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September 3, 2009

What’s New? People


The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year has returned: The proliferation of laundry carts, re-directed traffic, upperclass student volunteers pointing the way to newcomers and their families during Arrival Survival.

But for many at Pitt, the hazy days of summer have been anything but lazy: Facilities were renovated; faculty and staff were hired; new academic programs were established; events were planned.

The University Times asked deans and other school officials to provide a brief look at “What’s New? People, Places and Things” in their areas.

The summaries that follow are not all-encompassing, but rather are overviews of school news based on material submitted by the units. Information previously published in the University Times was not included here.


In the School of Arts and Sciences, former University of Wisconsin postdoctoral fellow Seth Horne has joined Pitt’s chemistry department faculty. Horne’s research focuses on the synthesis of organic oligomers with simple backbones that mimic or interact with more complex biological molecules. He earned his PhD in chemistry from Scripps Research Institute.

Renã Sowell comes to chemistry from the University of Kentucky, where she was a postdoctoral fellow. She earned her PhD in analytical chemistry at Indiana University.

Sowell’s research involves investigating the protective effects of antioxidant compounds against oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases and elucidating disease etiology.

Mohammed Bamyeh has been named associate professor in the Department of Sociology.

Bamyeh is a scholar in the sociology of politics and culture, focusing on Islamic societies and how global transnational processes relate Islamic societies to the rest of the world. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before coming to Pitt, Bamyeh was the Hubert H. Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Studies at Macalester College.

In addition, Arts and Sciences has hired new assistant professors Yi Xu, East Asian languages and literatures; James Shaw, philosophy; Suzanna Crage, sociology, and Annmarie Duggan, theatre arts.

New non-tenure stream faculty include: Valerie Oke, lecturer and co-director of undergraduate programs in biological sciences; Michelle Ward-Muscatello, lecturer in chemistry; Yin Chong, assistant instructor in East Asian languages and literatures; Lori Campbell, lecturer in English; Na-Rae Han, lecturer in linguistics; Konstantine Zelator and Jeffrey Wheeler, assistant instructors in mathematics; Olivia Newman, lecturer in political science, and Allan Zuckoff, lecturer in psychology.


Youmasu J. Siewe is the new director of the Center for Rural Health Practice at Pitt-Bradford. Siewe has nearly 30 years’ experience in public health, beginning in his native Cameroon. He earned his doctoral degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Before coming to Pitt-Bradford, he was director for public health services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he set up public health education outreach programs and services.


Robert L. Engelmeier has been named professor and chair of the Department of Prosthodontics in the School of Dental Medicine. He comes from the University of Texas, Houston Dental Branch, where he directed its implant program and graduate prosthodontic residency program. Engelmeier, who received his DMD from Pitt, has served in numerous administrative and clinical positions in the military and in academia.

Seth M. Weinberg has joined the faculty as a research assistant professor of oral biology. Weinberg received his PhD in anthropology from Pitt and focused on an interdisciplinary combination of craniofacial imaging and human genetics. He completed postdoctoral studies at the Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa.


William J. Federspiel is the new graduate coordinator in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Bioengineering.

Federspiel is a William Kepler White-ford Professor. Formerly, he was graduate coordinator in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.


Among the new staff in the College of General Studies are:

Krista Stokes, who joined the CGS advising staff from Simmons College in Boston, where she was coordinator of disability services. Stokes earned a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Brett Cione, manager of recruitment. His work focuses primarily on recruiting nontraditional and transfer students. Cione also works with local community colleges to assist students in their transition to the University. He recently earned a master’s degree in higher education management from Pitt.

Ann Rairigh, director of Veterans Services. Rairigh earned her undergraduate degree from Penn State and expects to graduate in December with a master’s degree in organizational leadership.


Jeffrey Everly has joined the Pitt-Greensburg faculty as a visiting assistant professor in psychology. His experience includes a post-doctoral research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Center for Learning and Health. While pursuing his master’s and PhD degrees at West Virginia University, Everly was a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Psychology.

Newly minted PhD Gretchen Underwood has joined the Pitt-Greensburg faculty as a visiting assistant professor in communication. She comes from Purdue University, where she was a teaching assistant and graduate lecturer in the Department of Communication.

Greensburg’s University Relations and Institutional Advancement Office has added new members to its staff.

UPG alum Kristin Guynn, online communication and development specialist, will create content for and maintain the UPG web site, write for promotional publications and coordinate web-based fundraising strategies. Guynn earned an MBA from Point Park University, where she worked as a marketing and communications associate.

Mark Matras, development coordinator, will implement plans for Pitt-Greensburg’s major gifts campaign and coordinate the faculty and staff internal campaign, advisory board campaign, matching gift program and gifts-in-kind program. He previously was an account manager for ThermoFisher Scientific in Pittsburgh.

Robert Smith is the new assistant director of administrative systems for Computing Services and Telecommunications. He comes to UPG with 15 years of experience with Pitt’s academic and administrative support systems, having worked in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid and the Office of the Registrar.


Among the new faculty in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences are Deborah A. Opacic and Martha Petersen, who came to Pitt to help develop a physician assistant program.

Opacic, who will direct the program, is a former faculty member at Duquesne University, where she earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

Petersen, who will oversee curriculum development, delivery and evaluation for the program, earned a master’s degree in public health at East Stroudsburg University. She has held faculty appointments at Lock Haven University and Duquesne University.

Sara Peterson has joined the SHRS faculty as an instructor in its new master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics program. A former staff certified prosthetist/orthotist for a Greenville, N.C., trauma and rehab center, she completed orthotic and prostheticpractitioner and technician programs at Century College in St. Paul, Minn., and earned an MBA at Baker College in Flint, Mich.

Takashi Nagai will direct the Human Performance Research Center at Fort Campbell, Ky., where Pitt conducts research with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division for injury prevention and performance optimization. Nagai has been at Pitt for six years in various capacities and is completing a doctoral degree in sports medicine and nutrition at SHRS.


Susan “Leigh” Star has been named the Doreen E. Boyce Chair in Library and Information Science at the School of Information Sciences. Star was selected for the Boyce chair because of her scholarship on the broad roles of the library and information in modern society.

Star also will serve as the director of the Sara Fine Institute, which is dedicated to examining the ways technology impacts interpersonal communications and relationships. Star comes to Pitt from Santa Clara University. She earned her PhD in sociology at the University of California-San Francisco.

Geoffrey C. Bowker has joined the SIS faculty as professor and senior scholar in cyberscholarship. Bowker comes to Pitt through a five-year program, underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to develop a research program to understand and influence the evolution of digital communication and research in academia, known as cyberscholarship.

Bowker served as the executive director and the Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor at the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University, where he also held a professorship in communication and environmental studies. He also has been a faculty member at the University of California-San Diego and the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. Bowker earned his PhD at the University of Melbourne, Australia, in history and philosophy of science and held a postdoctoral position at the École des Mines in Paris.

Jung Sun Oh comes to SIS from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill doctoral program. Oh earned her master’s degree in library and information science at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, after which she worked for the Korea Education and Research Information Service. Oh’s research interests include social information tools, social informatics, information behaviors on the web, digital libraries and metadata.


New faculty members at Pitt-Johnstown include Jill Henning, instructor of biology; Ann Marie Stewart, assistant professor of theatre; Rebecca Webb, visiting assistant professor of biology, and Eunice Yang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology.


Mirit Eyal-Cohen has joined the School of Law as assistant professor and will teach courses in the law of taxation, including Federal Income Tax and a seminar on small business taxation. Eyal-Cohen’s expertise in small business taxation will contribute to the school’s new Innovation Practice Institute.

Eyal-Cohen is completing a doctorate in law from UCLA School of Law. She previously was a judicial law clerk for Judge Mark V. Holmes on the Federal Tax Court in Washington, D.C.

New assistant professor Charles Chernor Jalloh’s teaching and scholarly activities will focus on international criminal law, international human rights law, public international law and criminal law.

A member of the Ontario Bar, Jalloh has served as a legal counsel in the crimes against humanity and war crimes section as well as the trade law bureau of the Department of Justice Canada. For three years, he also was the legal adviser to the Office of the Principal Defender (OPD) in the Special Court for Sierra Leone — the first such office in an international criminal tribunal. In that capacity, he set up the OPD’s Hague office and played a key role as duty counsel in the historic trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

He clerked at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, assisting on cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994.

In 2007, Jalloh edited a book that is now a leading reference on the legal texts of the Sierra Leone Tribunal. His current research seeks to expose the growing tension between Africa and the International Criminal Court.

Jalloh holds common and civil law degrees from McGill University.


Alexander D. Sorkin will join the School of Medicine as professor and chair of cell biology and physiology in March 2010. Sorkin is professor of pharmacology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He received his PhD from the Institute of Cytology, Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. His research focuses on the mechanisms by which endocytosis and post-endocytic trafficking regulate the functions of transmembrane proteins such as receptors and transporters.

Hunter Clay Champion has joined the Department of Medicine as associate professor of medicine and scientific director of translational vascular medicine for the department’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, as well as for the interdisciplinary Hemostasis and Vascular Biology Research Institute. He also was named director of the pulmonary vascular disease program.

He comes to Pitt from Johns Hopkins, where he was assistant professor of medicine and director of the Bernard A. and Rebecca S. Bernard Laboratory for Fundamental Research in Preventative Cardiology.

Champion received both his MD and PhD in cardiovascular pharmacology from Tulane University School of Medicine. His research focuses on mechanisms of pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular failure, the molecular determinants of pulmonary hypertension, and stem cell and gene therapy for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure.


Judith A. Erlen has been named chair of the Department of Health and Community Systems at the School of Nursing. Erlen also will coordinate the school’s PhD program. She is president of the Eastern Nursing Research Society.

Chao-Hsing Yeh has joined the faculty as an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Development. Yeh most recently worked at Gung Gung University School of Nursing in Taiwan. She earned her PhD from the University of Massachusetts-Worcester and has conducted research on coping, quality of life and symptom management for pediatric oncology patients. In addition to conducting her own research, she will teach nursing research for undergraduate students.

Robert R. Kaufman joins the nursing faculty as assistant professor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care. He previously was a clinical pharmacist with Accredo Health Group in Warrendale. Kaufman earned his PharmD from Duquesne University.

New nursing visiting instructor Joyce Miketic previously held the position of performance improvement specialist/interim department manager at Jefferson Regional Medical Center. Miketic earned an MBA at the Katz Graduate School of Business and is a doctoral candidate in the School of Nursing.

Three additional clinical instructors were hired by the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care. They are Linda Reid-Kelly, who earned her MSN from Pitt and a JD from Duquesne University, and Rebecca Manning and Marilyn Huston, both MSN graduates of Waynesburg University.


Philip E. Empey has joined the School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics. Empey will teach pharmacogenomics and continue his clinical and translational research on the clinical pharmacokinetics and role of drug transporters in critical illness.

Empey received his PharmD from the University of Rhode Island and completed residencies in pharmacy practice and critical care at the University of Kentucky Hospital. He earned his PhD in clinical pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky and recently completed postdoctoral training at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy.

Pamela L. Havrilla Smithburger, a new assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, will serve as an advanced practice preceptor for pharmacy students in the final year of the PharmD program. She will teach, conduct patient outcomes research in the critical care setting and serve as the specialty clinician in the medical intensive care unit of UPMC Presbyterian.


New faculty at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs include Ilia Murtazashvili, visiting assistant professor, who earned his PhD in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He comes to Pitt from Wisconsin where he was a lecturer.

New assistant professor Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili also comes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she completed her PhD in political science.

Both new faculty members have affiliations with the Center for Russian and East European Studies.

Angela Illig joins the GSPIA staff as assistant director of career services.

GSPIA also has established a 25-member board of visitors, 23 of whom are graduates of the school. Each member will serve three years.


April Tarun has joined the Graduate School of Public Health Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology as assistant professor. She will establish a program of research in the biology of the liver stage of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria; she also will seek to identify parasite proteins that are localized at the host-parasite interface. Tarun, who comes from Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, received her PhD in comparative chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley.


Shaun M. Eack, a predoctoral fellow in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, has joined the faculty at the School of Social Work, where he earned his PhD. Eack’s primary research focus is on the development, implementation and evaluation of psychosocial treatment methodologies for persons with schizophrenia.

New staff members at the school include: Mary Ann Joyce, administrative assistant, Office of Field Education; Emily Penrose-McLaughlin, administrative assistant; Megan O’Donnell, director of marketing and communications; Courtney Colonna Pydyn, project coordinator on the Mayview Discharge Study, and Rachel Winters, evaluation coordinator for the child welfare education and research program.


Robin Choo has been named visiting instructor of biology at Pitt-Titusville. Choo earned her PhD from the University of Maryland-Baltimore where she specialized in toxicology.

Choo formerly was a graduate research assistant at Maryland Veterans Hospital Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center and at the University of Maryland Baltimore County chemistry department.

Choo has completed pre- and postdoctoral intramural research training awards at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Division.

UPT biology professor Christopher J. Coat has been named registrar and academic coordinator for the campus.

In addition to teaching, Coat will direct academic record-keeping and class scheduling and will provide administrative support to the vice president of Academic Affairs by aiding in the development of local policies and procedures, assisting academic division heads and providing training to faculty in advising and University academic software.

As registrar, he takes the place of Jean Spence, who retired. Spence had been employed at UPT since the campus was founded in 1963.


Macrina Lelei, assistant director of the African studies program in the University Center for International Studies, has been promoted to associate director. Lelei also has received an appointment as adjunct assistant professor in the School of Education’s Department of Administration and Policy Studies, teaching Education in Africa, a course that will be offered every summer term.

The African studies program also plans to host two distinguished guests from Africa this fall: Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, the ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States in October, and Benson Bagonza, the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Diocese of Karagwe, Tanzania, in November.

David Montgomery of anthropology has joined the Center for Russian and East European Studies as an affiliated faculty member.


The University Library System announced that Anna Mary Williford has joined Pitt-Greensburg’s Millstein Library as a public services librarian. Williford most recently taught information literacy skills to K-12 students as a long-term substitute in the Hempfield Area and Greater Latrobe school districts. She received her BA from the University of Richmond in classical studies and English and her MLIS at Pitt.


Two new faculty members joined the Center for Vaccine Research in July. Cristian Apetrei comes to the CVR from the Department of Tropical Medicine at Tulane University School of Public Health. He also will serve as associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in the School of Medicine.

Apetrei studies the pathogenesis of simian immunodeficiency virus on class-species transmission and in the natural host, correlates of immune protection and host and viral determinants of pathogenesis. He received both his MD and PhD from Grigore T. Popa University of Iasi, Romania.

Ernesto Torres de Azevedo Marques Jr. formerly was on the faculty of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. At Pitt, in addition to his role in the CVR, he will be associate professor of infectious diseases and microbiology in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Marques’s research will focus on vaccine development, immunotherapy and diagnostic markers based on the study of immunomes (the intersection of traditional wet lab, high-throughput and computational immunology) and characterization of the correlates of immune protection and pathogenesis in clinical cohorts.

He received his MD from the Federal University of Pernambuco School of Medicine, Recife, Brazil, and his PhD in pharmacology and molecular sciences from Johns Hopkins.

—Peter Hart & Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 1

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