The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (SIS) hosted the annual Alumni Awards and an inaugural Alumni Insights event on Friday, October 9 at the Information Sciences Building. The event featured opening remarks and the introduction of SIS’ Visiting Scholars by Dean Ronald Larsen followed by four talks led by distinguished speakers, most of whom are SIS alumni. The event was open to students, faculty, and alumni.

Anthony Fung (BSIS ‘97), Deputy Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, led an engaging discussion on “Value Creation with Data Analytics in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Steven S. Choi (PhD ’76), mayor of the City of Irvine, CA and the 2015 SIS Distinguished Alumni Award winner, discussed his incredible life journey from earning a PhD to entering the world of politics in his talk, “Pitt PhD: A Gateway to Politics.”

Miguel A. Labrador (MST ’94, PhD ’00), a professor at the University of Southern Florida’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, walked attendees through his research endeavors in his talk, “Research and Education on Ubiquitous Sensing.”

In addition, a panel discussion moderated by Library of Information Science Program Chair Sheila Corrall included representatives from the corporate, public, academic, and archival fields. Panelists discussed the future of the library, archives, and information professionals. Panelists included Denise Callihan (MLS ‘92), manager of R&D Library Shared Services at PPG Industries; Mary Frances Cooper, director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Tim Schlak (MLIS ’07, PhD ‘10), director of the Robert Morris University Library and 2015 School of Information Sciences Young Alumni Award Winner; and Eleanor Mattern (PhD ’14), visiting assistant professor at SIS who also shares a joint appointment as a postdoctoral researcher with the University Library System.

Between sessions, participants enjoyed a networking break to informally connect with faculty, students and alumni. After a brief reception, SIS alumnus and representative to the Pitt Alumni Association Eric Spiegel (BSIS ’88) opened the Alumni Awards ceremony.Spiegel introduced Dean Larsen, who then presented the Distinguished Alumni Award to Steven S. Choi (PhD ’76); the Professional Achievement Award to Chris Geary (MSIS ’98); and the Young Alumni Award to Tim Schlak (MLIS ’07, PhD ’10).

Choi received his PhD in April 1976 from SIS. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as an assistant professor at the University of Southern California. Choi’s doctoral committee chairman, Dr. Daily, told him that his PhD was the gateway to the world. This turned out to be true as it paved the way to his success in Southern California and eventually leading him to public service. Choi is now serving the City of Irvine as mayor for his second term after two terms as a city councilman and six years as a school board member. Currently, he is running for an assembly seat in the California state legislature, and if elected, would become the first California state legislator among Pitt’s School of Information Sciences alumni.

Geary has been a Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) with the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI) since August, 1999. Geary has been assigned to the Pittsburgh Division for the last three years and supervises the National Security Computer Intrusion Squad. Geary’s previous assignments include six years assigned to the FBI’s Cyber Division as a supervisor detailed to Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Coordination Center; the Boston Division Cyber Crime Squad; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Montreal, Canada representing the FBI in Project COLT (Center of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud), investigating telemarketing fraud organizations targeting senior United States’ citizens.

Schlak is currently the director of the Robert Morris University Library. Prior to this appointment, he served as director of the DeWitt Library at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. At Northwestern, Schlak spearheaded the DeWitt Learning Commons project, a 58,000 square foot, $13.5 million state-of-the-art learning facility.

Congratulations to each of our Alumni Award winners who continue to inspire and lead current SIS students.

View more photos of the Alumni Awards on our Facebook page.