Awards & More

Issue Date: 
December 3, 2007

Alumni Banners Awarded; Chicago Club Nets Top Prize

The Pitt Alumni Association has awarded the Pitt Club of Chicago its 2007 Club/Council of the Year award—the top award given to the banner status applicants. Along with this award, the alumni association also announced the blue and gold banner awards to various Pitt alumni organizations.

Established in 1998, the banner program recognizes Pitt alumni clubs, councils, societies, and regional associations that participate in communications, fundraising, student recruitment, programs, and scholarships, among other activities that support the mission of the alumni association.

Criteria for the award include the completion of annual requirements and one activity in each of the following categories: financial strength, communications, student involvement, and partnerships.

The association’s banner awardees for 2007 are:

Blue Banner Status

  • Boston Area Pitt Club
  • College of General Studies Alumni Society
  • Metro Pittsburgh Pitt Club
  • New York City Pitt Club
  • South Florida Pitt Club

Gold Banner Status

  • African American Alumni Council
  • Chesapeake & Potomac Pitt Club
  • Pitt Club of Chicago
  • Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton Pitt Club
  • Graduate School of Public and International Affairs Alumni Society
  • Graduate School of Public Health Alumni Society
  • Greater Philadelphia Pitt Club
  • New Jersey Pitt Alumni Club
  • Pitt Band Alumni Council
  • Pitt Bradford Alumni Association
  • School of Dental Medicine Alumni Society
  • School of Education Alumni Society
  • School of Engineering Alumni Society
  • School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Alumni Society
  • School of Information Sciences Alumni Society
  • School of Medicine Alumni Society
  • School of Nursing Alumni Society
  • School of Pharmacy Alumni Society
  • School of Social Work Alumni Society

—Patricia Lomando White

PSC Recognized for Innovation

HPCwire, a leading electronic news service that covers high-performance computing (HPC) and communication, has awarded two of its 2007 Reader’s Choice Awards for innovation to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).

PSC’s biomedical research program, the National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing (NRBSC), won an award for “Most Innovative Use of HPC in the Life Sciences,” while ZEST, a PSC-developed file system that makes very large-scale scientific computing more efficient, won for “Most Innovative HPC Storage Technology or Product.” The awards were presented Nov. 12 during Supercomputing 2007 in Reno, Nev., an international conference for high-performance computing, networking, storage, and analysis.

Established in 1987, NRBSC was the first external biomedical supercomputing program funded by the National Institutes of Health. NRBSC scientists conduct core research that connects supercomputing with the life sciences and develop collaborations with biomedical researchers around the country, providing computational resources, outreach and training.

“Over the past decade, computing has become essential to almost all aspects of biomedicine,” says PSC’s Joel Stiles, director of NRBSC. “Here at the NRBSC, we’re developing and distributing computational tools in simulation, visualization, and education that are helping to transform our understanding of life and disease.”

ZEST, developed by PSC’s Advanced Systems Group, is a prototype for speeding up the way that data is saved on large computing platforms, thus eliminating a major bottleneck in transferring files. ZEST will directly apply to so-called “petascale” platforms (computing systems comprised of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of processors) and its goal is creating maximum reliability at low per-unit cost.

The PSC is a joint venture between the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Monroeville, Pa.-based Westinghouse Electric Company. Established in 1986, PSC is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and private industry, and is a leading partner in the TeraGrid, the National Science Foundation’s cyberinfrastructure program.
—Michael Schneider

Oregon Native Wins Press 2007 Starrett Prize

Michael McGriff is the 2007 winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize—one of America’s most distinguished awards for a first book of poetry—for his collection Dismantling the Hills.

McGriff’s manuscript was selected from several hundred entries, with Ed Ochester, Pitt Poetry Series editor, serving as this year’s judge. It will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the fall of 2008.

“To say the very least, I’m honored that Dismantling the Hills is an upcoming Pitt title,” said McGriff, a 30-year-old Oregon native who now resides in San Francisco. “From Tranströmer to Levis, from Olds to Ostriker, from Kooser to Orr, the Pitt Poetry Series represents a broad range of poets who take up a lot of space on my bookshelf.”

“Unlike other first book contests, where you get published then ignored, the Starrett Prize offers you the chance to develop a working relationship with an editor. This is increasingly uncommon,” he said. “I really admire the series, and am truly honored to have won this year’s prize.”

McGriff describes his collection as “a witness to the landscapes and industries of rural American life.” The poems focus on a blue-collar Oregon lumber town, much like his birthplace of Coos Bay. He uses a broad range of styles—from the strictly narrative to the expansively meditative, from the grounded to the surreal.

Currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, McGriff attended the University of Oregon and University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James A. Michener Fellow in Poetry and Fiction. He’s been awarded a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His poetry and translations have appeared in Agni, Poetry, Field, Northwest Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. A limited-edition collection of poems, Choke, was published by Traprock Books in 2006. His translation of Tomas Tranströmer’s The Sorrow Gondola is forthcoming from Green Integer Books in 2008.

The Starrett Prize was established in 1981 and bears the name of the Press’s first director. It is awarded for a first full-length book of poems and includes a $5,000 prize and publication in the Press’s acclaimed poetry series.

The series was founded in 1968 to publish the best in contemporary American poetry.
—Maria Sticco

Public Affairs Staffers Receive 17 IABC/Pittsburgh Awards

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Affairs was honored with 17 awards by the Pittsburgh chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Three projects produced by Public Affairs claimed the top prizes in their categories.

The honors were presented Sept. 26 at the 28th annual Golden Triangle Awards ceremony, held at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. Master of ceremonies was Jennifer Antkowiak, formerly a reporter at KDKA-TV and currently the head of Jennifer Productions, which produces At Home With Jennifer magazine, a locally syndicated newspaper column, and a weekly talk show for WTAE-TV.

Pitt’s 17 awards were the most of any organization entered in the competition. According to IABC/Pittsburgh organizers, 132 entries were received this year.

The top prize—the IABC Award of Excellence—was presented to Executive Creative Director Marci Belchick in the category “Graphic Design: Book and Magazine Covers” for Blue Gold and Black 2006 and to Assistant Creative Director Don Henderson in the category “Publication Design: Annual Reports” for the 2006 Engineering Annual Report.

In the category “Publications: Magazines,” Pitt Med, the quarterly publication of the University’s School of Medicine, also received an Award of Excellence.

The Golden Triangle Awards, presented by IABC/Pittsburgh, recognize excellence in communications management, skills, and creativity throughout Western Pennsylvania.

In all, 11 Awards of Excellence and 43 Awards of Honor were presented at this year’s competition.

IABC/Pittsburgh presented Office of Public Affairs projects and staff members with 14 Awards of Honor in 12 different categories:

Annual Reports: 2006 Report of Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg

Annual Reports Design: Marci Belchick, 2006 Community and Economic Impact Reports

Brochures/Leaflets Design: Coleen Rush, What Will Be Your Legacy?

Communications Management: Madelyn A. Ross, associate vice chancellor for national media relations and University Marketing Communications, “Freedom House,” the celebration/communications of the 40th anniversary of the Hill District-based Freedom House Ambulance Service, the world’s first mobile emergency medical care unit

Graphic Design (Book and Magazine Covers): Marci Belchick, 2006 Community and Economic Impact Reports

Graphic Design (Other): “Freedom House” project

Magazines: Cindy Gill, editor-in-chief, for Pitt Magazine

Magazines Design: Elena G. Cerri, Pitt Med; and Don Henderson, Engineering News

Newsletters Design: Amy Porta Kleebank, World of Giving

Newspapers/Tabloids: Linda K. Schmitmeyer, executive editor, for Pitt Chronicle

Newspapers/Tabloids Design: Gary Cravener, art director, Pitt Chronicle

Special Publications: Blue Gold and Black 2006 and 2006 Community and Economic Impact Reports

IABC is a not-for-profit international network of public relations and marketing professionals that develops educational resources, services, and activities for individuals and organizations in the field.

Earlier this year, Pitt’s Office of Public Affairs received five Circle of Excellence Awards during the annual meeting of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in New York City.

Public Affairs received a gold award in the category of “Individual Special Events” for the Three Rivers Youth 125th anniversary exhibition and opening event, and a bronze award in the category “Individual Public Relations/Community Relations Projects” for the same project.

In addition, bronze Circle of Excellence Awards were presented to Pitt Med in the category “Special Interest Magazines,” Pitt Chronicle for “Print Internal Audience Tabloids/Newsletters,” and Pitt Magazine for “Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences.”

A sixth CASE Circle of Excellence Award—bronze—was presented to Pitt’s School of Law for Today’s Cutting Edge Scholars in the category of “Individual Institutional Relations Publications.”

In other recent awards competitions, Pitt Magazine received the following awards:

International Galaxy Awards: Gold for University Magazines, Gold for Copywriting, and Silver for Magazine Design; and

MarCom Creative Awards: Platinum for “Magazine (Educational Institution)” and Platinum for “Magazine Writing.”

More Awards

Linda Siminerio, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute and a professor in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, has received the Josiah Kirby Lilly Sr. Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to the lives of persons with diabetes mellitus.

The award is named for Josiah Kirby Lilly Sr., the son of the founder of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceuticals who became president of the company after his father’s death in 1898.

Siminerio was the first woman editor of Diabetes Forecast magazine and has authored several books on diabetes. In addition to leading numerous research projects and publishing both scientific and patient articles, she has been a powerful advocate for diabetes education worldwide.

Currently cochair of the Pennsylvania Action Plan for Diabetes, Siminerio previously served as president of Health Care and Education for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the senior vice president of the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF). She also has been named the chair of the 2009 IDF World Diabetes Congress.

Past honors have included the ADA awards for Outstanding Contributions to Diabetes in Youth and for Distinguished International Service to the Cause of Diabetes.

Siminerio received the award at the 18th annual J.K. Lilly Distinguished Service Award Gala on Nov. 3 in Indianapolis.

Xiaoyan Zhang was awarded a 2007 Erin McGurk Research Grant from the Orthopedic Research Laboratory Alumni Council (ORLAC) for a project entitled “A Subject-Specific Model of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament.”

Zhang is a predoctoral research fellow in Pitt’s Musculoskeletal Research Center (MRC) and is conducting her work under the supervision of the MRC’s founder and director, Savio L-Y. Woo, University Professor of Bioengineering in Pitt’s School of Engineering. McGurk grants provide funding for female graduate students to perform musculoskeletal research during the summer.

United Educators Insurance (UEI) Risk Retention Group has honored Jane Thompson, Pitt’s associate vice chancellor for planning and analysis, with its prestigious Frank J. Bachich Award. UEI is an insurance company owned by 1,160 member colleges, universities, public school districts, and other related organizations. A 20-year veteran Pitt employee, Thompson has served on UEI’s board of directors for 10 years, including three years as secretary-treasurer.

An accompanying citation on the Bachich Award calls Thompson “a model director, leading by example and demonstrating at every turn the highest level of loyalty, creativity, intelligence, ethical decision making, and hard work.” The award, named for the late Frank J. Bachich, senior vice president for finance and treasurer of Drexel University and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, has been presented annually by UEI since 2001.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’s Minority Business Advisory Board honored Pitt’s RISE: Reaching Inside Your Soul for Excellence program during the team’s African American Heritage Day celebration.

A citation from Winifred Torbert, Pirates director of community development, praised the RISE program for its “outstanding demonstration of selfless humanity” and its dedication “to the enrichment and development of underprivileged youths” in Pittsburgh.

Administered by Pitt’s Office of Student Affairs, RISE is a mentoring program that helps students perfect the skills necessary to finish their college degrees. RISE staff were honored at an on-field ceremony at PNC Park
Aug. 4 before the Pirates played the Cincinnati Reds.

Charli Carpenter, professor of international affairs in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), has been awarded $647,000 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study why certain human rights issues are adopted by the international community while others are ignored. Her project, “Issue Adoption in Human Rights Advocacy Networks,” will focus on the role of transnational advocacy networks in issue creation.

Carpenter’s research team will map the global human rights network using both surveys and analysis of advocacy Web sites, determine what issues they consider salient, decide where gaps exist, and host a series of focus groups with human rights organizations to explore reasons why some issues receive more attention than others.

The project is an international, interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers at Pitt and in Canada and the Netherlands, spanning the fields of sociology, political science, and information science.

In addition, the editorial team for the curriculum guide Peace, Justice, and Security Studies has selected for inclusion the syllabus from a course that Carpenter teaches at Pitt called “Humanitarianism in World Politics.”

Peace, Justice, and Security Studies compiles syllabi for schools to use as they build new programs in peace and security studies. The curriculum guide is underwritten and produced by the Plowshares Project, a collaborative effort of Earlham College in Richmond, Ind.; Goshen College in Goshen, Ind.; and Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and funded in part by a $14.3 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.

The editors of the book received more than 200 entries and selected only 75 for publication. The next edition of the curriculum guide, used by nearly 400 American colleges and universities, will be published next year.

E. Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms Program, was one of three alumni from Bridgeport High School chosen to inaugurate the school’s new “Hall of Fame,” in Bridgeport, W.Va. A 1941 graduate, Bruhns told the Bridgeport News that she remains “very close” to her alma mater and was excited to learn that she was among the first three inductees.

Director of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms Program since 1965, Bruhns is a graduate of Ohio State University and in May received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from West Virginia Wesleyan University. She and the other two Bridgeport alumni were honored at a formal dinner on Aug. 30.