Faculty Achievements

Pitt-Johnstown Faculty Facts and Feats

Pitt-Johnstown is proud of its highly talented faculty of dedicated teachers and productive scholars, who facilitate the success of highly motivated and ambitious students in an up-close-and-personal learning environment.

Our faculty achievements are as interesting as they are varied.

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown professors Susan Wieczorek and Patty Wharton-Michael received the 2016 Top Panel Award from the National Communication Association. >

Pitt-Johnstown instructor Neil M. Coleman and the late professor emeritus Uldis Kaktins teamed with researcher and Pitt-Johnstown alumna Stephanie Wojno to analyze the hydraulics of the South Fork Dam to challenge the 127-year-old findings of the cause of the 1889 Johnstown Flood. Learn More >


  • John McGrath, PhD and associate professor of marketing, was recognized for excellent teaching by the Marketing Management Association (MMA) at the national conference in Chicago on March 25, 2015.

The MMA’s competition is held each year to recognize outstanding university marketing educators from around the nation. McGrath was one of the top three finalists this year and received the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award. Learn More >

McGrath also led a research team in a major research project to measure the economic impact of tourism at heritage sites throughout Pennsylvania. Learn More >

  • Katherine Reist, PhD and an associate professor of history, has been elected to a four-year term as Trustee of the Society for Military History.  Her article The American Military Advisory Missions to China, 1945–1949 was published in the Journal of Military History in 2013. Learn More >
  • Bruce Robart, PhD and an associate professor of biology, was published in Systematic Botany for the article. Phylogeny and Biogeography of North American and Asian Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae), which was co-authored by Carl Gladys, Tom Frank and Steven Kilpatrick PhD of Pitt-Johnstown. 

Coughenour at mega-dinosaur discovery

  • Chris Coughenour, PhD, (pictured at right) energy and earth resources assistant professor, was a member of the team that discovered  the mega-dinosaur Titanosaurian sauropod known as "Dreadnoughtus" in 2005. 

The account of this discovery was reported in the September 2014 Scientific Reports article in Nature.com and, according to Altmetric.com, the report is the 35th ranked academic paper of 2014. Learn More >

David Willey

  • Self-proclaimed "Mad Scientist" David Willey, a physics instructor, held the world record for fire walking (165-foot) across hot coals - which occurred on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in 1998.

His demonstrations have earned international recognition, including 19 appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He retired after the 2016 spring term and a memorable last lab. Learn More >

  • 100% of the engineering technology faculty have professional, real world experience in their discipline.
  • Six members of the engineering technology faculty are university, professional, or national teaching award winners.
  • Rebecca Webb, PhD, assistant professor in biology, has multiple research projects ranging from developmental biology to cell biology and to genetics. The research of Webb and a team of four undergraduate students led them to a presentation of findings from a project working with Chironomus riparius larvae to determine the effect of contaminated waterways on gene expression, development, and reproduction.
  • The Division of Natural Sciences presented Webb with the 2015 Edward A. Vizzini Teacher of the Year Award. Division chair Steven Stern, PhD, noted that:

“Becky’s lectures, labs, and course materials bespeak a professor who is strongly dedicated to providing a truly enriching learning environment. She works hard to make her courses hands-on, and to keep her information relevant to students. Her students clearly prize her efforts to ensure that they learn the material. They say this on her evaluation and they even talk about this in the hallways.

“Becky’s love of teaching goes beyond how she works in the classroom. Her professional accomplishments encompass has a wide range of activities including the development of an app that brings computerized 3D models of chick and frog embryos to students, and effects of exposure of midges to Prozac and copper. Her persistent dedication to undergraduate research has always impressed me and surely impressed the award committee.”

If you have information about a Pitt-Johnstown faculty member that should be added to this page, please submit it to: upjweb@pitt.edu.