Two at U.Va. -- An Innovative Engineering Professor and a Pioneering Neonatologist -- Receive State Outstanding Faculty Award

January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008 — Two University of Virginia professors — Edward Berger of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and pediatrician Dr. John Kattwinkel, M.D. of the School of Medicine — today were named recipients of the 2008 Outstanding Faculty Award, administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Berger, associate professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Kattwinkel, Charles Fuller Professor of Neonatology and chief of the Division of Neonatology, are among 12 outstanding faculty members from Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities to receive the award this year.

The SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Awards are the commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. These awards recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service.

The winners will be recognized on Feb. 20 during a special ceremony at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

Edward Berger

Edward Berger is exploring ways to bring so-called "Web 2.0" technologies — blogs, wikis, and even YouTube — into his courses, allowing students to learn from one another as well as their professor. The National Science Foundation last fall awarded Berger a three-year, $500,000 grant to assess the effectiveness of what he's calling "Higher Ed 2.0."

"I'm certainly thrilled to receive this award," Berger said. "I do see it as positive reinforcement and encouragement for taking risks and trying new ideas and approaches.

"It's also recognition that the past few years have brought incredible new advances in authoring tools which make blogs and wikis and podcasts and so forth accessible to everyone — and that here in higher education, we really should be boldly experimental in working with these new technologies to see how they can best be used to benefit our students."

Said James H. Aylor, dean of U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, "This award recognizes Ed's commitment to teaching and instructional innovation. We are honored to count Ed among our distinguished faculty."

A large portion of the NSF grant is tagged for an assessment of the effectiveness of Higher Ed 2.0. The study will cover courses using similar approaches taught at four different institutions: U.Va., Purdue University, the University of Akron and Smith College.

The assessment is being led by Joseph Garafalo and Walter Heinecke of U.Va.'s Curry School of Education, serving as a class project for Heinecke's course on evaluation design.

Heinecke, an associate professor of research statistics and evaluation, says he's excited about the potential of Berger's methods, which he calls "fairly unique for his field."

"It's not just about the box and the technology. It's about how the technology interacts with the instructional method. I think there's something about that that gets the students engaged. They're not just receiving, but creating," he said.

Berger is also sharing his approach with his colleagues at U.Va. He has held workshops to demonstrate Higher Ed 2.0, and is helping faculty members adapt it for their own classes.

"By the end of the semester, we should have a better understanding of how these approaches work across disciplines," Berger said. "It's really exciting."

Berger's teaching has been recognized before. At the University of Cincinnati, he received the 2002-03 Robert Hundley Award for Excellence in Teaching. At. U.Va., he received a 2007 All-University Teaching Award. His students consistently rate his classes as superior.

Berger received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Pennsylvania State University prior to earning a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.

Dr. John Kattwinkel

Dr. John Kattwinkel is a pioneer in the field of sudden infant death syndrome and was one of the lead authors of the landmark 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement that urged parents to put infants to sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS.

As chairman of the academy's SIDS task force, Kattwinkel has taken a leading role in a variety of efforts to combat the disease, including the "Back to Sleep" campaign, a national public service initiative designed to publicize AAP's recommendation that infants be placed on their backs to sleep.

That campaign and other initiatives resulted in a greater than 50 percent reduction in SIDS deaths between 1992 and 1998. Additional recommendations to prevent SIDS have been made by the Kattwinkel-led task force in recent years.

"I am extremely honored and humbled by this recognition," Kattwinkel said. "I am proud to have been a part of the exciting advances made in reducing infant mortality over the past three decades, and particularly pleased by the many fewer deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome we have seen following introduction of such a simple action as placing babies down for sleep on their backs, rather than their stomachs. I look forward to accepting this award not just on my behalf, but also on behalf of all the pediatric advocates who have helped to care for our tiniest babies as well as those who have helped to spread the message of how to reduce the risk of SIDS.

"I must point out that our fight is not over. Many of our tiniest babies are still dying from being born too early, while our prematurity rate continues to escalate, and SIDS remains the largest cause of infant mortality beyond the immediate neonatal period."

Said Dr. Sharon L. Hostler, interim vice president and dean of the School of Medicine and McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics, "It is with great joy that I congratulate Dr. Kattwinkel for his receipt of Virginia's highest award for university and college faculty. Dr. Kattwinkel's research and clinical contributions, which helped shape the 'Back to Sleep' campaign to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, have benefited babies the world over. We are excited that his career will be marked by this tremendous distinction."

Kattwinkel received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He joined U.Va. in 1974 following his residency, fellowship and research training at Duke, Case Western Reserve and the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to his work on sleep position and SIDS, Kattwinkel has focused on neonatal lung disease and disorders of respiratory control, including the use of surfactant in the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome.

Soon after arriving at U.Va., Kattwinkel developed a perinatal regional plan for the 12 hospitals in northwest Virginia, with U.Va. serving as the perinatal regional center. This required setting up a Newborn Emergency Transportation System. As a founding member and later chairman of the Governor’s Perinatal Services Advisory Council, he was instrumental in establishing a similar perinatal plan for other regions across the commonwealth.

Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Kattwinkel created an educational program to optimize the care of the newborn in the first critical minutes of life. His Perinatal Continuing Education Program, an educational program for physicians, nurses, nurse midwives and practitioners, respiratory therapists and all others who care for pregnant women or newborn babies, has now been expanded across the globe. The program has been used by more than 150,000 health care professionals across the United States as well as by caregivers in Canada, Bosnia, Poland, Mexico and China. In addition, PCEP served as the model for a program developed in South Africa.

While serving as a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics' and Project HOPE, Kattwinkel helped establish care facilities and outreach education programs for rural perinatal care in China, Poland, Romania, Central America and South Africa.

Kattwinkel has been a mentor for more than 1,000 U.Va. medical students during his career and was honored last year with the U.Va. Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award. He is the winner of numerous other honors and awards, including a 1995 "Miracle Maker" award honoring exceptional children's physicians from A.H. Robbins Co., the Outstanding Instructional Development Award, the Ross Education Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and recognition as one of the “10 Parenting Leaders” by Parenting Magazine. In 2004, Kattwinkel was awarded one of the inaugural Discovery Health Channel Medical Honors.