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April 28, 2005


Assistant professor of mathematics Anna Vainchtein has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

The five-year, $400,000 award will fund Vainchtein’s work on materials with “shape memory.”

Materials with shape memory are flexible and can sustain unusually large deformations. “Take a straight piece of wire made out of nickel-titanium alloy, and bend it in half,” said Vainchtein. “The wire will stay bent, but as soon as you put it into a cup of hot water, it will snap back to its straight form, as if it suddenly ‘remembered’ its previous shape.”

Due to their remarkable properties, shape memory materials are used in a variety of ways: from cell phone antennas, eyeglass frames, and orthodontic braces to medical guide wires and cardiac stents.

In addition, the materials are able to absorb large amounts of energy, a property that can be used to lessen earthquake and wind-induced vibrations of buildings and structures, for example.

Both energy dissipation and shape memory effect are due to a transformation from one solid state, or phase, to another.

“But how does a new phase nucleate?” asked Vainchtein. “How fast do the phase boundaries move? What controls the rate of energy dissipation? These are important open problems in modeling shape memory and other active materials.” Her research addresses such questions through modeling phenomena on the level of lattices.

The resulting mathematical problems, involving nonlinear dynamics of discrete systems, are similar to those that arise in such fields as biology, image recognition and numerical analysis.

Vainchtein’s project also will involve training graduate and undergraduate students in an interdisciplinary research program, mentoring female graduate students and providing outreach activities for middle and high school students.

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


Marlin H. Mickle, Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Electrical Engineering, computer engineering and telecommunications, and Stephen Badylak, a research professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery and director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, were honored last month as winners of the 2005 Carnegie Science Center Awards for Excellence in science and technology.

Mickle was recognized in the corporate innovation category as “a leader in the field in radio frequency identification and nationally renowned for developing the miniature PENI Tag, currently being incorporated by national retailers.”

Badylak was recognized in the life sciences category for “pioneering discoveries and aggressive pursuit of the transition of technology from the lab to clinical practice, benefiting over 250,000 patients.”


Alan Meisel, professor of law and psychiatry and the Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote Professor of Bioethics, received the Pellegrino Medal “for contributions to American health care ethics and law in the selfless spirit of Edmund D. Pellegrino,” from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Samford established the award in 2001 to honor Pellegrino, noted Georgetown University bioethicist who has been called the father of the American bioethics movement, and to recognize individuals known nationally as leaders for their contributions to health care ethics.

Meisel, a leading national and international authority on end-of-life decision making, is the author of the two-volume treatise “The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decision Making,” now in its third edition. The first edition won the 1989 Association of American Publishers Award for the outstanding book in the legal practice category.

Meisel has published widely in the fields of health law and medical ethics in numerous medical, legal and ethical journals.

He served on the ethics working group of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform in 1993. He was assistant director for legal studies on the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine in 1982, where he helped draft the commission’s studies on informed consent and on end-of-life decision making.

A fellow of the Hastings Center, Meisel also has served as a consultant to the congressional Office of Technology Assessment on its studies of life-sustaining technologies and on institutional protocols for health care decision making.

He is the founder and director of Pitt’s Center for Bioethics and Health Law and the director of the law school’s health law program and the master of studies in law program.


Also at Pitt’s law school, Pat Chew is the chair-elect of the section on women in legal education of the Association of American Law Schools.

Sandra Jordan has been appointed to serve on the Committee on Rules of Evidence of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. She was appointed to a three-year term.

Janice Mueller has been awarded a $2,500 Hewlett International Small Grant for the proposal she submitted to the Hewlett International faculty committee on “The Impact of Patent Law Reform on the Pharmaceutical Industry of India.”

Linda Tashbook, foreign-international-comparative law librarian, has been selected to chair the publications committee for the foreign international and comparative law section of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Tashbook also recently completed an appointment from the Fulbright senior specialist program as a consultant to the University Library System at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where a new law school is scheduled to open in 2006. Her work involved training the reference librarians to provide law reference services and assisting the library in drafting a collection development plan for selecting and maintaining law resources.


Joseph Costantino, professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) and director of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, was recently awarded GSPH’s 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his contributions to the field of public health, as well as to GSPH.

Costantino received a Master of Public Health degree from GSPH in 1974 and his doctorate in epidemiology from GSPH in 1976.

He has taught in various capacities at GSPH since 1976, when he began as an instructor in epidemiology. In 2002, he was promoted to professor of biostatistics.

Costantino has been a primary statistician on several landmark studies that tested treatments for breast cancer, most notably the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, funded by the National Cancer Institute. That trial demonstrated that the drug tamoxifen reduces the risk of breast cancer in women by approximately 50 percent.

Along with colleagues, Costantino also developed the algorithm that is the standard method used to determine a woman’s breast cancer risk.

Costantino’s research has focused on assessments of risk for various occupational groups, including coal miners, nickel workers and steel workers.


Freddie H. Fu has been elected second vice president of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (ISAKOS), and will assume the role of president in 2009.

Fu, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, is the head team physician for the Department of Athletics.

He holds secondary appointments as professor of physical therapy and health, physical and recreational education at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

ISAKOS was formed in 1999 with the merging of the International Arthroscopy Association and the International Association of the Knee, and has a membership of more than 1,850 orthopaedists from 72 countries.


Marshall W. Webster recently was appointed to the board of directors of the Patient Safety Authority by Robert C. Jubelirer, president of the Pennsylvania Senate.

The Patient Safety Authority is responsible for efforts to reduce and eliminate medical errors by identifying problems and recommending solutions that promote patient safety in hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities and birthing centers.

Webster is the president and chief executive officer of the University of Pittsburgh Physicians, a multi-specialty group practice comprised of approximately 1,350 practitioners who are faculty at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

A vascular surgeon, Webster holds the Mark M. Ravitch chair in surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.


BioDun Ogundayo, assistant professor of French and literature at Pitt-Bradford, has been named an associate editor of the International Journal of Humanities.

Ogundayo was named to the post after helping review papers for the scholarly journal that originally were presented at the 2nd International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities last July in Prato, Italy.

“Your assessment, comments and guidance are an essential part of the publication process and invaluable to the authors of the submitted papers,” said Kathryn Otte, publishing editor of the conference proceedings.


The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association has named Kristen Asplin, assistant professor of psychology, as its 2005 Outstanding Faculty Member Award winner. Asplin was selected by UPG students for her excellence in classroom instruction and devotion to the development of her students.


Several Pitt media won Golden Quill designations, given annually by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, at an awards ceremony May 9.

Winners of Golden Quill awards included:

• In the features category, non-daily newspapers, Pitt Chronicle, for “Research Excellence Series.”

• In the magazine features category, Pitt Magazine, “Tamper Proof,” Kris B. Mamula.

• In the science, health and technology category, Pitt Magazine, “Magnetic Personality,” Cindy Gill.

Pitt Golden Quill finalists included:

• In the cultural category, non-daily newspapers, University Times, “Colin McCabe” and sidebar, Bruce Steele.

• In the business category, magazines, Pitt Magazine, “Building a Business,” Robert Mendelson.

• In the science, health and technology category, Pitt Med, “Lessons From a Dark Winter,” Chuck Staresinic.


Recipients of this year’s Excellence in Education Awards were announced May 10 at the School of Medicine’s 13th annual curriculum colloquium.

The Kenneth E. Schuit Award, recognizing the dean’s master educators, was presented to Thomas D. Painter, professor of medicine/Division of General Internal Medicine, and Georgia K. Duker, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology.

The award recognizes clinical and basic science faculty for education-related contributions (teaching, planning and organization of courses or course sections) to the medical school curriculum.

The Donald S. Fraley Award was presented to Stephen L. Phillips, associate professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry.

Achievements of individuals receiving this award include extended service as a medical student mentor at the School of Medicine and significant mentoring contributions that extend beyond a single student or group of students.

The Sheldon Adler Award was presented to Peter F. Drain, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology, and Mary E. Choi, associate professor of medicine/Division of Renal-Electrolyte Medicine, for innovation in medical education.

Achievements of individuals receiving this award include the development of significant innovative contributions to medical education at the School of Medicine.

Awards also were presented at the May 10 colloquium by first- and second-year medical students to honor faculty and recognize their contributions and dedication to teaching in the basic sciences and organ systems courses in the School of Medicine.

Second-year medical student awardees are: John W. Kreit, associate professor of medicine/ Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, course director; Gregory J. Naus, professor of pathology, lecturer; Georgia K. Duker, small-group facilitator, and Raquel A. Buranosky, assistant professor of medicine/Division of General Internal Medicine, mentor.

First-year medical student awardees are: John B. Schumann, associate professor of neurobiology, course director and mentor awards; David L. Paterson, associate professor of medicine/Division of Infectious Diseases, lecturer, and Simon C. Watkins, professor of cell biology and physiology, small-group facilitator.

Awards for Excellence in Clinical Precepting were presented to Michael Wusylko, internal medicine specialist; Bruce I. Hyde, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, and Marc J. Schneiderman, family medicine specialist.

This award was established to recognize clinical preceptors who consistently provide outstanding clinical instruction, in a community setting, for students at the School of Medicine.

Achievements of individuals receiving this award include significant service as a medical student preceptor, and a clinical academic appointment in the medical school.


Robert Martinazzi, professor of mechanical engineering technology at the Johnstown campus, has been named the ninth recipient of the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

The award was established by Pitt-Johnstown President Albert L. Etheridge to recognize teaching excellence and to promote the campus’s primary mission of providing high-quality undergraduate education.

Martinazzi has been a member of the UPJ faculty since 1972. He served as head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from its inception in 1972 to 1982. He has taught a wide range of upper- and lower-level division courses and is the campus’s liaison to the Pennsylvania State Registration Board for the administration of the EIT exam, an on-line self-study review of engineering subjects and disciplines.

Martinazzi received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pitt and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon.

The teaching award carries a $2,000 stipend and an additional $1,000 for the division’s budget, which will be earmarked for the winner to use for professional or curriculum development.

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