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April 2, 2009


Four members of the faculty have been named recipients of the 2009 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, an award that recognizes faculty for their mentoring of doctoral students.

The honorees are Susan Campbell, professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences (A&S); Dennis Curran, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and Bayer Professor in A&S; Raman Venkataramanan, professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the School of Pharmacy, and Bell Yung, professor of music in A&S.

“Fundamental to the success of our doctoral programs are the faculty members who serve as mentors to our graduate students,” said Provost James V. Maher. “Our faculty mentors provide intellectual and personal leadership that helps to support, encourage and promote the personal and professional development of our students. The faculty selected for these awards exemplify our commitment to the excellence of graduate education at the University of Pittsburgh.”

• Campbell has chaired the developmental program in the Department of Psychology for the past eight years. Prior to that, she was chair of the department’s clinical psychology program. In 1990, Campbell co-founded Pitt’s joint program in clinical and developmental psychology, which has become a model used by other psychology departments across the country.

Among her former students are faculty at the University of Iowa, the University of Chicago, Penn State and Pitt. Many of them are in private practice. Included among others are the director of the substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Miami VA Healthcare System, a research associate at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and a psychologist at Allegheny General Hospital.

Campbell is the former editor and current associate editor of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. She has served as primary adviser for 22 doctoral students and currently is advising three others.

• Curran, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a recipient of the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry, Pitt’s Innovator Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award.

Many of his former students are now top senior scientists at such companies as Bayer Corp., Eli Lilly & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck Corp. Among others are faculty members at Kent State University, Korea University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Still others are in postdoctoral positions at Cornell University, MIT and the University of Michigan.

Curran has been the primary adviser to 59 doctoral students and now is advising three others.

• Some of the students who were mentored by Venkataramanan have gone on to become faculty members at Mercer University, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, King Saud University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Others hold senior scientist positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo Smith Kline and the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Venkataramanan is a fellow of both the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was the primary adviser for 16 doctoral students and currently is advising seven others.

• Yung, formerly the director of Pitt’s Asian Studies Center, has been the recipient of Ford Foundation grants and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He also was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers.

Among his former students are professors at the University of Maryland, UCLA, the University of California-San Diego, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the National Taiwan University. He has served as the primary adviser for 14 doctoral students and now is advising four others.

The mentoring excellence award winners were selected from a pool of nominees whose names were submitted by Pitt doctoral students and faculty. The awardees will be honored April 7 at a reception. Each of the honorees will receive a cash price of $2,500.


The Alzheimer’s Association presented the 2009 Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute Award to Pitt researchers William E. Klunk and Chester A. Mathis for their contributions to the research, care and advocacy of Alzheimer’s disease patients and their caregivers. The award was presented last week at a national Alzheimer’s gala in Washington, D.C.

Klunk and Mathis are responsible for developing a noninvasive method of detecting beta-amyloid proteins, which form plaques in the brain tissue of people who have Alzheimer’s disease. The experimental technique may make it possible to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other dementias.

The researchers invented Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), the imaging agent that is injected into the bloodstream immediately before positron emission tomography (PET) brain imaging scans.

Klunk is professor of psychiatry and neurology at the School of Medicine, co-director of Pitt’s Alzheimer Disease Research Center and director of the Laboratory of Molecular Neuropharmacology at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Mathis is director of the UPMC PET Center, and professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Radiology at the School of Medicine.

The Alzheimer’s Association established the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Award in 2004 to honor leaders in the field of Alzheimer’s research and to pay tribute to the Reagans, who were champions in the fight against Alzheimer’s.


In observance of Women’s History Month, Audrey J. Murrell, associate professor of business administration and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership at the Katz Graduate School of Business, was one of 22 local women honored with the Celebrate and Share Women of Achievement Awards.

The awards, which recognize Pittsburgh women in the fields of academia, business, corporations, education, foundations, government, health, law, law enforcement, media, nonprofits and peace and justice, are sponsored by Allegheny County district attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC Bank and the UPMC Cancer Centers.

Murrell was recognized for her efforts as a consultant in mentoring, for employee and leadership development and for promoting diversity.

Murrell conducts research, teaches and works with organizations on strategies to enhance overall effectiveness. Her research focuses on building capacity of people and outcomes at work with a special emphasis on enhancing outcomes for women. This includes topics such as mentoring, breaking the “glass ceiling,” diversity and workplace discrimination.


Aimee Kimball, director of mental training at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, last week received the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association’s Honorary Membership Award for her contribution to improving interscholastic sports in Pennsylvania.

Last fall, Kimball published results of a study revealing student athletes’, parents’, coaches’ and athletics directors’ perceptions about school sports, which were released in a handbook titled “Extending Student Athlete Success.” The handbook, supplied to school districts across the state, advises school athletics programs to teach student-athletes life skills and encourage them to achieve success beyond the sports arena.

One of the most compelling findings in the study is that an unrealistic number of student athletes believe they will play their sport at a higher level, with 70 percent of student-athletes surveyed expecting to compete in college. In reality, only 6 percent of high school athletes nationwide compete at the collegiate level.

In addition, 17 percent of those surveyed expect to compete professionally, though less than one-fifth of 1 percent of high school student-athletes ever play professional sports.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Alliance in Sport — a collaboration of six Pennsylvania organizations responsible for interscholastic athletics — the handbook is the result of focus groups and nearly 2,000 survey responses representing all PIAA classifications and geographic districts. The handbook can be viewed online at

Since Kimball’s launch of the mental training program at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine in 2004, more than 300 individuals and 100 organizations have used the program, including 12 colleges, four professional sports teams, five corporations and more than 50 high schools.


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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