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Engineering Students Selected for Power and Energy Scholarships

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society (PES) selected four students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering for its 2020-21 Scholarship Plus Award. Eli Brock, Sabrina Helbig, Anthony Popovski and Maurice Sturdivant will each receive a financial award, one year of IEEE PES student membership, and mentorship from leading professionals in the power and energy industry.

The PES award recognizes high-achieving undergraduate electrical engineering students from across the nation, and over the last nine years, the Swanson School has consistently produced scholars in the program. Two of this year’s recipients—Brock and Popovski—are repeat scholars from the 2019-20 award program. 

“For the second year in a row, the Swanson School has had the most IEEE PES scholars in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Robert Kerestes, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “These awards are a testament to the strength of our undergraduate program and the quality of our students. I am proud of this achievement and look forward to seeing how these students tackle future challenges in the ever-changing power and energy industry.”

Anthony Rodi and Peggy Liu in side by side photos

Two Pitt CBA Faculty Named to Poets & Quants Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors

Anthony Rodi, clinical associate professor of business administration, and Peggy Liu, assistant professor of business administration and Ben L. Fryrear Faculty Fellow, are among the Poets & Quants 2020 Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors.

This year’s list features professors from 33 of the world’s best undergraduate business programs, selected from among nearly 900 nominees based on their achievements in research and teaching.

Rodi, whose expertise is in information systems and technology management, has taught at Pitt since 2015. Poets & Quants recognized his multiple teaching awards and industry experience.

“I am passionate about teaching and try to provide the best experience with every class that I teach,” Rodi told Poets & Quants. “My first priority has always been establishing excellence in the classroom by keeping course content relevant and engaging.”

Liu, whose research focuses on consumer behavior, joined the Pitt faculty in 2016. Poets & Quants cited her “very successful and impactful early teaching and research career” among the reasons for naming her to the prestigious list.

“I really enjoy teaching Pitt’s undergraduate business students because they are very bright, eager and humble. I love that they are open to learning consumer psychology theories and thinking about how to apply them to business and policy problems,” she told the publication.

Learn more about the awards.

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The Pitt News Wins Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Award

The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh's student newspaper, received a 2021 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown award. 

The newspaper was awarded a Crown award in the hybrid news category. At the award presentation in March 2021, it will be revealed whether The Pitt News won a gold or silver award. Ten other student newspapers—out of a total of 849 digital, newspapers, magazines and yearbooks published during the 2019-2020 academic year—received an award in the hybrid news category.

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Eric Beckman Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Eric Beckman, distinguished service professor of chemical and petroleum engineering in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors 2020 cohort.

Beckman is the eighth Pitt faculty member to be named an NAI fellow, and the second with a primary appointment in the Swanson School. He has nearly 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, 26 book chapters and receipt of 40 U.S. patents with more pending.

Beckman’s research group examines the use of molecular design to solve problems in green product formulation and in the design of materials for use in tissue engineering. He is currently leading a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and NineSigma, in collaboration with Think Beyond Plastic, to develop innovations to reduce the amount of plastics that end up being burned or buried in landfills, or make their way into the world’s waterways and oceans.

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Valerie Kinloch to Chair NCTE Convention

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the Pitt School of Education, will serve as program chair of the 2021 annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), which is scheduled for November 18-21, 2021, in Louisville, Kentucky. Kinloch, who is the president-elect of NCTE, selected “Equity, Justice and Antiracist Teaching” as the convention theme.

The annual NCTE convention is attended by thousands of literacy educators in K-12 and higher education. Proposal submissions for the 2021 annual convention will be accepted through Jan. 13, 2021. Membership in NCTE is not required to submit a proposal. Learn more about the NCTE Convention.

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Engineering Researchers Awarded Grant for 2D Metal Study

The Nanoionics and Electronics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has received $557,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation for its work investigating a new type of two-dimensional material.

The six-year funding will enable Pitt researchers to explore atomically thin metals, also known as two-dimensional (2D) metals. The project is part of the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers at the Penn State University Center for Nanoscale Science. Researchers will pioneer new methods of encasing 2D metals in graphene, which will enhance its optical properties and make it useful for applications in biosensing and quantum devices. 

From Pitt’s side, the research will be led by Susan Fullerton, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and Ke Xu, visiting research assistant professor in chemical and petroleum engineering.

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Pitt Ophthalmology Resident Jamie Odden Wins 2nd Place for Research

Jamie Odden, a third-year resident in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Ophthalmology, was recently awarded 2nd place in the Ophthalmology Times annual Research Scholar Honoree Program.

This program provides a unique opportunity for fellows and residents to share notable research and challenging cases with their peers and mentors. Odden won the prize with her presented research, “Intravitreal Injections and Endophthalmitis: Does Lidocaine Gel Change the Risk of the Infection?” Odden’s research will be published on and featured in print through an upcoming edition of “Ophthalmology Times.”

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Attoryney Mark F. Seltzer (A&S '72) Named Honorary American Society of Addiction Medicine Member

Mark F. Seltzer (A&S '72), founding attorney of Seltzer & Associates, PC, was made an honorary member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), despite not being a doctor, in recognition of his professional accomplishments made over the years by representing doctors and professionals suffering from addiction. In addition to his work with the ASAM community, Mark co-authored a chapter titled "Consent and Confidentiality Issues in Addiction Practice" in the sixth edition of "The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine." 

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Jason Hare Named Pennsylvania Educator of the Year

Jason Hare, assistant professor of physician assistant studies in the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, is the winner of the 2020 Pennsylvania Educator of the Year award, given annually by the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.

The award honors a Pennsylvania physician assistant educator who inspires, stimulates and challenges their students and colleagues through outstanding contributions to Pennsylvania education and the physician assistant profession. This is the fourth year in a row that this award has been won by a Pitt physician assistant faculty.

Hare’s research interests include physician assistant education and assessment, as well as medically underserved populations. He serves as the physician assistant faculty advisor to the Pitt Primary Care Progress organization, which works to encourage students in all healthcare-related fields to pursue primary care positions, and provides interprofessional education to Pitt health sciences students. 

An artist's rendition of Bing Crosby wearing a hat and a checkered jacket

University Library System Acquires Bing Crosby Archives

Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is one of America’s most beloved holiday tunes. That recording, along with more than 3,000 record albums and CDs, are part of the Bing Crosby Collection recently acquired by the University Library System’s Center for American Music, housed at the Stephen Foster Memorial.

The collection, which also includes every Crosby film and television appearance, along with hundreds of books, periodicals, newspaper clippings and publications from global Bing Crosby fan clubs, was amassed by Crosby fan Frontis Wiggins. When Wiggins died, a close family friend from Pittsburgh, Robert Phillips, suggested the archive be given to Pitt.

The head of the Center for American Music, Kathryn Haines, says it’s fitting that the collection be housed at Pitt because it represents a continuum of what was happening in American music following the Stephen Foster years.

“Mr. Crosby grew up on Foster music and had an affinity for it,” said Haines. “He recorded many Foster tunes and was a trailblazer in the same way Foster was.”

Haines explained that Crosby was one of the first vocalists to perform with a microphone, making his performances more intimate. Between 1946 and 1948, he revolutionized the entertainment industry by advocating for prerecorded shows, which became the model for both radio and television.

“Bing Crosby was more than the eternal crooner,” said Haines. “He was also a powerful force in the development of recording technology, motion pictures and broadcasting.”

Archivists are currently performing an inventory of the collection and a finding aid for the archive will be available in the near future.

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Marta Lewicka Named Fellow of the American Mathematical Society

Marta Lewicka, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Mathematics, has been named to the Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Class of 2021. The AMS recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. Lewicka was chosen for contributions to partial differential equations, calculus of variations and continuum mechanics.

"It is a great pleasure to offer my sincere congratulations to the new AMS Fellows, honored for their notable contributions to mathematics and to the profession. We are grateful to the nominators and the members of the selection committee for helping the AMS recognize the achievements of their esteemed colleagues through this fellowship," said AMS President Jill C. Pipher.

Lewicka is one of 46 fellows inducted this year. AMS is a professional society advancing research and connecting the diverse global mathematical community through publications, meetings and conferences, MathSciNet, professional services, advocacy and awareness programs. Some 30,000 individuals and 570 institutions worldwide make up the society that has been founded in 1888. AMS supports the mathematical sciences by providing access to research, professional networking and a connection to a community passionate about mathematics and its relationship to other disciplines.

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Dick Thornburgh Award Created To Recognize Federal Prosecutors

A new annual award named after Governor Dick Thornburgh (pictured) recognizes outstanding federal prosecutors in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh was established in 2007 in honor of Dick Thornburgh as a former Attorney General of the United States and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Thornburgh is a Pitt Law alumnus.

Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Pennsylvania, said the award honors an outstanding prosecutor who “exhibits the commitment to justice and the highest ethical standards that were embodied by General Thornburgh throughout his career.” On Nov 5. the inaugural award went to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan T. Conway, chief of the major crimes division.

His son, John Thornburgh, said his father “has a lifelong passion for the Department of Justice and is thrilled to have his name associated with this annual award given for outstanding service in the U. S. Attorney’s office where his career began.”


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Acting Honors College Dean Audrey Murrell Interviewed on Food Insecurity

Audrey J. Murrell, acting dean of the University Honors College, was recently interviewed by WQED Multimedia for a new documentary on the topic of food insecurity.

Starved: Our Food Insecurity Crisis” examined and identified the causes of this societal problem—which has worsened during the pandemic—and affects 300,000 people in western Pennsylvania.

Having developed the Food Abundance Index (FAI) study and toolkit with Pitt Business colleague Ray Jones, Murrell explained in the documentary that while food insecurity involves financial need, it is also impacted by food policy, food access, and health and well-being of families. 

In addition to the FAI, she created the Pitt Honors Food Ecosystems Scholar Community for students to cross boundaries and help transform the food system. She is also board chair of Food21, a nonprofit focused on expanding the breadth and depth of the regional food and agricultural economy. 

In addition to her role with Pitt Honors, Murrell is a professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration and holds secondary appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology.

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Prize Winners Awarded for PittChallenge Hackathon

The fourth annual Pitt Challenge hackathon, sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, recently announced this year’s winners.

The virtual competition had 77 total participants from a record 36 universities worldwide and 16 total projects submitted.

The winners included the following:

  • 1st prize, $1,500, Our Experience, a crowdsourced platform for patients to report side effects of drugs based on their clinical information.
  • 2nd prize, $1,000, Pandemic Simulator, a virtual simulator that demonstrates the challenge of implementing healthcare policy during a pandemic, especially in balancing both public health and the economy.
  • 3rd prize, $500, MindWatch, a direct-to-consumer product that collects data about cognition over time and displays it to health workers to help guide decision making.
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New Research Develops Testing Method for Shoe Tread

Research led by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering that examines shoe tread wear and tear over time was recently published in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

The team, led by Kurt Beschorner, associate professor of bioengineering at Pitt, developed a pass/fail testing method that assesses the worn condition of slip-resistant shoes. The test compares a worn patch of shoe tread to the base of a AA battery. If the patch of worn tread is larger than the battery’s base, the shoe fails the slip-resistant test. Worn shoes are known to contribute to slip-and-fall risk, a common cause of workplace injuries. The method will be free for companies to use to prevent workplace injuries.

The team worked with researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the India Institute of Technology-Delhi.

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Colin Allen Named American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow

Colin Allen, a distinguished professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of History and Philosophy of Science, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Allen was elected as part of the section on history and philosophy of science for “his significant contributions to philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of cognitive science and in logic, computation and artificial intelligence.”

Allen is one of 489 members inducted this year. On Feb. 13, 2021, there will be a virtual fellows’ forum with an induction ceremony for new fellows.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, Science Advances, Science Immunology and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS aims to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more.

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‘Ghosts of Amistad’ Documentary Now Accessible Online

The award-winning documentary “Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels,” directed by Tony Buba and produced by Pitt Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History Marcus Rediker, is now available to view online for free on Pitt’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. Rediker teaches in the Department of History, part of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The film chronicles a journey to Sierra Leone in 2013 to visit the home villages of the rebels who captured the slave schooner Amistad in 1839. The filmmakers interviewed elders about local memory of the incident through the oral tradition and searched for the long-lost ruins of Lomboko, the slave trading factory where the cruel transatlantic voyage began. Rediker and Buba relied on the knowledge of villagers, fishermen and truck drivers to recover a lost history from below in the struggle against slavery and to restore the popular memory of the Atlantic slave trade.

“In a time when many Americans and others around the world are eager to learn about racial injustice and its history, it is crucial to have this film about the slave trade—and successful resistance to the slave trade—as a resource,” said Rediker, adding that his primary goal in making the film was “to create the best possible educational tool for the widest possible audience.”

“Ghosts of Amistad” is also available, with subtitles, in French, Italian and Spanish. The film was awarded the John E. O’Connor Film Prize by the American Historical Association as the best historical documentary of 2015.  It has been screened around the world—in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Bologna and throughout the United States.

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School of Medicine’s Tamar Krishnamurti Wins 2020 Kuno Award

Tamar Krishnamurti, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, was recently announced as the winner of the 2020 Kuno Award for Applied Science, a grant through the S&R Foundation.

The $100,000 award is a biennial award designed to support women social innovators using scientific research and principles to address a 21st century problem. The award supports the translation of scientific research to a practical, real-world solution for those aiming to achieve broad social impact. 

Krishnamurti’s research examines problems that meet at the intersection of health, risk, technology and the environment. Currently, she is looking at risk perception and communication and the development of mobile health strategies to identify and intervene on health risks, including pregnancy-related risks.

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Suzanne Lane Appointed to National Assessment Governing Board

Suzanne Lane, a professor in the School of Education, has been appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, the entity behind the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Lane, a 35-year faculty member of Pitt will serve a four-year term on the board. She has formerly served as president of the National Council on Measurement in Education and vice president of Division D of the American Educational Research Association. Read more about the appointment and her work.

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SHREC Partners with Pittsburgh Robotics Company on Space Technology Advancements

The National Science Foundation Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC), led by the University of Pittsburgh, recently entered into a partnership with Pittsburgh-based space robotics company Astrobotic to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

A diverse cohort of researchers, scientists and engineers at Astrobotic and SHREC will share intellectual property, domain expertise and practical know-how to develop space computing platforms, among other technologies. The teams have already kicked off collaboration on Astrobotic’s Phase II NASA SBIR contract to develop UltraNav, a compact smart camera for next-generation space missions.

“On behalf of all students and faculty in SHREC, we are most honored to be partnering with the leading space company in our region,” said Alan George, SHREC Center Director and R&H Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “We look forward to many collaborations on space research, technologies, experiments and workforce development.”