Carnegie Mellon University
October 05, 2012

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon To Present Alumni Awards During Cèilidh Weekend

Contact: Abby Simmons / 412-268-4290 /

CeilidhPITTSBURGH-A pioneer in AIDS research and Emmy Award-winning production designers are among 15 alumni, students and faculty Carnegie Mellon University's Alumni Association will honor for their achievements and service to the university as part of Cèilidh Weekend, this weekend.

This annual event combines the university's Homecoming and Family Weekend into one celebration. The Scottish Gaelic word Cèilidh represents a traditional social gathering and pays tribute to the heritage of CMU founder Andrew Carnegie.

The following are descriptions of the award recipients' professional accomplishments and service to the university and its alumni.

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

Margaret I. Johnston (S'72): A nationally recognized leader in HIV vaccine research who worked for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 20 years, Johnston played a key leadership role in the design, implementation and oversight of the first successful efficacy trial of an HIV vaccine. She also served for two years as scientific director of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Johnston recently joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a senior program officer overseeing tuberculosis vaccine funding and assisting with HIV research funding. She resides in Seattle.

John Shaffner (A'74) and Joe Stewart (A'77): These award-winning television production designers have helped School of Drama students make connections in the entertainment industry and returned to campus to host workshops. Their firm, Production Design by Shaffner/Stewart, has worked on hundreds of projects, from "The Big Bang Theory" to "The Republican Convention" and the "Ellen Degeneres Show." The pair has won seven Emmy Awards and an Art Directors Guild Award. Shaffner and Stewart have served as chairman and governor, respectively, of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Shaffner also has served as vice president of the Art Directors Guild. They reside in Los Angeles.

Alumni Achievement Award

Dara Birnbaum (A'69): A feminist leader and artist, Birnbaum is a pioneer in using video to converse with the public about the structural aspects of television and its role in molding the popular consciousness. Among her seminal works, which often explore gender roles, are "Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry" (1979), "Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission" (1990) and "Hostage" (1994). Birnbaum has produced work for a range of contexts, from public sites to museum exhibits to MTV. She resides in New York.

Kevin J. Dowling (S'83, CS'94, '97): As the first employee at CMU's Robotics Institute, Dowling built revolutionary mobile robots and systems for NASA and was instrumental in developing the first self-driving car. He served as vice president of innovation at Philips Color Kinetics and led the company's win of the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy Lighting Prize. Dowling is now vice president for research and development at MC10, a company developing the next generation of electronic systems, and serves on CMU's School of Computer Science Advisory Board. He resides in Westford, Mass.

H. Scott Matthews (E'92, TPR'96, '99): A professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy, Matthews is the founder of CMU's master's degree program in sustainability engineering and director of the university's Green Design Institute. He is internationally known for his research and development of life-cycle analyses tools for understanding the carbon footprint and other environmental affects of human activities. Matthews has received the International Society of Industrial Ecology's Laudise Prize and five AT&T faculty fellowships. He resides in Pittsburgh.

Paul C. Rizzo (E'63, '64, '66):
This internationally acclaimed civil engineer is known for his work in geotechnical engineering, hazardous waste remediation, dam engineering, hydroelectric power development and seismic safety in nuclear power plants. The former president of D'Appolonia Engineers founded his own firm, Paul C. Rizzo Associates Inc., in 1984. The firm employs more than 300 people, including many CMU alumni, in offices around the world. Rizzo received the 2005 William Metcalf Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from CMU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He resides in Murrysville, Pa.

Kenneth C. Russell (E'64): Russell worked as a full-time faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for more than four decades and now holds the title professor emeritus of metallurgy and nuclear engineering. He served as his department's graduate registration officer for more than 20 years, where he mentored several students who have become CMU faculty members. This American Society for Materials fellow is best known for his research on nucleation. The papers that he published in this area, even those from decades ago, are still cited many times each year in new publications. He resides in Lexington, Mass.

Recent Alumni Award

Samuel K. Franklin (HNZ'07): This former Teach for America instructor gathered unprecedented support from Pittsburgh's educational, corporate and nonprofit sectors to turn a CMU-course project into the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. Former Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt hired Franklin upon graduating to implement the academy, which serves nearly 500 students in grades 6-12. Franklin now leads the district's Office of Teacher Effectiveness with grant support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He resides in Pittsburgh.

Jordan J. Green (E'03): An assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, Green conducts transformational research that holds promise for new treatments for a wide range of human diseases. He is a co-founder of Johns Hopkins' Translational Tissue Engineering Center and a member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Green recently received the Biomedical Engineering Society's Rita Shaffer Award, the highest honor for a young investigator in his field. He resides in Nottingham, Md.

Alumni Service Award

Erik K. Larson (TPR'96): As a partner for Accenture, Larson drives transformative change through global organizations. He's applied his leadership skills as a volunteer for CMU, serving as an Alumni Association Board member for six years and as president of the Chicago Alumni Chapter. He has made critical contributions to boosting event attendance, expanding the online alumni community, introducing chapter succession planning and assisting with the Loyal Scot program. He resides in Winfield, Ill.

Jeffrey A. Meckler (TPR'89, '90): As one of the founding members of the Tepper School of Business' New York Metro Alumni Chapter, Meckler served as chapter president for several years, organizing alumni events and building a strong leadership team. For the past eight years, he and his wife have hosted an annual summer cookout for Tepper School interns in the region. During his 17 years as a recruiter at Pfizer, Meckler spoke with students about the pharmaceutical industry, interviewed candidates for Pfizer positions and mentored alumni working at his company. He now works as a senior adviser at The Trout Group/The Andra Group and continues to reside in New York.

Student Service Award

Meggie Hayes (DC'11, HNZ'12): Working closely with Alumni Relations, Hayes has raised the bar for what students provide at CMU's Spring Carnival. As the 2012 Spring Carnival chair and 2011 rides chair, she significantly increased student leader involvement on the Spring Carnival Committee, generated record revenue from advance rides ticket sales and helped student groups integrate more family-friendly activities into the event. Hayes also has been involved with Activities Board Tech, Winter Gala, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, the Panhellenic Association and Strong Women, Strong Girls. Hayes' hometown is Chicago.

Sonia Siok (DC'13): Siok is recognized on campus as a mentor to many first-year students through her work as house council president. She's also a leader in Student Senate and the Academic Review Board. Siok advocates for worldwide issues through CMU's chapter of Amnesty International and volunteers at the Hill House Association, where she helps teens develop their creative writing skills and inspires them to attend college. Siok's hometown is Liverpool, N.Y.

Honorary Alumna Award

Gloriana St. Clair (HA'12): The dean of University Libraries has been named an Honorary Alumna for her contributions to CMU above and beyond the responsibilities of her position. St. Clair was instrumental in planning and fundraising for Hunt Library's Maggie Murph Café, which gave the pioneering women of Margaret Morrison Carnegie College a place of identity on campus. She volunteers at CMU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and is a mentor to and advocate for students. In partnership with School of Computer Science's Mozah Bint Nasser University Professor Raj Reddy, St. Clair has received nearly $4 million in National Science Foundation funding for the Million Book Project. The Institute of Museum and Library Services recently awarded St. Clair and computer scientists a two-year grant to develop Olive, the first archiving system for the preservation for executable content. She resides in Pittsburgh.