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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).

Nicole Mitchell plays the flute in a red top

Pitt Jazz Launches New Video Blog on International Jazz Day

The Pitt Jazz Studies Program is launching a new initiative: a video blog called Jazz Talk, hosted by Nicole Mitchell, director of the Jazz Studies program, which is in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The series, which will feature solo performances by local jazz musicians who will be interviewed by Mitchell, will premiere at noon on April 30, International Jazz Day. To view it, visit Pitt Jazz Studies’ Facebook page.

“Featuring Pittsburgh jazz artists on an online platform will hopefully bring more outside attention to the great talent that Pittsburgh jazz has to offer,” said Mitchell. “It will also help local fans get to know the musicians more personally. I’d also like to make space for voices of artists in other disciplines whose work is informed by jazz and improvisation.”

Jazz Talk’s first installment will feature bassist Dwayne Dolphin and vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield. Dolphin was playing bass with jazz greats Geri Allen, Nathan Davis, Pete Henderson, Roger Humphries and Fred Wesley by the time he was 15. He toured with famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis throughout the U.S. and appeared on “The Tonight Show.” Dolphin’s diverse experience has included a performance with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s production of “Indigo in Motion.” He is an adjunct professor of jazz at Duquesne University.

Wingfield is a vocalist and teaching artist specializing in opera, classical, jazz and soul.  She is the founding director of Groove Aesthetic, a Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary artist collective. Wingfield has performed such lead operatic roles as Magda Sorel in Carl Menotti’s “The Consul,” Hanna Glawari in Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” and Zerlina in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” As the education director for the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, she oversees early childhood programs in schools and communities.

For more information, contact the Jazz Studies office at 412-624-4187 or pittjazz@pitt.edu.

panther statue

2020-2021 Will Be the Year of Engagement

The Office of the Provost has announced that the next academic year's theme will focus on engagement. As in past years, students, faculty and staff can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for projects related to the theme. Read more in the University Times.

The Cathedral of Learning

Three Pitt Researchers Inducted into AIMBE

Three University of Pittsburgh researchers have been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Election to the institute’s College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer.

The following Pitt researchers were recently inducted:

The College of Fellows is comprised of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. College 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 and implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."

A yellow compass

Pitt’s Global Hub Still Abuzz with Free Events, Watch Parties, Virtual Tours

Pitt’s Posvar Hall may be shuttered, but its Global Hub is still buzzing with activity, albeit virtual in nature. There are the regular ongoing offerings, like the United Nations noon briefings, and virtual tours of sites ranging from world-class museums to Croatia’s national parks. Then there are the special events—live interviews, lectures, webinars, panel discussions and watch parties. The content is developed by all of the units under the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), but it is promoted by the Hub, the central place at Pitt to find ways to stay globally engaged. All of the activity is free to the public.

Hub Manager Karen Lue says she is especially proud to promote the virtual International Tea Time Workshops, at which students from around the globe have a space to air concerns, ask questions or just feel included.

“These are hard times for everyone, but particularly for international students who are, in effect, ‘stuck’ here in a place that is not their home culture,” said Lue. “Having a space where they can speak with students who are going through similar challenges, in a discussion led by professional counselors, is a way for them to feel like they are part of a community.”

The Hub is also a resource for those students completing UCIS certificates or the Global Distinction credential. And the Hub’s Instagram account features clips from its Experience Wall, as well as testimonials from UCIS students.

The main goal: global engagement. “Now more than ever, it is clearly evident that we live in an interconnected world that requires our ability to understand and empathize with one another,” said Belkys Torres, executive director of global engagement. “That is only possible through increased knowledge of other cultures, peoples and experiences.”

A piece of art depicting a person

Annual Studio Arts Student Exhibition Moves Online

A wide array of drawings, paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, video and animation is available online in Pitt’s 2020 Studio Arts Student Exhibition and will remain online until the fall.

The show features 43 works by 11 new studio arts alumni and 12 other students.

The exhibition reveals the names of participants in a column on the right side of the page. Click on a student’s name to see their profile and gallery page, at the bottom of which are images they are exhibiting this year. The image shown on the left side of this page, in black and white, for example, is of "The Tale of Medusa," a cut-paper still used in a digital animation by graduating senior Azize Altay Harvey from Chicago, Illinois.

Under “Selected Works by Faculty” on the right-side list are names of other students who contributed to the show; some are art majors, some are not. Their works are included in a gallery at the bottom of that page. The exhibition also includes a printed catalogue that can be viewed and purchased and the department’s lively and colorful Instagram account.

Associate Professor and Chair of Studio Arts Delanie Jenkins said when it became clear that this year’s exhibition could not be mounted in a physical space due to the public health crisis, the seniors collaborated in a multi-pronged strategy to put the show online.

Added Jenkins: “Though viewers will not experience the materiality of the students’ work directly—the lushness of textures and surfaces, the sensitivity and nuance of a particular mark, the physical presence of a work experienced in person—we invite viewers to stay tuned, in hopes that there will be some version of the exhibition to experience in person in the future.”

Two people talk with one another over graphs and other data

PInCh Offering Bonus Prize Money for Pandemic Health Ideas

The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) 2020 is now offering a bonus award of up to $25,000 for ideas that impact aspects of health that are related to an epidemic or pandemic.

Proposals are not required to address this issue, but those that do would be eligible to receive additional funding. Applications will continue to be accepted for any innovative solution to a challenging health problem, from any discipline and on any topic that impacts health.

Two-minute video applications are due Wednesday, April 29, by 5 p.m.

A total of $555,000 in awards are available, with individual project awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. Teams that enter must include at least one University of Pittsburgh faculty member. Find more information or assistance with your submission online.

A sign for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Joshua Groffman Selected for Bradford Campus Teaching Award

Joshua Groffman, assistant professor of music, will receive the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award. Groffman is the director of Pitt-Bradford’s music programs.

Jeff Guterman, associate professor of broadcast communications and chair of the campus's Division of Communication and the Arts, cited Groffman’s creation of a music minor and pep band in 2018 as well as positive teaching reviews and making a point of connecting visiting musicians directly with students in a learning environment.

Groffman is also a prolific composer and active performer. Several performances planned for spring and summer have been postponed, most notably a June pre-premiere workshop of a new opera, “Halcyon.” Groffman now expects that to take place in 2021.