Accolades

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4 Pitt News Staffers Nominated for National Awards

The Associated College Press has nominated four Pitt News journalists for awards this year in its national competition among college journalists. Pitt’s nominees are:

  • Grant Burgman, in the Story of the Year category, for his piece "The Forgotten Champions."
  • John Hamilton (CBA ’18), in the Multimedia Story of the Year category, for his photo essay "The Cathedral in photos, from the basement to the top."
  • Senior Christian Snyder, in the category Photo of the Year, for this photograph.
  • Theo Schwarz (ENGR ’17), in the Feature Photo category, for this photograph.

ACP will name winners at its conference later this month in Louisville, Kentucky.

Associate Professors Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan Receive NSF Award for Privacy Work

Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan, associate professors in the School of Computing and Information, recently received more than $280,000 from the National Science Foundation for their project that explores privacy-enhanced sensor designs that provide people with the knowledge and assurance of when they are being recorded and what data is being captured.

Today, casual conversations and encounters, that were once thought to be private, may now be recorded and archived digitally. Networked microphones and cameras can give rise to serious electronic privacy concerns. While these types of devices that listen to us and capture data can benefit users in many ways, users may also face serious privacy violations. Their project brings together expertise in computer security and privacy, access control, human computer interaction and social computing. Through this interdisciplinary team, the goal is to make socio-technical contributions to both theory and practice. Lee and Farzan’s project combines hardware and software techniques to tangibly and visually convey a sense of privacy to people who are impacted by sensors.

Epidemiologist Jane Cauley Wins Prestigious Service Award

Jane A. Cauley has received the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award. Cauley is a distinguished professor and executive vice chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. She received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society.

Cauley’s primary research interest is the epidemiology of osteoporosis, especially the worldwide ethnic and geographic variability in fracture, osteoporosis screening and treatment, risk factors for fractures and the consequences of osteoporosis in both men and women.

Public Health Students Selected for Future Leaders Program

Three students from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health were selected for the inaugural class of The Milken Institute’s Future Leaders Program.

The students, Ashley Simenson (epidemiology), Jessica Salerno (infectious diseases and microbiology) and Kaitlyn Saal-Ridpath (health policy), are among a dozen fellows selected nationwide.

The program aims to give the students exposure to health leadership to help accelerate their future work tackling complex public health challenges. The institute plans to learn from them as well; during the year-long fellowship, they will work on projects such as helping the DEA 360 program, which is tackling the opioid epidemic, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which helps inspire and educate youth.

Two Female Faculty Members Recognized for Research in Computational Social Science

Professor Diane Litman and Associate Professor Yu-ru Lin have been named to SAGE journal’s list of 39 women doing amazing research in computational social science across the world. The list includes women who have made significant contributions to social sciences and humanities with their innovative use of computational methods and explorations of cutting edge tech.

Litman, professor of computer science and co-director of the Intelligent Systems Program, focuses on artificial intelligence and its application to a variety of areas including linguistics, education, reasoning and behavior. Lin, also in the School of Computing and Engineering, leads the Pitt Computational Social Dynamics Lab. Her research focuses around the ways we become more informed and how that affects our behavior.

School of Medicine’s David Binion Wins 2018 Sherman Prize

David Binion, professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine and co-director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, was recently named a recipient of the 2018 Sherman Prize.

The award, presented by the Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation, recognizes outstanding contributions in the fight to overcome Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which are known as inflammatory bowel diseases.

Binion was recognized for the “novelty and creativity” of his research on the immunologic, cellular and physiologic alterations associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, applying his insights to improving care for those most severely impacted by these diseases.

Humanity in Action Fellowship Awardees Work Toward Social Justice at Home and Abroad

A Pitt student and alumna explored today’s most challenging global humanitarian issues in Europe this summer as 2018 Humanity in Action Fellows.

The fellowship highlights models of action in social justice and examines the social and political roots of discrimination on a global scale. While abroad, fellows explore contemporary issues through the historical foundations of World War II and the holocaust.

Aditya Mittal (left) looked at xenophobia, racism and minority issues in Berlin. He’s a junior neuroscience major with a minor in chemistry. In addition to lab research, he’s also working to build awareness about lead poising in Pittsburgh communities. He plans to go to medical school before advancing a career in public health and policy.

Daria Sullivan (A&S ’17) explored human rights in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a 2017 graduate with a BA in theatre arts and communication, and has used her platform as an artist and performer to share about social justice issues. At Pitt, her work prompted discussions about issues like racial bias, and she hopes to inspire social change by continuing to portray thoughtful stories.

Three Pitt Researchers Win NIH Director’s Awards

Peter Strick, the Thomas Detre Professor of Neuroscience and distinguished professor and chair of neurobiology, was one of three Pitt people to receive NIH Director’s Awards this year. Strick earned the Transformative Research Award, part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, for his work on identifying a biological basis for the mind-body connection.

Warren Ruder, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Erik Wright, assistant professor of biomedical informatics, each won NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards, given to “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose high-impact projects.”

Ruder’s team will work to engineer cells that can be activated by high magnetic field gradients; Wright’s group will use thousands of microbial genomes to discover new antibiotics and figure out better ways of prescribing them to address the serious public health threat of antibiotic resistance.

NSF Awards Pitt Engineers $200,000 to Study the Impact of Reflection on Learning

Assistant professors Samuel Dickerson and Renee Clark have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help students in the Swanson School of Engineering start to think about thinking. The two-year, $200,000 award will support a project to improve learning and development by promoting the frequent use of reflection and “metacognition” among students in a Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering class on microelectronic circuits.

“Engineering is different from other disciplines because this type of thought process isn’t inherent in our training,” Dickerson said. “Reflection and metacognition are not skills that are regularly cultivated or practiced in the engineering curriculum — in the classroom we are more focused on immediate problem-solving rather than pausing and looking at the big picture, which is more common in the engineering workplace.”

According to Clark, it is easier for a student in a classroom environment to ask a professor or teaching assistant to help them solve a problem. Outside of college however, there may be fewer resources on which to rely. Dickerson and Clark want to encourage engineering students to develop lifelong learning skills that will help them independently learn how to find a solution and ultimately give them an advantage when they join the workforce. Read more about the project.

allias

Mary Allias Named Distinguished Fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants

Mary Allias, an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies program at Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for exemplary achievement in service to the profession, the advancement of health care and in dedication to the community. This honor is bestowed upon an elite group of less than one percent of practicing physician assistants.

Allias’ interests include instructional methods for enhancing clinical reasoning and communication, as well as workforce issues surrounding the physician assistant profession.

State Awards $2 Million for Pitt-Bradford Tech Building

Pitt-Bradford has been awarded $2 million in state funding to support development of new engineering and technology facilities.

“This grant will be critical to us in developing the facilities which will make it possible for us to offer new academic programs and expand existing ones. This is an investment that will provide benefits for many years to multiple generations of Pitt students, as well as to the companies in the region who will hire our graduates,” said Pitt-Bradford Interim President Lawrence Feick.

The campus plans to develop a building to house classrooms, engineering and computer labs and shops and other specialized spaces to support new programs to meet local education and workforce needs. 

An architectural firm has been hired to study whether to construct a new building or to acquire and renovate an existing building to accommodate the new programs.

Janice L. Pringle headshot

School of Pharmacy’s Janice L. Pringle Earns Grant for New Program

Janice L. Pringle, professor in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, recently received a grant to develop “Online Learning Communities: Mobile Application for Physicians and First Responders from the PA Department of Health” with primary sponsor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Program Evaluation and Research Unit will create a curriculum for a program to be used by the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to train First Responder Champions in regions across Pennsylvania to support the use of the OpiRescue application, including rescue breathing and naloxone resources embedded within the application by their peers within each of the champions’ regions.

The curriculum will also address barriers observed by first responders in naloxone access and utilization.

headshot of Ann Thompson

School of Medicine’s Ann Thompson Wins Leadership Award

Ann Thompson, vice dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was recently announced as a winner of the 2018 Leadership Award for an Individual from the Group on Women in Medicine and Science.

The award is given to people and organizations that demonstrate “a significant impact for the advancement of women’s roles in academic medicine and science.”

Thompson, who is also a professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics in the School of Medicine, will receive the award at Learn Serve Lead 2018 in Austin, Texas, Nov. 2-6. The annual event is held by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Beibei Chen and Rama K. Mallampalli headshots

Potential IBD Treatment Moves Toward Clinical Testing

An anti-inflammatory compound developed by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers and licensed by biotech startup Koutif Therapeutics has completed investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and reached clinical candidate status for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  

The compound, KT-1002, also shows promise in treating other inflammatory conditions including bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury and rheumatoid arthritis.

Koutif has licensed several compounds including KT-1002 from the University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The intellectual property derived from research funded by multiple VA awards and National Institutes of Health grants.

Rama K. Mallampalli, professor and chief of the medical school’s Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division and staff physician at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System developed KT-1002 with associate professor Beibei Chen, director of the division’s Center for Small Molecule Therapeutics and co-director of its Acute Lung Injury Center of Excellence. The two hold equity in Koutif Therapeutics and are paid consultants to the company.

Koutif is a start-up launched by BioMotiv, the mission-driven accelerator associated with the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $340 million national initiative for advancing medicine centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

“We are very encouraged by the results of the lead compound both in IND-enabling studies as well as in disease models,” said Baiju R. Shah, BioMotiv CEO and chairman of Koutif Therapeutics. “Based on the data, we plan to file an IND application by the end of the year.”

Physical Therapy Alumni Inducted to American Physical Therapy Association Fellowship

Three Department of Physical Therapy alumni — Kim Nixon-Cave (SHRS ’81), Mary Lou Galantino (SHRS ’82) and Greg Hicks (SHRS ’02G) — were inducted into the American Physical Therapy Association’s 2018 Catherine Worthingham Fellows class, the highest membership class of the organization.

Of the more than 100,000 members of the association, these three alumni were among just 15 recognized as fellows at the association’s NEXT 2018 meeting, held in June in Orlando.

statue outside the Frick Fine Arts building

University Japan Council to Recognize Japanese Documentary Filmmaker

The University of Pittsburgh’s Japan Council has chosen filmmaker Kazuo Hara as the recipient of the council’s first biennial Japan Documentary Film Award for his latest directed film “Sennan Asbestos Disaster.” The documentary follows a group of former asbestos workers as they seek justice and recognition from an indifferent Japanese government. Prior to a Sept. 27 screening of his film, Hara will be recognized at an award ceremony earlier that evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets to the screening are free but require an RSVP. The event is held in conjunction with the 2018 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.

Badylak in a gray/brown suit

Technologies Developed in McGowan Lab Licensed for Development

ECM Therapeutics, Inc. has licensed multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) technologies developed in the laboratory of Stephen Badylak (pictured) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, including hydrogels, bioactive derivatives and methods for delivering these materials within the body. 

The Pittsburgh based company will initially develop EsophaGel™, an ECM hydrogel for the treatment of Barrett's Esophagus which is often a precursor to esophageal cancer. EsophaGel has been shown in pre-clinical studies to halt and possibly reverse the progression of esophageal cancer.  

"We are pleased to license this portfolio of patents and patent applications to a startup company based in the Pittsburgh region," said Alex Ducruet, director for licensing and intellectual property in Pitt's Innovation Institute. "Dr. Badylak is one of Pitt's most prolific innovators, and we look forward to the positive impact that these regenerative medicine technologies will have on people's lives."

ECM Therapeutics was founded by Badylak and business development colleague Katie Collins. Badylak lab members Jenna Dziki and George Hussey and the University of Pittsburgh hold equity in the company.

Vitone in a leather jacket in a field

Elaine Vitone Wins Inaugural Award From National Association of Science Writers

The National Association of Science Writers announced that Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) will receive the organization’s first-ever Excellence in Institutional Writing Award. Vitone is senior editor at Pitt Med, the magazine of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in collaboration with the Office of University Communications. NASW established the award to recognize high-caliber, publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization.

Vitone’s feature about Pitt psychiatrist Lisa Pan’s work to fight intractable depression earned her the win. Of the story, the judges said: “Her compelling narrative follows both an early patient, depicted authentically with details from reports, and an MD leading much of the research. The writing is colorful, compassionate and well-grounded in the science.”

Vitone will receive a cash prize to be awarded at a reception on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her work at the magazine, Vitone is a writer and producer of Pitt Medcast, which has been featured on National Science Foundation’s Science360 Radio and several NPR member stations.

Elliott in a black blazer and chunky brown necklace

Emily Elliott Receives 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring

Emily Elliott, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science, is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award was presented by AGU’s Biogeosciences Section.

The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is given annually to one mid-career female scientist for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists. 

Elliott, who also serves as the director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and the director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research, joined the Dietrich School in 2007 as an assistant professor.

Kinloch in a yellow shirt

Valerie Kinloch Receives NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, received the 2018 Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This award recognizes a person of color who has made a significant contribution to NCTE and to the development of their professional community. It is bestowed only when the selection committee decides a nomination warrants presentation of the award.

Kinloch, who joined Pitt in 2017, has published many books and articles about race, place, literacy and equity, as well as the literacies and community engagements of youth and adults inside and outside schools. Among other awards, Kinloch is also a recipient of the 2018 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education.