1981 as the assistant director of continuing education. She is a member of several national professional organizations including the Learning Resources Network and the Association for Continuing Higher Education. She received her BA in sociology from Pitt-Johnstown.

Robert Knipple has been named executive director of External Relations at Pitt-Johnstown.

In his new role, Knipple will have responsibility for alumni relations, and University communication and public relations. He will have general oversight and supervisory responsibility for several administrative units including the Department of Community Education and Outreach and Sports Information. He also will coordinate the campus emergency response team and will continue to serve as chairperson of the institutional image and advancement team.

An alumnus of Pitt-Johnstown, Knipple earned a BA in journalism and went on to earn an MA in adult and community education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of Phi Delta Kappa National Honor Society and received the UPJ President’s Staff Award for Excellence in Service in 2004. He holds board positions with the United Way of the Laurel Highlands and the Learning Lamp, where he also serves as board chair.

Additionally, he is a member of Johnstown Area Regional Industries’ Greater Johnstown Keystone Innovation Zone advisory committee and is past president of the East Hills Business Association.

Pat Pecora, head coach of the nationally ranked Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team, has been named interim director of Athletics.

Pecora began his career at Pitt-Johnstown in 1976 as head soccer and wrestling coach and started a legacy that has brought national attention to the UPJ athletics program. In his 32 years at Pitt-Johnstown, his teams have captured 20 NCAA regional championships, including five straight from 2003 through 2007 and 10 in a row from 1992 through 2001.

Academically, his teams led the nation in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) all-academic wrestling team selections from 1997 through 2000. Pecora has coached 84 NWCA all-academic wrestling team members and has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame and the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame.

In his new role, Pecora will be responsible for overall leadership, student-athlete development and compliance with University, West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA rules and regulations. He will continue to serve as head coach of the wrestling team.

Pecora earned his BA in health and physical education from West Liberty State College and has done graduate work in the area of health education.


Anthony Delitto, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently received the 39th McMillan Lecturer Award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The award is the highest honor given by the association.

Delitto also serves as director of research at the Comprehensive Spine Center and vice president for education and research at the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. He is a member of APTA.

Among his recent awards were the Steven J. Rose Award from the orthopaedic section of APTA and the John HP Maley Award from the APTA section on research.


Gwendolyn Sowa, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the School of Medicine, received the Dennis W. Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Award from the American Geriatrics Society.

The award provides two-year grants of $200,000, including an institutional match, to help young faculty members initiate and ultimately sustain careers in research and education in the geriatrics aspects of their disciplines.

Sowa currently is conducting molecular-level research on disc and spine deterioration and the mechanisms of back pain.

She was selected for the scholars award because of the promise demonstrated in her proposal, “Investigation Into the Use of Serum Biomarkers as an Improved Diagnostic Tool for Active Pain Generators in Aging Patients With Low Back Pain.”


Robert Kaufmann, assistant professor in the Division of Hand and Upper Extremity, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, was the recipient of the Ken Yaw Golden Apple Award. Each year the graduating seniors in orthopaedic surgery present this award to a faculty member in recognition of exceptional teaching.


Several faculty in the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology recently were honored.

David Hinkle, assistant professor in the neurology department, received the 2008 Excellence in Teaching Award from the neurology residents at the School of Medicine. Hinkle, who joined the department in 2004, is a movement disorders physician and researcher with a special emphasis on Parkinson’s disease.

He initiated, currently organizes and lectures in a monthly movement disorders lecture series for the residents and lectures in the medical school’s Neuroscience course.

Hinkle also received the George C. Cotzias, MD, Memorial Fellowship from the American Parkinson Disease Association for his application entitled “The Potential Role of Anti-Oxidant Systems in the Mechanism of DJ-1-Dependent Astrocyte-Mediated Neuroprotection.” This award funds three years of research and is named for the neurologist whose work stimulated much of the current interest and research on the problems of neurological movement disorders.

Hinkle’s lab is exploring the mechanisms through which astrocytes (major brain support cells) may attempt to protect neurons against death. With this knowledge, scientists may be able to design novel astrocyte-targeted therapies against neurodegenerative disease.

Hinkle has been a member of the Movement Disorders Division through his participation in the Comprehensive Movement Disorders Clinic (CMDC) and his outreach activities with the local Parkinson’s disease and dystonia communities.

He has contributed to the development of Pitt’s new Dystonia Clinic. Hinkle recently has been named the medical adviser for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, the director of the VA Pittsburgh Center for the National VA Parkinson’s Disease Consortium and the program director for the CMDC annual movement disorders symposium.

Robert Y. Moore, Love Family Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience, has received the 2008 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the Sleep Research Society.

Moore’s award for “novel and seminal discoveries that have made a significant impact on the field of sleep” was presented during last month’s annual meeting of the Association of Professional Sleep Societies.

Moore serves on the board of directors of the National Sleep Foundation and on the president’s committee on the National Medal of Science.

He has been involved throughout his career in the clinical practice of neurology, specializing in movement disorders, and in research. His research has focused on understanding the neural basis of biological timing, and developing simple and sensitive methods to facilitate pre-symptomatic or early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and testing these methods using positron emission tomography.

Anto Bagic, assistant professor of neurology and neurological surgery, and director of the Epilepsy Division, the Center for Advanced Brain Magnetic Source Imaging and UPMC Presbyterian’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, has been named chief of the Epilepsy Division of the Department of Neurology.

Bagic’s areas of interest include epilepsy; the clinical and research aspects of magnetoencephalography (MEG), and the role of high frequency oscillations in epilepsy and cognitive processes.

In addition to his Outpatient Epilepsy Clinic and Vagal Nerve Stimulator Clinic, Bagic has attending responsibilities in the epilepsy monitoring unit that he has directed since October 2006. His major responsibility is to develop and direct the new imaging facility centered on clinical and research applications of MEG, the most powerful functional neuro-imaging technique for recording magnetic fields generated by brain activity in real time.

Steve H. Graham, professor of neurology and vice chair of research, recently received the 2008 VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Excellence in Research Award. This award, created by the VAPHS Research Office in 2007, recognizes a VAPHS research investigator annually for outstanding contributions to helping veterans through research. Among the considerations for nomination are lifetime achievements as well as outstanding contributions in the 12 months prior to selection.

Graham also serves as director of the Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center and associate chief of staff for research at VAPHS.

His research focuses on the mechanisms by which neurons die after stroke and brain trauma.


Louis A. Baverso has been named chief information officer (CIO) at Magee-Womens Hospital. Formerly the hospital’s director of information services, Baverso has worked in varying information-services capacities at Magee since 1997. As CIO, he is responsible for the operations of the hospital’s information technology resources and personnel, including clinical applications and voice-data communications.

Prior to joining Magee, Baverso worked as manager of training and user support at Mentors PC Training and Support of Pittsburgh. He began his IT career at Pitt’s Computer Learning Center.

Baverso graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a Master of Science in information systems management from Robert Morris University; he also received a BS in information science from Pitt in 1994.

He is a member of Alpha Iota Mu, an international honor society organized to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of information systems.


Gregg Dietz, a student counselor in the School of Education’s maximizing adolescent potentials (MAPS) program, received national recognition when three of his students at Shaler High School won the annual Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for public service, one of the nation’s highest honors for humanitarian work.

In March, Shaler seniors Erin Drischler, Jackie Betz and Megan Neuf were among eight winners of the local 2007 Jefferson Awards, which are administered by the American Institute for Public Service.

The trio later were named regional Jefferson Award winners, making them eligible as potential winners of the Onassis Award, the highest honor a local Jefferson Award recipient can achieve.

Last month, accompanied by Dietz as their sponsor to Washington, D.C., they were named one of five national winners of the Onassis Award from among 350 local winners nationwide.

Dietz, the prevention and intervention specialist at Shaler High, helped the students organize an assembly on sexual harassment at the high school to raise awareness among young women about rape and sexual violence. That led to forming M-Powerment, part of the school’s Youth Advocacy League, and later hosting an all-women’s conference at Chatham University and regular presentations to middle and intermediate school students on topics related to women’s health and well-being.

MAPS is a community-outreach drug and alcohol prevention program housed in Pitt’s Department of Health and Physical Activity.


Justin Sytsma, a teaching fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), has been awarded the William James Prize for 2008 from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.

The award recognizes the best contributed paper by a graduate student in the fields of philosophy and psychology. Sytsma won for his work on conceptions of subjective experience, which he co-authored with Edouard Machery, assistant professor in HPS.

Brian A. Primack, assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, has been elected as vice president of the Greater Pittsburgh unit of the American Cancer Society for 2008-09.

Primack has been a member of the unit’s board of directors since 2005 and received an American Cancer Society Program Award in cancer control in 2003.

In addition, Marina Posvar, Melissa A. Russo and Lorraine Sieminski have been elected to the unit’s board of directors.

Posvar, who won the Greater Pittsburgh unit’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2006-07, is a patient navigation services coordinator with the Hillman Cancer Center; Russo is associate director of information systems at UPMC, and Sieminski is clinical nurse manager with UPMC Cancer Centers.


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

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