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Honors and Other Things

December 21, 2010, Volume 57, No. 16

Ms. Barta: L’Oreal Honoree

Ms. Berni Barta, C’14, was honored by L’Oreal as a 2010 Woman of Worth. The award honors women who are making a difference in their communities. Ms. Barta founded Kid Flicks, which collects and distributes donated DVDs to children’s hospitals and pediatric departments in order to help young patients get through an experience that can be scary, lonely and/or painful.

Dr. Bennett: Beutler Prize

Dr. Joel Bennett, professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology, is a recipient of this year’s Beutler Prize.  This is the highest honor that the American Society of Hematology gives out each year. The Beutler Prize is given to a basic scientist and a clinical investigator whose work has fundamentally changed the field of medicine. Dr. Bennett was recognized for his pioneering laboratory research on the integrin receptor, GPIIb-IIIa.  

Dr. Chen: Heilmeier Award


Dr. Christopher S. Chen has been named the recipient of the 2010-11 George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Dr. Chen is the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in the department of bioengineering.  He is also a faculty member of the Cell Biology and Physiology Program as well as the Cell Growth and Cancer Program, director of the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory and founding director of the Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration.

The Heilmeier Award honors a Penn Engineering faculty member whose work is scientifically meritorious and has high technological impact and visibility.  

“Chris Chen’s fundamental contributions in developing methods for studying and designing cellular microenvironments are exceptional and critical to understanding cellular decision-making,” SEAS Dean Eduardo Glandt said.  “Dr. Chen’s leadership in applications in regenerative medicine provides impact within Penn Engineering and also demonstrates why Penn is internationally prominent in this area.”

The award is named for George H. Heilmeier, a Penn Engineering alumnus and overseer whose technological contributions include the development of liquid crystal displays and whose honors include the National Medal of Science and Kyoto Prize.

Dr. Landis: FOCUS Award

Dr. J. Richard Landis, professor and division head of biostatistics in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology in the School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2010 FOCUS Award for the Advancement of Women in Medicine for his extraordinary advocacy on behalf of women faculty at Penn Medicine.

Dr. Landis was praised for being proactive and successful in recruiting women to his division, but also in advancing women to senior ranks and leadership positions in key research initiatives across the medical school. Through his mentorship, Dr. Landis has successfully guided numerous women through the rigorous promotion process and has done this while making every effort to ensure quality of life for all.

Dr. Pettinati: Research Award

Dr. Helen Pettinati, research professor of psychiatry and director of the addiction treatment research and medication development division, Center for the Studies of Addiction in the School of Medicine, has earned the latest Dan Anderson Research Award for her randomized clinical trial examining the effects of both sertraline (an antidepressant) and naltrexone (an anti-craving agent) on treatment outcomes. The award honors a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction treatment and recovery.

Dr. Pettinati earned the award for her study, “A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Combining Sertraline and Naltrexone for Treating Co-Occurring Depression and Alcohol Dependence,” published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. She will accept the award and a $2,000 honorarium in May at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) annual conference.

Dr. Poggi: Modern Language Award

The Modern Language Association named Dr. Christine Poggi, professor of history of art, as one of the recipients of the Howard R. Marraro Prize for her book Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism.

The selection committee cited Dr. Poggi’s book for “diachronically juxtaposing the artistic production and official pronouncements of futurist artists with coeval theories such as those advanced by social theorists like Gabriel Tarde, Gustave Le Bon and Cesare Lombroso, as well as with recent developments in the field of chronophotography and war technology,” and said her work “makes a case for a radical reappraisal of futurism that revolutionizes its understanding within the context of Italian modernism.” The award will be presented in January.

Dr. Ravitch: Haitian Ministry


Dr. Sharon Ravitch, a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Education, has been named senior international advisor to the Haitian Ministry of Education for its Education Reconstruction Plan, designed to rebuild the nation’s education system.

Creutzer Mathurin, a senior leader in the Ministry, formalized an agreement earlier this month at Penn, solidifying Dr. Ravitch’s and GSE’s role in rebuilding the Haitian educational infrastructure.

“As an external advisor, I will partner with the Haitian Ministry of Education to assess and explore the challenges that existed prior to the earthquake and evaluate those in relation to the incredible strengths and possibilities that exist within and outside of Haiti,” Dr. Ravitch said.

For video of Dr. Ravitch discussing her work in Haiti, go to www.youtube.com/user/univpennsylvania#p/u/5/E_8WJ3s2jjo

Mr. Szewczyk: SEAS Staff Recognition Award

Steve Szewczyk, coordinator for the Material Science and Engineering (MSE) Instruction Labs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, received the 2010 SEAS Staff Recognition Award, the highest award for staff members in Penn Engineering. The award was presented this fall by Dean Eduardo Glandt.

Mr. Szewczyk has been a member of the Penn community and SEAS for five years.  A call for nominations earlier this year resulted in letters from faculty and staff across the School expressing their appreciation for Mr. Szewczyk, which spoke of his dedication, devotion to perfection and utmost willingness to help.  Accolades included, “Steve’s commitment to the education of the students in the department is unparalleled; I am sure that each and every student who has had the pleasure of working with him will attest to the devotion that Steve has for the department and for all of its members.” A student wrote, “Steve’s impact on my university experience, rises far above my interactions with him in MSE 250, simply because he truly likes teaching.”


Cervical Spine Research Society

Macrophage as a Potential Biomarker for Imaging Radicular Pain, a paper co-authored by SEAS professors Beth Winkelstein and Andrew Tsourkas, has been selected as the First Place Basic Science Research Award Paper by the Cervical Spine Research Society’s (CSRS) Research Committee. The research was performed by students Dan Hubbard (PhD’08) and Christine Weisshaar in Dr. Winkelstein’s Spine Pain Research Lab and student Dan Thorek (PhD’10) in Dr. Tsourkas’s Cellular and Molecular Imaging Lab. The paper was presented at the 2010 CSRS Meeting this month.

Dr. Winkelstein is an associate professor in the department of bioengineering. The broad goal of her research is to understand the mechanisms of injury that produce whiplash, sports-related and other painful injuries.

Dr. Tsourkas is an associate professor in the department of bioengineering. His research is focused on developing nanosensors that can be used to non-invasively image molecular markers of disease in a clinical setting. This paper represents a significant collaboration between the two laboratories to use innovative methods to image radicular pain. 

Almanac - December 21, 2010, Volume 57, No. 16