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panther statue in front of a lush green background

Six Receive Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability Awards

Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) has named the 2019 awardees in the John C. Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability.  

The program is designed to enhance the University’s mission of interdisciplinary excellence in research and education. Faculty from all Pitt schools and disciplines are eligible to apply as faculty fellows, faculty scholars or faculty lecturers.

Awards are for one year with the option for renewal for an additional year for the Mascaro fellowships and scholarships.

During the year, fellows are expected to contribute to intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and/or education as well as help to team-teach one sustainability course as part of the University’s undergraduate certificate in sustainability and master’s degree in sustainable engineering.

photo of the sign

Historical Marker on Campus Celebrates City’s Early Radium Industry Ties

A Pennsylvania Historical Marker commemorating Standard Chemical Company and its role in radium production has been dedicated outside Allen Hall.

Already famous for steel, Pittsburgh became the worldwide center for radium production in the early 20th century thanks to the entrepreneurship of brothers J.J. and Joseph Flannery, founders of Standard Chemical Co.

Their company, founded in 1913 and headquartered at Forbes and Meyran Avenue in Oakland, was the nation’s first commercial producer of radium.

By 1920, Standard Chemical radium researchers Glenn D. Kammer and Henry J. Koenig, two 1912 graduates of Pitt’s School of Chemistry, were supervising the production of more than two-thirds of the world’s radium.

The company produced the gram of radium that was presented to French physicist Marie Curie in 1921 as a gift from the women of America. During her tour of the U.S., Curie asked to visit Standard Chemical’s headquarters and production facilities. She also was conferred an honorary doctorate by the University of Pittsburgh in a convocation at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.

Flannery family members, including Sarah Flannery Hardon, great-great granddaughter of J.J. Flannery, were among the guests at the Nov. 12 marker dedication.


University of Pittsburgh Press Publication in Running for America Literary Award

A University of Pittsburgh Press publication has landed on the PEN America Literary Awards longlist for 2019.  

Shauna Barbosa’s “Cape Verdean Blues” is a semi-finalist in the PEN Open Book Award category. This specific award honors “an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States.” A collection of poetry, “Cape Verdean Blues” addresses Barbosa’s upbringing as a Cape Verdean living in Boston.

The PEN America Literary Awards honor “literary excellence and celebrate voices that challenge, inform, and inspire.” The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in February.

DeMarco in a pink top in front of green leaves

Pitt Alumna, Sustainability Advocate Receives Visionary Award

Patricia DeMarco (A&S ’68, ’71G) recently received the Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light Visionary Award, after publishing a book on sustainability with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The annual award honors “a Pennsylvania visionary who has engaged in significant actions ‘to tend and sustain’ the earth and all its creatures.”

In her book, “Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective,” DeMarco uses Rachel Carson as inspiration to explore Pittsburgh’s path to achieving a sustainable future — and the challenges the city faces.

A Pittsburgh native, DeMarco is a councilwoman for the Borough of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania. She formerly served as executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University.

a statue of a panther on the campus

Pitt–Greensburg Nursing Program Awarded $1.5 Million

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was recently awarded $1.5 million in grant money by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation in support of a growing nursing degree program at the school.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is in its second year at the Greensburg campus and follows the same curriculum as the Pitt School of Nursing, the latter of which is consistently ranked among the top 10 nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

The foundation has supported a wide range of important initiatives at the Greensburg campus throughout the years, including supporting two academic building on campus, McKenna Hall and Frank A. Cassell Hall; upgrading and improving technology resources; and helping to address economic growth and revitalization through the Smart Growth Partnership

Leland in a dark sweater in front of a tan background

Natalie Leland Named Fellow of Gerontological Society

Natalie Leland, an associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, has been named a fellow of The Gerontological Society of America.

Leland's research focuses on understanding and improving care quality for older adults, with a particular interest in how occupational therapy can contribute to interdisciplinary patient-centered outcomes.

The society is the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging. The status of fellow — the highest class of membership within the society — is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in gerontology. Leland was one of 89 fellows selected for the class of 2018.

Doiron in a collar shirt in front of a blue background

Brent Doiron Joins NIH BRAIN Initiative as Theoretical Neuroscience Investigator

Brent Doiron, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, will work with a team from Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute to develop mathematical models of the brain’s primary visual cortex.

The effort is supported by a five year, $16.75 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative. Doiron will serve as a theoretical neuroscience investigator, receiving $1.7M for his investigations as part of the grant. Doiron, who’s also a member of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, collaborates extensively with faculty in other departments to advance theoretical models of brain activity and cognition.

Chimielus in a suit and tie

Swanson School and General Carbide Team Up for 3D Printing Advancement

Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering is collaborating with General Carbide Corporation in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to research better base powders and 3D printing methods for more effective and economical use of tungsten carbide in additive manufacturing.

The project was financed in part by a $57,529 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and the first round of the PA Manufacturing Innovation Program. Cost share from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and General Carbide will provide a total funding of $145,000.

Pitt’s principal investigator for this project is Markus Chmielus, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Freitag in a black and white striped shirt in front of a window

Student Thomas Freitag Wins Top Scholarship for LGBT STEM Undergraduates

Thomas Freitag won the top undergraduate National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) Out to Innovate scholarship. The $5,000 scholarships are intended for undergraduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or an active ally of the LGBT community.

Freitag is in their third year at Pitt, double majoring in neuroscience and psychology with minors in chemistry and social work. After graduation, they plan to pursue a medical degree and a master’s in public health. They intend to work in psychiatry and public health policy focusing on issues affecting LGBT and associated communities and to conduct research on health disparities among underprivileged communities.

Freitag’s achievement follows a summer interning with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs. Freitag received a David C. Frederick Public Service Internship Award, which provides a stipend so students with an interest in leadership and community service can pursue unpaid public service internships. As an intern with the City of Philadelphia, Freitag helped craft groundbreaking legislation to make tax documents gender-neutral, which removed barriers and will help to streamline legal proceedings.

three young women packing a stack of books

Office of Child Development Donates Resources to Children in Squirrel Hill

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development held a book drive to provide resources for children affected by gun violence in Squirrel Hill and the surrounding community.

Pitt students, staff and faculty have started delivering the nearly 3,000 books to approximately 200 schools and early childcare facilities, just in time for the holidays. They plan to finish their deliveries in January.

The Pitt community and people from across the country donated the books, which will be used to help local children heal and embrace diversity.

“The outpouring of donations and support we’ve received has been remarkable, and we are hopeful that the Office of Child Development can deliver even more resources to help children process fear and embrace diversity,” said Director Shannon Wanless.

The Office of Child Development and its partners in the Pitt Early Childhood Community, including Falk School, the University Child Development Center and early childhood programs in Pitt’s School of Education, are part of this ongoing effort.

Woman riding bike in a Pitt shirt

Pitt’s Bike-friendly Efforts Recognized

Each year, the League of American Bicyclists recognizes colleges and universities that support bicycling with its Bicycle Friendly University status. This year, Pitt earned the status with a bronze distinction, joining nearly 200 other universities on the overall list.

“This is the first year we applied for recognition on campus, but we have had the infrastructure and programs in place for quite some time,” said Jeff Yeaman, senior manager, Department of Parking, Transportation and Services. Yeaman cited specific examples like the bike rooms in Nordenberg Hall and fix-it stations around campus as evidence of Pitt’s commitment to being a bike-friendly campus.

The league’s bronze distinction recognizes institutions that have taken notable steps in supporting bicycling for recreation and tranporation, which can be seen in above-average numbers of students, faculty and staff riding bikes. The league scores institutions that apply for distinction across five categories, including engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

Read more information about the distinction process online.

Architectural detail in nationality room

Nationality Rooms on National Geographic Traveller UK’s ‘The Cool List 2019’

The Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh were named on the “The Cool List 2019” by National Geographic Traveller UK.

The article features 19 “destinations set to hit the headlines” in the year 2019, and names Pittsburgh as one of its “must-see” sites, with a mention of the Nationality Rooms.

The 30 Nationality Rooms inside the University’s Cathedral of Learning represent different cultures from the world. Most also function as classrooms, and the public is available to tour the rooms year-round. The 31st room, the Philippine Nationality Room, will be dedicated in a June 2019 ceremony.

Headshot of Tao Han in sweater and collared shirt

Tao Han Elected Vice Chair at the American Physical Society

Tao Han, Distinguished Professor of High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected vice chair of the executive committee for American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields.

The American Physical Society represents more than 55,000 physicists across the globe and uses advocacy, research journals, meetings and other forms of outreach to promote its work. Han will begin his duties in January 2019 and will assume as chair in 2021.

Steven Little headshot in jacket and tie

Steven Little Receives Pittsburgh Award

Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was named the recipient of this year’s Pittsburgh Award.

The award is given by the Pittsburgh Section of the American Chemical Society. Little received the award for his “service and commitment to the field of chemistry over the years, with particular emphasis on efforts to reinvent chemical engineering education in the Pittsburgh area.”

Little’s research focuses on novel drug delivery systems that mimic the body’s own mechanisms of healing and resolving inflammation. The society’s annual award banquet was held Dec. 6.

Harms in front of a blue background

Viktoria Harms Honored by American Association of Teachers of German

Viktoria Harms, lecturer in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of German, has been selected by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Goethe-Institut as a recipient of their Certificate of Merit.

The award honors language educators for “achievement in furthering the teaching of German in the United States.”

Harms serves as the Department of German’s director of language studies and director of undergraduate studies within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She was honored at the AATG and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Convention and World Languages Expo on Nov. 17 in New Orleans.

Barson in a yellow jacket with gray lapels

Jazz Studies PhD Student Debuts New Opera

Benjamin Barson, who is working toward a PhD in jazz studies at Pitt, will present his new opera “Mirror Butterfly: the Migrant Liberation Movement Suite” on Dec. 14 and 15 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. The event is part of the 2018 conference of the National Performance Network. It is open to the public but attendees must RSVP.

Barson, on baritone saxophone, will be joined by members of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, who represent a blend of funk, jazz, hip-hop, rap, African music and indigenous music of Northern Mexico, along with powerful political themes of liberation and community.

“Mirror Butterfly” focuses on the journey of three women and their engagement with a violent colonial oppression they are trying to flee. The piece is sung in multiple genres, and the title aria is sung in the Yaqui language of Yoeme, with translation into English provided by a narrator.

“This multi-genre and multi-ethnic approach is meant to communicate a diversity of migrant experiences and culture,” said Barson.

Blain in black rimmed glasses

Keisha Blain’s Book Named One of the Best History Books of 2018 by Smithsonian Magazine

Keisha N. Blain’s book "Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom" was named one of the best history books of the year by Smithsonian Magazine. Blain is an assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of History. To read the full list of best books, visit the magazine's website.

Three From Pitt Named Forbes ‘30 Under 30’

Three University of Pittsburgh-affiliated researchers were named to Forbes magazine’s 2019 “30 Under 30” list.

The list features 600 business and entrepreneurial leaders from 20 industries, including healthcare, energy, art and education, among others.

The following from Pitt were named to this year’s list: Inmaculada Hernandez, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy, for her work in drug pricing research; Shinjini Kundu, a biomedical engineering graduate from Pitt’s Medical Scientist Training Program for developing new technology to analyze medical images and detect disease using artificial intelligence; and Coleman Stavish (A&S ’16), chief technology officer and co-founder of Proscia, a company that uses artificial intelligence to speed up pathology tests for cancer patients.

images of the three

yellow statue in front of a building

20 Pitt Researchers Named to ‘Highly Cited’ List

Twenty professors from varying fields at the University of Pittsburgh were named to Clarivate Analytics’ list of Highly Cited Researchers over the past decade.

The list “recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top one percent by citations for field and year in ‘Web of Science.’” To view the full list, visit their website.

Announcing Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grant Recipients

The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced the winners of the fall 2018 Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants Program. Winners will receive funding for research projects that examine the swiftly changing technological landscape and the rules, practices and safeguards designed to keep it secure. Spring 2019 grant applications are due Friday, April 5. For more information, email

Awards have been granted to:

  • Kevin Ashley, professor of law and intelligent systems in the School of Law
  • Jaromir Savelka, PhD candidate, School of Computing and Information
  • Elena Baylis, professor of law in the School of Law
  • Julia Santucci, senior lecturer in intelligence studies in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
  • Lt. Col Diana Bishop, chair of the Department of Aerospace Studies
  • Michael Colaresi, William S. Dietrich II Chair of the Department of Political Science
  • Jon Woon; departmental chair and professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science
  • Ronald Idoko, adjunct faculty in the public service program at the College of General Studies
  • Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering