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The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Back Issues of Environmental Magazine Now Available Online

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the University Library System (ULS) is making available nearly 300 back issues of Environmental Action Magazine, a publication of Environmental Action, Inc., which helped establish the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. The back issues, spanning 1970 to 1995, are available online, through Pitt’s ULS Digital Collections.

Environmental Action stopped operations in 1996 but was known for its pioneering work to pass clean air and water laws; reform electric utilities; oppose the construction of new urban highways; stop the production of supersonic aircraft; battle solid waste and the introduction of throwaway bottles and cans; ban toxic chemicals; and promote legislation that covered the production, use and disposal of dangerous substances. Articles in its magazine reflect these initiatives.

ULS also holds the records of the Environmental Action Foundation and contains a number of other environmental collections, including Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Records, 1970-1997, AIS.2000.16; Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) Records, 1968-2002, AIS.1979.21; Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Records, 1885-2006, AIS.1999.13 and many others.

Ben Rottman in a blue collared shirt

Program Connects Pitt Community for Shopping, Delivery Help

Ben Rottman, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, wanted to make it easier for people to find the help they needed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. His solution? The Pitt Shopping Helper program.

“There are so many people in the Pitt community who don't own a car, don't have extra money for delivery services or recently moved to Pittsburgh and don't have extensive social support,” said Rottman.

Working with Anthony Peck, a University technical consultant in Pitt IT, Rottman built the map-based tool that members of the psychology department and Learning Research and Development Center could use to find people who lived nearby and needed help with shopping and other necessities.

It came to the attention of Frits Pil, provost fellow for faculty and director of instructional innovation and faculty development at Pitt Business. Pil connected Rottman with the Pitt Pandemic Service Initiative, hosted by the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, which enabled the tool to become a cross-University effort.

“We are now looking for ways to reach the full Pitt community. What’s super exciting about this is that it’s Pitt colleagues helping each other,” said Pil. “The goal is for this to present minimal incremental risk to volunteers … We hope that they can provide the assistance when they would be going out for themselves any way.”

Currently, the Pitt Shopping Helper tool is part of the My Pitt platform, accessible to anyone with a pitt.edu email address.

“The current focus is shopping, but it can provide a framework and volunteer base to build off if the needs get more complex,” said Pil, who encouraged people to sign up as helpers and to request help if they need it.

“We would like for everyone in the Pitt community who needs help to ask for it. There is no stigma to requesting assistance at this time. We stay through this as a community. We support each other.”

Bharath Chandrasekaran in a blue collared shirt

Bharath Chandrasekaran Appointed to National Institutes of Health Study Section

Bharath Chandrasekaran, a communication science and disorders associate professor and vice chair of research in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been appointed to a four-year term to serve as a charter member of the Language and Communication Study Section, beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2024. The section is part of the Center for Scientific Review of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Members of NIH study sections are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. 

Chandrasekaran’s research examines the neurobiological computations that underlie human communication and learning.

Chandralekha Singh

Chandralekha Singh Named President of American Association of Physics Teachers

Chandralekha Singh, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, who is founding director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, has been appointed as the 2020 president of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

Singh, who had previously served as vice president of the AAPT board of directors, will work to connect physics educators at all education levels and expand professional development activities in ways that encourage inclusion and equity. “These activities can help physics instructors improve students’ sense of belonging and create a low anxiety learning environment in which all students can contribute to physics related discussions without fear of being wrong,” she said.

A collection of bottles of hand sanitizer

Chemistry Department Making Hand Sanitizer for Community Nonprofits

Members of the Department of Chemistry in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences are using their spare time and the department’s extra resources to make hand sanitizer and donate it to local community groups.

Department Chair Sunil Saxena and graduate student Joshua Casto, along with Dietrich School director of shared research support services Peter Chambers, used compounds left in the department to create batches of hand sanitizer that were distributed to the Light of Life Mission in Pittsburgh’s North Side, the Community Engagement Association in Homewood and Meals on Wheels in the Hill District. Saxena said the effort will continue as long as there is a community need.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Swanson School Students Host Letter Drive for UPMC Seniors

Knowing that social isolation is particularly difficult for senior citizens and can lead to worsening dementia or depression, Swanson School of Engineering students in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Student Chapter are holding a letter drive.

With an ambitious goal to make sure every resident in UPMC’s two senior living communities receives a letter, the students hope to collect 249 letters. Organizers said that this is a great way for seniors to feel connected during this difficult time, and letters will be distributed to those without extended family first. Letters can be submitted electronically or by mail. To type a letter or upload a photo of a drawing or handwritten letter, use an online Google form.

Otherwise, you can mail your letter to:

Christine M Cassese
Cumberland Woods Village
700 Cumberland Woods Drive
Allison Park, PA 15101

Or to:

Canterbury Place
Attn: Crista Magness
310 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

People running on treadmills in athletic clothes

Pitt Jumps in Athletic Equality Index

The University of Pittsburgh earned a score of 95 out of 100 in the 2019 Athletic Equality Index (AEI), an increase from the previous score of 48 in the report’s inaugural edition in 2017.  A report was not issued in 2018.

The AEI, issued by Athlete Ally, provides “a comprehensive look at how member institutions of the NCAA Power 5 conferences … are utilizing policies to support their LGBTQ+ student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff and fans.”

To measure this, institutions were asked to provide information on the following and were scored in these areas:

  1. Comprehensive nondiscrimination policies
  2. LGBTQ+ resources and educational materials
  3. An inclusive fan code of conduct
  4. Policies for transgender student-athlete inclusion
  5. Student-athlete initiatives relative to LGBTQ+ inclusion
  6. Out of ally-trained athletics staff members
  7. A co-hosted event supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion
  8. A recurring LGBTQ+ inclusive initiative or campaign

Learn more about LGBTQIA+ resources on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.

the Cathedral with pretty red flowers in the foreground

Vote for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition People’s Choice Award

Anyone with a Pitt email address has one day left to cast votes for the People’s Choice winner in the 2020 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Twenty graduate students from across the University are participating in this year’s competition, now in its third year at Pitt.

Students are challenged ahead of their Doctor of Philosophy dissertation defense to effectively present their research in three minutes or less to a non-specialist audience. This year’s contestants range from engineering to psychology to public health.

Check out the current leaderboard and recorded video presentations. Voting for the People’s Choice award closes Friday, April 17, 2020 at 5 p.m. ET.

The people’s choice winner will receive a $1,000 travel grant. A panel of judges will award three additional travel grants. Prizes are sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library System and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

A virtual reveal will take place Monday, April 20. Check back at Pitt’s 3MT website for details.

A student walking on a sidewalk

Carbon Commitment Committee Named

A Carbon Commitment Committee has been established in support of the University of Pittsburgh’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2037.

Director of Sustainability Aurora Sharrard will chair this subcommittee of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability.  

Carbon Commitment Committee members are:

  • Jennifer Barnes, supplier diversity and sustainability coordinator, Purchasing
  • Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor, Facilities Management
  • Melissa Bilec, deputy director, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Brendan Fouracre, Executive Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning and Projects and Facility and Event Operations, Athletics
  • Max Harleman, PhD candidate, Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
  • Mike Holland, Vice Chancellor for Science Policy & Research Strategies, Research
  • Katrina Kelly, assistant research professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mary Beth McGrew, associate vice chancellor, Planning, Design and Real Estate
  • Ellen Oordt, undergraduate student, Ecology & Evolution '22
  • Rebecca Roadman, senior HR project manager, Human Resources

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced the accelerated carbon neutrality goal, timed to align with Pitt’s 250th anniversary in 2037, in conjunction with the signing of the Second Nature Climate Leadership Statement and Carbon Commitment. The University is on a trajectory to meet the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use 50% by 2030 (from a 2008 baseline), while producing or procuring at least 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

A person riding a bicycle

Bike Share Benefit Extended to On-campus Students for April

The University’s bike share benefit has been extended to all students living on campus through the end of April 2020.

Pitt has partnered with Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s bike share system, to provide unlimited 30-minute rides. This is an extension of a benefit originally available only to first-year residents.

First-year students who activated Healthy Ride accounts under the original benefit can continue to ride through April.

“Due to COVID-19, we are able to redistribute the benefit to all students remaining on campus for the rest of the semester,” said Aurora Sharrard, director of sustainability. “By extending the Healthy Ride benefit to them, we’re ensuring that biking is an option for their critical transportation needs as well as for physical activity and wellbeing.” 

Students are urged to be mindful of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay at home orders and to maintain social distancing practices when riding. Healthy Ride has posted guidance for riders for avoiding the spread of COVID-19.

A student walking on a sidewalk

Pitt News Business Staff Wins National Awards

The students of the business and advertising division of The Pitt News received six awards for excellence in advertising, marketing and sales at the national College Media Business and Advertising Managers (CMBAM) national contest announced at CMBAM’s annual conference in February.

The awards received are:

  • Best marketing manager, second place, Victoria Kline
  • Best social media strategy, second place
  • Best social media promotion, second place
  • Best ancillary operation, second place
  • Best audience engagement strategy, third place
  • Best Out of Home promotion, third place
'H2P' written in lights

Pitt News Journalists Win Six National Awards

The journalists at The Pitt News won six awards in the national contest held by Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The winners are:

  • Single spot news photo, first place to Thomas Yang, "Pitt Police Officers Blocked the Fifth Avenue Entrance to Litchfield Towers as Protesters Filled the Street"
  • Single sports photo, first place to Thomas Yang, "Pitt Running Back Qadree Ollison (30) Scored the Panthers’ Only Touchdown of the First Half Against Penn State"
  • Entertainment reviews, second place to Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, "Enchantment Runs Rampant at the Benedum Center in Disney's 'Aladdin'"
  • Informational graphic, third place to Elizabeth Seward, "Pitt Day of Giving Donation Information"
  • News writing (planned news), certificate of merit to Neena Hagen for "Grad Union Organizers Call for New Election, Accuse Pitt of 'Unfair Labor Practices'"
  • Personal opinion (off-campus issues), certificate of merit to Josh Beylinson, "Trump Protests Disrespectful to Shooting Victims"
Yona Harvey

Yona Harvey Wins Fellowship for Poetry

Yona Harvey, faculty member in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, has been awarded a fellowship from the George A. and Eiiza Gardner Howard Foundation at Brown University for the 2020-21 academic year.

The foundation awards a limited amount of fellowships annually “for independent projects in selected fields, targeting its support specifically to early mid-career individuals, those who have achieved recognition for one major project.” Harvey has won a fellowship in the poetry category.

An assistant professor in the Writing Program, Harvey is the author of the poetry collection “Hemming the Water,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University. Her second poetry collection, “You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love,” is set to be released later this year.

In the Cathedral of Learning

Student Innovation Competitions Nearing Application Deadline

Two student innovation competitions scheduled for this October at the University of Pittsburgh have submission deadlines set for May 15.

The Michael G. Wells Student Healthcare Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup will award a total of over $60,000 in funds that can go back to the faculty member’s department to further commercialization efforts of their research. The Wells Competition is for students who are developing innovations related to the healthcare field, while the Kuzneski Cup is for students who are developing innovations that can positively impact people’s lives in areas outside of healthcare.

Both competitions require a student to apply, but must be working on Pitt research. The Innovation Institute will also offer a cash prize up to $1,000 for the entrepreneurial student who applies and wins.

Apply for the competitions online

A panther statue fountain

Water Collaboratory Publishes Paper on Regional Flooding

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach, which was founded in January 2018 by faculty out of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science with support from The Heinz Endowments, has released the white paper report “Flooding in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches.”

The paper’s recommendations are based on a meeting of regional stakeholders that included representatives from the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and over 50 participants from NGOs and local residents. Its recommendations include targeted assessments of urban watersheds to understand the true costs of flooding, the creation of a regional- or multi-municipality stormwater utility district and increased observation of tributaries. The paper is the third of a series designed to assess knowledge gaps related to regional water resources.

Pitt-Bradford monument sign

Pitt-Bradford Receives National Advertising Awards

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has received four awards in the 2019 Collegiate Advertising Awards program, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities for excellence in communications, marketing, advertising and promotions.

Pitt-Bradford received two awards for the materials its admissions counselors use to recruit new students. It received a Gold Award in the Recruitment Series category for a series of brochures, postcards, posters and flyers; and a Silver Award in the Direct-Mail category for a postcard sent to prospective students who originally applied to the University of Pittsburgh and were accepted at Pitt-Bradford.

Pitt-Bradford received another Silver Award in the Brochure-Multiple Pages category for a case statement of support that is being used to raise funds for a new STEM building, which will house two new engineering technology programs—mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology—and two existing programs, computer information systems and technology and petroleum technology.

The third Silver Award was in the Newspaper Ad-Series category for print ads published in regional newspapers last spring that featured Pitt-Bradford students and graduates, including Katie Treat, a biology major from Cyclone, Pennsylvania, and Kacie Appleby, a criminal justice major from Port Allegany, Pennsylvania.

Emily Murphy in a blue collared shirt and dark jacket

Emily Murphy Named Distinguished Fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants

Emily Murphy, assistant professor of physician assistant studies in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. 

This honor is bestowed in recognition of exceptional leadership, contributions to the physician assistant profession and community service.

Murphy is also vice chair for academic and administrative affairs and director of the physician assistant studies program. Her clinical background is in neurosurgery, interventional radiology and pulmonology. Murphy currently holds a clinical appointment in addiction medicine with a private physician group. 

the yellow light up statue on campus

Pitt MBAs Win Global Supply Chain Case Competition

For the third year in a row, a team from Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has placed first at the Global Supply Chain Management Initiative Case Competition at Purdue University.

Katz MBA students Sarthak Arora, Anthony Perry, Faizan Saadullah, Shubham Kishore and Rohit Dubey made up this year’s winning team. They used 2019 World Economic Data to develop a strategic sourcing model for generating sustainable profits in adverse times, such as the current COVID-19 outbreak. 

“The case competition was designed to build an optimization model to arrive at a profit maximization solution for Global Widget—a manufacturing company with operations in China, Turkey, Mexico and the U.S.,” said Arora. 

“Our team had to consider the different variability in the production capacity, customer demand, currency exchange rates and governmental policies such as trade wars between different countries at each location.”

Douglas J. Weber Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Douglas J. Weber, associate professor of bioengineering, to its College of Fellows.

Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is composed of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. Membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice or education” and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."

Weber was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “outstanding contributions to neurorehabilitation engineering, translational neuroscience and leadership in the field of neural engineering.”

Michael Sullivan

Graduate Student Michael Sullivan Wins Hammond Scholarship

Michael Sullivan (ENGR '19), a master’s student in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected to receive this year’s Siemens Peter Hammond Scholarship for $10,000. 

The annual scholarship, which is in its fourth year, was open to any student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson School.

Before attending the Swanson School, Sullivan worked for a decade as an electrician, where he was first introduced to the field of electrical engineering. Excited to learn of a career path so well suited to his curiosity about how things work, he pursued a bachelor’s degree at Pitt. Once he finishes his master’s degree in 2021, he plans to become a research engineer and work part-time toward a PhD.