Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching, Research, and Public Service Awards Announced

Issue Date: 
March 30, 2015

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has announced the winners of the 2015 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching, Research, and Public Service Awards. Each awardee received a $2,000 cash prize and a $3,000 grant for support of their teaching, research, or service activities. Honorees were also recognized during Pitt’s annual Honors Convocation held on Feb. 28.

The following five Pitt faculty members received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award: Gretchen Holtzapple Bender, Giselle G. Hamad, Joseph J. McCarthy, Melissa Somma McGivney, and William C. Pamerleau. 

The following five Pitt faculty members received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award: Jane A. Cauley, Marlene Cohen, Kirk Erickson, Kenneth F. Schaffner, and Rocky S. Tuan.   

The two winners of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Awards are John M. Wallace Jr. and Evan Waxman.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Awards

Gretchen Holtzapple Bender

Assistant Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Senior Lecturer, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Gretchen Holtzapple Bender

As assistant chair and director of undergraduate studies, Gretchen Holtzapple Bender has helped to transform the Department of History of Art and Architecture’s undergraduate program. Advising more than 200 undergraduate majors, she devotes her attention to teaching, curriculum development, and pedagogy. Holtzapple Bender pioneered the use of undergraduate teaching assistants as peer mentors, a concept that quickly spread through the department. She also has been instrumental in a number of departmental initiatives, including HAAARCH!!!, an annual celebration showcasing the work of  department undergraduates, and Why History of Art and Architecture Matters, a service-learning course that places advanced undergraduates as mentors in local high schools. Her impact on teaching echoes previous honors from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, which awarded her  the 2008 Tina and David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award.

Giselle G. Hamad

Associate Professor and Director of Surgical Education, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

Giselle G. HamadGiselle G. Hamad developed the Watson Surgical Simulation Center, which enables fellows, residents, and medical students to practice their hand-eye coordination and dexterity to better perform surgeries. Serving as director of surgical education and associate residency program director, Hamad has dedicated countless hours to residency advising and medical student mentoring. She is committed to teaching both in and outside the operating room. In addition to her work as a surgeon and teacher, she has been involved with a number of professional organizations, including the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, the Association for Surgical Education, and the American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, among others. Her passion for teaching is evident in a number of past awards, including the Pitt School of Medicine’s 2012 Clinical Educator of the Year Award. 

Joseph J. McCarthy

William Kepler Whiteford Professor, Vice Chair for Education, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering

Joseph J. McCarthyKnown for his groundbreaking work, Joseph J. McCarthy is highly regarded within the field of engineering education. He has gained a national reputation for his work on the Pillars of Chemical Engineering project, an innovative curriculum that uses block-scheduling techniques to provide a more integrated learning experience. The Pillars curriculum was created and implemented thanks to McCarthy’s extensive background and has been cited as being likely to be integrated at other schools nationally. McCarthy’s commitment to teaching and innovative approaches to educational programming are apparent in the student and peer evaluations he receives at the Swanson School. McCarthy has been recognized for his instruction through the school’s Outstanding Educator Award. His research has been published in a number of academic journals, including Chemical Engineering Education and Advances in Engineering Education.

Melissa Somma McGivney

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy

Melissa Somma McGivneyMelissa Somma McGivney has helped to bring the School of Pharmacy to a position of national prominence for community pharmacy training and research. Committed to training and education, McGivney has pioneered a shared research course for community pharmacy residency in Pennsylvania; a training course for pharmacy faculty members to conduct community-based research; a community pharmacy research fellowship; and a community pharmacy residency program now in its ninth year. Her work is lauded by peers and students, and she has been previously recognized by the American Pharmacists Association Community Residency Preceptor Award, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Community Residency Preceptor Award, and the Community Pharmacy Faculty Award. She also is currently a fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and the American Pharmacists Association. 

William C. Pamerleau

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

William C. PamerleauWilliam C. Pamerleau has played a powerful role in shaping the programming within the Division of Humanities at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. In addition to developing and teaching a wide range of philosophy courses, Pamerleau has partnered with other faculty members to implement cross-disciplinary courses in areas such as English writing, biology, and sociology. He has led three major campus-wide programs: an experimental Common Text Project, which integrated the study of great texts across disciplines; the Humanities Academic Village, a learning community that combined the curricular and extracurricular experiences of students into their studies; and the La Cultura Committee, which presented a series of events based on cultural themes to the campus and greater community. Pamerleau’s commitment to teaching is exemplified in past awards, including Pitt-Greensburg’s Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Awards

Jane A. Cauley

Senior Scholar Category

Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health

Jane A. CauleyOne of Jane A. Cauley’s research areas is osteoporosis, a major public health problem that is intensifying as more people live longer. She has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on some of the largest and longest studies on aging, including the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (ongoing since 1986) and the Women’s Health Initiative (ongoing since 1993). Cauley also studies race and ethnic differences in osteoporosis and the role of hormones in multiple chronic diseases. The recipient of the 2011 Pitt Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Cauley has mentored 42 students, including 29 doctoral candidates. Among her many awards are the Reuters Influential Scientific Minds as well as the Golden Femur Award from the European Calcified Tissue Society, both presented in 2014.

Marlene Cohen

Junior Scholar Category

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Marlene CohenMarlene Cohen researches how sensory information is encoded in the brain and used to guide behavior. One of her most notable scholarly achievements is her pioneering use of interactions between pairs of neurons—rather than single neurons—to probe how neural circuits change when a subject performs a different task or changes his or her focus of attention. Among her recent honors are the Simons Foundation Collaboration for the Global Brain award, the Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology. One of Cohen’s peers, writing in support of her award nomination, noted, “She has already made a substantial mark on the field, and the future will only be better as she hits her full stride as a mature, independent researcher.”

Kirk Erickson

Junior Scholar Category

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Kirk EricksonKirk Erickson focuses his research on late-adulthood brain plasticity and the use of nonpharmacological interventions, such as physical activity training, to improve brain function. Having completed his doctoral work nine years ago, Erickson has produced research prolific both in its quantity and significance. One of his most impressive findings is that one year of exercise training may increase brain volume by two percent, a magnitude that corresponds to a reversal of one to two years of age-related tissue loss. That study as well as some of Erickson’s other research has helped to place the field of exercise science hand-in-hand with neuroscience. At Pitt since 2008, he received the 2010-11 Pepper Center Junior Scholar Award and the Neal Miller Young Investigator Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

Kenneth F. Schaffner

Senior Scholar Category

Distinguished University Professor, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Kenneth F. SchaffnerThe committee that nominated Kenneth F. Schaffner wrote that his “impact both on the community of historians and philosophers of science and on biomedical research and education would be hard to overstate.” His research on the issue of theory reduction, which he began in the mid-1960s, has been groundbreaking. His work in the ethical and legal aspects of biomedicine helped to create a medical humanities component in the Pitt School of Medicine’s curriculum as well as an MA degree in bioethics and health law. Schaffner enrolled in the School of Medicine in 1981 and received his medical degree in 1986—while continuing with his teaching in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He has also written a book on behavioral genetics that will be published this summer by Oxford University Press.

Rocky S. Tuan

Senior Scholar Category

Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

Rocky S. TuanRocky S. Tuan’s research involves several aspects of biomedicine, including musculoskeletal diseases, birth defects, stem cells, and tissue engineering. His work is widely recognized by the academic research community, and he has authored more than 500 publications. In 2004, he received the prestigious Marshall Urist Award for Excellence in Tissue Regeneration Research, sponsored by the Orthopaedic Research Society. Tuan is codirector of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a U.S. Department of Defense consortium focused on developing regenerative therapies for battlefield injuries. One of Tuan’s colleagues, writing in support of his nomination, said that Tuan’s “entire career points unerringly toward an integrated, multidisciplinary and multiscale approach. The biomedical community is lucky that there are individuals like Rocky Tuan to show us the way forward.”

Public Service Awards

John M. Wallace Jr.

Philip Hallen Endowed Chair in Community Health and Social Justice, School of Social Work

John M. Wallace JrJohn M. Wallace Jr.’s dedication to service is exemplified by his work with the Homewood Children’s Village (HCV), an educational community for the young residents of that Pittsburgh neighborhood. As one of HCV’s founding members, Wallace helped to assemble a team that replicated the conceptual framework of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a widely praised program in New York City that has helped thousands of children. Wallace works tirelessly as the village’s board president to “reweave the fabric of the Homewood neighborhood,” which is HCV’s mission. Wallace’s commitment to service also is demonstrated in awards such as the National Urban Affairs Association’s Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award. He has been involved with many organizations, including Operation Better Block, a community-based revitalization project in Homewood. 

Evan Waxman

Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine

Evan WaxmanEvan Waxman’s dedication to service has reverberated across both the Department of Opthalmology and the Pitt campus. Among his many initiatives, Waxman’s work with the Guerilla Eye Service (GES)—a mobile clinic that provides free eye care to those in need—has been especially important. As founder and director, Waxman and his team at GES work to provide eye care for patients across Western Pennsylvania, especially for those who do not have easy access to such care. It is staffed by students, residents, and faculty. Waxman’s commitment has generated several awards, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology’s Humanitarian Service Award and the Pittsburgh-area Jefferson Award for Public Service. In addition, he serves as director of the University of Pittsburgh Physicians’ Comprehensive Eye Service, director of UPMC Eye Center Mercy, and vice chair of medical and resident education in the Department of Ophthalmology.