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Pitt Alumna Chosen for U.S.-German Cultural Exchange Program

Pitt alumna Aditi Kumar (A&S '17) has been selected to participate in the 2017-18 Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX). She is one of only 75 Americans selected for this cultural exchange opportunity, which provides one year of academic, cultural and practical work experience in Germany. In turn, 75 German students will spend one year working and studying in the United States.

Kumar, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, as well as a certificate in global studies and a minor in German studies from Pitt. During her time in Germany, she will complete a physical therapy internship, study at a German university and participate in an intensive German language course.

Established in 1983, the CBYX program is sponsored by the United States Congress and the German Bundestag, the country’s equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Four Undergraduate Students Named David L. Boren Scholars

Four Pitt undergraduate students have been honored with David L. Boren Scholarships from the National Security Education Program. The scholarships will provide up to $20,000 for Pitt’s winners to partake in extended study endeavors in Brazil, China, South Korea and Tanzania.

Katherine Andrews, of York, Pennsylvania, is entering her senior year as a political science major with certificates in global and Latin American studies. She will study Portuguese through the Council on International Education and Exchange in the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, beginning in January.

Matthew Eskuchen, of Cinnaminson, New Jersey, a fourth-year biology major and chemistry minor with a conceptual foundations of medicine certificate, will study Mandarin at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in China starting in January.

Capri Gaines, of Randallstown, Maryland, entering her senior year as a political science and urban studies major and U.S. Army reservist, is studying Korean at the Korea University in Seoul, South Korea until December.

Nora Wagman, of Villanova, Pennsylvania, a fourth-year economics major with a global studies certificate focusing on global economy and Chinese, is studying Swahili through the African Flagship Languages Initiative in Arusha, Tanzania until March 2018.

The David L. Boren Awards for International Study are named for the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program in 1991. The program focuses on geographic areas, language, and fields of study critical of U.S. national security including sustainable development global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and environmental degradation. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least a year after undergraduate or graduate school. 

Sheetz, in a white shirt and tie

Michael Sheetz Appointed to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Committee

Michael Sheetz, clinical assistant professor of radiology in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, has been appointed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Advisory Committee on the Medical Use of Isotopes as the radiation safety officer representative. The committee advises the NRC on policy and technical issues that arise in the regulation of the medical use of radioactive material.

Sheetz has served as the director of the Radiation Safety Office and radiation safety officer for the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC since 2007. Prior to that, he held the positions of health physicist and senior health physicist within the Radiation Safety Office for over 25 years.

Along with his involvement in several professional and scientific societies, Sheetz serves on the Pennsylvania Radiation Protection Advisory Committee and Pennsylvania's Low-Level Waste Advisory Committee.

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Pharmacy's Lauren Jonkman Awarded Fulbright Scholarship for Work in Namibia

Lauren Jonkman, an assistant professor in the pharmacy and therapeutics department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, was selected as a 2017-18 Fulbright Scholar to support the development of a primary care clinical pharmacy practice at the University of Namibia School of Pharmacy. The Fulbright Program is supported by the U.S. Department of State through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Jonkman will support teaching and research at the University of Namibia, focusing specifically on their new Master of Clinical Pharmacy Program. She has been working with faculty and students from the Namibian university's School of Pharmacy since 2015.

Samara Joy Nielsen to Head New Nutrition Science Bachelor's Program

Samara Joy Nielsen, an assistant professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been named director of the new Nutrition Science undergraduate major, which will be offered to students beginning in 2019. Nielsen is a nutritional epidemiologist with more than 15 years of experience in the field, studying topics such as U.S. yogurt consumers, U.S. nut consumption and the association between seafood consumption and blood mercury levels in adults and youth. The Nutrition Science program will teach students to apply the science of food and nutrition to the well-being and health of people. Graduates of this program will take their skills to industry, government, academia, NGOs and beyond.

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Valerie Watzlaf Elected President of American Health Information Management Association

Valerie Watzlaf, associate professor in Pitt's Department of Health Information Management, was recently elected president of the American Health Information Management Association. Watzlaf joins another Pitt professor from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences who has also served as AHIMA's president — Department Chair Mervat Abdelhak, who was elected in 2005. Along with her involvement in several professional and scientific societies, Watzlaf serves on the editorial advisory boards for several peer-reviewed scientific journals and is chair of AHIMA's Council for Excellence in Education.

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Warren Ruder Receives Award to Develop ‘Smart Biomaterials’

Warren Ruder, assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is developing microparticles that carry engineered bacteria known as smart biomaterials, and the National Science Foundation has awarded him $338,414 through 2020 to continue the work. Ruder will use the biomaterials to reprogram mammalian cell signaling. The goal of the study is to use these biomaterials to better understand how cell signaling works and influence cell behavior when a problem occurs.


Richard McMahon

Pitt-Greensburg Dining Services Director Honored for Service

Richard McMahon, director of Dining Services for Chartwells Higher Education at Pitt-Greensburg, was the recognized with an Outstanding Performance Award from Compass Group, the parent company of Chartwells. The award recognized McMahon for his 33 years of service with the Chartwells Sector. McMahon's other awards include being the recipient of Pitt-Greensburg’s 2015 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service.

Pitt-Greensburg students on lawn

Pitt-Greensburg Named a 2017-18 College of Distinction

For the second consecutive year, Pitt-Greensburg has been named a College of Distinction for its innovative application of high-impact educational practices. This year, in addition to receiving accolades as a 2017-18 College of Distinction, Public College of Distinction and Pennsylvania College of Distinction, Pitt-Greensburg also received recognition for its education program.

Pitt-Greensburg women's basketball team

Pitt-Greensburg Women's Basketball Ranks Third in Division for Academic Honors

The Pitt-Greensburg women’s basketball team placed third in the nation among NCAA division III women’s basketball teams on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Bobcats posted a 3.647 team GPA, only 0.0026 points out of first place.

The WBCA Academic Top 25 recognizes NCAA Division I, II and III; NAIA; and junior/community college women’s basketball teams across the nation that carry the highest combined GPAs inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season.

Singh and Malala Yousafzai

Chandralekha Singh Co-leads International Conference on Women in Physics

Chandralekha Singh, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC) was one of the two team leaders of the U.S. delegation to the 6th International Conference on Women in Physics (ICWIP), which took place in Birmingham, U.K., in July 2017. She is also a co-editor of the American Institute of Physics Proceedings for this ICWIP 2017 conference to be published in 2018. Singh is pictured with Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel peace prize winner, who presented at the conference.

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Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Johnstown Make "Best Northeastern" Colleges List

Two University of Pittsburgh regional campuses have been named to The Princeton Review’s “Best Northeastern” colleges list — Bradford for the 14th and Johnstown for the 12th consecutive year.

Their inclusion, based on student survey data, places the schools among the 229 universities most “academically outstanding and well worth consideration” in the region, the nationally known education services company says.

Both campuses gained high student ratings for admissions selectivity, while Bradford scored well in financial aid offerings and Johnstown for campus life.

Pitt-Bradford also appears on The Princeton Review’s recent list of green colleges.

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Ryan McDonough Named New Sports Information Director at Pitt-Bradford

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has named Ryan McDonough as its new sports information director. McDonough, who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2016 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. During college, he spent all four years interning in the St. Bonaventure sports information office and was then brought on as an office assistant following graduation. During the 2016-17 academic year, McDonough served as the primary media contact for six of St. Bonaventure’s sports, while assisting with game day operations for all others sports as well.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with the talented staff, coaches and student-athletes at Pitt-Bradford,” McDonough said. “I am honored to join such a passionate and successful staff, and am looking forward to getting started.”

Pitt-Bradford boasts seven women and six men Division III sports in addition to club ice hockey and wrestling.

Waxman in a light blue shirt with a dark blue patterned tie and a blue coat in front of a purple background

Vice Chair for Medical and Resident Education Recognized for Teaching

Pitt's Vice Chair for Medical and Resident Education, Evan Waxman, is the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Medical Student Education for 2017, an annual honor given by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Waxman is an associate professor of ophthalmology at Pitt. He is also the director of the UPMC Eye Center, of comprehensive eye services and of inpatient consult services at UPMC.

The award celebrates the critical role of the medical student education director. Waxman will be recognized and deliver a speech at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology in Austin, Texas.

Sanjeev Shroff, a man with dark hair in a gray suit

National Institutes of Health Renews Funding for the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program

The National Institutes of Health has renewed funding for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP). The award is worth nearly $1.9 million over the next five years. CBTP is a mentoring and support program for advanced students pursuing cardiovascular research and PhDs in bioengineering, particularly researchers studying the basic mechanisms of the cardiovascular system. Awardees receive support in the form of a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, health insurance and travel budget.

Sanjeev Shroff, the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering at Pitt, established the CBTP in 2005 to train bioengineering doctoral students for careers in basic and/or translational cardiovascular research.

Amanda Poholek

Researcher Amanda Poholek Receives American Lung Association Biomedical Research Grant

Amanda Poholek, assistant professor in the departments of pediatrics and immunology at Pitt School of Medicine, was awarded a $40,000 Biomedical Research Grant from the American Lung Association to study the causes of allergic asthma, a chronic lung disease that occurs in response to allergens in the environment. There is no cure, and current therapies treat symptoms rather than causes.

Asthma is mediated in part by the inappropriate activation of T cells, a vital component of the immune system. Poholek’s research is focused on a protein called Blimp-1 whose presence in T cells has been shown to drive allergic airway inflammation in experimental models. “We expect these studies to identify potential drug targets for specific therapies that would treat the causes of asthma, rather than symptoms,” she said.

Klunk in a dark suitcoat

William E. Klunk Receives 2017 Zaven Khachaturian Award from the Alzheimer’s Association

William E. Klunk has been honored by the Alzheimer’s Association with the 2017 Zaven Khachaturian Award. Klunk is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and the Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Disorders.

He is recognized for his many contributions to Alzheimer’s research, including his influential work on amyloid imaging in humans, which was cited in Discover Magazine’s “100 Top Science Stories of 2002.” His team's benchmark 2004 paper in amyloid imaging was awarded the “Best Neuroimaging Paper from 2002-2004” by the Alzheimer’s Association and was cited by Nature Medicine as No. 1 among “key papers in the field” of Alzheimer’s disease research from 2003 to 2006.

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Chair of Occupational Therapy Named American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Fellow

Chair and professor in Pitt's Department of Occupational Therapy, Elizabeth Skidmore, has been named a 2017 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine fellow. Her research focuses on cognitive impairments, mood symptoms and activities of daily living in persons with brain injury and neurocognitive decline, and interventions that promote independence among adults with cognitive impairments. Skidmore joins a long roster of professionals in the field of rehabilitation science who have not only served ACRM, but have also made contributions of national significance to the field of medical rehabilitation.

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Seven Alumni Make Pittsburgh Business Times '30 Under 30' List

For its inaugural 30 Under 30, the Pittsburgh Business Times selected seven Pitt alumni as city influencers. They include Jennifer DeCaro (CBA ’09), tax manager at Calgon Carbon Corporation; John Frazier (GSPIA ’15), CEO of uTranslated; Alexandra Good (LAW ’16), associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Laura Griffin (GSPH ’13), director of network nursing operations at Allegheny Health Network; Aster Teclay (A&S ’10), senior manager at the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh; Neal Walker (GSPIA ’16), associate director at Brother’s Brother Foundation; and Josh Wigod (BUS ’10), account supervisor at MARC USA.

Frazier and uTranslated were recently deemed one of two Pitt startups among the 40 Best University Startups 2017

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Engineering's Bryan Brown Receives 5-year, $1.57 Million Grant From NIH

The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.57 million grant to examine how aging affects implantable medical devices. This is the second so-called "R01 grant" from the NIH that Brown has received this year to support his research of implantable materials.

His study, “Assessing the Impacts of Aging upon the Macrophage Response to Implantable Materials,” will specifically address reactions to implantable medical devices by the aged body, including deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging, dysregulation of white blood cell function and polarization, and delayed resolution of acute immune responses. Read more about this grant's work.