University of Pittsburgh
November 19, 2007

From Holiday Traditions to Increased Stress. . . Pitt Experts Available to Be Interviewed for Holiday Stories


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-The following Pitt experts are available to be interviewed for holiday stories:

International Holiday Traditions

E. Maxine Bruhns, Nationality Rooms Program director, oversees Pitt's 26 Nationality Rooms. The Holiday Open House Dec. 2 showcases various holiday traditions celebrated by the represented countries, including a Chinese Lion Dance, Scottish sword dancers, the Philippine Tinikling (bamboo pole dance), an Indonesian Gamelan orchestra, and Indian dancers. Bruhns, who can talk about the many holiday traditions from around the world, explains that Pitt's focus is unique because, "we recognize Indian Diwali (the festival of lights), Kwanza, Hanukah, Orthodox, and other Christian traditions." Bruhns may be reached at 412-624-6150 (office) or; or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or

Shopping for the Latest Technology

For gadget-hungry shoppers wondering whether to buy the latest HDTV now or wait until next year, Ahmed Amer, a professor of computer science in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, is available to discuss how the price and quality of technology evolves. Amer says that the price of electronics and computer products have consistently plummeted by wide margins as the products become more available-a nearly unique trend when compared to other industries. Although technology often improves in the intervening years from when it was introduced, Amer warns that later, cheaper versions may be of a lesser quality if they cost less to replace and manufacture than to repair. Contact Ahmed Amer at 412-624-8454 or; or through Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or

Classic Holiday Films…Old and New

Fiore Pugliano, Pitt professor of English, is available to discuss classic holiday films, why they endure and what place such films as "White Christmas," the quintessential holiday film, and the more recent classics, "A Christmas Story" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," have in popular culture. Pugliano may be reached at 412-624-6510 (office) or; or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or

Books Make Memorable, Engaging Gifts for Kids

As gifts for children, books not only serve as tools for literacy, but also provide new experiences that children engage in, process, and independently extract meaning from through the act of reading, said Margaret "Maggie" Kimmel, a professor emeritus in the Department of Library and Information Science in Pitt's School of Information Sciences. "It's very different from watching a DVD or television-it allows a child to step back and say, 'I never thought of that,'" Kimmel said. The best books for children are those that are well written and feature strong, memorable characters in gripping yet imaginative plots, Kimmel said. Nonetheless, a book should adhere to both a child's interests and his or her reading ability, she said. It also helps for children to receive books that they can share with an adult to hone their reading skills and create fond memories. Contact Maggie Kimmel at 412-624-9436;; or through Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or


'Tis the season for writing a check to your favorite charity. Pitt professor of economics Lise Vesterlund has studied the motivation behind charitable giving. She has found that people tend to give more if someone in a high-status group donates first. And she has studied gender differences in charitable giving, with some revealing results. In her most recent work, Vesterlund finds that while some donors give because it results in personal satisfaction, many more are motivated by a concern for those who benefit from the nonprofit's work. Vesterlund may be reached at 412-648-1794 (office) or; or through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell) or

Healthier Living

J. Jeffrey Inman, the Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing and a professor of business administration in Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, is available to discuss his research on habitual behavior in American eating patterns-a behavior that may lend itself to developing more effective strategies for maintaining a healthy diet. According to Inman, people are most habitual when eating breakfast-rather than lunch or dinner-possibly because breakfast is usually eaten in the same environment and under greater time constraints. Inman's research (along with Adwait Khare of Quinnipiac University), which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, also indicates that the food consumed for breakfast has a larger effect on what is consumed for lunch and dinner of the same day-because people pay more attention to meals within a single day than to what was consumed on a previous day. Inman suggests people who want to change an eating habits should start with lunch or dinner, as it is much harder to break a breakfast habit. Inman may be reached at 412-648-1570 (office) or; or through Amanda Leff at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-337-3350 (cell), or

John Jakicic, director of Pitt's Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center and associate professor and chair of Pitt's Department of Health and Physical Activity, can discuss how a little extra walking can help avoid those extra holiday pounds. Jakicic's research, which focuses on the role of exercise in weight loss, has shown that walking as little as 30 minutes a day on most days can help a person lose weight. Jakicic is organizer for "America on the Move in Pittsburgh," an initiative to improve community health through increased physical activity. Jakicic may be reached at 412-488-4182 (office) or; or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or

Avoiding Holiday Tensions

The holiday season inherently creates tension. Cliff Cohen, clinical director for Pitt's LifeSolutions, the faculty and staff assistance program, is available to discuss family squabbles, financial strain, the winter blues, or any other holiday stressor. Cohen may be reached at 412-647-6525 (office) or; or through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or

Avoiding Holiday Debt

Jay W. Sukits, assistant professor of business administration in Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, is available to discuss ways to avoid holiday debt. Sukits offers consumers some simple advice, including making a budget and sticking to it, and limiting your use of credit cards to those with minimal or no interest. "For example, take advantage of credit cards that offer deals where there is no interest computed for a period of time," says Sukits, who may be reached at 412-648-1709 (office) or; or through Amanda Leff at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-337-3350 (cell), or

Helping Youngsters Celebrate the Holidays

How can parents make the holidays more meaningful for their children, encourage young ones to share new toys, handle a child s expectations, or even keep youngsters occupied during the holiday rush? Emie Tittnich, a University of Pittsburgh child development specialist, is available for interviews on dealing with youngsters during the holidays. She has worked closely with children for several decades and has trained teachers who work with toddlers and preschoolers. She may be reached at 412-244-5364 (office) or through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or

New Year's Resolution: Quit Smoking

Research shows that most people who try to quit smoking have several failed attempts before they are able to completely quit. Pitt psychology professor Saul Shiffman, director of Pitt's Smoking Research group, is an expert on addictive behavior and has researched why people relapse when trying to kick the habit. Shiffman is available to offer tips for those who want to make 2008 smoke-free. He is available at 412-383-2051 (office) or through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or