Accolades

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headshot of Toi Derricotte

Professor Emerita Receives Award from Modern Language Association

Toi Derricotte, professor emerita in the Department of English within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized by the Modern Language Association (MLA) with its Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities.

Derricotte received the award along with her colleague Cornelius Eady, with whom she co-founded Cave Canem, a national poetry organization that cultivates “the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.”

“The contributions that Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady have made in African American and African Diasporic poetry are immeasurable. Their visionary work at the Cave Canem Foundation helped open doors once difficult to access for black poets.” said Dawn Lundy Martin, director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

“Derricotte made Pitt the beacon for African American poetry and poetics that it is today, and we remain grateful for her lasting contributions —a gratitude that remains visible in our having a chair in poetry named in her honor,” said Gayle Rogers, chair of the Department of English.

The namesake of the award, Phyllis Franklin, served as MLA’s executive director from 1985 until 2002. Derricotte will be presented with the award at a ceremony in January.

David Birnbaum headshot, Kathryn Haines headshot

Two From Pitt Receive Grants from National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities granted awards to two Pitt professionals for their work in the following categories: Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities and  Landmarks of American History. 

David J. Birnbaum, professor and chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, was awarded an Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities Grant from NEH.  The award of $249,456 will support “Advanced Digital Editing: Modeling the Text and Making the Edition,” a two-week summer institute on the theory and development of digital scholarly editions.

Kathryn Haines, associate director of the Center for American Music within the University Library System, received a Landmarks of American History Grant of $169,803 to support “The Homestead Steel Strike and the Growth of America as an Industrial Power,” a two one-week workshops for K-12 educators.

Birnbaum and Haines’ awards were part of $29 million total in grants to fund 215 humanities projects and programs across the country to “support vital research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities.”

headshot of Maureen Porter, wearing black, blue and white patterned blouse

Education Professor Receives Outstanding International Educator Award

Maureen Porter, associate professor in the School of Education, received the David Portlock Outstanding International Educator Award.

The award is given by the Pennsylvania Council of International Education and recognizes international educators “who have exhibited evidence of ongoing mentoring of colleagues in the field, exemplary leadership in international education on their campuses and consistent contribution to the field as seen in presentations, papers, publications or other academic enterprises.”

Porter, who has developed education projects around the world in countries including Bolivia and Ethiopia, said the award is an honor because it recognizes how her programs have been sustained for many years.

“It shows that people can look to the School of Education as a destination for pedagogically sound and culturally inclusive international education programs,” she said.

Iron gate inside the Cathedral of Learning, neo-Gothic arches in background

Fourteen Pitt Students Named 2019 Millennium Fellows

Fourteen Pitt students are among the 1,092 students on 69 campuses worldwide who form the 2019 cohort of Millennium Fellows. They are Scott Glaser, Leah Graham, Madhura Leninkannan, Devesh Malik, Katelyn Morrison, Jasmin Perrier, Luke Persin, Benjamin Raymond, Anisha Reddy, Chiara Rigaud, Zachary Ryckman, Sophie Tayade, Nadine Vandevender and Rhea Verma.

This term-long leadership development program takes place on selected campuses worldwide, convening, challenging and celebrating student leadership that advances the United Nations’ 17  Sustainable Development Goals. Millennium Fellows' projects are expected to positively impact the lives of over 978,400 people worldwide this year. 

Read more on the Pitt cohort.

Millennium Campus Network partners with the United Nations Academic Impact to support Millennium Fellowship student leadership. 

“On every campus and in every community, student leaders are committed to making positive contributions while committed to our ethos: empathetic, humble, inclusive leadership,” said Sam Vaghar, executive director and co-founder of Millennium Campus Network.

Gelsy Torres-Oviedo headshot in blue jacket.

Bioengineering Researcher Gelsy Torres-Oviedo Awarded Grant to Study Stroke Patients

Gelsy Torres-Oviedo, assistant professor of bioengineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, recently received a $805,670 CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation to apply a novel approach to improve locomotor learning in stroke patients. 

Torres-Oviedo’s lab will record how patients with brain lesions perceive asymmetries in their gait, then measure how their perception is adjusted once their movements are adapted in the split-belt environment. In the second part of this study, the lab will use these data and a unique method to manipulate how people perceive their movement to create the illusion of error-free performance during split-belt walking. The goal is for patients to sustain these movement changes in daily life.

The project also aims to increase participation by underrepresented minorities (URM) in science and engineering. 

Cathedral of Learning with blue sky and white clouds in background

Pitt Online Master of Science in Nursing Program Ranks Near Top in National Ranking

The University of Pittsburgh was ranked in the 15 Best Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree Programs for 2020 by Best Health Degrees.

Pitt placed third in the ranking for its online MSN program. The ranking website makes note of the University’s “cutting-edge” research in STEM fields like nursing, which “increases the prestige of such programs.”

“Few train nurses for clinical management roles as the program at Pitt does,” according to the ranking’s statement on Pitt’s placement in its annual list. “Nurses who want to advance to management roles but still work in the clinical side of nursing should consider Pitt to be one of the best MSN programs for their needs, and one of the top RN to MSN online programs overall.”

Two students walking on campus with sun shining between them, silhouetted

Pitt Expands Access to Students With Financial Need by Joining American Talent Initiative

The University of Pittsburgh has joined the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of 120 four-year institutions united in a goal of enrolling, supporting and graduating 50,000 additional talented, lower-income students by 2025.

“The question of whether or not the University of Pittsburgh should join the American Talent Initiative ended in an enthusiastic yes,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “It shares our commitment to graduating — and not just enrolling — exceptional students. And it aligns seamlessly with our ever-evolving suite of access and affordability efforts, which aim to connect more deserving students and families with a world-class Pitt education.” 

This is the University’s eighth initiative since 2014 focused on enhancing access to Pitt. Members of ATI convene regularly to share best practices and data and also will contribute to research that aims to enhance support for students from lower-income backgrounds.

Pitt is one of only 320 institutions in the United States to meet ATI’s eligibility criteria, which require institutions to graduate at least 70% of their students in six years. This constitutes less than 8% of the approximately 4,200 higher education institutions in the country.

Earlier this year, the University launched its seventh initiative — Pitt Success — which matches federal Pell Grant support dollar-for-dollar and is the only program of its kind in the nation.

“In joining the American Talent Initiative, I am very excited that we will be able to collaborate closely with institutions that share our deep commitment to educational access and equity,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. “We are eager to contribute to discussions with our peers in ATI so that, working together, we can address this critically important challenge in lasting ways.”

women riding bicycle

First-ever partnership brings free bike share rides to Pitt first-year students

The University of Pittsburgh is partnering with the Healthy Ride bike share program to introduce first-year students to bicycling as a mode of transit around Pitt’s campus and the city of Pittsburgh.

All first-year undergraduate students and resident assistants at Pitt receive unlimited 30-minute rides with Healthy Ride during the academic year 2019–20 Fall and Spring terms. The pilot program, offered through Pitt’s Office of Sustainability, is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh.

“We are excited to be the first university to partner with Healthy Ride to offer this benefit,” said Aurora Sharrard, Pitt's director of sustainability. “Sustainability is an important part of our campus culture and this is an exciting way for our first-year students to begin their own Pitt sustainability journey.”

A recent expansion of bike lanes and bike facilities has made bicycling throughout Oakland and the surrounding neighborhoods safer and more accessible.

“There are a lot of places students can get in 30 minutes, and bikes are a great way to get to know a new city,” said David White, executive director, Pittsburgh Bike Share. “We are eager to see how students make the most of their Healthy Ride memberships and incorporate short bike trips into their transit routine.”

Healthy Ride operates 112 stations and 650 bikes across over 24 neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. It marked record ridership in 2019 and anticipates an additional increase as a result of the pilot program with the University of Pittsburgh.

M. Najeeb Shafiq headshot in sportcoat, shirt and tie

School of Education to Serve as New Home Base for International Society

The School of Education now serves as the new home base of the Comparative and International Education Society, following the recent appointment of M. Najeeb Shafiq as executive director. Shafiq, who serves as professor of education, economics and international affairs at Pitt, holds appointments in the School of Education, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Economics.

According to its website, the society “organizes and provides conferences, publications, professional networking and research support for the field of comparative and international education,” and represents members “from over 1,000 universities, research institutes, government departments, non-governmental organizations and multilateral agencies.”

As the new home institution of the society, the School of Education is poised to have greater exposure to the study of global issues in education, Shafiq said. The school is expected to host events with significant leaders in the field, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Economic Policy Institute, the RAND Corporation and the American Institutes for Research.

Nancy M.K. Merritt headshot, wearing navy blue blazer

Merritt Named Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations

Nancy M.K. Merritt has joined the University of Pittsburgh as vice chancellor for alumni relations, bringing 17 years of experience to her new role along with plans to develop programs to help alumni to engage with students, pursue educational and professional opportunities and enrich their personal and career networks.

She most recently was assistant vice president for alumni relations at Carnegie Mellon University and previously spent 13 years in alumni relations at Lehigh University, where she directed student, young alumni, outreach and reunion programs before going on to serve as the director of the Lehigh University Alumni Association. Merritt holds two degrees from Lehigh: a bachelor of arts in journalism and communications and a master’s in political science.

Read more about Merritt in this Pitt Alumni Association post.

Female student in a red shirt typing on computer keyboard with monitor facing her

Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security Holds Successful Third Annual Cyber Camp

On July 26, the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber), wrapped up its third annual Air Force Association Cyber Camp, a five-day intensive cybersecurity training for high school students. This year, 213 students from high schools in Pennsylvania and nine other states attended the camp to learn cybersecurity basics, such as protecting personal information online, or for advanced skills such as networking and operations security in Windows and Ubuntu. In this year’s cohort, 43 percent of students identifed as nonwhite and an all-female team took home the top prize during team-based IT skills competitions.

Ryad Benosman and Feng Xiong headshots.

Pitt Researchers to Create Vision System Mimicking Human Sight

New research from the University of Pittsburgh will develop a neuromorphic vision system that takes a new approach to capturing visual information that is based on the human brain, benefitting everything from self-driving vehicles to neural prosthetics.

The project will receive $500,000 from the National Science Foundation. Ryad Benosman, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who holds appointments in electrical engineering and bioengineering, and Feng Xiong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, are leading the effort.

The team will use a “spiking neural network” with realistic dynamic synapses that will enhance computational abilities, develop brain-inspired machine learning to understand the input, and connect it to a neuromorphic event-based silicon retina for real-time operating vision.

Piervincenzo Rizzo wearing a black top, headshot

Swanson School’s Piervincenzo Rizzo to Receive Durelli Award

The Society for Experimental Mechanics has selected Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, to receive the 2020 A.J. Durelli Award

The award recognizes “a young professional who has introduced, or helped to introduce, an innovative approach and/or method into the field of experimental mechanics,” according to the society.

The award will be presented at an Awards Luncheon on June 10, 2020, during the SEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics in Orlando, Florida.

Jason Rosenstock headshot, wearing blue collared shirt with tie.

Interim Associate Dean for School of Medicine Chosen

Jason Rosenstock, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to serve as interim associate dean for medical education at the Pitt School of Medicine.

In this role, Rosenstock will ensure high-quality teaching in courses and clerkships for each year of medical school. This includes overseeing instructional support, academic development, facilities management, evaluation and feedback, student assessment, educational technology, faculty development and program evaluation.

“I’m honored to have been chosen for this role. I’ve spent most of my career working in medical student education, and this position gives me an opportunity to build on the successes of our school. It will be challenging, and a learning process for me, but also fun and rewarding,” he said.

Sylvia Rhor, wearing green long-sleeve top, resting hand on her chin leaning on a white cube

University Art Gallery Director Sylvia Rhor Samaniego Selected for Getty Leadership Institute

University Art Gallery (UAG) Director Sylvia Rhor was one of 35 museum leaders from around the globe selected to participate in the 2019 Getty Leadership Institute Executive Education for Museum Professionals this past June.

The Getty program, now in its 40th year, combines online coursework and a residency program on the campus of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif.

While there, Rhor discussed museum industry challenges with peers from around the world, including directors, curators and education representatives from the British Museum, The Barnes Collection, the Van Gogh Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and others. They talked about how to keep museums and galleries relevant to their communities and the importance of expanding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on all levels of museum administration and programming.

As the representative of one of six academic museums in the cohort, Rhor said the Getty program reinforced her commitment to academic museums such as the UAG. “They can be testing grounds for innovative and challenging programs and ideas, and a platform for new methods of building exhibitions and programs,” she said, “and they offer a flexibility and nimbleness that other public institutions might not always have.”

Kramer in a gray suit

William Kramer to Lead Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

William Kramer has been selected as the next director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint research center of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Kramer, currently project director and principal investigator of the Blue Waters Project and the senior associate director for @Scale Science and Technology at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, begins his new role in the fall of 2019.

Following his first academic appointment at the University of Delaware, Kramer has also held leadership roles at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at NASA Ames Research Center. Over the course of three decades, his award-winning career has focused on improving the efficiency of large-scale, complex computational and data analytics systems, and making the organizations that create and use them highly productive.

“I am extremely honored to be selected as the director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. The center, which is supported by two world-class universities, is well positioned to help current and future generations of scientists, engineers and researchers create insights into a wide range of challenges in fundamental science, health care, security and other areas that will expand our understanding of phenomena that are of critical importance to society,” Kramer said.

photos and papers arranged in a display case

New Hillman Library Exhibit Chronicles Holocaust-era French Jews

David L. Rosenberg (MLS ’89), a French historian and retired labor collections archivist at Hillman Library, has a new installation on display at the ground floor entrance of the library, chronicling the experience of French Jews in Amiens during the Holocaust. The exhibit, called “Who is a Jew?” features photographs and text. It ran at Temple Emmanuel of the South Hills in 2018 and more recently at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.

Rosenberg said his 20 years working in the Pitt archives helped shape his approach to this “retirement project,” as he called it, which “has been very gratifying.”

“Personalizing and humanizing the lives of otherwise obscure or un-remembered people was an orientation and a practice I continued to hone while working at Pitt’s Archives Service Center,” he explained, which included chronicling the photo ID cards of about 10,000 World War II-era steelworkers at U.S. Steel’s National Works in McKeesport, as part of the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania Labor Legacy Project.

After Rosenberg was gifted a book on the history of the French city of Amiens which cited his 1974 dissertation from Yale, his interest in the experience of French Jews was reignited. “I’m very interested in not privileging certain stories over others,” he said.

In October of 2017, this work led Amiens city officials to install a plaque at the site of the war-era synagogue, acknowledging what had happened there. Rosenberg was also named knight of the order of arts and letters by the French culture ministry.

The exhibit is open to the public and will be displayed at Hillman Library through August 30.  

a statue of a harp player

LifeX Labs Receives Economic Development Administration Entrepreneurship Grant

LifeX Labs has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to enhance its efforts in southwestern Pennsylvania. It is among 44 organizations nationwide — and the only one in Pennsylvania — to share a total of  $23 million awarded under the EDA’s i6 Challenge grant program to expand entrepreneurship.

LifeX Labs is a life science startup accelerator launched by the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 with a mission to help startup companies translate the region’s world-class research into breakthrough commercial products.

“LifeX helps young life science startup companies overcome the unique challenges that they face,” said Evan Facher, interim CEO of LifeX Labs. “The goal of this award is to help LifeX accelerate the development of resources and programming needed to enable these companies to thrive in the Pittsburgh region. In parallel, the award will also help us build a stronger sense of community within the life sciences ecosystem.”

With this three-year award, LIfeX Labs estimates that it will have the ability to serve thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs, add dozens of startups to its portfolio, and create over 100 jobs in the region by 2028.

In part, the funding will aid development of programming for pre-seed to Series A life-science companies; engagement of regional key opinion leaders to identify needs and opportunities in the life science community; and creation of a pipeline of life science workers at all skill levels in collaboration with local colleges and job training organizations.

Millstone in a white top

Jill Millstone Wins Career Excellence Award

Jill Millstone, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Women’s Chemists Committee Award for Career Excellence in the Chemical Sciences. The honor recognizes female chemists and chemical engineers for accomplishments in their fields. Millstone’s research focus  areas are inorganic and materials chemistry, nanomaterials, mechanochemistry and colloid chemistry.

Givi in a gray coat

Peyman Givi to Deliver Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics

Peyman Givi, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been invited to deliver the 13th Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics. The lecture is sponsored by Elsevier and its publication Mechanics Research Communications. It will be hosted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2020.

Givi joins a long line of distinguished lecturers, beginning with the 2008 inaugural lecture by Jan Achenbach. The lecture will be on a topic of his choosing within the field of mechanics; previous topics have included “Structural Health Monitoring,” “Isogeometric Analysis” and “Seeking Simplicity in the Flow of Complex Fluids.”

Givi’s lecture will be available on Elsevier’s website after it is delivered.