University of Pittsburgh
May 10, 2006

Four Pitt Faculty Honored for Achievement in Mentoring Doctoral Students


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH--Four members of the University of Pittsburgh faculty are recipients of the 2006 Provost's Award for Excellence in Mentoring-an award that recognizes faculty for their mentoring of doctoral students. This is the first year the awards have been granted.

The awardees were selected from approximately 70 nominations made by Pitt graduate students and faculty.

The awardees-Celia Brownell, associate professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences (A&S); Katheryn Linduff, professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture in A&S; Esther Sales, professor in the School of Social Work; and Alan Sved, professor of neuroscience in A&S and codirector of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh-will be honored along with the other Provost's Award nominees at a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. May 22 in the Lower Lounge of the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Each of the four awardees also will receive a cash prize of $2,500.

"The mentoring of graduate students by our faculty is key to the training of the next generation of scholars and a vital part of Pitt's academic mission," said Pitt Provost James V. Maher. "The intellectual leadership provided by mentors helps to support, encourage, and promote a student's professional development and provides a foundation for a student's career long after the degree has been granted."

Background information on the recipients follows:

Celia Brownell has made significant contributions to the lives of graduate students in her 23 years at Pitt as a teacher, mentor, and director of graduate studies, a position she has held for the past five years. She has chaired 11 dissertation committees and served on 27 dissertation committees and a number of master's thesis and specialty papers committees. Her graduate students have received a number of honors and awards, including two Mellon Fellowships and two Sloan Fellowships. Brownell also has worked with her students to publish and present papers at conferences, having coauthored with them 14 publications and 45 presentations. A common theme in the letters of recommendation written by Brownell's students is her focus on developing independent thinking.

Katheryn Linduff, an expert on ancient Chinese art and archeology, is also a professor in the Department of Anthropology and teaches Asian studies courses in the University Center for International Studies. She has chaired 16 doctoral dissertation committees and 28 master's thesis committees. Her doctoral students have an impressive record of obtaining prestigious fellowships, including Mellon, National Science Foundation, and National Gallery of Art fellowships and 10 Chancellor's Fellowships in Chinese studies. Students recalled Linduff's generosity in allowing graduate students free access to her office and books, creating a community of students working together and learning from each other.

Esther Sales has served on more than 60 national, university, school, and community committees, boards, and task forces during her 35 years at Pitt. She has held more than 15 different administrative roles, from director of the Social Work Graduate Program to chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee. During her tenure at Pitt, Sales chaired 63 dissertation defense committees, including the six doctoral students she is currently advising. Several of her former students wrote about Sales' role in developing their careers long after they received their doctorate degrees.

Alan Sved has mentored more doctoral students than any other faculty member in the neuroscience department's 19-year history. He served as the department's director of graduate admissions before becoming director of its graduate program. He developed the neuroscience program into one of only nine (out of 200) nationally to be invited to participate in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID). His decision, as leader of the CID at Pitt, to focus on mentoring has helped shape the discussions about doctoral education on a national level. Students, in their letters of recommendation, praised his one-to-one interactions and said they were provided with abundant feedback on their theories and experiments.