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Robert F. Lambert Named to Capital BlueCross Board of Directors​​​​​​​

Pitt alumnus Robert F. Lambert has been named to the Capital BlueCross board of directors. Capital BlueCross serves central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley with health insurance products and services.

Lambert joins the board with more than 25 years of experience leading York County Libraries, which encompasses 13 libraries that provide the latest in print and electronic information, best sellers, Wi-Fi, story times, book discussions and more. More than half of York County residents hold library cards and borrow more than 1.6 million items every year.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on the Capital BlueCross board of directors,” said Lambert. “Capital BlueCross is a leader in transforming the healthcare experience for consumers and our communities.”

Lambert received a master’s degree in library science from Pitt in 1995. He also has a master’s in public administration from Penn State University and a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from York College.

Lambert is CEO of LibrariesFeed, a nonprofit that connects public libraries with donors and corporations to fight child hunger. He is founder of an education company called Sir Newton Traders and is a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Library Development, as well as a board member of York Traditions Bank, York Academy Regional Charter School and the York Symphony Orchestra.

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Law Professor Jules Lobel Honored with Teaching Award

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is honoring Pitt Professor of Law Jules Lobel with its SALT Great Teacher Award at its virtual annual awards celebration on Jan. 8, 2021.

This national award recognizes individuals that have made important contributions to teaching, legal education, and mentoring. Past Great Teacher honorees include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Pitt Professor Derrick Bell (LAW ’57).

Calling Lobel “a champion of justice, diversity and teaching excellence,” the awards committee praised Lobel’s work in integrating his impactful and important social justice work into the courses he teaches at Pitt. Lobel has long been a leading voice in the campaign to end solitary confinement and improve the inhumane conditions of mass incarceration.

In 2002, he co-counseled a major class action (Wilkinson v. Austin) that challenged prolonged solitary confinement at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio. Lobel ultimately argued the case at the U.S. Supreme Court and, despite the steep odds at the outset, was able to successfully secure relief on behalf of his clients. As is his practice with all his work, Lobel’s students conducted research, wrote memoranda, held strategy sessions, attended the argument, and met with human rights organizations and co-counsel while in Washington, D.C.

SALT also mentioned Lobel’s work as president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he has litigated several cases challenging human rights violations and abuse of war powers. His most recent cases involve a class action brought on behalf of prisoners with mental disabilities and challenging conditions at jails in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Said Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth: “The full extent of Professor Lobel’s impact is not only what he has done, as incredible as his work is, but the work that his students and former students do and have been doing for decades. They remain inspired by him and are determined to pursue justice just as he taught them to do. We are all better—and our world is better—because of Professor Lobel.”

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Shawn Ellies Appointed Director of Security and Emergency Management

Commander Shawn Ellies has been appointed Director of Security and Emergency Management, overseeing the Integrated Security Department, which includes the University’s physical security, access controls and emergency management areas within the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management.

Ellies brings demonstrated leadership effectiveness to his expanded role. He has served the Pitt community for the past 23 years in public safety roles including patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift lieutenant, administrative lieutenant, commander of the special emergency response team and commander of operations. 

He holds a doctorate in administration and policy studies from Pitt’s School of Education, a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a master’s degree in leadership and management from Duquesne University. 

He is the chair of the American Society of Industrial Security’s Pittsburgh chapter, in addition to chairing Pitt’s Veterans Affinity Group

Additionally, Ellies is an ASIS Certified Protection Professional, a credential that is recognized as the gold standard for security management professionals worldwide.

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Matthew Sterne Joins OBID Board of Directors

Matthew Sterne, vice chancellor for business services at Pitt, has joined the board of directors of the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID).

Formed in 1999, OBID represents a diverse group of decision makers in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, including property and business owners, universities, hospitals, city government, community and cultural nonprofits. Its mission is to create a vibrant and dynamic business district. 

Board members are elected to a three-year term.

Sterne oversees the office of business and auxiliary services at Pitt, including housing, dining, transportation and mobility, the University Club, University retail stores, conference services, Panther Central, mailing and print production. 

“He is joining us at a great moment,” said Georgia Petropoulos, OBID executive director, noting that the board has just completed a new Organizational Strategic Plan for shaping Oakland’s future. “His expertise will help us navigate current challenges as we work to realize this growth.” 

Monica Rattigan, executive director of University stores and strategic initiatives at Pitt, and Paul Supowitz, the University’s vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations, also serve on the OBID board. 

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Pitt Law Professors Named to Civil Rights Advisory Committee

Two professors from Pitt’s School of Law have been named to the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights—an independent agency developed by Congress in 1957 to focus on matters of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin. There are advisory boards in all 50 states.

Associate Professor Jessie Allen (left) and Professor Mary Crossley have been appointed to the panel for a four-year term. They will consult with members of the commission and offer advice and recommendations on the areas they have studied.

Allen, a civil rights advocate, teaches courses on jurisprudence, legal ethics and property. She writes in the area of legal theory including a long-running series of essays on the work of William Blackstone, some of which appear on her blog Blackstone Weekly. Prior to her position at Pitt, Allen was a staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where her practice focused on challenging state laws that bar voting because of criminal conviction.

Crossley, a widely respected scholar in disability and health law, has studied pressing legal issues presented by advances in medical science. Those topics include discrimination in the treatment of infants with HIV infection and newborns with disabilities as well as the ramifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Crossley is director of Pitt Law’s Health Law Program and teaches courses in health law, bioethics and law, and family law, among others. She served as the dean of Pitt Law from 2005 to 2012.

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Bob Chamberlain Joins Pitt as Emergency Coordinator

Bob Chamberlain has joined Pitt’s Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management as emergency coordinator, in support of the Pitt community.

In this position, Chamberlain collaborates with the University’s emergency management team to develop, implement and assess emergency plans; serves as an emergency management liaison with local, state and federal officials; oversees emergency communications systems; leads the Emergency Operations Center; and trains others on disaster response and compliance.

He is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer with 24 years of joint, interagency, multinational and counterterrorism experience throughout the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.

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New Initiative Offers Courses, Lectures, Community Outreach in Taiwan Studies

A new initiative at Pitt’s Asian Studies Center (ASC) is putting the focus on Taiwan—an island whose history encapsulates important historical and cultural forces that helped to shape Asia.

“Centering Taiwan in Global Asia,” which will be rolled out next year, has three components:

  • Two new courses in Taiwan Studies—Taiwan Diaspora: From Island to Home in a Global Context and The History of Modern Taiwanwill be offered. They will be taught by Shih-yung Liu, who obtained his PhD from Pitt in 2020 and taught for many years at Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
  • A robust community engagement program that will help regional educators learn more about Taiwan’s culture and religion; provide teaching and lesson plans to as many as 460 K-12 teachers in other states, including those who teach under-represented students; and offer a new Global Asia website to teachers for lesson planning.
  • A Taiwan Studies lecture and film series that will invite leading intellectuals to Pittsburgh to deliver lectures and meet with Pitt faculty, students and members of community groups. A Taiwanese film will be added to the ASC’s annual Screenshot Asiafilm festival.

ASC Director Joseph Alter said the Global Asia initiative will help to introduce the island’s unique culture and history to a broader audience of teachers, students and the general public.

“Understanding Taiwan means more than remembering a location on a map,” said Alter. “Recognizing Taiwan as emblematic of the historical and contemporary forces that connect Asia to the United States and the world will work to develop a stronger and nuanced understanding of what it means to be Taiwanese and build a deeper appreciation of its role in shaping modern Asia.”

Pitt’s ASC, which is part of the University Center for International Studies, provides more than 270 East Asian-focus courses taught by 137 faculty members and reaches about 8,540 students. 

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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.”

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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. 

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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.