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March 31, 2005


Peter Brusilovsky, assistant professor in Pitt’s School of Information Sciences (SIS), has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

The five-year, $440,000 award will fund his work in personalized information access. His research will focus on helping students search the variety of information in on-line tutorials, electronic textbooks and digital libraries to find resources that match their individual goals, interests and current knowledge.

The NSF CAREER Award supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who integrate research and education most effectively within the context of the mission of their organization.

Brusilovsky aims to develop more interactive and expressive systems to retrieve and filter information. In the immediate future, the educational systems he develops will influence directly the way undergraduate computer programming courses are taught in SIS. Eventually, Brusilovsky’s work could be applied to searching the Internet at large.


The 2005 Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology was presented April 9 to Richard L. Simmons, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery and chair emeritus of the Department of Surgery.

Simmons, who also is vice chair of surgical research and professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry at the School of Medicine, was recognized for his advances in infection control and transplantation-related immune responses.

The Starzl Prize is awarded each year to an outstanding leader who has made significant contributions to the field of organ transplantation or immunology.

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 School of Medicine 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 Peter Medawar Prize of the Transplantation Society at the XX International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Vienna, Austria, last fall. The Medawar Prize is recognized as the world’s highest award for outstanding contributions to the field of transplant medicine and honors individuals for their discovery or focused body of work in experimental or clinical transplantation.


Richard E. McDowell, who served as president of Pitt’s Bradford campus for 29 years and helped the campus grow from a two-year school to a four-year, degree-granting institution, will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction, UPB’s highest honor.

McDowell will receive the award during the campus’s annual commencement exercises, which will be held at 2 p.m., May 1, in the Sport and Fitness Center.

Each year Pitt-Bradford presents the Presidential Medal of Distinction to someone who has volunteered his or her time for several years; supported the campus financially or with expertise or advice; served the campus’s region through community, government or business affiliation, or has made distinctive achievements in his or her field that have affected Pitt-Bradford.

In 1973 at the age of 29, McDowell, a Bradford native, was named UPB’s second president, succeeding Don Swarts. One year later, the college opened Swarts Hall, its first permanent academic building.

More buildings followed, including Fisher Hall, the campus’s science and engineering building; the Sport and Fitness Center; Hanley Library, and the Frame-Westerberg Commons, UPB’s student center.

In the area of academics, the state confirmed in 1979 Pitt-Bradford’s four-year status, and UPB began conferring baccalaureate degrees.

Three years later, under McDowell’s leadership, the regional was awarded a Department of Education Title III grant for more than $4 million, which made many of the science and technology programs possible and added or strengthened programs in mathematics, biology and human-resource management.

When McDowell stepped down in June 2002, he was awarded the title president emeritus. After taking a year’s sabbatical, he joined the biology and business management departments and works with members of the Allegheny Institute of Natural History in resource development.

McDowell currently serves as chair of the board of directors at Bradford Regional Medical Center, and is a member of the Bradford Hospital Foundation, the Blaisdell Foundation, the Bradford Area Alliance and the Headwaters Charitable Trust. He was a founding member of the Tuna Valley Watershed Association, and sits on the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees and the Northwest Savings Bank board of directors.

McDowell also helped to establish the Allegheny Research and Development Center, now known as the Business Resource Center, to help foster economic development in the region.


David Brent, academic chief, child and adolescent psychiatry, UPMC, and Robert Gallagher, associate professor, administrative and policy studies department, School of Education, have been appointed to a team of experts that will establish national guidelines for the assessment and treatment of depression on U.S. college campuses.

The project is co-sponsored by Aetna and the Jed Foundation.

The Jed Foundation was founded in 2000 by Phillip and Donna Satow. The Satows’ son Jed, a university student, committed suicide in 1998. The foundation is committed to reducing the youth suicide rate and improving the mental health safety net for college students nationwide.


Jeffrey Schwartz, professor of anthropology and history and philosophy of science and a fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Science, has been named a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

The World Academy is a non-official network of approximately 500 individual fellows from diverse cultures, nationalities and intellectual disciplines, chosen for eminence in the arts, the natural and social sciences and the humanities. It focuses on the social consequences and policy implications of knowledge and the challenges confronting people in a rapidly changing global civilization. Schwartz, also a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a faculty member in the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University School of Law, was among 27 fellows selected for admission to the World Academy.

Selection criteria include distinction or accomplishment in one’s profession, interdisciplinary interests or accomplishments, public service and a global perspective in scholarly research.

Originator of the orangutan theory of human origins, Schwartz first revealed his orangutan hypothesis in a 1984 issue of the journal Nature. His book, “The Red Ape: Orang-utans and Human Origins,” provides more evidence for his theory. An updated and revised edition of “The Red Ape” was published this year by Westview Press. In it, Schwartz analyzes many recent fossil discoveries and incorporates new plates and drawings in support of his belief that Asian orangutans are humans’ closest nonhuman cousins.


Marah Gubar, assistant professor of English, has received the Children’s Literature Association’s annual prize for the best article in literary criticism of children’s literature.

The article, “Species Trouble: The Abjection of Adolescence in E.B. White’s ‘Stuart Little,’” appeared in the journal The Lion and the Unicorn.

Gubar teaches and writes about children’s literature and Victorian fiction. Her publications include articles on Lewis Carroll, Juliana Ewing, E. Nesbit, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Jack Gantos.

Her commentary on children’s literature can be heard on National Public Radio. She also is a 2004 winner of a provost’s innovation in education award.


Eva Tansky Blum, senior vice president and director of community development and fair lending for PNC Bank, part of the PNC Financial Service Group, will be the commencement speaker at Pitt’s Greensburg campus.

The UPG commencement ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m., April 30, at Ridilla Field, the first campus graduation exercises to be held outside.

Blum, who also is chairperson of The PNC Foundation, earned a B.A. in 1970 from Pitt and graduated from the University’s School of Law in 1973.

At PNC, she is responsible for en-suring that the company complies with the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending rules. She also is the director of the PNC Grow Up Great, a program supporting high-quality early childhood education.

She is a member of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County bar associations. She serves as a member of the honor board of WQED Multimedia.

She also is vice chairperson of the Board of Visitors of Pitt’s law school and the immediate past president of Pitt’s Alumni Association.

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