Awards & More

Issue Date: 
May 29, 2007

Bernard Fisher, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery in Pitt’s School of Medicine, has received a Distinguished Medical Service Award from the Friends of the National Library of Medicine for his contributions to the treatment and understanding of breast cancer.

Fisher received the award during “Celebrating Pioneers in Cures for Breast Cancer,” a dinner event at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., on May 8.

Fisher, a 1943 graduate of Pitt’s medical school, is a renowned cancer investigator whose laboratory studies during the 1960s led him to formulate a new hypothesis regarding the biology of breast cancer. During the next three decades, he demonstrated in clinical trials that breast-conserving surgery was as effective as radical mastectomy for treating the disease.

Recognizing that breast cancer is a systemic disease, in subsequent trials he established the effectiveness of treatment using chemotherapy and/or tamoxifen. In more recent studies, he was the first to prove that tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer in high-risk women—one of his most important contributions. Millions of women have benefited from his research.

Terry Smith, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at Pitt, has been named a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in Durham, N.C., for the 2007-08 academic year.

Smith, whose research interests include world contemporary art, American visual culture since 1870, and Australian art, including Aboriginal art, is one of 37 Fellows selected from a pool of 400 international applicants.

Smith’s project at the center will focus on the topic of his newest book, Contemporaneity, to be published by Duke University Press in late 2008. This book explores the role of world-picturing and representations of locality within current debates in the mass media, as well as in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Smith will test the hypothesis that a distinctively contemporary set of configurations have come to replace the generalizations in widespread recent use—those referred to by such terms as modernity, postmodernism, and globalization.

Before taking up his fellowship, Smith will serve a term as Chercheur Invité at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris. While at the institute, he will conduct a colloquium on his recent work on the challenges and opportunities of writing the history of contemporary art. One of the Institut’s research programs is the history of art history; Smith will be the first scholar to address contemporary art in this context.

After 22 years as associate dean for academic affairs in Pitt’s School of Engineering, Larry J. Shuman, a professor of industrial engineering, was promoted to senior associate dean of engineering effective May 17, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder announced.

Shuman joined the engineering school in 1969 and became associate dean of academic affairs in 1985. His research focuses on applying engineering efficiency models to health care delivery, studying engineering ethics, and improving engineering education. He is founding editor of the journal Advances in Engineering Education and associate editor of the Journal of Engineering Education. He and several colleagues won an award May 20 from the national Institute for Industrial Engineers for research in which they investigated whether a formula largely used to evaluate industrial systems can also be used to streamline group projects in the workplace.
Shuman has been principal or coprincipal investigator on more than 20 research projects funded by federal and state government agencies and private foundations.

Civil and industrial engineers in Pitt’s School of Engineering who studied environmentally sound construction bested similar projects to receive the top prize in their research track at an international civil engineers conference held May 6-8 in Grand Bahama.

The American Society for Civil Engineers Construction Research Congress award for Best Paper on Sustainability and Lean Construction went to Robert Ries, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the department’s Green Construction and Sustainable Development Program; Kim LaScola Needy, an associate professor in and the undergraduate program director for the Department of Industrial Engineering; and graduate students Melissa Bilec in civil and environmental engineering and Nuri Mehmet Gokhan in industrial engineering.

Their paper, titled “Green Building Construction: Cost/Benefit Analysis of a Precast Concrete Manufacturing Plant,” was among 200 papers presented in five research tracks. One winner was chosen from each area. Pitt’s research center for green design and engineering, the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative, funded the research.

Frits K. Pil,
a professor of business administration and research scientist in Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, has won the 2006-07 Sloan Industry Studies Best Book Award competition.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award committee said Pil’s book, titled The Second Century: Reconnecting Customer and Value Chain Through Build-to-Order: Moving Beyond Mass and Lean Production in the Auto Industry (The MIT Press, 2004), meets all the criteria for an excellent industry studies book and proposes solutions that can be understood and adopted by managers in an array of manufacturing industries around the world.

The award-winning book was coauthored by Matthias Holweg, director of the Centre for Competitiveness and Innovation and University Senior Lecturer in operations management at the University of Cambridge. The authors share the prize with Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way (McGraw-Hill, 2003).

Pil, along with Pitt colleague Carrie R. Leana, professor of business administration and public and international affairs, was also the recipient of this year’s Sloan Industry Studies Best Paper Prize for research on the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Their paper, titled “Social Capital and Organizational Performance: Evidence From Urban Public Schools,” was published in the May-June 2006 issue of Organization Science. The researchers looked at improving student performance by considering the question, “What is it like to work here?”

Leana, the lead author of the paper, and Pil examined internal social capital (relationships among teachers) and external social capital (relationships between the principal and external stakeholders) in 88 Pittsburgh public schools to determine their effects on student achievement. The results of the research indicate that positive relations within the groups (social capital) can predict improved student achievement in mathematics and reading. The researchers concluded that the pursuit of improving schools and student achievement has overemphasized teaching skills and experience, while not giving enough attention to social interaction among teachers.

Harvey White,
professor of public and urban affairs and international development in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been elected president of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), a national association based in Washington, D.C.

ASPA, established in 1939, represents the public service arena, and the group’s 9,500 members serve as advocates for greater effectiveness in government.

In addition to serving as a Pitt faculty member, White leads the University of Southern Alabama Center for Healthy Communities, which coordinates community education, research, public service, and health activities.

Megan Spence, an assistant professor of chemistry in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, has received a $5,000 award to further her burgeoning research at Pitt. The 2007 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards were presented to several junior faculty members across the country by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium promoting research through academic, governmental, and industrial partnerships. The Powe award is meant to help young researchers such as Spence secure future funding by developing their research at an early stage. George Klinzing, Pitt vice provost for research, presented Spence with the award. Pitt will match the award amount.

Sean-Michael Green—a successful entrepreneur and former Marine—has been named the new assistant dean of Pitt’s College of General Studies (CGS). He will provide strategic leadership in developing academic programs and online education for CGS, which is geared toward the nontraditional student.

Green is completing a master’s degree in public management at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a JD degree from Cornell University’s School of Law, a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Pitt’s University Honors College. Green created an Internet-based educational service company and was CEO of Memories RPA Inc.—an enterprise that converts analog images to digital. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves for 12 years and has been a mentor and instructor for young people in the academic, military, and business worlds

He is the author of Marching to College: Turning Military Experience into College Admission (Random House, 2004).

Emil M. Spadafore Jr. has been elected chair of the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville (UPT) Advisory Board. Spadafore had previously served as vice chair of the board, which is made up of local and regional representatives who serve as advocates for UPT and as advisors to the campus’ president.

Spadafore earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Pitt in 1971 and his JD degree from Duquesne University’s School of Law in 1976. He has been a partner in the law firm of Thomas, Spadafore, Walker, and Keenan in Meadville since 1989. For the past six years, Spadafore has served as an adjunct faculty member at UPT, teaching courses in business law, introduction to criminal justice, critical issues in criminal justice, introduction to criminology, courts and the law, society and the law, and law and politics.

Amin Kassam has been appointed chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery in Pitt’s School of Medicine. He is internationally recognized for pioneering techniques in endonasal brain surgery that allow complex tumors of the skull base and brain to be removed without incisions.

“Amin Kassam has revolutionized the way we think about neurosurgery,” said Arthur S. Levine, Pitt senior vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the medical school. “Today, thanks to his innovative thinking and perseverance in developing and perfecting endonasal cranial skull-base surgical techniques, the removal of tumors and vascular anomalies is often accomplished noninvasively. Moreover, Dr. Kassam and his close collaborator, otolaryngologist Dr. Carl Snyderman, have been excellent role models in their dedication to teaching these groundbreaking techniques to other neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists from around the globe.

“Dr. Kassam maintains an active clinical practice. I know that he will bring his creativity, leadership, and collaborative outlook to his role as department chair,” Levine added.

Kassam is associate professor of neurological surgery, director of the UPMC Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders, and codirector of the UPMC Center for Cranial Base Surgery. He completed his medical and undergraduate education at the University of Toronto and his residency training at the University of Ottawa. He then joined the faculty of Pitt’s neurological surgery department, in 1998.

The American Filtration and Separations Society has presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Shiao-Hung Chiang, one of the nation’s leading experts in fluid/particle processing and separation technologies and their applications to energy and environmental systems. Chiang is a professor emeritus in Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

The Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ (ORAU) Board of Directors has added Gerald D. Holder—Pitt’s U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering—as a director. The ORAU board provides policy and fiduciary oversight of the organization’s operations for its membership.

“ORAU has a long and rich tradition of facilitating scientific exchange between government, academe, and industry,” said Holder. “I believe such partnering is critical to the future of America’s technical leadership and am proud to have been selected to participate in the leadership of this vital organization.”

ORAU is a university consortium leveraging the scientific strength of 98 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies, and private industry.