Chancellor’s Teaching, Research, and Service Awards Announced

Issue Date: 
February 24, 2014

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg has announced the winners of the 2014 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching, Research, and Public Service Awards.

Each awardee will receive a $2,000 cash prize and a $3,000 grant for support of their teaching, research or service activities—and will be recognized during the University of Pittsburgh’s 38th annual Honors Convocation, to be held at 3 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 28, in Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. The event is free and open to the public.

The following four Pitt faculty members will receive the 2014 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award: Sayre N. Greenfield, Cynthia Lance-Jones, Steven Levitan, and Samuel Poloyac.

The following five Pitt faculty members will receive the 2014 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award: Ivet Bahar, Jonathan Pruitt, Marcus Rediker, Nathaniel Rosi, and Andrew B. Schwartz.

The three winners of the 2014 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Awards are: Bopaya Bidanda, Robert Ruck, and Jay Sukits.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award

SayreSayre N. Greenfield N. Greenfield
Professor of English, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Professor Sayre Greenfield excels in his use of technology in the classroom and his engagement of students in digital humanities and research at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. In the award letter, Chancellor Nordenberg cited Greenfield’s “innovative use of electronic database search technology” in assignments for his History of English Language course, as well as his role in initiating the Digital Humanities course. In addition, Greenfield has devised ways for students to gain practical experience in working with digital methods for generating, archiving, and researching cultural resources in the humanities. His prior teaching awards include the 1998 UPG Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2012 Primary Source Award for Teaching from the Center for Research Libraries. The chancellor also noted that as the first instructor on the Greensburg campus to request and receive a Green Scholar undergraduate research assistant, Greenfield has shown commitment to engaging students in collaborative research and providing them with “real world” experience.

CynthiaCynthia Lance-Jones Lance-Jones
Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology, and Assistant Dean for Medical Student Research, School of Medicine
As coordinator for the first-year basic science block in the School of Medicine and as assistant dean for medical student research, Professor Cynthia Lance-Jones positively influences the development of medical students and helps prepare them to be outstanding clinicians. Chancellor Nordenberg noted that, in addition to frequently earning top-notch teaching evaluations from students, Lance-Jones is one of only three faculty members who has received repeated requests to provide review sessions for U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 1 exams. She has earned numerous educator awards, including the 2013 Excellence in Education Award as Small Group Facilitator and the 2013 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

StevenSteven Levitan Levitan
John A. Jurenko Professor of Computer Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering
Professor Steven Levitan is recognized for his use of innovative teaching initiatives to help students become critical thinkers. Levitan employs a “flipped classroom” structure, a form of blended learning where what used to be homework is done interactively in class, and new content is learned in various ways, including by watching video lectures at home. Levitan has also developed new courses, such as Very Large Scale Integration Design, Computer Modeling, and the Digital Design Laboratory. In the award letter, Chancellor Nordenberg wrote that those models “have set the standard” for how the department teaches laboratory courses. Previous recognition of Levitan’s excellence in teaching include his receipt of the 2010 Provost’s Academic Council on Instructional Excellence Award and the Swanson School’s 2013 Outstanding Educator Award.

SamuelSamuel Poloyac Poloyac
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy
As a professor in the School of Pharmacy and chair of Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s core curriculum committee, Samuel Poloyac has demonstrated excellence in teaching and curriculum development. He received the student-selected Faculty Member of the Year Award in 2003 and the Phi Delta Chi Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award in 2008. Poloyac also developed the interdisciplinary course Translational Research in the Health Sciences, which has made major contributions to the University’s curriculum. In the award letter, Chancellor Nordenberg described the course as “instrumental in introducing students to the objectives, concepts, models, and processes of clinical and translational science.”

Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Awards

IvetIvet Bahar Bahar
Senior Scholar Category
Distinguished Professor and John K. Vries Chair, Department of Computational and Systems Biology, School of Medicine
Professor Ivet Bahar is known worldwide for her work in the fields of computational biology and biophysics. Bahar’s research accomplishments have been described as “important, innovative, and fundamental to the development of the extensive and expanding field of computational biology.” Upon joining Pitt in 2001, Bahar founded the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics in the School of Medicine, which became the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in 2004. Additionally, she cofounded the first such degree-granting program between Carnegie Mellon University and Pitt, which was selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health as one of 10 national programs to help biomedical research institutions train PhD scientists to conduct interdisciplinary research in biomedical, physical, computational, and mathematical fields.

JonathanJonathan Pruitt Pruitt
Junior Scholar CategoryAssistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
The selection committee was impressed by Professor Jonathan Pruitt’s research vision—to gain a deeper understanding of animal societies and how variation in individual “personalities” influences social organization, species interactions, and extinction risk. Notably, since arriving in Pittsburgh, Pruitt’s research has been featured in more than 16 media outlets, including Smithsonian Magazine, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC. Chancellor Nordenberg also cited Pruitt’s track record of prolific publishing, with 22 research articles in print in just the last two years. His nomination received praise from colleagues, one of whom wrote, “Dr. Pruitt shows the most potential to be a superstar. He is an original thinker and is also extremely generous in sharing his ideas and offering assistance to other researchers, students, and senior investigators.”

MarcusMarcus Rediker Rediker
Senior Scholar Category
Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History, Department of History, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Over the past 30 years, Professor Marcus Rediker has become a foundational figure in the field of Atlantic history and has made seminal contributions to working-class history, maritime history, and the history of slavery. In his award letter, Chancellor Nordenberg cited one of Rediker’s much-praised books, The Slave Ship: A Human History, which received the 2008 James Rawley Prize by the American Historical Association for the best book in Atlantic History and the 2008 George Washington Book Prize for the best book on the founding era of the United States. Rediker is also a popular and highly effective teacher, introducing new disciplinary perspectives and receiving Pitt’s highest possible evaluations in undergraduate courses. A letter of support for Rediker’s nomination noted that he “has been an enormous personal influence on many young scholars across the globe.” Among his recent honors are the Sidney Hillman Foundation’s 2013 Sol Stetin Award for Labor History and a YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh 2013 Racial Justice Award.

NathanielNathaniel Rosi Rosi
Junior Scholar Category
Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
In the award letter, Chancellor Nordenberg wrote that Professor Nathaniel Rosi is clearly on an “upward trajectory for continuing to make major contributions in materials chemistry and nanoscience.” The chancellor added that Rosi’s achievements have had a significant impact on the research profile of Pitt’s chemistry and chemical engineering departments as well as the nanoscience community. Rosi’s research has appeared in prominent journals, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Science, and Angewandte Chemie, which is published by the German Chemical Society. His nomination was supported by many colleagues, including one who wrote, “Professor Rosi clearly deserves such recognition by virtue of his emergence as a highly accomplished scholar in inorganic chemistry.” 

AndrewAndrew Schwartz Schwartz
Senior Scholar Category
Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine
Professor Andrew Schwartz is internationally recognized in the field of neural engineering and is one of the foremost experts on neural control of movement with brain-computer interfaces. Chancellor Nordenberg noted that the selection committee was “deeply impressed” by how Schwartz and his team in 2012 demonstrated the most successful use to date of a mind-controlled prosthetic arm and hand by a woman with quadriplegia. The committee also cited several other accomplishments, including Schwartz’s pioneering use of population activity as a method for decoding movement trajectories; the neurophysiological study of 3D movements; the use of virtual reality in studying behavior in awake monkeys; and chronic multi-electrode recording from the cerebral cortex. Schwartz’s nomination was supported by many colleagues and peers, one of whom wrote, “I would consider Dr. Schwartz as one of the most innovative contemporary neuroscientists that I know.” 

Chancellors’ Distinguished Public Service Award

BopayaBopaya Bidanda Bidanda
Ernest Roth Professor and Chair, Department of Industrial Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering
The chancellor cited Bopaya Bidanda and his colleague David Cleland for development of Pitt’s Manufacturing Assistance Center, which provides customized machinist-training programs for individuals and contributes to the region’s economic development. Bidanda has also worked closely with UPMC’s leadership to help improve patient care by incorporating industrial engineering concepts into health care delivery. Among the health care projects he undertook was the creation of a workflow design for the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancer at the Hillman Cancer Center as well as work for Presbyterian University Hospital’s Center for Lung Disease. Bidanda has been a leader in national engineering education throughout his career, including serving as past president for the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads and as a commissioner for the accrediting body for all engineering academic programs. 

RobertRobert Ruck Ruck
Professor of History, Department of History, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Among Professor Robert Ruck’s noted achievements are his efforts to restore public memory of the Negro Leagues and to promote public discussion of the role of African-American and Latin American players in the development of major-league baseball in the United States. Ruck lobbied the Pittsburgh Pirates to publicly acknowledge and commemorate the history of Pittsburgh’s Negro League teams, and in September 1988, the Pirates held a pre-game ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the last Negro League World Series and commemorating the history of the leagues. Chancellor Nordenberg noted that it may well have been the first time that a major-league team publicly recognized the history of the Negro Leagues. The chancellor also cited in the award letter Ruck’s involvement in public programming on Pittsburgh history and his philanthropic work in the area of public health.

JayJay Sukits Sukits
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
Professor Sukits’ individual efforts have served as “an inspiring example of contributions” to the University’s priority of addressing societal ills in tandem with teaching and research missions, Chancellor Nordenberg wrote in the award letter. He further cited the financial-literacy educational program that Sukits launched with a colleague in the financial services industry to teach high-school and college students personal financial-management skills. Also noted was Sukits’ work with the Sarah Heinz House, a North Side boys and girls club of which he is an alumnus. Sukits serves as a Sarah Heinz House board member and chair of its development committee. He also has created an initiative where Pitt College of Business Administration students are drafting a marketing plan for the organization. In addition, Sukits founded Pitt’s Student Veterans Association, which connects veterans with organizations interested in recruiting those who served in the military as employees.