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February 5, 2009


Ronald L. Larsen, dean of the School of Information Sciences, has been named to the committee of visitors (COV) for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS). The committee conducts reviews of the various NSF programs to maintain high standards of program management, provides advice for continuous improvement of NSF performance and ensures openness to the research and education community served by NSF.

The COV provides NSF with evaluations and advice in two areas: assessments of the quality and integrity of program operations and program-level technical and managerial matters pertaining to proposal decisions; and comments on how the work product generated by awardees have contributed to the attainment of NSF’s mission and strategic outcome goals.

The IIS program supports education and research in the integrated roles of people, technology and information. The core programmatic areas in IIS include human-centered computing; information, integration and informatics, and robust intelligence.


Jeremy Levy, professor of physics and astronomy, recently was named a winner of the fourth annual Nano 50 Awards by Nano Briefs. The awards recognize the top 50 technologies, products and innovators that have significantly impacted — or are expected to impact — the state of the art in nanotechnology.

Levy’s research interests primarily are based upon exploring novel phenomena in solid state systems, in order to provide the physical foundation for future technologies. He also is the director of the Center for Oxide-Semiconductor Materials for Quantum Computation.

Levy was honored by Nano Briefs as an innovator, that is, an individual recognized as a leader or pioneer in a specific area of nanotechnology.


On a recent trip to China, John Prescott, the Thomas O’Brien Chair of Strategy and director of the doctoral program in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, was named an honorary research faculty member by Peking University, the first national university of China. The award primarily was based on Prescott’s work in the area of competitive intelligence and dynamic rivalry.


Faith Adiele, assistant professor of English, was selected as the 2009 Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. The professorship was initiated in 1981 to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at the college. The professorship brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to Metro State to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community.


The Foundation for the Lupus Center of Excellence has hired Sandra Bernardi as its first director.

The Lupus Center of Excellence, part of the Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, treats more than 2,000 patients a year with lupus and related autoimmune diseases.

Bernardi brings to her new post an extensive background in marketing, fundraising, major gift development and events planning honed over 16 years with the United Way of Allegheny County.

Lupus is a chronic disease where the immune system attacks itself. More than 1.5 million people have some form of lupus, and 90 percent of them are women, primarily minority women. Lupus most commonly affects the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, brain, kidneys and joints. Women with lupus have a 50-fold increased risk of developing heart disease at a young age.

The center’s multi-disciplinary team of physicians works to treat each patient and help them to live normal, healthy lives. Since its inception in 2001, the center has grown to support patients from 27 states and 11 countries.

Research underway at the Lupus Center of Excellence is focused on developing new diagnostic tests, treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

For more information, visit


Roger Hendrix, professor of biological sciences, received the 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award for Scientific Reviewing, a $10,000 prize presented for excellence in scientific reviewing during the past 10 years. The 2009 reviewing award was presented in the field of genetics.

Hendrix is among 18 researchers recognized by NAS for extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, social sciences, psychology and the application of science for the public good. The academy’s recognition of Hendrix stems from his extensive writing for academic journals and books about bacteriophage research, both his own and in the field at large.

Bacteriophages are viruses specific to bacteria and are thought to be the most numerous creatures on Earth. In addition, their simple composition — a few hundred precisely arranged protein molecules surrounding a DNA molecule — makes them comparatively easy to study, and the resulting insights are applicable to more complex organisms.

In his research, Hendrix investigates the mechanisms through which bacteriophages assemble within an infected cell prior to traveling to the next cell. After assembly, the viruses are released from the infected cell, acting as little “spaceships” that protect the virus DNA until it can infect another cell. The assembly of the protein structure capable of this process is complicated and specific, Hendrix said, and to understand it would provide insight into the assembly of biological structures in general.

Hendrix also studies the evolution of viruses by looking at the evolution of bacteriophages. Viruses do not leave behind “fossils” or other physical evidence, but Hendrix finds evidence about the evolutionary histories of phages by comparing their DNA sequences. NAS recognized this work as well as Hendrix’s ability to synthesize existing ideas and research in review articles and in journal commentaries highlighting the work of others in his field. Recent commentaries by Hendrix have appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Biology and Molecular Microbiology.

Hendrix co-founded and co-directs the Pitt-based Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute with Pitt biological sciences chair and Eberly Family Professor Graham Hatfull. The institute includes researchers and students from around world in an effort to better understand bacteriophages and their practical applications.


Members of the Pitt community last week were among the winners of the 2009 Carnegie Science Awards. Now in its 13th year, the awards program has spotlighted more than 200 regional people and organizations with links to the sciences.

Pitt winners were:

• University/Post-Secondary Educator: John F. Mahoney, associate dean of the Pitt School of Medicine, was honored for developing a medical school curriculum on bioterrorism, which has been adopted by other medical schools.

• Life Sciences Award: Yuan Chang and Patrick Moore of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute were honored for discovering two viruses that cause cancer in people.

• Journalism: Joe Miksch, associate editor of Pitt Med magazine, was honored for his award-winning journalism.

• Post-Secondary Student Award: Donna J. Haworth, a doctoral student in bioengineering, was honored for her work developing a urethral wrap that could help treat urinary incontinence.

The award winners will be honored May 8 at Carnegie Music Hall.


Two staff members at the Johnstown campus have been promoted as part of the campus’s ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of the Pitt-Johnstown community.

The promotions, which took effect Feb. 1, were announced by campus President Jem Spectar.

Sgt. Eric Zangaglia has been named associate chief of campus safety and security. In his new role, Zangaglia will provide assistance to the chief of campus police in enforcing University rules and regulations and will play a critical role in establishing an awareness and understanding of personal safety within the student population. Zangaglia will have joint oversight of the residential safety associate program; will serve as primary liaison between the program and parents, faculty, staff, students, student groups and law enforcement agencies, and will provide monthly briefings to the Student Government Association.

Additionally, he will serve as a member of the campus’s critical incident response team and will work closely with External Relations as liaison to the media on campus police matters. Zangaglia also will interact with the senior officer for equity and inclusion and will conduct officer training sessions on culturally sensitive issues and interpersonal development.

An alumnus of Pitt-Johnstown with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Zangaglia also earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s in criminal justice.

His career has included law enforcement and security positions at St. Francis University, College Misericordia, Penn State’s Wilkes-Barre campus, Indiana Hospital and the Upper Yoder Township Police Department.

Todd Shaffer has been promoted to assistant director of housing and residential safety. As departmental liaison to campus police, Shaffer will be responsible for the supervision and management of departmental functions relating to the safety and security of the campus’s residential community. He will serve as the first point of response for behavioral concerns, incidents and issues raised by students and staff within the residential communities.

Shaffer also will have joint oversight with Zangaglia of the newly created residential safety associate program and will be responsible for the management of residential facilities.

Shaffer earned his B.A. in criminology and his master’s in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Currently, he is working on his Master of Studies in Law through Pitt’s School of Law.

Prior to coming to Pitt-Johnstown, he served as coordinator of housing operations at West Liberty State College, and was the graduate residence hall director at IUP’s Punxsutawney campus. He also was employed by the IUP police department and St. Moritz Security Services as chief of event security.


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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