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April 30, 2009


Michael Sacks, professor of bioengineering, was named the inaugural holder of the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair in recognition of his outstanding research accomplishments and service to the bioengineering community at the national and international level.

As Swanson chair, Sacks will continue to contribute to the research and educational mission of the Department of Bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Known internationally for his research on the biomechanics of native and engineered soft tissues, Sacks has published extensively in journals, was named among the 2006 Scientific American 50, received the 2008 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in the senior scholar category, is the technical editor of the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, and is a fellow of the American Association of Mechanical Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

He also has received National Institutes of Health funding in excess of $1 million annually.

Sacks also is a member of the core faculty of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and directs the institute’s Engineered Tissue Mechanics and Mechanobiology Laboratory. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

His research emphasis is on quantification and modeling of the structure-mechanical properties of native and engineered soft tissues, with a focus on tissues of the cardiovascular and urological systems.


Peter Brusilovsky, associate professor in the School of Information Sciences (SIS), was awarded an honorary degree by the Slovak University of Technology. Brusilovsky was recognized for his contributions to the fields of informatics and information technologies.

Brusilovsky, who joined the SIS faculty in 2000, is known for his research in the areas of adaptive web-based systems, adaptive hypermedia, adaptive interfaces, intelligent tutoring systems and shells, student and user modeling, human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence.

In 2005, he won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his work on “Personalized Access to Open Corpus Educational Resources Through Adaptive Navigation Support and Adaptive Visualization.”

He serves as associate editor of the recently introduced journal, the IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.


Dan Budny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and academic director of the Swanson School of Engineering’s freshman programs, has been named a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The fellow membership recognizes his outstanding contributions to the society.

The 2009 induction of ASEE fellows will take place June 17 in Austin, Texas.

In addition, this month Budny received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the north central section of ASEE. The award “focuses on outstanding classroom performance, recognizes teachers of engineering and engineering technology students and serves as an incentive to make further significant contributions to teaching.”

Budny’s academic interests are in the fields of basic fluid mechanics and in the development of programs that assist entering freshmen either on a standard track or through counseling and cooperative learning environments for academically disadvantaged students.


John Thompson, associate professor of mathematics at the Johnstown campus, has been named the 13th recipient of the UPJ President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Thompson was recognized for his use of real-world examples and applications and for encouraging students to generate and develop their own ideas. He creates a learning environment where students can be successful while differentiating between various levels of student achievement.

He joined the UPJ faculty in 1998 and teaches courses in geometry, topology and theoretical mathematics.


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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