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April 6, 2021
Ming-Te Wang Garners Two Research Excellence Awards
Ming-Te Wang, professor in the School of Education, professor of psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, has been awarded the Distinguished Research Award for Human Development and Learning from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The award recognizes scholars who strive to improve the educational process through scholarly inquiry and dissemination of research results. Wang received the award for a series of three meta-analytic articles on parental ethnic-racial socialization and youth of color’s developmental outcomes.
Wang is also the recipient of the 2021 Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Excellence in Research Award. The SSWR award recognizes social work research that advances knowledge with direct applications to practice, policy and the resolution of social problems. The award was granted for Wang’s publication “Parental Ethnic-Racial Socialization Practices and the Construction of Children of Color’s Ethnic-Racial Identity: A Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis.”
Wang’s research on racialized experiences of children of color has also been recently recognized by a Heinz Endowment grant. In this work, Wang, with co-principal investigator James Huguley, interim director of the Center on Race and Social Problems and assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received a $500,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. The Heinz grant will support continued work on a school discipline program Wang and Huguley have implemented in the Woodland Hills Intermediate School, the Just Discipline project. Just Discipline builds on research on racialized experiences in school contexts and is designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions. This is the third consecutive grant that Wang and Huguley have received from The Heinz Endowments, totaling $1 million dollars. Wang and Huguley will work in collaboration with the Pitt School of Social Work’s Center on Race and Social Problems, the School of Education’s Motivation Center and the Woodland Hills School District in this research-to-practice partnership.
April 1, 2021
Maximilian Schuster Receives Research Award for Campus Climate Study
Maximilian Schuster, assistant professor of practice in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, was selected for the 2021 Excellence in Research Award by the NASPA Orientation, Retention and Transition Knowledge Community.
Schuster received the award for his article “‘An Experience Unlike Any Other’: The Experiences of First-Year Students with Minoritized Identities with Campus Climate During the 2016 Presidential Election,” which appeared in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education in June 2020.
NASPA’s research award recognizes exemplary research that practitioners can use to improve student services in the areas of orientation, transition, and retention within higher education institutions.
“It’s an honor to be recognized with this distinction from NASPA, the leading professional association for student affairs,” says Schuster.
Schuster will be honored during the 2021 virtual NASPA Annual Conference, which is scheduled from March 17-21.
His award-winning paper examined a tumultuous time on college campuses across America: the 2016 presidential election.
Using a campus climate framework, the qualitative study reported on the experiences of 17 first-year students with minoritized identities amid this divisive political context. The students, who included people of color and LGBTQ+ students, were from an urban university within a battleground state.
The study found that students with minoritized identities experienced increased hostilities within this political context. To contend with this negativity, the students engaged in forms of activism. Their activism allowed them to rebuff the hostilities they were experiencing, raise awareness of their own identity and foster stronger peer connections.
Schuster was previously selected for the 2019-20 NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy. The one-year program is for early-career faculty in student affairs and higher education graduate programs.
April 1, 2021
Chad Jurica Recognized for Professional Achievement
Chad Jurica, disability specialist in Disability Resources and Services, was recently awarded the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) College of Education and Communications (COEC) IMPACT Award. The COEC IMPACT Awards recognize COEC alumni for their outstanding achievement in their profession and their leadership in their discipline or community.
He has worked the past 11 years in advising and disability support services. In addition to his disability services responsibilities at the University of Pittsburgh, Chad is involved with Staff Council and completed the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program through the University of Pittsburgh’s Faculty and Staff Development program. Chad sits on the Sexual Assault Task Force and is an active member of the Survivor’s Support Network and the Allies Network.
Within the disability services community, Chad sits on the board of Academic Success Advocates, a nonprofit organization supporting parents of children with special needs.
April 1, 2021
Adriana Kovashka’s Research Aims to 'Teach' Computers Object Detection
Adriana Kovashka, assistant professor of computer science in Pitt's School of Computing and Information, recently received an National Science Foundation CAREER Award to develop a framework to train computer vision models for the detection of objects from weak, naturally-occurring supervision in the form of text or speech language and additional multimodal signals.
The framework considers dynamic settings, where humans interact with their visual environment and refer to the encountered objects, such as: “Carefully put the tomato plants in the ground,” and “Please put the phone down and come set the table,” as well as captions written for a human audience to complement an image, like news article captions.
The project will benefit society by exploring novel avenues for overcoming this challenge and reducing the need for expensive and potentially unnatural crowdsourced labels for training.
April 1, 2021
School of Medicine Awards Cynthia Kenyon Highest Honor
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently presented its highest honor, the Dickson Prize in Medicine, to Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist whose research has redefined society's understanding of aging.
The Dickson Prize is awarded annually to an American biomedical researcher who has made significant, progressive contributions to medicine. The award consists of a specially commissioned medal, a $50,000 honorarium and an invitation to present the Dickson Prize Lecture on Pitt's campus. Kenyon is a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the date of Kenyon’s lecture has not yet been determined.
“It is our honor to present Dr. Kenyon with the School of Medicine’s most prestigious award,” said Anantha Shekhar, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine. “Undoubtedly, Dr. Kenyon has fundamentally shaped our understanding of aging biology. Her work to overturn long-held assumptions about the aging process and her discovery of molecular mechanisms that modulate aging demonstrate the exceptional and influential research that the Dickson Prize recognizes.”
March 30, 2021
U.S. News & World Report Ranks Pitt's Doctor of Nursing Practice Program No. 6 in U.S.
U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School Rankings, released on March 30, places the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at sixth in the nation. The program came up two spots from eighth in last year’s rankings.
Pitt Nursing’s Health Systems Executive Leadership Doctor of Nursing Practice concentration is now ranked fourth in the nation.
These rankings represent a weighted average of indicators that include peer assessment, student selectivity and achievement, mean grade-point average, acceptance rate, student-faculty ratio, faculty credentials and academic achievements, and research activity.
Earlier this month, QS World University Rankings by Subject ranked Pitt Nursing 21st in the world, and 11th in the United States. The school’s research focus also has received recent recognition, maintaining its position of sixth place among schools of nursing receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health.
March 29, 2021
Karen Bursic Wins Grant Award for Best Paper in The Engineering Economist
The Engineering Economist recently published an article by Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate program director at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, that evaluates a concept inventory to determine students’ learning in engineering economy courses. The article, “An Engineering Economy Concept Inventory,” was recently awarded the Grant Award, an award given annually by the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).
“With all the changes in engineering education, like flipped classrooms or problem-based learning, it’s especially important to have an unbiased, targeted assessment tool to make sure students are learning important core concepts,” said Bursic. “The Engineering Economy Concept Inventory I have developed can help instructors understand whether the pedagogical changes they make to their course have been effective.”
Papers considered for the Grant Award are evaluated on originality, importance of the problem they address, logic and clarity, and adequacy of the proposed solution. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000.
Bursic will receive the award at the ASEE conference in Long Beach, California, on July 28, 2021.
March 29, 2021
Pitt Student Team Places 3rd in Global Health Case Competition
A team of five undergraduate students and one graduate student from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences won third place at the Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition.
- Eva Brady (junior, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences);
- Haley Marra (junior, School of Nursing);
- Vishan Ramanathan (senior, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences);
- Sophie Tayade (senior, School of Rehabilitation Sciences);
- Naomi Gurewitsch (junior, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences).
- Emily Crisan (first year graduate student, Graduate School of Public Health).
The student team’s winning project, “The Forward Project, Addressing the COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Japan,” offers an innovative plan for vaccine distribution focused on matters of equity while addressing vaccine hesitancy. The team was coached by Cynthia Salter, assistant professor of behavioral and community health sciences and interim director of the Center for Global Health, and Elizabeth Van Nostrand, associate professor in GSPH and director of the master of public health (MPH) and JD/MPH programs.
The Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition challenged 52 multidisciplinary student teams from universities representing 15 countries and six continents to develop plans for COVID-19 vaccination programs that innovate solutions to overcome challenges such as vaccine hesitancy and inequitable distribution. According to Emory, “this year’s case challenge asked student teams to design a country-wide vaccination program for one of four countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Japan or Nigeria.”
March 25, 2021
Spring 2021 Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grant Recipients Announced
Pitt Cyber announced the 2021 awardees for its Accelerator Grant program. The grants provide initial funding for novel and innovative multidisciplinary efforts that advance Pitt Cyber’s mission: to bring the breadth of one of the world’s leading public research universities to bear on the critical questions of networks, data and algorithms, with a focus on the ever-changing gaps among law, policy and technology.
Influencing Detection through Multimodal Discourse and Vividness Analysis
Aim: To pilot the methods and ideas for extracting or completing agendas, detecting concerns and emotions, and modeling different types of vividness.
- Adriana Kovashka, assistant professor, computer science, School of Computing and Information
- Diane Litman, professor, computer science, School of Computing and Information
- Rebecca Hwa, professor, computer science, School of Computing and Information
- Malihe Alikhani, assistant professor, computer science, School of Computing and Information
- Yu-Ru Lin, associate professor, informatics and networked systems, School of Computing and Information
- Tessa Provins, assistant professor, political science, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
- Jeffrey Cohn, professor, psychology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
The Pittsburgh Data Jam: Increasing Data Science Education in High Schools
Aim: To test the effectiveness of a high school data science curriculum.
- Judy Cameron, professor, psychiatry, School of Medicine
- Bryan Nelson, assistant instructor, statistics, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
- Thomas Akiva, associate professor, human health and development, School of Education
Framework for Qualitative Research into Social Media and Misinformation: A Relational/Ecosystemic Approach
Aim: To develop protocols for conducting qualitative research into the dynamics of disinformation in social media spaces, ensuring that research is transparent, ethical and documented in ways that are consistent with data privacy as well as academic disciplinary standards.
- Lara Putnam, UCIS Research Professor of History, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
- Rosta Farzan, associate professor and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, School of Computing and Information
- Mehr Latif, postdoctoral research associate, sociology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Modeling the Effect of Disinformation on COVID-19 Vaccination Discourse in Online Social Networks
Aim: To investigate and model how disinformation propagates through online social networks and how it affects discourse and beliefs related to COVID-19 vaccination topics.
- Malihe Alikhani, assistant professor, computer science, School of Computing and Information
- Dmitriy Babichenko, clinical associate professor, informatics and networked systems, School of Computing and Information
- Kar-Hai Chu, associate professor, behavioral and community health sciences, Graduate School of Public Health
- Michael Colaresi, William S. Dietrich II Professor, political science, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Pitt Cyber research and academic director; affiliate scholar, Intelligent Systems Program
- Jason Colditz, research project manager, PhD candidate and instructor, Institute for Clinical Research Education, School of Medicine
- Beth Hoffman, graduate student researcher, Institute for Clinical Research Education, School of Medicine
- Patrick Healy, PhD candidate, School of Computing and Information
- Jaime Sidani, assistant professor, general internal medicine, School of Medicine
March 25, 2021
United Way and University of Pittsburgh Partnership Enhances Regional Database Highlighting Community Needs
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh collaborated to add PA 211 Southwest data to the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC) open data portal in an effort to provide a better understanding about community needs in the region.
The WPRDC was created in 2015 and is managed by the Pitt Center for Urban and Social Research, in partnership with Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. This new partnership adds the latest information from United Way’s 211 Counts dashboard directly to the WPRDC open data portal every day. The addition of 211’s data to the data already shared by the county’s 911 and city’s 311 systems provides a more comprehensive look at requests for services in the region.
“United Way's PA 211 Southwest’s partnership with WPRDC enhances their trusted database and provides an even greater centralized resource for information about the region," said Michele Sandoe, senior director of United Way's PA 211 Southwest. "Through this transparent sharing of up-to-date information, we are helping people find and use information to help their communities."
Over the last 10 years, United Way’s PA 211 Southwest has answered 1,102,843 requests for help (650,887 requests via call or text and 451,956 inquiries online). The top three needs across the region are consistently related to housing, utility assistance and access to food.
“Sharing the 211 data as open data enables people to start to look at service demand in context with other information. For example, people can now make a map of requests for food assistance by ZIP code and overlay that with information on grocery stores and food bank locations without first having to transcribe or scrape the data from the 211 dashboard,” said Robert Gradeck, project director for the WPRDC. “This is also a great opportunity for us to use highly relevant community level data in our efforts to build data literacy, and gives students and researchers another important dataset for research and teaching.”
If you or someone you know in the region needs help financially or with basic needs, contact PA 211 Southwest by dialing 2-1-1, texting your zip code to 898-211, visiting the PA 211 website, or accessing the web app.
March 22, 2021
Business and Operations Names Victoria Lancaster and Rebecca Roadman to Leadership Roles
Victoria Lancaster and Rebecca Roadman have recently been named to leadership roles in Pitt’s Business and Operations (B&O).
Lancaster, director of HR shared services, will begin as assistant vice chancellor for operational excellence on April 1. In her new role, Lancaster is responsible for providing leadership and enhancing the performance of the B&O units, supporting the senior vice chancellor and the University as a whole, and maximizing organizational and overall workforce efficiency to align with the University’s strategic objectives.
Roadman, senior project manager in the Office of Human Resources, will serve as chief of staff of senior vice chancellor of B&O, effective March 8. In her new role, she is responsible for mobilizing and working with unit leaders in B&O across the University and externally to connect, promote and make actionable the senior vice chancellor’s strategic and operational priorities. Roadman will provide essential leadership to develop employees and teams’ synergies across units and functions.
March 18, 2021
Pitt Consortium to Research Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatments
The schools of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Yale will lead a consortium to accelerate research into understanding and treatments of pulmonary fibrosis (PF). Pitt’s School of Medicine will receive a grant to develop and refine a new model to better understand the progression of PF and to identify possible therapies.
PF is a chronic, degenerative lung disease that causes lung tissue to become damaged and scarred, making it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Each year, 40,000 Americans die from PF, yet very little is known about the mechanisms of the disease.
Melanie Königshoff, visiting professor of medicine at Pitt, is the lead investigator of the consortium. “I wanted to understand how diseased lungs can look so different from healthy lungs,” Königshoff said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for a deeper understanding of and more effective therapies for chronic lung conditions. As more people recover from COVID-19, therapies for living with long-term effects of lung diseases have become increasingly important.
March 16, 2021
Peggy Liu Receives Society of Consumer Psychology Early Career Award
Peggy Liu, Ben L. Fryrear Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of marketing in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has received the Society of Consumer Psychology (SCP) 2021 Early Career Award.
The award “recognizes significant scientific contributions to consumer psychology by a scholar whose PhD was obtained in 2012 or later and emerging scholars whose research shows promise in shaping the field of consumer psychology.” Selection is based on nominations received by the SCP.
Among other honors and awards, Liu, whose research expertise is in consumer behavior, was selected as a 2021 Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Young Scholar and was named among the Poets & Quants 2020 Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors.
“Within the business school, we have not witnessed such rapid and prolific progress from any faculty member in his or her first four years,” said Arjang Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration. “Peggy’s research productivity is simply in a class of its own.”
March 12, 2021
Page B. Pennell Named Chair of Neurology
Page B. Pennell, MD, will serve as the next chair of the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine, beginning July 1, 2021. She comes to Pitt from Harvard Medical School, where she serves as a professor and vice chair for academic affairs in the Department of Neurology, among other responsibilities.
Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, Pennell will work to continue advancing the neurology department’s mission, which is to accelerate understanding of and treatments for many neurological disorders and conditions, including ischemic stroke, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy.
Pennell has focused her research to date on patients with epilepsy. She has examined, among other topics, maternal and fetal outcomes of women with epilepsy, pharmacokinetic changes of anti-seizure medications concerning pregnancy and exogenous hormones, and the effects of neuroactive steroids on seizure provocation.
Read Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine Anantha Shekhar’s full message announcing Pennell’s appointment.
March 11, 2021
Jeremy Levy Awarded Grant to Develop New Type of Quantum Computer
The Office of Naval Research has awarded $7.5 million to a multidisciplinary research team led by Jeremy Levy, Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Pittsburgh, and four other universities to develop more effective quantum computers.
Levy, who is also founding director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, will lead this Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative involving quantum computers, which use the properties of quantum physics to store data and perform computations. The title of the project, “Topological Spin Qubits Based on Graphene Nanoribbons,” seeks to develop a new type of quantum bit or “qubit” based on tiny strips of carbon atoms called graphene.
Levy, the principal investigator, is joined by Pitt’s Hrvoje Petek, R.K. Mellon Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Other researchers include: Tyler Cocker from Michigan State University; Chang-Beom Eom from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Philip Kim and Prineha Narang from Harvard University; and Alexander Sinitskii from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The $7.5 million grant will support interdisciplinary research over a five-year period, contingent upon satisfactory research progress and the availability of funds.
“Meeting all of the requirements for a scalable quantum computer is exceedingly challenging, and so far no approach has been able to address all of these requirements decisively,” Levy said. He noted the team’s approach combines advanced “top-down” lithographic capabilities with advanced “bottom-up” synthetic chemistry protocols, so that atomically precise graphene nanoribbons can be created and manipulated in ways that may be useful for future quantum computing architectures.
“We would not have succeeded without the strong complementary expertise of our team,” Levy said. "We are deeply honored to have been chosen for this challenging project, and excited to get started.”
March 10, 2021
Pitt Researchers Awarded Grant to Increase Mobility Program for Older Adults
University of Pittsburgh researchers recently received a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) award to help implement and market a Pitt program to improve health among older populations.
The award will go toward “On the Move,” a group-based exercise program for older adults designed to target the timing and coordination of walking. The program challenges the brain to match the timing and sequences of people’s movements with their posture to improve the smoothness and efficiency of walking. The program was established under a previous PCORI award received by the University and proved beneficial in improving mobility in older adults.
Through the latest PCORI award, the research team will develop and implement a strategic plan to disseminate the program to community-based organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The researchers include Jen Brach, professor of physical therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Vanitha Swaminathan, director of the Center for Branding at Katz Graduate School of Business.
March 10, 2021
Donald Yealy Wins 2021 AACEM Distinguished Service Award
Donald M. Yealy, professor and chair of emergency medicine, professor of medicine and professor of clinical and translational science, received the Association of Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine (AACEM) 2021 Distinguished Service Award. The award is given to a chair who has brought honor and distinction to AACEM by displaying outstanding leadership and significant contributions to the advancement of academic emergency medicine through leadership, education, research, clinical care, administration, public and professional service, and civic duties on behalf of academic chairs of emergency medicine. Established in 1989, AACEM’s mission is to enhance and support academic departments of emergency medicine as they improve health care through high-quality education and research.
March 10, 2021
Pitt Researchers Helping Study Bone Health in Space
The University of Pittsburgh is teaming up with medical device company RevBio, Inc. to study the effects of an adhesive biomaterial on bone health in space.
An experiment will take place onboard the International Space Station later this year, where the material Tetranite’s effectiveness on the bone healing process will be examined. A side-by-side experiment will be conducted on Earth to examine the differences between healing under both normal and osteoporotic conditions induced by the micro-gravity environment of outer space.
“Tetranite is a uniquely osteoconductive biomaterial that is also adhesive and injectable,” said Giuseppe Intini, associate professor of periodontics and preventive dentistry at Pitt, and faculty member at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who will serve as the principal investigator for this study. “If we are able to show that this novel scaffold can facilitate bone repair in space, new methods may be developed to treat or prevent bone fractures in osteoporotic patients on Earth as well.”
March 10, 2021
Ivet Bahar Receives Congratulations from Consul General of the Republic of Turkey on Her Election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
Ivet Bahar, distinguished professor of computational and systems biology and John K. Vries Chair in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was named the to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in April 2020.
Earlier this month, the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey visited Pitt’s campus to commemorate Bahar’s achievement as the first female member of NAS from Turkey by offering a gift and taking a photo of that exchange in the Turkish Room, part of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.
Bahar’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of functioning biological systems at multiple scales, from molecular to cellular and systems levels. Bahar is also associate director of Pitt’s Drug Discovery Institute. She received her PhD in chemistry from the Istanbul Technical Institute in Turkey and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Boğaziçi University in Turkey.
Editor’s note: A previously published version of this Accolade contained inaccurate information.
March 9, 2021
Freddie Fu Is the Most-Cited Author on ACL Reconstruction
A study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine identifying the top 100 most-cited articles on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, the procedure to fix the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, found that the University of Pittsburgh was the most prolific institution of influential ACL research. Furthermore, Freddie Fu, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, was the number one author.
Researchers at The Central South University in Changsha, China, reviewed more than 17,000 articles on ACL reconstruction published since 1950. When they narrowed the list down to the top 100 most cited articles, the University of Pittsburgh was the most productive research institution, publishing 14 of these top 100 articles. Fu authored 13 of these, making him the researcher with the most total publications on the top 100 list. These findings reinforce the degree of international influence the University of Pittsburgh and Fu have established in the field of ACL research.
Fu has been investigating the ACL since the start of his career, and has worked to better understand ACL reconstruction while also fostering the spirit of collaboration that allowed research at the department to flourish. In addition to establishing the Sports Medicine Fellowship program at Pitt, Fu has also served as the head team physician and orthopaedic surgeon for the University of Pittsburgh athletic department for nearly 35 years, and has been the David Silver Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine since 1998.