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February 24, 2021
Pitt Professors Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for Project on Public Access to Justice
Professors Kevin Ashley from the School of Law and Diane Litman from the Department of Computer Science were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) award, FAI: Using AI to Increase Fairness by Improving Access to Justice. Part of the NSF Fairness in Artificial Intelligence (FAI), their project works to improve public access to justice. Ashley and Litman are also professors in the Intelligent Systems Program and senior scientists at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).
Ashley and Litman’s project applies artificial intelligence to increase social fairness by developing two tools to make legal sources more understandable: Statutory Term Interpretation Support (STATIS) and Case Argument Summarization (CASUM). STATIS is an AI-based legal information retrieval tool that will help users understand and interpret statutory terms. CASUM summarizes case decisions in terms of legal argument triples: the major issues a court addressed in the case, the court’s conclusion with respect to each issue and the court’s reasons for reaching the conclusion.
February 25, 2021
The Pitt News Wins 15 Pennsylvania Media Awards
The Student Keystone Media Awards have honored The Pitt News staff with a record number of 15 awards this year in 12 categories. The statewide student media competition recognizing student journalists across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced the winners on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
The awards and winners are as follows:
General News: Rashi Ranjan
Public Service/Enterprise Package: Nathan Fitchett, Martha Layne
Editorial: Leah Mensch
Column: Devi Ruia
Cartoon/Graphic Illustration: Dalia Maeroff
Layout and Design: Maria Doku, Jon Moss, Mary Rose O'Donnell, Sarah Cutshall
Public Service/Enterprise Package: Neena Hagen
Cartoon/ Graphic Illustration: Promiti Debi
Photo Story: Sarah Cutshall
Ongoing News Coverage: Rebecca Johnson
Feature Story: Stephen Thompson
Cartoon / Graphic Illustration: Shruti Talekar
Sports Photo: Thomas Yang
Feature Photo: Sarah Cutshall
Website: Jon Moss, The Pitt News Staff
A full video celebrating the 2021 Student Keystone Media Awards winners will be available in the spring. In the meantime, catch up with the award-winning student newspaper on The Pitt News website.
February 25, 2021
Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) Shares Her Science Writing Origin Story
How do you get started in science writing? Elaine Vitone, senior editor of Pitt Med magazine and writer/producer of Pitt Medcast, recently shared her story with The Open Notebook, a nonprofit organization that provides tools and resources to help science, environmental and health journalists at all experience levels sharpen their skills.
Vitone, who earned her MFA from Pitt’s Writing Program in 2006, has been on the staff at Pitt Med since 2010. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, including the inaugural Excellence in Institutional Writing Award from the National Association of Science Writers. She also mentors early career writers through the magazine’s internship programs.
Her latest feature story, “No Recharge for the Weary: Stress is an Inequitable Arbiter of Health,” was published in the winter 2021 issue of Pitt Med. Her latest podcast episode, “Like Daughter, Like Mother,” was released in February.
February 24, 2021
Teaching Center’s 2020 Advancing Educational Excellence Awardees Announced
Nine Pitt staff members earned the University Center for Teaching and Learning’s 2020 Advancing Educational Excellence Award.
Andrew P.K. Bentley (instructional designer), Lex Drozd (instructional designer), Max Glider (learning space services coordinator), Joy Hart (senior program coordinator), Cressida Magaro (assistant manager of educational software consulting) and Team Testing (Sue Richardson, manager, and testing coordinators Joe Hogle, Brandon Styer and Eric Weaver) all received the award.
The annual honor is a peer-driven award that recognizes teaching center staff members who exemplify the values of the center, demonstrate a positive attitude and commitment to responsibilities and make above and beyond contributions to the University.
February 23, 2021
Six Pitt Dining Locations Designated ‘Live Well Allegheny’ Restaurants
Five campus dining locations have become Live Well Allegheny Restaurants: The Eatery at The Towers, Schenley Cafe, Cathedral Cafe, plus Pitt Subs and Shake Smart at the Petersen Events Center.
They join The Perch at Sutherland, which became Pitt’s first Live Well Allegheny Restaurant location in 2019.
This designation by the Allegheny County Health Department is part of its Live Well Allegheny initiative for improving the health and wellness of county residents. Municipalities, school districts, restaurants and workplaces in Allegheny County may commit to the campaign, which highlights the importance of increasing physical activity and healthy eating, and of taking a proactive approach to health.
The University of Pittsburgh has been a Live Well Allegheny Workplace since 2017.
Live Well Allegheny Restaurants recognizes restaurants or food businesses that have eliminated trans-fat oils, are smoke free and do not sell tobacco products, and that take additional action steps toward improving good health.
On campus, the additional actions include providing calorie counts and nutritional information; offering low-calorie alternatives; vegetarian and vegan fare; healthful side dish choices that include fruits or vegetables; low-calorie salad dressings; brown rice and whole grain options; using plant-based oils and providing bicycle parking nearby.
February 17, 2021
Michael Goodhart Named Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study
Michael Goodhart, professor of political science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Global Studies Center, has been named a fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study for 2021-22. The Swedish Collegium aims to articulate the significance of the social and human sciences for an understanding of the contemporary and historical condition of humankind in its diverse global contexts. It is a global scholarly community where fellows pursue research of their own choosing in a context of interdisciplinary dialogue and cooperation, free from the teaching and administrative obligations of ordinary university life.
February 17, 2021
Alyson Stover Named President of American Occupational Therapy Association
Alyson Stover, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, was recently elected the newest president of the American Occupational Therapy Association. She will begin her three-year term on July 1.
According to school leadership, she is the first Pitt occupational therapy alumnus or faculty to ever hold this national position, and will serve as the face of occupational therapy to over 100,000 practitioners. Stover's interests include using occupational therapy as a force for larger health care change, advancing occupational therapy’s national and global relevance and its role as a leader in policy development and implementation. Stover is also interested in access to care for underserved and underrepresented populations.
"I am confident that I have the passion to fulfill these responsibilities with enthusiasm, innovation and unity for the profession,” she said.
February 17, 2021
Five Pitt-UPMC Faculty Elected into American Society for Clinical Investigation
The American Society for Clinical Investigation recently elected its 2021 membership class, which includes five faculty members and clinical leaders at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. The society seeks to support the scientific efforts, educational needs and clinical aspirations of physician-scientists to improve the health of all people.
The five new members are as follows:
- Walid F. Gellad, associate professor of medicine and health policy, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.
- Jacqueline Ho, associate professor of pediatrics; director, Pediatric Nephrology Fellowship, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; co-director, Pediatric Scientist Development Program.
- Philana Ling Lin, associate professor of pediatrics; director, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
- Heath Devin Skinner, associate professor of radiation oncology.
- Matthew L. Steinhauser, associate professor of medicine.
They will be officially inducted into the Society on April 8 as part of the 2021 AAP/ASCI/APSA joint meeting, held virtually April 8-10.
February 15, 2021
Three Pitt Professors Named to National Academy of Inventors Senior Members Class
The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) this week announced it has selected three University of Pittsburgh professors among 61 academic inventors for the 2021 class of NAI senior members.
- Bryan Brown, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering
- Michael Lotze, professor in the Department of Surgery
- Kacey Marra, professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery
NAI senior members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have growing success in patents, licensing and commercialization.
“I want to congratulate Drs. Brown, Lotze and Marra on joining an exclusive society of academic inventors,” said Evan Facher, vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt and director of the Innovation Institute. “They all have demonstrated exceptional commitment to achieving impact for their research through commercial translation. Importantly, they have years of innovating ahead of them. We look forward to helping bring more of those discoveries to market where they can make a difference in people’s lives.”
February 15, 2021
Rosta Farzan to Lead Diversity Efforts at School of Computing and Information
In this new role, Farzan will look to create more inclusive space, provide scholarships and increase inclusive activities for students, using perspectives from the school’s students, faculty and staff. The role complements her research in social computing, which examines the interplay between technology and social issues, in the school’s Department of Informatics and Networked Systems.
“I became interested in diversity for this field during my graduate studies, including what ways we can increase representation,” said Farzan, who received her PhD from Pitt’s Intelligent Systems Program in 2009. “It’s been a centerpiece for my research. I want voices in the school to be heard.”
February 15, 2021
Pitt Commons Surpasses 10,000 Users
Pitt Commons, the University’s online hub for mentoring and networking, recently reached an important milestone: It now hosts more than 10,000 registered users.
Designed to foster connections among members of the Pitt community, the site has generated a great deal of engagement since its inception in 2018. More recently, it has served a critical role in enabling users to virtually network, access resources and pursue opportunities during a time in which there has been significant disruption to in-person services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the Pitt Community are invited to join Pitt Commons by visiting commons.pitt.edu.
February 15, 2021
Big Idea Advantage Fund Launched to Support Pitt Student Entrepreneurs
Pitt students who want to explore innovation and entrepreneurship now have a new resource to help them bridge the critical period between the initial idea and having a prototype or beta version of their product or service.
The Big Idea Advantage Fund, a new resource by the Big Idea Center, part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute, will provide investments between $10,000 and $25,000 to Pitt students of any level—first-year to postdoc—from any part of the University. The first investments to approximately three to five student startups will occur this May. Moving forward, three to five teams will receive awards in both the fall and spring semesters.
“Since its launch in 2018, the Big Idea Center for student innovation has been building a suite of programs, events and resources that provide Pitt students with experiential innovation and entrepreneurship learning opportunities,” said Babs Carryer (pictured), director of the Big Idea Center. “Through the Big Idea Advantage Fund we can provide students who demonstrate exceptional commitment and whose ideas show commercial potential with critical early funding to support them before they are able to generate revenue.”
The Big Idea Advantage Fund is being made possible by donors who have stepped forward to accelerate the growth of student innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt.
Visit the Big Idea Advantage Fund website for more information.
February 11, 2021
Diana Khoi Nguyen Wins 2021 NEA Literature Fellowship
Diana Khoi Nguyen, assistant professor in the Writing Program of the Department of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in poetry.
Nguyen’s work includes traditional poetry and prose as well as multimedia and sculptural pieces. The excerpt submitted to the NEA for consideration comes from a larger project which includes video, plays, prose and poem pieces and focuses on the Vietnamese diaspora, family history and the refugee experience. She hopes to use the funding in part for post-pandemic travel to continue research in Vietnamese diaspora communities outside of North America.
Nguyen earned a BA in English and Communication Studies from UCLA, an MFA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the University of Denver. She is the author of the chaplet “Unless” (Belladonna, 2019) and debut poetry collection, “Ghost Of” (Omnidawn Publishing, 2018). “Ghost Of” was selected by Terrance Hayes for the Omnidawn Open Contest, and was a finalist for the National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It also received the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and Colorado Book Award. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in magazines and journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review and PEN America.
February 9, 2021
Influenzers: Health Science Students Win Microgrant
The initiative, a joint effort by Research!America and the Rita Allen Foundation, provides funding to graduate student and postdoc-led science policy groups from across the U.S. to develop and lead outreach activities in their local communities.
The Influenzers educate the Pittsburgh community about facts and myths surrounding immunizations through educational activities, community engagement and policy initiatives. The group consists of students in Pitt’s schools of the health sciences. They plan to work in local neighborhoods to promote the importance of vaccinations.
February 9, 2021
Ollie Green Joins Pitt as Chief Information Security Officer
Ollie Green III joined the University as Chief Information Security Officer on Feb. 1.
Green has more than 20 years of technical and executive managerial experience in information security, risk management and network engineering, including serving as chief information security officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Norton Healthcare.
Green comes to Pitt from nThrive, a leader in revenue cycle management software-as-a-service solutions used by more than 900 hospitals and health systems in North America.
His expertise includes advanced HIPAA and National Institute of Standards and Technology regulatory/compliance strategy, enterprise-wide information security governance processes and creation of security operations and monitoring centers to oversee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of research, and administrative data.
February 9, 2021
Pitt Professor Joins Alpha Chi Forum on Race, Privilege and Responsibility
Alpha Chi hosted a forum on race relations and social justice to help its members and greater community start the process on Feb. 6 called, “Personal Perspectives on Race, Privilege and Responsibility.”
The three panelists included: Dwonna Goldstone, associate history professor and director of the African American Studies program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas; Justine Pas, associate professor of English and associate dean in the School of Humanities at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri; and Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, who focused on positive actions students can take to address diversity issues. The seminar was hosted and moderated by Lara Noah, executive director of Alpha Chi.
“And Justice for All…” is the theme for the organization’s 2021 Virtual Convention, and this event was planned to help raise awareness of these issues among the Alpha Chi community.
Alpha Chi National College Honor Society was founded in 1922 to recognize and promote academic excellence among college and university students of all disciplines, to encourage a spirit of service and leadership, and to nurture the elements of character that make scholarship effective for good. Alpha Chi is a member in good standing with the Association of College Honor Societies.
February 9, 2021
Nursing’s Rosemary Hoffman Wins Educator Leader Award
Rosemary Hoffman, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, was recently recognized as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Educator Award winner, given each year by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Commission on Nurse Certification.
Hoffmann is being recognized for her success with the post-baccalaureate CNL program (Model A), which led Pitt to creating an entry into practice CNL program (Model C) that will take effect within the next year. Hoffman will receive the award later this month.
“Dr. Hoffmann was selected for this award for personifying the idea of expanding the role of the CNL and being able to think holistically,” according to a statement made by the association. “She is praised by her colleagues for having a particular skill in challenging her students and peers to think bigger by using their credentials and skills as a CNL to become problem solvers and patient advocates.”
February 9, 2021
Corey Robinson Joins Department of Parking and Transportation with a Focus on Sustainability
Corey Robinson joined the Department of Parking and Transportation in January 2021 to focus on alternative commuting options for the University community. If you have questions about moving to more shared, active and low carbon commuting, she will be deploying and developing programs to assist you.
While completing her degree in sustainability at Chatham University, Robinson served in multiple roles reporting on and researching for Chatham’s sustainability initiatives. Outside of her new role as Mobility Specialist at Pitt, Robinson also maintains sustainable practices in her personal life, including growing her own food, composting at home and training to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., this fall.
February 4, 2021
Paul Ohodnicki Receives $1 Million Grant to ‘Innervate’ Pipelines
Research led by Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, recently received $1 million in funding to utilize Pitt-developed optical fiber sensor technology as the “nerves” of critical infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines, to mimic the principle of a nervous system. Ohodnicki also teaches in the electrical and computer engineering department.
The research will embed optical fiber sensors internal to the pipeline to create an “innervated” pipeline system that enables monitoring the integrity of the pipes through acoustic and vibrational signatures of defects. By combining the embedded sensors with artificial intelligence and machine learning and integrating into an overarching digital twin of the pipeline system, an “intelligent” pipeline can be realized that allows for targeted in-situ repairs of defects. It utilizes an emerging robotic crawler deployable technology, known as “cold-spray,” with reduced downtime and dramatically reduced repair costs.
The team also plans to develop an economic model for in-situ repair and sensor-embedded coating technology as well as a detailed set of modifications to the existing and standard regulatory requirements required for commercialization.
February 3, 2021
Zongqi Xia Named Fellow for Research Initiative
Zongqi Xia, assistant professor of neurology and biomedical informatics, was named a fellow for Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s (RCSA) new Scialog initiative, “Microbiome, Neurobiology and Disease.”
Scialog is short for “science + dialog.” Scialog initiatives bring together early-career scientists from a variety of disciplines to focus their collective thinking on issues of global importance, awarding funding to promising multidisciplinary research projects.
Co-sponsored by RCSA, the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group and the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation, the program begins with its inaugural virtual conference on April 22-23, 2021. Three yearly conferences are planned.
Microbiome, Neurobiology and Disease will convene chemists, physicists, biologists, microbiologists, neuroscientists and bioinformaticians to explore our understanding of the gut microbiome and its relationship to the brain in both normal and disease states.
Fellows are selected from multiple disciplines and institutions across the U.S. and Canada to maximize creative thinking and innovative ideas. At each conference, participants form multidisciplinary teams to design cutting-edge research projects, which they pitch to leading scientists who have facilitated discussions throughout the meeting.
A committee of these facilitators then recommends funding to seed the most promising team projects, based primarily on the potential for high-impact results.
See the full list of Scialog fellows and facilitators.