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Bioengineering Undergrads Receive Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award

The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) awarded Pitt’s undergraduate chapter the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award, which recognizes “chapters who demonstrate outstanding partnership with industries in their community.” It also acknowledges groups that “go above and beyond by creating joint programs with academic and industry leaders in the BME field in order to give their members a head start upon graduation.”

Bioengineering undergraduates in the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering cultivate connections with like-minded peers and professionals who can help advance students' careers through the chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

“Through professional networking events, social outings and outreach opportunities, we have helped solidify a true undergraduate biomedical engineering community that makes students’ time at Pitt both more valuable and enjoyable,” said Tyler Bray (ENGR ’20), who led the chapter as president during the 2019-2020 academic year.

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Kim Wong Awarded Grant as Part of Humans Advancing Research in the Cloud Initiative

Center for Research Computing Associate Research Professor Kim Wong has been awarded a $48,000 grant by the Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University as part of the Institute's initiative "Humans Advancing Research in the Cloud." Wong's proposal, "Leveraging Existing Humanware for Research in the Cloud Through Judicious Bursting," was selected along with proposals from researchers at Georgia State University, University of Notre Dame and Arizona State University.

Wong will explore how the public cloud can satisfy needs for extreme amounts of system memory, accelerated inferencing and analytics environments that conform to HIPAA requirements, as well as using the cloud for bursting when demands for resources exceed on-premise capacity. The project seeks to transform static, fixed-size, on-premise high performance computing clusters into an elastic computing environment by integrating local resources with cloud providers.

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Samantha Utley Named Coordinator of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at Falk School

Samantha Utley has been named the inaugural Coordinator of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School, a private K-8 school affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. Her start date is Aug. 3.

In this newly created, senior-level role, Utley will work with students, faculty, staff, and parents and caregivers in a variety of contexts, including professional development, student admissions, curriculum development, classroom instruction and more.

A native of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Utley is the former dean of students at the Duquesne City School District, where she managed student affairs. Prior to that role, she worked at Duquesne schools as a teacher and instructional coach for science, STEM and technology.

At the Falk School, Utley intends to apply the values of equity and restorative justice that shaped her experiences at Duquesne schools. She expects to foster an environment that recognizes and celebrates the innate differences in people and promotes the development of positive social identities. 

“The primary years are the foundation for students,” said Utley. “Reading, writing, math—if you don’t have those skills down in the first few years, you will struggle down the road. The same could be thought of with equity and inclusion. If we don’t instill that knowledge in our children, then as adults they will have deficit thinking and bias as adults.” Read more about Utley’s new position on the School of Education website.

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Lindsay Page Receives Early Career Award from American Educational Research Association

Lindsay Page, associate professor in the School of Education and research scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center, recently received the 2020 Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Honoring exemplary research and service in the education research field, the AERA’s Early Career Award is given once a year to a scholar who received his or her doctoral degree within the past 10 years. The winners were announced by AERA on July 22 and will be honored in a virtual ceremony on September 12, 2020. 

Founded in 1916, AERA is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Its 25,000-plus members include faculty, researchers, university deans, research directors and higher education administrators. 

Among subjects studied by Page is the phenomenon of summer melt in college admissions. Summer melt occurs when college-bound high school students, for a variety of reasons, do not successfully transition to college. Learn more about Page’s research on summer melt and the AERA Early Career Award on the School of Education’s website.

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Badie Morsi Receives Regional Distinguished Achievement Award

In recognition of his contributions to the field of petroleum engineering, Badie Morsi, professor and director of the Petroleum Engineering Program at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) Regional Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty.

The award is given to a SPE member in recognition of their excellence in classroom teaching, research, advising and guiding students, and contributions to the field of petroleum engineering.

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Chemical Engineering's Taryn Bayles Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Taryn Bayles, vice chair for undergraduate education and professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has dedicated her career to sharing the joy of engineering with others. In recognition of her myriad contributions to the field of engineering education, she was honored with the American Society of Engineering Education 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization’s virtual conference on June 23.

The award is presented to a pre-college engineering education division member who has “provided a high standard of service in alignment with the division vision, mission and core beliefs and in support of pre-college engineering education efforts within the American Society of Engineering Education, and who has made significant and sustained contributions to the field of pre-college engineering.”

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Pitt Public Health's Anne Newman Wins 2020 American Heart Association Clinical Research Prize

Anne B. Newman, from Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, was recently awarded the American Heart Association's 2020 Clinical Research Prize and will be recognized during the Presidential Address at the AHA's virtual Scientific Sessions in November.

The award recognizes "an individual who is making outstanding contributions to the advancement of clinical science ... and who currently heads an outstanding clinical research program." In addition to serving as chair and professor of epidemiology at Pitt public health, Newman directs Pitt's Center for Aging and Population Health and is clinical director of the Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt.

Newman's body of research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a focus on epidemiology and implications of subclinical cardiovascular diseases in older adults.

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Pitt Collaborative Receives $7 million for COVID-19 Outpatient Convalescent Plasma Therapy Trial

A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and other universities was recently awarded more than $7 million in funds to collaboratively study the role of convalescent plasma in mitigating symptoms of COVID-19 in patients with mild illness and preventing the progression of the disease from mild to severe.

Convalescent plasma is derived from blood donated by persons who have already had COVID-19 and have recovered. Convalescent plasma contains antibodies that can bind to the virus that causes COVID-19 and neutralize it.

“We are going to recruit patients who are at high risk for developing severe illness and may be most likely to benefit from a preventative treatment, such as patients over 50, those with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes and patients who are immunocompromised,” said Clifton Callaway (pictured), executive vice-chair of emergency medicine at Pitt.

The award comes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Researchers on the team also come from Michigan MedicineMedical University of South Carolina and Stanford Medicine.

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Political Discussions with Chancellor Emeritus Nordenberg Available for Public, Instructors

The Institute of Politics (IOP) and Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy are encouraging faculty and staff to use the video series, “Governing in Crisis: Preserving Democracy, the Rule of Law and American Values,” as part of their online educational offerings for the upcoming semester. The series launched in May with a goal of helping policymakers and interested citizens, whatever their political leanings, understand critical governance issues that have arisen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg, who is IOP chair and director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum, has interviewed six local and national subject matter experts on issues surrounding public health, the economy, the state of government and public institutions, criminal justice reform and systemic racism, among other topics. 

Each video features links to a teaching guide as well as a “Learn and Do More” informational page that coincides with the lecture. The goal is to use the views of newsmakers addressing key issues such as former Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on the organization’s financial crisis and voting by mail, or President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark on a fairer and less costly criminal justice system, to spark class discussions or supplement ongoing teachings related to these timely issues. 

Upcoming speakers will be announced soon. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, visit the Thornburgh Forum website.

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Winner Announced for Art of Diversity People’s Choice Award

The public had a chance to weigh in on the People’s Choice Award for the Art of Diversity Showcase and Competition, as Diversity Forum 2020 came to a close. And the people have spoken: "We have been enslaved in this country far longer than We have been Free. We have not seen Liberation... yet," by René LaPointe Jameson, was named the winner.

A total of over 1,200 votes were cast, and Jameson’s work emerged as the clear favorite, said Erik Schuckers, manager of communications and programming for Pitt’s Center of Creativity.

Jameson is a junior at Tufts University studying environmental engineering and a 2019 University of Pittsburgh Hesselbein fellow.

Passionate about public health and racial justice, Jameson works to address health disparities caused by environmental racism. Her art works examine social issues varying from medical racism, senior isolation and police brutality.

View the other winners of the Art of Diversity Showcase and Competition. If you missed the forum, here’s a recap of highlights on Pittwire.

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Pitt Selected to Study Improved Mobility Access in AI Vehicles

The University of Pittsburgh was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the US. 

The department awarded Pitt $1 million to study the implications of accessible automated vehicles and mobility services for people with disabilities, in consortium with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and The Catholic University of America.

Rory Cooper will lead the project from Pitt’s end. He is director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt and associate dean for inclusion in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Cooper has over two dozen patents related to improved mobility for people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessories and improved prosthetics.

The team has partners and advisors from Toyota Mobility Foundation, Merlin Mobility, Paralyzed Veterans of America, UPMC Health System, and the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Task Force on People with Disabilities.

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Chris F. Kemerer Wins Best New Author Award

Pitt Business faculty member Chris F. Kemerer is the recipient of the Best New Author Award in business case publisher Ivey Publishing’s 2019-2020 Best Seller Awards.

Kemerer is the David M. Roderick Professor of Information Systems, professor of business administration and area director for information systems and technology management in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

The award is presented to an author who published their first Ivey Publishing case within the last three years, and who had the highest total case usage across this time period.

Kemerer’s latest cases, Netflix Inc.: The Disruptor Faces Disruption and Apple v. The FBI, have seen interest worldwide, with the Netflix case being the second highest selling case in the world this past academic year.

Kemerer began writing business IT cases for use in his own classes, including in the Katz school’s Executive MBA program, and began submitting them for publication in order to make them widely available to other business school faculty.

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Seven Pitt Alums Named to Pittsburgh Business Times 30 Under 30 List

Meet the 2020 class of 30 Under 30 award winners, named by the Pittsburgh Business Times and Leadership Pittsburgh. Seven of them have Pitt degrees.

The awards recognize up-and-coming executives, innovators and thought leaders who will shape the future of Pittsburgh. Look out for a special report in the Pittsburgh Business Times that will feature the impressive young leaders on Sept. 25.

Bryant A. Andrews (A&S ’14, LAW ’17), 28, associate attorney, Cozen O-Connor

Blake Dube (ENGR ’17), 25, founder and CEO, Aeronics Inc.

Max Gelernter (LAW ’17), 28, associate attorney, K&L Gates LLP

Samantha Levinson (A&S ’15), 27, senior policy analyst, Allegheny HealthChoices Inc., Pitt Young Alumni Advisory Team member 2019-2021 Term

Sydney Rochelle Normil (LAW ’15), 29, associate attorney, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC 

Robert Septak (UPG ’13, BUS ’17G), 29, vice president of operations, GT Entrepreneurs

Alexander Sundermann (GSPH ’14, alumni ambassador), 29, senior associate health scientist, Cardno ChemRisk

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Shannon Reed’s (A&S ’15G) Work Named ‘Book of the Week’ by People Magazine

Shannon Reed, a visiting lecturer in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Program, was recognized by People magazine for her new book, “Why Did I Get a B?: And Other Mysteries We’re Discussing in the Faculty Lounge.” 

Reed’s new work of memoir and humor was named Book of the Week by the magazine for its July 6th issue. In the write-up, the magazine calls the book “funny” and “revealing,” and also encourages readers to “send this book to your favorite teacher.”

The book, which was released on June 30, is composed of essays full of “humor, heart and wit,” and draws upon Reed’s 20 years working with students in ages ranging from preschool to college.

Writer’s Digest also featured Reed’s new book in its July/August 2020 issue. Reed earned a master of fine arts degree from the English department in 2015.

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Doctoral Student Major Will Conkright Receives Army Medical Award

On June 30, Major Will Conkright received the 2020 Colonel Mary Lipscomb Hamrick Army Medical Specialist Corps Manuscript Award for a study he led, investigating tactically related physical performance and body composition recovery following U.S. Army Ranger training.

Conkright is a student in the University of Pittsburgh Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science program, part of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The study was published in the May 2020 print issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports. Selection for this award is highly competitive and is given to researchers demonstrating excellence in publishing peer-reviewed literature with profound relevance and impact to the military. 

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Pitt Business’ Paul T. Harper to Co-Chair Academy of Management Racial Justice Committee

Pitt Business faculty member Paul T. Harper has been named co-chair of a new Racial Justice Committee of the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.

The committee “will work to facilitate the creation of new knowledge, new networks and a new curriculum that benefits business research and education,” said Harper and his co-chair, Robbin Derry of the University of Lethbridge in announcing the formation of the ad-hoc group.

“The establishment of this committee is evidence of our division's responsiveness to the global Black Lives Matter movement and a broader social movement to eradicate systemic racism. Given our division's emphasis on justice, it makes sense that we would seek to provide leadership during this crucial period.”

Harper is a clinical assistant professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, where his research and teaching are focused on entrepreneurship, strategy and business ethics. His research interests include racial justice, social entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation.

The Academy of Management (AOM) is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars. Its membership of nearly 20,000 spans more than120 countries. The AOM’s Social Issues in Management Division studies the social issues, institutions, interactions and impacts of management. 

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Engineering Researcher Lei Li Studying Oily Wastewater Conversion

Lei Li, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, recently received $110,000 from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund for his work developing 3D-printed membranes that will aid in oil-water separation. The development could help convert the oily wastewater into purified, usable water.

Oily wastewater from drilling and processing crude oil is the biggest waste stream in the oil and gas industry, which produces three times as much waste as it does product.

“What’s new about this work is its focus on surface and in-pore topography: The texture of the surface of the material and even the texture inside of the pores of the material have a profound effect on the membrane’s effectiveness,” said Li.

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CBA’s Pitt Business Backstory Wins Graphic Design Award

The Pitt Business Backstory, an online feature created by communicators in the College of Business Administration, is among the winners in the Graphic Design USA 2020 American Web Design Awards.

Each Pitt Business Backstory features a CBA student’s individual journey from the classroom, to the city, to the world at Pitt Business.

CBA staff members RJ Thompson, Erin Noonan, Kenzie Sprague and Derek McDonald contributed to the winning series of student profiles.

To date, 18 students have told their stories in the ongoing feature, with more to come. Read about them online.

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New Funds for Community Behavioral Health Projects

Pitt’s Center for Interventions to Improve Community Health (CiTECH) recently awarded more than $100,000 from the Office of the Provost for projects designed to improve behavior health outcomes in local neighborhoods. Learn about the four projects:

The CHURCH Project—which stands for Congregations as Healers Uniting to Restore Community Health—will develop and pilot an intervention that takes place in the context of African American churches. “Because of issues like stigma, mistrust and absence of insurance, many Black people rely on informal church support for emotional problems, rather than visiting mental health clinics,” said John Wallace, the David E. Epperson Professor of Social Work and co-investigator. The goal is to increase the mental health awareness, knowledge and skills of the clergy, who then in turn can help parishioners. The project is a partnership between Pitt’s School of Social Work, faculty members in the Department of Psychiatry and leaders from Homewood Community Ministries.

Marlo Perry, assistant research professor in the School of Social Work, will collaborate with Wesley Family Services and the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families to pilot Intensive Family Coaching (IFC) with families of young children involved with the child welfare system. IFC is a home-based intervention that helps young children with emotional and behavioral challenges, as well as their caregivers who may struggle with discipline issues. The project also seeks to increase collaboration between the child welfare and behavioral health systems.

Child maltreatment can lead to mental health issues, trouble in school and other problems. Professionals in Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) work together to investigate abuse and provide resources for victims of child abuse and their families. But CACs in rural areas often have limited resources. Their teams have members from a variety of disciplines—police, advocates and child welfare workers. To help a team like this work more effectively, Elizabeth McGuier, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry, will work with the CAC in McKean County on the use of TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based intervention to improve teamwork

The final project will focus on improving overall community mental health and reducing teen violence in the City of Pittsburgh’s Fineview and Perry Hilltop neighborhoods. Associate Professor of Social Work Mary Ohmer will oversee a training program that focuses on collective efficacy by facilitating trusting relationships between younger and older residents and increasing the residents’ ability to safely intervene to address neighborhood problems. Ohmer will be working with members of the Perry Hilltop Citizens Councils.

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Greg Scott Stepping Down as Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations

Following four years of service to the University of Pittsburgh, Greg Scott is stepping down from his role as senior vice chancellor for business and operation.

During his time at Pitt, Scott’s accomplishments included launching a comprehensive campus master plan, creating the Office of Sustainability and chairing a record-breaking United Way campaign.

Dave DeJong will continue to serve as acting senior vice chancellor for business and operations—a role that he has occupied since May—in addition to his permanent duties as vice chancellor of human resources.