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September 17, 2018
Elaine Vitone Wins Inaugural Award From National Association of Science Writers
The National Association of Science Writers announced that Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) will receive the organization’s first-ever Excellence in Institutional Writing Award. Vitone is senior editor at Pitt Med, the magazine of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in collaboration with the Office of University Communications. NASW established the award to recognize high-caliber, publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization.
Vitone’s feature about Pitt psychiatrist Lisa Pan’s work to fight intractable depression earned her the win. Of the story, the judges said: “Her compelling narrative follows both an early patient, depicted authentically with details from reports, and an MD leading much of the research. The writing is colorful, compassionate and well-grounded in the science.”
Vitone will receive a cash prize to be awarded at a reception on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C.
In addition to her work at the magazine, Vitone is a writer and producer of Pitt Medcast, which has been featured on National Science Foundation’s Science360 Radio and several NPR member stations.
September 13, 2018
Emily Elliott Receives 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring
Emily Elliott, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science, is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award was presented by AGU’s Biogeosciences Section.
The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is given annually to one mid-career female scientist for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.
Elliott, who also serves as the director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and the director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research, joined the Dietrich School in 2007 as an assistant professor.
September 12, 2018
Valerie Kinloch Receives NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award
Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, received the 2018 Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This award recognizes a person of color who has made a significant contribution to NCTE and to the development of their professional community. It is bestowed only when the selection committee decides a nomination warrants presentation of the award.
Kinloch, who joined Pitt in 2017, has published many books and articles about race, place, literacy and equity, as well as the literacies and community engagements of youth and adults inside and outside schools. Among other awards, Kinloch is also a recipient of the 2018 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education.
September 11, 2018
Aman Mahajan Appointed Chair of Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
Aman Mahajan was recently appointed chair of Pitt’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, part of the School of Medicine.
Mahajan joins the University from UCLA, where he was chairperson of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and director of Perioperative Services at UCLA Health. His research focuses on spinal neural modulation of cardiac electrophysiology and the assessment of cardiac function in heart failure.
He is also a member of professional associations and national scientific societies in his fields of clinical and research interests, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Heart Association, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the American Physiological Society.
September 9, 2018
Pitt–Bradford Recognized as College of Distinction
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been named a College of Distinction for the fourth time by the Colleges of Distinction website and e-guidebook. Pitt–Bradford received further program-specific recognition in education, nursing and business.
Colleges of Distinction highlighted Pitt–Bradford’s real-world learning opportunities, such as monitoring stream health in the Allegheny National Forest. Groundbreaking facilities, including the Crime Scene Investigation House, were also cited, as were opportunities that offer students leadership experience through campus activities.
In program-specific recognitions, Colleges of Distinction recognized Pitt–Bradford’s education program for its use of an enriching liberal arts perspective, as well as its nursing programs for hands-on learning opportunities. Pitt–Bradford was also recognized for cultural activities including author events, student and faculty theater productions and career-networking opportunities.
Following nominations from high school counselors and educators, Colleges of Distinction evaluates schools based on engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges must demonstrate results in four key areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.
September 5, 2018
Chemistry’s Kabirul Islam Awarded $650,000 from NSF to Study Cell Lineage
Kabirul Islam, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemistry, recently won a three-year $650,000 grant from the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences area of the National Science Foundation to develop answer a central question in mammalian biology: how is it that identical DNA in an organism can create diverse cell lineages?
The grant funds an integrated chemical biology research and educational program, which will reprogram expression of genes that underlie cell division, differentiation, lineage and ultimately, organismal development.
“The interdisciplinary research setting that brings together organic synthesis, protein engineering and cell biology, will provide a unique training ground for graduate and undergraduate students,” Islam said.
September 5, 2018
Law Alumnus Appointed Staff Judge Advocate to Commandant of Marine Corps
The Department of Defense has announced that Marine Corps Col. Daniel J. Lecce (LAW ’87), has been promoted to major general. He will be the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the senior legal adviser in the Marine Corps. Among Lecce’s personal awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Lecce will join fellow Pitt alum Brigadier General John G. Baker (LAW ’97) as the only active duty Marine Judge Advocate general officers.
September 4, 2018
Med Students Receive Innovative Programming Award at Family Physicians Conference
The Family Medicine Interest Group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine received the 2018 Award of Excellence for Innovative Programming at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference in Kansas City in early August.
Elise Pearson (left) and Sarah Minney (right), both members of the Pitt School of Medicine’s Class of 2020, accepted the award on behalf of the group, which promotes advocacy, service and education regarding current issues in family medicine. Both are coordinators for the group.
The group’s initiatives, which helped earn them the award, included connecting with local organizations to offer blood pressure and blood sugar screenings at health fairs, holding a fundraiser and day of service benefiting a local food pantry, hosting a family medicine mixer event for students to meet family medicine physicians in an informal setting, and participating in the creation of a five-session mini-elective for students called “Transitions: Primary Care’s Role in Addiction Medicine.”
August 31, 2018
Diane Litman Awarded Research Grant from Institute of Education Sciences
Diane Litman, director of the Intelligent Systems Program, professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information and senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been awarded a research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to study undergraduate STEM education.
With colleagues Muhsin Menekse and Ala Samarapungavan of Purdue University, Litman will pursue research titled “Enhancing Undergraduate STEM Education by Integrating Mobile Learning Technologies with Natural Language Processing.” In this project, the researchers will use the mobile application CourseMIRROR in large science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lectures to monitor student engagement and the effect of feedback on learning. Developed by researchers at LRDC, CourseMIRROR is a mobile application that prompts students to reflect on their learning in the classroom. It also provides immediate and continuous feedback to instructors about the difficulties that their students encounter, providing insight to instructors on what was and was not learned.
This grant is under the program Postsecondary and Adult Education, which strives to support research for the betterment of student education at both the college level and in adult education programs.
August 31, 2018
Interim Executive Director Named at Institute for Learning
There is a new leader at the helm at Pitt’s Institute for Learning (IFL). Rose E. Apodaca, who is nationally recognized with a proven track record in improving equitable outcomes for underserved students, is the new interim executive director of the IFL, which is part of Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Apodaca most recently served as director of outreach and development at the IFL, and prior to that, she was a senior cabinet-level officer in large urban school districts, a teacher and a principal of a foreign language school. She also led bilingual education programs for three major urban districts and served as an expert witness in federal court on the teaching and learning of English language learners.
Said Anthony Petrosky, IFL codirector and associate dean of Pitt’s School of Education: “Under Rosita’s leadership, the IFL will continue its important work in urban schools while growing its national and international presence. She exemplifies the bold thinking and action needed to ensure that every child receives the best educational opportunities.”
August 30, 2018
Physics Student Conducts Research at CERN with ThinkSwiss Scholarship
Andrew Aukerman spent the summer researching at the world’s largest particle physics lab with the ThinkSwiss Scholarship.
He conducted research with the ATLAS experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland. His project focused on particles called Higgsinos, the theorized super-partners to the Higgs boson. He also conducted archival research at the CERN library to investigate the impact that CERN has had on regional and global politics.
August 29, 2018
Bernard Rousseau Named Chair of Department of Communication Science and Disorders
The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) has named Bernard Rousseau as the new chair of the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. He will officially assume his position on Sept. 1, 2018.
Rousseau joins Pitt from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he most recently served as associate vice chair for research and director of the Laryngeal Biology Laboratory, and as chancellor faculty fellow and associate professor of otolaryngology, hearing and speech sciences and mechanical engineering.
Two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research projects are coming to Pitt with Rousseau, along with a majority of his research team from Vanderbilt. The first project focuses on improving outcomes for patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis through innovative technology designed to improve pre-operative surgical planning. The second project seeks to determine the safety and efficacy of treatments for voice disorders.
“As I step into my new role at Pitt, I am energized by the fact that the university and the city of Pittsburgh have all the necessary ingredients to truly advance the study of communication science and disorders,” said Rousseau. “The outstanding faculty, the clinical infrastructure, and the exciting opportunities to leverage and strengthen partnerships across the various schools, programs and highly ranked departments at Pitt will allow us to take this program and this field to the next level.”
August 29, 2018
Swanson School Pair Receives Gilliam Fellowship
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has selected Swanson School of Engineering PhD student Emily Ackerman (pictured, left) and her thesis adviser Jason Shoemaker as one of 45 doctoral student-adviser pairs to receive a 2018 Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study. The Gilliam Fellowships encourage a more diverse and inclusive environment in science and academia. Each pair will receive an annual award totaling $50,000 — which includes a stipend, a training allowance and an institutional allowance — for up to three years. As part of their three-year grant, Ackerman and Shoemaker will organize a symposium at the University that will examine science, technology and diversity. Ackerman is pursuing her doctorate in chemical engineering, and Shoemaker is an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.
August 28, 2018
Pitt Cyber Announces First Awardees of Accelerator Grants Program
Pitt's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced the first 10 awardees of the first cycle of its Accelerator Grants Program. The honorees will receive funding for projects designed to advance Pitt Cyber’s mission to investigate critical questions surrounding technology law, policy and security.
Awards have been granted to: Kevin Ashley, professor of law and intelligent systems; Matthias Grabmair, Carnegie Mellon University Systems Scientist; Julia Santucci, senior lecturer, intelligence studies; Daniel Cole, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Alex K. Jones, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; Bo Zeng, assistant professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Zhi-Hong Mao, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor Swanson School of Engineering; Mai Abdelhakim; visiting assistant professor School of Computing and Information; James Joshi, professor School of Computing and Information; Balaji Palanisamy, assistant professor School of Computing and Information.
August 27, 2018
4 Students and Alumni Named 2018 Critical Language Scholars
Five University of Pittsburgh students and alumni have been named 2018 Critical Language Scholars, an overseas intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment program designed to promote rapid language gains.
Joseph Acevedo, a Marine Corps veteran and junior majoring in Russian and Economics and minoring in Chinese with certificates in Russian and East European Studies and Asian Studies, will study Hindi in Jaipur, India.
Matt Eskuchen, a current Boren Scholar in China, this August will receive a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, a Chemistry minor; and a Conceptual Foundations of Medicine certificate. He will study Mandarin in Tainan, Taiwan.
The Critical Language Scholarship is a program of the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
August 27, 2018
Physical Therapy Students Win Annual Donation Challenge
Physical therapy students at the University of Pittsburgh took first place in the 2017-2018 Mercer-Marquette Challenge by raising $50,552 for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. They also earned the title of "Leaders Society" for bringing the University’s total donations to more than $600,000 over the last 30 years. Students from Pitt’s Department of Physical Therapy, which is part of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, have won the challenge 15 times in its 30-year history.
The money raised in the annual challenge helps fund scholarships and grants that advance patient care. The challenge also supports the rigorous scientific review process for all foundation grants and scholarships. See a photo of the team.
August 22, 2018
Pitt BYO[Bag] Featured in 2018 Sustainable Campus Index
Pitt’s BYO[Bag] reusable shopping bag program is among the impactful initiatives highlighted in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2018 Sustainable Campus Index.
To encourage use of reusable bags at Pitt, after the first two weeks of each term, students pay 25 cents for a plastic bag at campus dining or bookstore locations. Half the proceeds from the fee and from sales of BYO[Bag] reusable bags go to the Pitt Green Fund to support other sustainability initiatives.
The program, one of many Pitt dining sustainability initiatives, has cut the number of plastic bags used at campus dining locations and book stores by 98 percent — from 30,000 per week to about 600 per week, said Nick Goodfellow, sustainability coordinator for Sodexo Dining Services at Pitt.
That’s more than 1.3 million bags saved and nearly $6,500 raised for the Pitt Green Fund since BYO[Bag] launched in 2014.
The AASHE Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), and highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from STARS institutions.
Pitt achieved a STARS Silver rating its first-ever STARS submission this year.
August 15, 2018
Kirk Holbrook to Lead Pitt’s Hill District Community Engagement Center
Kirk Holbrook has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Hill District Community Engagement Center (CEC).
Holbrook, a resident of the Hill District, most recently was chief of staff in the district office of State Representative Jake Wheatley. He previously was a community organizer for A+ Schools and program director for the Hill House Association.
“Kirk’s deep connections to the Hill District and record of community engagement will ensure the Hill District CEC fulfills its mission,” said Lina Dostilio, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement. “His strength as an organizer and leader will allow him to be a trusted bridge between campus and community.”
Pitt’s CECs, announced in 2016 as an initiative of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s office, aim to strengthen communities by coordinating University activities already underway and building alliances within city neighborhoods that are eager to partner with Pitt. The CECs are guided by an internal advisory council and neighborhood advisory councils.
August 15, 2018
School of Medicine’s Roderick Tan Wins Grant to Research Blood Vessels in Kidney
Roderick Tan, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Renal-Electrolyte at Pitt’s Department of Medicine, has been awarded the 2018 Edith H. Blattner Grant Young Investigator Grant from the National Kidney Foundation for research that will use high-resolution ultrasound to closely examine the human kidney’s vital small blood vessels.
Tan received the grant as part of the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program, which strives to improve the quality of life for those with kidney disease by funding scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, how to prevent its progression and ways to improve treatment for those living with it.
August 8, 2018
Pharmacy’s Jennifer Pruskowski Receives New Clinical Practitioner Award
Jennifer Pruskowski, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, is the recipient of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s 2018 New Clinical Practitioner Award.
This annual award recognizes a member who has made outstanding contributions to the health of patients and to the practice of clinical pharmacy. The award is given to those who are less than six years past completion of their pharmacy training.
Pruskowski’s research interests include education of effective and safe use of medication for palliative care patients, development of institute-wide, evidence-based pain and symptom management treatment algorithms, management of delirium at the end of life and refractory pain, and the role of pharmacists on the improvement of health-related functions and quality of life for palliative care patients.