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Alan Juffs in a light brown suit and collared white shirt

Alan Juffs Publishes First-of-Its-Kind Book on ESL Development

Alan Juffs, professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School’s Department of Linguistics and director of the English Language Institute and center associate in the Learning Research Development Center (LRDC), recently published a book titled “Aspects of Language Development in an Intensive English Program.”

According to the book’s description, it is the “first of its kind to track the development of specific language abilities in an Intensive English Program (IEP) longitudinally and highlights the implications of this particular student’s findings for future IEP implementation and practice and ESL and SLA research.” The book also references data and research compiled at an IEP at Pitt.

In addition to his work at Pitt, Juffs has also taught in Asia and Europe.

Mostafa Bedewy

Mostafa Bedewy Wins Outstanding Young Investigator Award

The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers' Manufacturing and Design (M&D) Division has selected Mostafa Bedewy as winner of the 2020 M&D Outstanding Young Investigator Award. Bedewy is assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

The award recognizes “outstanding early-career M&D Division members for their technical contribution to manufacturing and design.”

Social Equity, Sustainable Business Talks Now Available to View

Social equity is an aspect of sustainability that can be overshadowed by an emphasis on environmental issues, yet it’s among the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that target global challenges affecting people and the planet—including poverty, inequality, and peace and justice issues—with an aim “to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

Recently, Pitt’s Global Studies Center (GSC) Director Michael Goodhart moderated a panel discussion co-hosted by the GSC and Pitt’s Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) that explored the role of business in driving social change in accordance with the U.N. SDGs framework.

The March 3 event drew an audience of more than 150 students, faculty, staff and community members to the University Club to hear panelists CB Bhattacharya, H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and director of the Pitt CSB; Pitt Director of Sustainability Aurora Sharrard; City of Pittsburgh Chief Resilience Officer and Sustainability Manager Grant Ervin; and University of Connecticut Professor of Political Science and Human Rights Shareen Hertel.

View their discussion, “Corporate Purpose, (Social) Equity, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” online.

Hertel, the Global Studies Center Heinz Foundation visiting fellow, also delivered the inaugural Pitt CSB lecture. View her talk, “New Views on Stakeholder Engagement: Insights from ‘Tethered Fates,’” on My Pitt Video.

Mary Marazita in a purple-blue top with a white collar

Dental Medicine Researcher Mary Marazita Earns Distinguished Professor Honor

Mary Marazita from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine was recently awarded the designation of distinguished professor in recognition for her internationally renowned, groundbreaking and widely heralded work in the genetics of craniofacial disorders. The appointment is effective in Sept. 1, 2020.

The appointment of a faculty member to a distinguished professorship constitutes the highest honor that the University can accord a member of the professorate. The designation recognizes extraordinary, internationally recognized, scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field. These individuals are expected to make special contributions to the intellectual advancement of their home departments and schools, as well as to the institution as a whole.

Marazita has published over 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 23 book chapters or monographs and over 500 abstracts. Her work has been represented in scientific journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature, among others. She also directs Pitt’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics.

Daniel Kraus in black glasses and an orange patterned collared shirt

University Library System Acquires Daniel Kraus Papers

There’s a significant new addition to the Horror Studies Collection at Pitt. The University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) has acquired the papers of Daniel Kraus—a prolific writer in the horror genre who currently lives in Chicago. It represents the first addition to the collection from a literary figure and author, thus expanding the scope of the collection beyond filmmaking as established through the inaugural acquisition of the George A. Romero Archival Collection.

Two of Kraus’ novels, “Rotters” and “Scowler,” received the American Library Association Odyssey Award honoring excellence in children’s and young adult audiobooks. He was asked by George A. Romero’s literary agent to finish Romero’s epic zombie novel, “The Living Dead,” which is set to publish in August of this year. Kraus also has collaborated with horror filmmaker and Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, in co-authoring the novels “Trollhunters” and “The Shape of Water.”

“I’m the writer I am today because of George A. Romero,” said Kraus. “So, it makes perfect sense to me that I follow his giant footsteps in placing my past work with the University of Pittsburgh.”

The Daniel Kraus Archive, which will be processed later this year, will document the beginning of his career and includes works he produced as a child and teenager. It will also include manuscripts and drafts of his published works: “The Monster Variations,” “Rotters,” “Scowler,” andThe Life and Death of Zebulon Finch.”

Natasa Vidic in a light blue shirt and dark blue scarf

Natasa Vidic Named Swanson School's 2020 Outstanding Educator

The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering recognized Natasa Vidic, assistant professor of industrial engineering, with the 2020 Outstanding Educator Award. This competitive award recognizes her excellence in teaching and innovative work in improving learning methodologies for undergraduate students and includes a $2,000 grant to further enhance her teaching.

Vidic received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and was hired as a visiting professor immediately after. She joined the Department of Industrial Engineering as an assistant professor in 2010. Since then, she has taught over 3,500 engineering students and frequently has more than 200 students per semester.

“Natasa has worked tirelessly as a valued member of the Undergraduate Committee to make sure our students receive the best possible learning experience,” said Bopaya Bidanda, Ernest E. Roth Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering.

In addition to her course load and committee work, Vidic has spent the past decade researching engineering education, where she focuses on improving engineering students’ learning strategies through models and modeling.

Jessica Ghilani

Jessica Ghilani Selected for Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Award

Jessica Ghilani, associate professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, was selected by the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum as the 2020 Aviation Space Writers Foundation Award Winner.

The award is offered in even numbered years and carries with it a $5,000 grant to support research on aerospace topics. Additional details are available on the website

Ghilani's project, "Advertising Military Innovation: Technological Visualizations in American Military Recruitment," will result in a book chapter to be included a manuscript she is writing. She intends to use the funds to conduct research at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex of the National Air and Space Museum.

Jason Shoemaker in a gray suit with a multicolored tie

Engineer Jason Shoemaker Receives NSF Award for Virtual Infection Modeling

Jason Shoemaker, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has received an NSF CAREER Award for $547,000 for his work modeling the immune system response to viral lung infections.

The predictive computational model will show how the human body will react to a viral lung infection and will flag biomarkers present for people whose immune systems react with excessive inflammation, which is what makes these infections so dangerous. Though it’s modeled on the influenza virus, once completed, it will be applicable to other viral lung infections, like COVID-19.

Joshua Matilla in a light blue dress shirt

Joshua Matilla Awarded Public Policy Fellowship

Joshua Matilla was recently selected for the 2020-2021 class of Public Policy Fellows at the American Association of Immunologists. Matilla is assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The fellowship program provides early-career researchers, who are within 15 years of receiving their terminal degree and committed to a career in biomedical research, with the opportunity to learn about and participate in the public policy and legislative activities of the association. Up to 10 fellows are selected to participate annually. Fellows serve from May 1 of their selection year to April 30 of the following year.

Ted Fritz in a black suit and white collared shirt

Ted Fritz Named Vice Chancellor for Public Safety and Emergency Management

Ted P. Fritz has been promoted to vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management at the University of Pittsburgh.

In this role within the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, Fritz is responsible for all health and safety-related oversight for the 40,000-member University community across five Pitt campuses and multiple off-campus locations.

In 2013, Fritz became Pitt’s first associate vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management, appointed to bring together Pitt Police, Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management and Integrated Security under one unified business unit.

Fritz joined the University in 1998 as associate general counsel. In that capacity, he represented University officials in litigation and was Pitt’s primary legal advisor for constitutional, law enforcement, student affairs, cyber, copyright and international issues.

A U.S. Army veteran, Fritz is a magna cum laude distinguished military graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and pre-law. He earned his juris doctor degree cum laude at Stetson University College of Law.

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Chapter of Civil Engineering Society Wins Distinguished Award

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) received the organization’s Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II. The chapter is also one of five selected as a finalist for the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, presented annually to the single most outstanding ASCE student chapter nationwide.  

The Distinguished Chapter Award is based on the chapter’s annual reports from the previous year. Among the highlights of this year was the chapter’s first Civil Engineering Day, which introduced high school students in the area to civil engineering through hands-on experiences. Students from Pitt ASCE won first place overall at the 2019 Ohio Valley Student Conference, attended the ASCE National Conference in Miami, presented at the Environmental and Water Resources Institute Conference, and sent seven students to the Region II Assembly at Drexel University.

The Pitt ASCE student chapter has been a finalist for this award three times in five years and has received the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region II four times in five years.

Prakash Mirchandani in a black suit and white shirt

COVID-19 Reveals the Need for Health Care Supply Chain Improvements, Says Pitt Supply Chain Expert

The supply chain for U.S. health care is really five different supply chains—pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, medical supplies and blood—and each one has its own challenges and opportunities for improvement.

In a new paper published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Prakash Mirchandani, professor of business administration and director of the Center for Supply Chain Management at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, examines the effects of COVID-19 on this system and what can be done to ensure that our supply chains continue to support health care providers.

He recommends these solutions:

  • Re-shore drug manufacturing or develop a dual supply chain for pharmaceuticals
  • Maintain and rotate a judiciously determined emergency stockpile of PPE
  • Create a more agile supply chain for medical devices such as ventilators
  • Build redundancy and develop contingency plans for medical supplies such as lab kits and testing materials
  • Decentralize blood collection (and centralize storage and distribution) to maintain supplies and address demand

Read the full text

Ivet Bahar in a light blue collared shirt with bookcases in the background

Ivet Bahar Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Ivet Bahar has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Bahar is a distinguished professor and the John K. Vries Chair of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The National Academy of Sciences provides independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Academy membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

Bahar has been elected “in honor of outstanding contributions to computational biology.” Among other research accomplishments, she is a pioneer in structural and computational biology, and developed widely used elastic network models for protein dynamics.

She also co-founded the internationally acclaimed Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology, jointly offered by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

a black and white photo of robertson

Ed Roberson (A&S ’70) Wins Prestigious Poetry Prize

University of Pittsburgh alumnus Ed Roberson (A&S ’70) received the 2020 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers.

The award, which comes with a prize of $70,000, annually recognizes an American poet of “exceptional talent” and aims to provide them with “time and encouragement to write.”

Roberson, a 1970 graduate of the Department of Chemistry in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, has written ten books of poetry. According to a press release, Roberson was a research assistant in limnology while earning his undergraduate degree at Pitt and traveled on expeditions through Canada, Alaska, the Kodiak and Afognak Islands and Bermuda. He is also the recipient of other prestigious poetry awards including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award and the African American Literature and Culture Association’s Stephen Henderson Critics Award.

His upcoming collection, “Asked What Has Changed,” will be published in 2021.

Sara Kuebbing in a black top

Sara Kuebbing Named Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow

Sara Kuebbing, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2020 early career fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Kuebbing was chosen for her research on the impacts of invasive plant species on terrestrial plant communities and ecosystems and her efforts to apply research to management of invaded systems. The five-year program will support fellows’ competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions.

A panther statue

Listen to a Follow-up Discussion from Pitt Panelists on COVID-19

On February 12, Pitt’s Global Studies and Asian Studies Centers hosted an information session to answer the community’s questions about the novel coronavirus. The event drew approximately 250 people, and it featured two Pitt scientists, two Pitt historians and an epidemiologist from the Allegheny County Health Department.

Two months later, the event’s moderator, Global Studies Center director and professor of political science Michael Goodhart brought two of the panelists together for a follow-up discussion.

In the podcast, Goodhart spoke with Megan Freeman, a pediatric infectious diseases senior fellow in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, and Mari Webel, assistant professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences' Department of History. Goodhart, Freeman and Webel discussed the developments in the understanding of the disease and the social response that’s come along with it.

"The Global Studies Center wanted to continue this conversation both as a service to our communities and as an intellectual contribution to our evolving understanding of this pandemic and its effects, said Goodhart.

“One of the things most interesting for me to track as a historian has been the way people have been talking about what they should be doing, and how it impacts their lives,” said Webel, who has recently published two articles in The Conversation about the dangers and implications of identifying the virus with its place of origin.

“The translation of early information about COVID-19—which focused on older demographic populations being most at risk, which focused on men—and the early guidance about mask-wearing, we’re seeing that change over time … It’s been an interesting phenomenon see to play out,” Webel said.

Goodhart said that the Global Studies Center will be organizing related online events throughout the summer and encouraged people to check their website for information.

A student walking on a sidewalk

Pitt News Student Journalists Nominated for Awards

Two Pitt News journalists have earned five nominations between them in student categories of the 2020 Golden Quill journalism competition, sponsored by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. Winners will be announced at the Golden Quill dinner, traditionally held in the spring, but now scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

Neena Hagen, a senior staff writer, received two nominations in the News category and two in the Features category. Editor-in-Chief Jon Moss received one nomination in the News category.

A person uses a laptop

Pitt Business Student Volunteers Provide Tax Preparation Aid

Fifteen student volunteers from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration doubled the impact of Pitt’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in partnership with the Carnegie Library in Oakland this season.

Despite the mandate to close the library site due to COVID-19, the project doubled its returns from its pilot season in 2019. During six weeks of operations in 2020, student volunteers completed 146 tax returns with a total of $206,390 in refunds and a total of $68,967 in earned income credit.

The program, which provides free tax help to people with low-to-medium incomes, the elderly, people with disabilities and those with limited English fluency, supports the Pittsburgh community while providing experience-based learning for Pitt Business students.

Volunteering this year were: James Campbell, Jie Chu, Justin Coughenour, Joshua Gailey, Weichun Hsieh, Han Luo, Muxiao Niu, Rebecca Power, Taylor Stein, Damon Singleton, Connor Taljan, Xingchen Yao, Quan Yang, Anqi Zang and Wenzhao Zhang.

The students completed over 24 hours of training and passed five IRS examinations to qualify as volunteers.

The Pitt VITA program is funded through the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership in Pitt Business. Jocelyn Carlin, clinical assistant professor of business administration, is its faculty advisor.

a man in a blue sweater looking at documents on a table

Career Resources Available for New Graduates

Pitt’s Career Center is operating virtually and remains accessible to seniors after graduation. Find opportunities for virtual site visits, fairs and job boards, as well as skills building workshops, post-grad options and current trends in the job market at seniors.pitt.edu. Each year, the center checks in with new graduates to collect information and connect them to resources—April 2020 grads can complete the survey here.

In addition, you can schedule an appointment in Handshake or email careers@pitt.edu to connect with staff—they want to hear your questions and suggestions for content you’d like to see on the seniors webpage.

Alexandros Labrinidis

Got Toilet Paper? There’s a Website for That

The Pitt Smart Living Project team has launched a crowdsourcing website to help people in the Pittsburgh area shop for essential items during the pandemic.

The website allows users to search for a store on a map and view information about how busy the store is at any time of day, or even on a different day, with data provided by Google. Users can also find and contribute information about which items are in or out of stock, such as toilet paper, eggs and paper towels. They can also search for an essential product and see a map of all locations that have that item in stock.

“Our goal is to make everyone’s lives a bit easier during the pandemic and help flatten the curve,” said Alexandros Labrinidis, project leader and chair of the Department of Computer Science in the School of Computing and Information (SCI). “We hope that the site will help unnecessary trips to the grocery store, and ultimately keep essential workers and our neighbors safe.”

Along with Labridinis, the project team also includes Kristi Bushman and Konstantinos Pelechrinis (SCI), Sera Linardi and Robizon Khubulashvili (Graduate School of Public and International Affairs) and Mallory Avery (Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences).