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February 19, 2009


Chemistry professor Lillian Chong has been selected to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award based on her proposal entitled “Flexibility vs. Preorganization: Atomistic Simulations of Partner Recognition by Natively Unfolded Peptides.”

The faculty early career development (CAREER) program offers NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

The central goal of Chong’s research is to use theory and simulation to understand how proteins fold, bind their partners and catalyze reactions, with an emphasis on how malfunctions at the molecular level can be linked to clinical data for various diseases.


Faculty in the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) recently were recognized with awards or accolades.

• Donald S. Burke, dean of GSPH and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health, was featured in a series of videos produced by the Military Health System to document the work of military medical pioneers.

In the videos, Burke discusses how his experience studying infectious diseases in the U.S. Army helped shape his philosophy that infectious disease outbreak research should move away from surveillance and response and toward prediction and prevention. The videos can be viewed at

• Burke, along with Bernard Goldstein, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and former GSPH dean, and Judith Lave, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, were designated national associates of the National Research Council of the National Academies in honor of their service to the National Research Council in its role as adviser to the nation on science, engineering and health.

• Linda Frank, principal investigator and project director of the Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center, has received the Frank Lamendola Achievement Award for Nursing Leadership in HIV Care from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.

As a nursing professional who combines clinical practice with leadership in policy, education, professional services and scholarly activities, Frank was recognized for bringing vision, administrative abilities and commitment to the nursing profession. Frank is an assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.

• Elizabeth Gettig, associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics, received the Marjorie Guthrie Award from the Huntington’s Disease Society of America in recognition of her service to the Huntington’s disease community.

The award is named in honor of Marjorie Guthrie, wife of Woody Guthrie and an advocate of research and funding for the disease.


Kenneth Jordan, Distinguished Professor of Computational Chemistry and director of the Center for Molecular and Materials Simulations, has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

Jordan’s research is engaged in theoretical and experimental studies of the properties of molecules and clusters, of reaction at surfaces, of electron and proton localization and transfer in polyatomic molecules and waterclusters, and of the properties of biomolecules. 


Pitt trustee and engineering alumnus John A. Swanson has been named to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), among the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive. He was one of 65 new members and nine foreign associates elected to the academy Feb. 6 for contributions to and innovations in engineering.

The academy recognized Swanson for his development of the ANSYS program, a general-purpose finite-element software code used in engineering design worldwide to predict how product designs will behave in manufacturing and real-work environments. The program is used in various fields employing computer-aided engineering, including the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, manufacturing and electronics industries.

Swanson founded ANSYS, Inc., in 1970. The company — which designs, develops, markets and supports engineering simulation technology — now has 1,400 employees and distributes products through a network of business partners in more than 40 countries.

Swanson was elected to Pitt’s Board of Trustees in 2006. In 2002, he was inducted into the Cathedral of Learning Society, which recognizes individuals who have donated $1 million or more to the University. In 1998, he received the School of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In 2007, Pitt renamed its engineering school the John A. Swanson School of Engineering in recognition of the largest gift by an individual donor in Pitt’s history — $41.3 million.

Swanson’s gifts to Pitt over the years have helped create the John A. Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence, which houses the John A. Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems; the John A. Swanson Center for Product Innovation, and the RFID (radio frequency identification) Center of Excellence. He also has established the John A. Swanson Embedded Computing Laboratory in Computer Engineering.

Swanson received his PhD in applied mechanics from Pitt in 1966. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 1963 and 1962, respectively.

With his election, Swanson joins three Pitt professors who also are members of the National Academy of Engineering: Bernard Cohen, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy, elected in 2003; Thomas Saaty, University Professor of Business Administration and winner of a 2009 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Research, elected in 2005, and Savio Woo, University Professor of Bioengineering, elected in 1994.


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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