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Taofeek K. Owonikoko in a black suit and tie

Taofeek K. Owonikoko Named New Chief of Hematology Oncology

Taofeek K. Owonikoko will join the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh as chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Owonikoko, a physician-scientist board-certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine, also will serve as associate director for translational research and co-leader of the Cancer Therapeutics Program at Hillman. He will hold the Stanley M. Marks—OHA Endowed Chair in Hematology/Oncology Leadership and will begin his appointment on July 1, 2021.

“Taofeek has an extraordinary track record of clinical and academic success and a deep commitment to helping early career researchers and clinicians achieve their fullest potential,” said Robert Ferris, director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “We are thrilled he is joining the senior leadership team at Hillman.”

Owonikoko will lead a division of more than 65 faculty members, who are recognized leaders in hematology and oncology clinical care and research. He will oversee translational research and efforts to expand clinical trial access across the Hillman network of more than 70 sites. 

“I’m very excited to join such an exceptional team of physicians and scientists at Hillman,” said Owonikoko. “I look forward to being an active and engaged member of this community with a strong culture of improving patient’s lives through translation of cancer research from the bench to bedside.”

Owonikoko has co-authored numerous publications and serves on the editorial boards of several organizations. He has also received many awards, including the Michaele C. Christian Oncology Development Lectureship and Award from the National Cancer Institute in 2020, the Heine Hansen Award for Small Cell Lung Cancer research from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the Leadership Development Program award from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO). He will begin a four-year term on the ASCO Board of Directors in June 2021.

Hands on a laptop

Pitt Cyber Announces New Affiliates

Ahmed Ibrahim is joining the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security as an affiliate scholar and Lieutenant Colonel James J. Straub Jr. is joining the institute as an affiliate practice scholar.

Ibrahim is an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems in the School of Computing and Information. His research is primarily focused on improving cybersecurity education.

Straub is the commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 730 at the University of Pittsburgh and also serves as department chair and professor of aerospace studies. He is a cyber operations officer and a joint cyberspace and communications subject matter expert.

Pitt Cyber affiliate scholars are drawn from faculty across the University of Pittsburgh and are selected for their excellence in cyber-themed research and teaching. 

Christel N. Temple in a dark jacket

Christel N. Temple Wins College Language Association Book Award

Christel N. Temple, a professor with Pitt’s Department of Africana Studies in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has received the 2021 College Language Association's (CLA) Book Award for “Black Cultural Mythology.”

Founded in 1937 by a group of Black scholars and educators, CLA is an organization of college teachers of English and world languages that serves the academic, scholarly and professional interests of its members and the collegiate communities they represent. Part of the CLA’s mission is to encourage scholarly research in and the teaching of Black literatures and cultures as necessary aspects of higher education. The association will also publish a journal.

Temple’s “Black Cultural Mythology” surveys more than 200 years of figures, moments, ideas and canonical works by such visionaries as Maria Stewart, Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead and Edwidge Danticat to map an expansive yet broadly overlooked intellectual tradition of Black cultural mythology and to provide a new conceptual framework for analyzing this tradition.

Among other comments, judges said the book is “a very necessary and long overdue call for the development of a Black (Africana) Cultural Mythology. It is extraordinarily well researched, having been some 10 years in development, and builds on the idea of black culture as ‘a sacred inheritance.’”

Temple, former chair of Pitt’s Africana studies department, is also an affiliate of the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies, the Critical European Culture Studies doctoral program and the African Studies Program. Her major fields of interest are Africana Cultural Memory Studies, Comparative Africana Literature, Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Afroeuropean Studies. 

Sandra Murray in a black and white photo

Sandra Murray Speaks at Annual African Summit in Morocco

Sandra Murray, professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology, was one of five Americans invited to speak at the second annual African Summit in Morocco.

The summit, held April 5-7, 2021, focused on “Made in Africa: African Women’s Success Story” and there were more than 60 speakers from 40 different countries.

Murray spoke on the role of the adrenal glands in stress and disease and gave strategies based on using movement to control stress-related health problems that affect not only woman but all. Her presentation was based on research that shows that heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and many other conditions are linked to stress and the findings that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of stress.

The goal of the African Summit was to support and organize women leaders and young people of Africa. The summit is sponsored by the Trophy Foundation of Africanity to honor those who contribute to the development of Africa, particularly between Morocco and its African sister countries in the human, social, cultural, spiritual, economic and sports fields.

Nicholas Rescher in a black suit and tie

Nicholas Rescher Honored by University of Tehran

The University of Tehran held a Zoom webinar in honor of Pitt's Nicholas Rescher, on April 11, 2021. 

Rescher, now 92 years old, is a German-American philosopher, polymath and author, teaching at the University of Pittsburgh. He is chair of the Center for Philosophy of Science and was formerly chairman of the philosophy department in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

In the webinar, Nadia Maftouni, a prominent Iranian academic, author, artist and Yale senior research scholar hosted Rescher and talked with him about his achievements. 

Maftouni said: “Rescher’s 'A Journey through Philosophy in 101 Anecdotes' is an actually successful framework to reach a broader audience in the field. At first glance it seems easy to write. But at least in philosophy, it’s easy to write in a complicated style and it’s hard to write in a simple, clear and readable fashion.

A yellow statue

Devin DePamphilis Wins 2021 Taste Award for Photography

Work by Devin DePamphilis, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, was selected as a winner for the distinguished photography competition in the 12th annual Taste Awards. The photography awards category is an international juried photo contest celebrating photography about food, fashion or travel. 

Often called “The Oscars of Food, Fashion and Lifestyle Media,” the Taste Awards are the premier broadcast awards show celebrating the year’s best achievements in food, fashion, health, travel and lifestyle programs on television, in film, in online and streaming video, on radio and in podcasts and photography.

Jonathan Rubin in a striped dress shirt against a blue background

Jonathan Rubin Elected Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Jonathan Rubin, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, was recently elected a fellows of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Rubin, one of 28 new fellows, was recognized for his contributions to mathematical neuroscience, mathematical biology and dynamical systems theory.

Rubin majored in mathematics as an undergraduate at The College of William and Mary and received his PhD in applied mathematics from Brown University in 1996. He was a Zassenhaus Assistant Professor and then a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics at The Ohio State University before joining the Pitt mathematics faculty in 2000. 

In addition to his mathematics position, he is a Center for Neuroscience at University of Pittsburgh Graduate Training faculty member, a member of the Center for the Basis of Neural Cognition, an affiliate of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a visiting professor in computational biology. Fourteen students have completed their PhDs at Pitt under Rubin’s supervision or co-supervision. He has also mentored eight postdoctoral fellows.

A mug of coffee that says "Pitt" on it

Pitt Is on a Mission to Become Coffee U

Director of Dining Services Joe Beaman is committed to making the coffee experience a bigger part of the educational model at Pitt, focusing on delicious, unique offerings for students and employees, and shopping small and local.

Coffee shops now serve Pittsburgh-based De Fer Coffee and Tea, Coffee Tree Roasters, La Prima Espresso Co and Lancaster-based Square One Coffee Roasters. A fifth partnership with Saxby’s Coffee, from Philadelphia, begins this fall.

The program allows Pitt and dining partner Compass Group to share a Pennsylvanian story while supporting family-owned businesses.

“[Working with these local roasters] provide us with the flexibility and opportunity to enhance and alternate programming and products to fit the needs and wants of the community.” Rachel Astorino, Pitt Eats’ Director of Coffee, said.

As part of the new partnership, you can find a tasty, locally roasted cup of joe across campus including Morning Grounds, Litchfield Towers, Sutherland Hall and more.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Pitt to Host New Oncology Summer Internship for Medical Students

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase the diversity of the oncology workforce, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is launching a new internship program for medical students from populations underrepresented in medicine (UIM), and announced that Pitt was selected to serve as a host in the inaugural Oncology Summer Internship (OSI) program.

The National Academy of Medicine has recognized the need to diversify the physician workforce as a way to improve health disparities. While the U.S. population is more than 13% Black and 19% Hispanic or Latino, only 5% of practicing physicians are Black and 5.8% are Hispanic/Latino. An even greater disparity exists in oncology; only 3% of practicing oncologists are Black and only 4.7% are Hispanic or Latino.

The OSI is an immersive, four-week summer internship for rising second year UIM medical students. More than 30 students that attend the host medical schools will participate in the 2021 internship, which will feature a hybrid curriculum developed by mentoring and education experts serving on ASCO’s OSI Advisory Group.

Each day, students will participate in ASCO-hosted virtual education seminars led by national leaders in oncology and will accompany and learn from oncology faculty at their medical school or in their local area. Students will also be matched with a virtual mentor who will meet with them weekly to provide guidance, answer questions and support their career growth. Networking and social events will be offered several times per week so that students can network with oncology mentors and interact with fellow OSI students to build connections within their own medical schools and across the country. 

Other selected medical schools include: The Ohio State University, University of Arizona Health Sciences College of Medicine—Tucson, University of California San Francisco and University of Rochester.

A female student studying

2021 Doctoral Mentoring Awards Announced

Four graduate students were recognized for a 2021 Doctoral Mentoring Award this year.

The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring annually recognizes outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctorate degree. Up to four awards are made each year. Each Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring will consist of a cash prize to the graduate faculty member of $2,500 to recognize excellence in mentoring. All persons selected for this award will be honored publicly.

2021 Doctoral Mentoring Award Recipients

  • Tia-Lynn Ashman, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, biological sciences
  • Robert Batterman, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, philosophy
  • Yvette Conley, School of Nursing, health promotion and development
  • Martin Weiss, School of Computing and Information, informatics and networked systems
A gold circle that says "Stars" in the middle

Pitt Sustainability Efforts Recognized With Gold Rating

Three years after achieving its first ever Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS) rating of silver, Pitt is proud to again be recognized for its sustainability accomplishments over the last three years with an AASHE STARS gold rating, valid through 2024.

AASHE’s STARS is a transparent framework for colleges and universities to measure and benchmark their sustainability performance across all aspects of higher education. Pitt’s gold rating is based on strong achievements from 2018 to 2021 in five areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

Among Pitt’s many sustainability initiatives, three points of distinction celebrate the lowest total energy use per square foot in fiscal year 2020, the new anti-Black racism course for all first year students and Pitt's Cool Food Pledge to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2030.

“While the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan provides the strategic framework and goals for creating a culture of sustainability at Pitt and in Pittsburgh,” said Aurora Sharrard, director of sustainability, “our AASHE STARS gold designation is a demonstration to the Pitt community, University partners and our higher education peers that we are making serious progress balancing equity, environment and economics so that current and future generations can thrive.”

A panther statue

Pitt Professors to Examine COVID-19 Measures’ Impact on Opioid Use Disorder Populations, Providers

The University of Pittsburgh, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Arizona will assess the impact of COVID-19 measures on providers and at-risk opioid use disorder populations in Pennsylvania, New York and Arizona.

Antoine Douaihy, professor of psychiatry and medicine, and Janice Pringle, professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, are leading Pitt’s efforts.

In 2017, Pennsylvania designated 45 primary care providers, hospitals, community health centers and substance use disorder treatment providers as Centers of Excellence for Opioid Use Disorder. The University of Pittsburgh will examine how providers at these whole person, integrated care centers implemented COVID-19-policies related to providing medications for opioid use disorder and telehealth services. The project will look at the impact of temporary COVID-19 policies on opioid use disorder treatment, workforce morale and patient outcomes.

Pitt's researchers received $100,000 as a part of a larger project by the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts to assess the impact of COVID-19 on opioid use disorder treatment and equity.

A panther fountain

Valerie Kinloch and Eleanor Feingold Selected for American Council on Education Fellowship

Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education Valerie Kinloch and Executive Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health Eleanor Feingold were both named fellows in the American Council on Education’s (ACE) 2021-22 class.

The ACE Fellows Program is the longest-running, cohort-based higher education leadership development program in the United States. Many of its alumni are now university presidents and provosts.

Acceptance into the ACE Fellows Program is extremely competitive at the national level. The 2021-22 cohort has 52 college and university leaders.

The ACE Fellowship Program is distinctive for its mentorship model. The fellowship combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations and a placement experience at another higher education institution. It is designed to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

During the placement experience, ACE fellows will select a university president to serve as their mentor. The fellows will observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest.

a black and white illustration of the particle

Jeremy Levy Leads Research Group to Create One-Dimensional Lattice for Electrons

A recently published paper in Nature Physics by a research group led by Jeremy Levy, distinguished professor of condensed matter physics at the University of Pittsburgh and founding director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, describes how the Kronig-Penney model is reproduced within a programmable oxide material. 

The Kronig-Penney model, introduced in 1931 by Ralph Kronig and William Penney, shaped the understanding of semiconductors, metals and insulators—the materials that are used to create computers and many other technologies.

The lead author, Megan Briggeman, used an atomic force microscope in a manner they describe as analogous to an Etch-A-Sketch toy, and created an artificial one-dimensional lattice of buckets for electrons that repeats every 10 nanometers. In real materials, the buckets are formed from individual atoms spaced from one another by a fraction of a nanometer. 

Briggeman found that electrons placed into this artificial lattice interact in unexpected ways, and in some sense behave as though the charge carriers were fractions of an electron. The experimentally observed behavior, partly explained by theory, extends far beyond the simple model of Kronig and Penney.  In contrast to the Kronig-Penney model, the real system contains hundreds of electrons, which interact in complex ways that give rise to the observed behavior. 

The research is part of a larger effort to produce, through quantum simulation, new electronic states of matter which could be helpful in developing future quantum technologies like quantum computers.

Other researchers involved in the research are Hyungwoo Lee, Jung-Woo Lee and Ki-Tae Eom at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, François Damanet, Elliott Mansfield, and Andrew Daley at the University of Strathclyde, and Jianan Li, Mengchen Huang, and Patrick Irvin at the University of Pittsburgh.  The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Air Force of Office of Scientific Research and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK).

Finger pointing at map

Six Pitt Students Finalists for Critical Language Scholarship

Six finalists for the U.S. Department of State’s 2021 Critical Language Scholarship are students at the University of Pittsburgh—five undergraduate and one graduate.

The finalists are:

  • Nathan Aaron, Chinese and emergency medicine
  • Maya Best, international and area studies, anthropology, English nonfiction writing 
  • Helen Bovi, Mandarin and philosophy
  • Abby Lombardi, media and professional communications; international and area studies
  • Lynnea Lombardi, master of education
  • Maria Lucy, Japanese and education

According to the Department of State, “The Critical Language Scholarship Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.”

Finalists for the 2021 CLS Program were selected from a diverse pool of over 4,600 applicants, representing all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. They represented 628 different higher education institutions across the country, including 151 minority-serving institutions, 14 historically Black colleges and universities and 57 community colleges.

Doris Rubio in a black top

Doris Rubio Receives Diversity and Inclusion Award

Doris Rubio, received the 2021 Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) Award for Contributing to the Diversity and Inclusiveness of the Translational Workforce. ACTS presents its annual Translational Science Awards to recognize investigators for their outstanding contributions to the clinical research and translational science field.

Rubio has been committed to the mentorship and development of faculty of color and women in science in her role as assistant vice chancellor for clinical research education and training for the health sciences and director of the Institute for Clinical Research Education. With the goal of addressing the limited number of people who are underrepresented in science, she started the LEADS (Leading Emerging and Diverse Scientists to Success) program at Pitt. Additionally, she has a U01 funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Diversity Program Consortium to test an intervention for underrepresented biomedical researchers to help launch their research careers. Among other honors, she recently received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award given her work on diversifying the workforce.

“These awards reflect the outstanding contributions of our community of clinical and translational scientists, and their enduring commitment to healing and to the health of the world,” said ACTS President Christopher Lindsell.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

2021 Sustainability Champions Named

Twenty-five members of the University community have been selected as Pitt Sustainability Champions in recognition of their leadership and commitment to sustainability in 2021. 

They are:

  • Undergraduate students, all from the Class of 2021: Hannah Chen, Department of Health Information Management; Anna Coleman, Global Studies; Julianna Cooper, Department of Geology and Environmental Science, Department of Political Science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Maya Knee, Department of French and Italian, Department of Political Science; and Zachary Delaney, Sydney DuBose, Anfernee La Cruz, Liz Logan, Gabrielle Sampson and Louis Tierno, all of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science.
  • Graduate students: Eric Raabe, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, CONNECT; Jessica Vaden, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; and Kelsey Wolfe, Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, Office of PittServes.
  • Faculty: Tony Kerzmann, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Swanson School of Engineering.
  • Staff: Kimberly Barlow, Office of University Communications and Marketing; Caitlin Courtney, Timothy Howland and William Parker, all of Pitt Eats; Joshua Jones, Department of Chemistry; Will Mitchell, Facilities Management; Kristin Olexa, Purchasing Services; Monica Rattigan, University Store on Fifth; Meagan Sotirokos, Maggie & Stella’s; and Ciara Stehley and Dez Stuart of the Office of PittServes.

Winners were selected by a review team, based on nominations by members of the Pitt community. The 25 awardees will be acknowledged during the April 23 Spring Sustainability Symposium and will receive a sustainability care package and an award made of reclaimed wood in recognition of their achievement.

Lisa Garland in a scarf and light blue jacket

Lisa Garland Recognized for Work by National Association of African Americans in Human Resources

The Office of Human Resources’ Lisa Garland was recently recognized for her efforts as a person of color breaking glass ceilings in the modern workplace by the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), Pittsburgh chapter.

As OHR’s director of talent acquisition, Garland oversees hiring and onboarding for more than 8,000 staff positions across the University.

She has previously been recognized as a 2012 New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Excellence honoree.

LaMonica Wiggins in a gray top

Pittsburgh Area Teen Entrepreneurs Shine at Pitch Competition

Five area teenagers came up winners in The Lunchroom Social Innovation Competition, a new eight-week program for young people developed by Pitt entrepreneurship librarian LaMonica Wiggins (pictured) and the nonprofit School 2 Career, a program of the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation.

Wiggins created the innovation pitch competition to teach students the basic business skills needed to launch a social or tech-based venture. A Hill District Community Engagement Center STEAM Studio Team Project seed grant provided the funding.

Lunchroom participants met weekly with Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs and practitioners to learn about business planning, customer discovery, pitching, product creation and the nuances of starting a social enterprise. Guest speakers included Pitt alum Samir Lakhani of Eco-Soap Bank, John Cordier of Epistemix and mentors from Pitt’s Small Business Development Center and Open Lab. In March, seven students pitched their start-up plans to a panel of judges and five of them were awarded cash prizes for the following:

Grand prize: Pittsburgh Westinghouse senior Ry’Nique Durham for her idea of an app for teens who have juvenile diabetes to find support groups, recipes, and area restaurants and stores that stock sugar-free treats.

First runner-up: Provident Charter School seventh-grader Jazmiere Bates for her business that sells custom apparel for house pets to raise money for local pet food drives.

Second runner-up: Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice senior Tomi Taiwo for her idea of custom-made kits of sustainable products, such as LED bulbs and plant-based trash bags, delivered to Black women ages 25 to 50.

Third runner-up: Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy sophomore Rae’Nell Durham for her idea for a nonprofit that connects teens of color suffering from anxiety and depression with therapists of color.

Honorable mention: Pittsburgh Milliones freshman Trinidy Manison for her face masks fitted with a silicone filter that holds the cloth away from the face to assist those with respiratory problems.

Kay Brummond in a black top

Kay Brummond Wins Award for Encouraging Women into the Chemical Sciences

Kay Brummond, associate dean for faculty in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and professor in the school’s Department of Chemistry, is the recipient of the 2021 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.

In particular, ACS recognized Brummond “for serving as a pathfinder, an agent of change and mentor to women at all stages of their careers in the chemical sciences.”

In articulating to the ACS leadership her goals for the next decade, Brummond said, “I hope to prepare the next generation of chemists with practical skills in synthetic, organic and computational chemistries to thrive in highly collaborative and team-oriented environments. As an active researcher and academic leader, I hope to close diversity, equality and inclusion gaps in the sciences.”

Brummond’s scholarly endeavors have been honored with awards including the 2015 ACS Pittsburgh Award, the 2003 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, the 2007 ACS Akron Section Award, the 2007 Carnegie Science Center Emerging Female Scientist Award and the 2005 Johnson & Johnson Focused Giving Award. She was named the 2016 Diversity Catalyst Lecturer by the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity in recognition of her efforts to enhance their departmental climate for diversity and inclusion through inclusive policies, procedures and actions. She has been recognized in Chemical & Engineering News for her efforts to increase the representation of women among chemistry faculty at PhD-granting universities. Brummond began as associate dean of faculty of the Dietrich School in 2017.