Awards & More

Issue Date: 
May 19, 2014

Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Robert v. d. Luft Professor in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was named a 2014 Langmuir Lecturer by the American Chemical Society. Balazs, recognized for her research in the computational design of chemo-responsive gels and nanocomposites, will deliver a plenary lecture during a special session at the society’s annual conference in San Francisco in August. 

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, professor of French, has been elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in recognition of her distinguished contributions to medieval studies. Her body of scholarship includes research on how caesarean birth was represented in medieval culture; the 13th- and 14th-century writings of Europe’s first professional woman writer, Christine de Pizan; and how ordinary women experienced the Great Schism of Western Christendom between popes in Rome and Avignon, France, during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Medieval Academy of America, founded in 1925, is the largest organization in the United States promoting excellence in the field of medieval studies.


Cheryl Bodnar, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, has won an award from the Engineering Information Foundation to fund her project, “Preparation for Practice: Educating Engineers with the Communication Skills They Need to Know.” Bodnar uses game-based learning to teach communication skills to students.


Stephen Meriney, a professor of neuroscience and of psychiatry, won a Muscular Dystrophy Association grant to pursue a possible new treatment for Lambert–Eaton myasthenic syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that is characterized by muscle weakness in the limbs.

Sean Kelly received the Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award from the American Educational Research Association for his paper, “English Teacher Candidates Developing Dialogically Organized Instructional Practices.” Kelly is an assistant professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies in Pitt’s School of Education. The paper was published in the February 2013 issue of Research in the Teaching of English and coauthored with colleagues from Michigan State University and Central Michigan University.

The Academic Pediatric Association has awarded Alejandro Hoberman its 2014 APA Research Award. Hoberman, who heads the Division
of General Academic Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is recognized for his research on acute otitis media and urinary tract infections.



Diane Litman and Rosta Farzan are recent recipients of Google’s Faculty Research Awards. Litman, a professor of computer science and a member of Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center, is researching how to enable computers to derive meaning from human language so the computers can analyze student peer assessments in “massively open-access online courses,” or MOOCS. Farzan, an assistant professor in Pitt’s School of Information Sciences, studies “third places,” such as coffee shops, community centers, and beauty salons, which she believes are essential to our societies. Her Google award will fund research into whether hyperlocal online communities can fill the role of “third places.”

Yiran Chen, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was named the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding New Faculty Award from the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Design Automation. The award will be presented during the annual Design Automation Conference on June 3 in San Francisco.



Helen Cahalane, associate professor in Pitt’s School of Social Work and director of the Pitt-based Child Welfare Education for Leadership Programs, has been named Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, PA Chapter, Southwest Division. Among Cahalane’s accomplishments is the establishment of a major youth leadership program to help teens aging out of the foster care system find stability and careers. The program holds an annual Youth Summit at Pitt-Johnstown. Prior to joining Pitt’s School of Social Work, Cahalane was director of the Family Therapy Institute at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, which trained many social workers and other professionals in marital and family therapy.