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Student-run Saxbys Cafes to Open at Pitt in Fall 2020

Saxbys, a Philadelphia-based social impact and coffee company, will introduce two exclusively student-run cafes on the Pitt campus in fall 2020.

The cafes—Saxbys’ first in the Pittsburgh market—are part of the company’s Experiential Learning Program, which operates 10 campus cafes at eight other institutions in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The Cathedral Café on the ground floor of the Cathedral of Learning and Cup & Chaucer Café in Hillman Library will be renovated to create space for the new cafes.

Saxbys is partnering with the College of Business Administration to employ two undergraduate business students each semester as Student Cafe Executive Officers (SCEOs) who will manage all aspects of their cafe. SCEOs earn competitive wages and receive bonus opportunities and a full semester of college credit throughout their tenure, gathering invaluable experience along the way. The cafes will be staffed entirely by Pitt students.

“At Pitt Business, we take our students from the classroom, to the city, to the world, and believe that real-world experience is the best teacher. The Saxbys partnership is a great way to enable students to put what they learn in classrooms into practice in an integrative context,” said Arjang A. Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration. “The two Pitt Business SCEOs will work together with their peers from various majors to develop skills and promote teamwork to help them succeed in the future.”

Bruce Hapke in a dark suit and collared shirt.

Bruce Hapke Named American Astronomical Society Legacy Fellow

Bruce Hapke, a professor of planetary geology in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, has been selected for the first class of American Astronomical Society (AAS) Legacy Fellows. AAS established its fellows’ program in 2019 to recognize extraordinary achievements in the field. Hapke, who correctly predicted the texture of the moon’s porous, sandy surface, was among the first scientists to receive materials for study from the Apollo 11 mission. He also predicted that particles of iron in the moon’s soil affected its brightness. When that particle was discovered, it was named Hapkeite in his honor.

School of Education Faculty Member Wins National Literacy Research Award

Jon-Philip “Jay” Imbrenda, faculty member in the School of Education, is the recipient of the 2019 Arthur Applebee Award for Excellence in Research on Literacy.

The award is known as one of the highest honors in the field of literacy education. It’s given annually to “honor an outstanding article in literary research published in a referred journal in the previous calendar year.”

Imbrenda’s “Developing Academic Literacy: Breakthroughs and Barriers in College Access Intervention,” was the article that won him this recognition. The article reports findings from Imbrenda’s analysis of a classroom intervention in which students from a comprehensive urban high school were given a curriculum designed to prepare them for reading and writing demands of early college coursework. Read more about Imbrenda and his work on the School of Education’s website.

Police officers sit at a table in their uniforms.

Five Partnerships Receive Distinction at Community Engaged Scholarship Forum

More than 250 people attended the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum (CESF), now in its second year at Pitt, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. 

The day featured breakout sessions, poster presentations, panel discussions and networking planned around the theme of building momentum through community partnerships, which echoes one of the pillars of the Plan for Pitt: Strengthening Communities

“Service has always been a part of Pitt, but we’ve tried our best to move beyond a theoretical format and toward a practical format” for strengthening communities, said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees.

To that end, five projects were honored for reflecting Pitt’s highest community engagement aspirations, two Pitt staff members were recognized for their commitment to engaged leadership and collaboration and one partnership to watch was named. Learn more about the honorees in @Pitt.

The Community Engaged Scholarship Forum planning committee was co-chaired by Jamie Ducar in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations and Julia Spears in the Office of the Provost. Sixteen schools and offices across the University helped to sponsor the event. 

Piervincenzo Rizzo in a red dress shirt underneath a dark sweater.

Pitt-led Study Leads to Method to Calculate Stress on Rails

A study led by Pitt researchers calculating stress on railways was recently published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, Diagnostics and Prognostics of Engineering Systems.

The study was led by Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt in the Swanson School of Engineering, and senior author on the paper, and Stanford University researcher Amir Nasrollahi, who was previously a PhD candidate and then post-doctoral researcher in Rizzo’s Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies.

The two developed a nondestructive evaluation method to measure stress in rails, with the eventual aim of calculating when the ambient temperature will be problematic.

Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti in a dark shirt.

Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti Receives Prestigious International Literary Award

Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti, professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, received the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize in the essay category. 

Established in 1959, the award is considered the oldest and most coveted prize in literature in Latin America—much like the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S., according to Sotomayor-Miletti.

Sotomayor-Miletti received the literary award for her work titled “Apalabrarse en la desposesión (Ley, arte y Multitud en el Caribe Insular).” She accepted her award earlier this year in Havana, Cuba.

Paul Leu

Solar Project Selected for U.S. Department of Energy Prize

A project developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been selected for the American-Made Solar Prize, a U.S. Department of Energy competition designed to incentivize entrepreneurs toward U.S. solar energy innovation and manufacturing.

The project is led by Paul W. Leu (pictured), associate professor of industrial engineering, Sajad Haghanifar, a doctoral candidate in Leu's lab, and Sooraj Sharma, a senior studying materials science and engineering who began developing this project in 2018 through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Undergraduate Summer Research Program. The team is evaluating new methods to improve the top glass sheet in solar panels. 

The project is one of 20 that has made it to this round out of the 120 submissions, chosen for the novelty of the solution and how impactful it would be against the problems facing the solar industry. Each team will receive a $50,000 cash prize and is eligible for the next round of the competition, which rewards a cash prize of $100,000 and up to $75,000 in vouchers. The following, final phase of the competition will select two final projects to win a $500,000 prize in September 2020. 

The Cathedral of Learning behind a field with small American flags standing upright

University of Pittsburgh Press Awards Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Caroline Kim is the 2020 winner of the University of Pittsburgh Press’ Drue Heinz Literature Prize for her recent work “The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories,” which will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2020.

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize annually “recognizes and supports writers of short fiction and makes their work available to readers around the world.” Winners also receive a cash prize of $15,000.  Kim’s work features many different characters’ voices as they share their stories of the Korean diaspora. 

The award was named after the latte Drue Heinz, the third wife of H. J. Heinz II, who created the endowment for this award in 1981. 

woman in a PDoG shirt smiling

Pitt Day of Giving 2020 Sets Records

Pitt Day of Giving on Feb. 25 prompted gifts from 7,630 Pitt supporters—alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends from all 50 states and 31 countries, surpassing the goal of 7,000 donors.

“Every year it gets better and better,” said Kris Davitt, senior vice chancellor for Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement. “We have more Pitt Day of Giving social media mentions; people are keeping track of the challenges and leaderboards; and people are talking about the day. It’s all about momentum and the message to simply participate—just join in.”

The annual 24-hour fundraising blitz supports scholarships, research, academic programs, student activities and initiatives across the University. By the time the clock struck midnight, donations totaled more than $1.65 million, with givers designating their support to more than 200 funds including every Pitt school, college and campus. 

A total of $200,000 in challenge dollars sparked friendly competition for support. See the leaderboards for a full list of winners.

More than 1,200 members of the University community joined Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, Provost Ann Cudd, Athletic Director Heather Lyke and Panther mascot Roc at an on-campus celebration in the William Pitt Union. The event was livestreamed to viewers across the world.

Social media support added to the excitement. #PittDayOfGiving was the number one trending hashtag in Pittsburgh all day.

Jaime Booth in a gray shirt in front of a window

Jaime Booth Honored for Her Work with Teens

Assistant Professor of Social Work Jaime Booth was recently awarded the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research at the organization’s recent national conference in Washington, D.C. She was recognized for using innovative approaches in her research, much of which involves young people in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“I’m engaging with new technology to answer traditional social work questions,” she said of her work. 

Booth, along with Associate Professor of computing and information Rosta Farzan and other partners, is spearheading a pilot project called Data Forerunners. Close to 20 high school students from the Hill District and Homewood are using public data to explore issues in their communities, ranging from crime rates to commuting habits to affordable housing. 

Now she is immersed in the SPIN Project, or Spaces and People in Neighborhoods for Positive Youth Development. Nearly 80 Homewood teenagers, carrying mobile devices equipped with a special app, responded to several surveys a day that asked how they felt about where they were. Did they feel respected? Are there people around that could help them if they need it? A survey at day’s end asked how they felt that day and if they had used any substances. The teens themselves are assisting with the data collection and Booth and the teens will present the findings this spring at local community centers. 

“We want to understand how spending time in safe and risky spaces impacts these young people’s levels of stress and substance abuse,” said Booth. “The ultimate goal is to increase their access to safe spaces while addressing those spaces that are stressful.”

Booth, along with Assistant Professor of English Khirsten Scott also are developing H.Y.P.E. Media, a literacy program in which youth are taught the skills needed to engage new media to rewrite neighborhood narratives for community change. 

a sign at Pitt-Bradford

Pitt-Bradford Building Earns Campus’ First LEED Status

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s newest residence hall, the 170-bed Livingston Alexander House, has earned silver-level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the first building on the campus to achieve LEED certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification that takes into account sustainability considerations that include green construction practices, water and energy efficiency and more.

“It’s about caring for the environment,” said Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Bradford. “Climate change is real. When you build sustainable buildings, it benefits the environment, the health of residents and the health of those constructing and making the materials that go into a LEED-certified building.”

Trevor Devine winning an award, shaking hands, in a dark suit, holding a plaque

Trevor Devine Awarded the Swanson School’s George Washington Prize

Trevor Devine, a senior in chemical and petroleum engineering, was awarded the Swanson School of Engineering’s George Washington Prize.

“Since 1880 the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania has been uniting professionals who build the world around us and advance the human condition, and we are proud of our faculty and students who have been recognized by this historic organization,” said James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.

The George Washington Prize, founded in 2008, honors the first president of the United States and the country’s first engineer. Its mission is to reinforce the importance of engineering and technology in society, and enhance the visibility of the profession across the Swanson School’s engineering disciplines. The annual award recognizes Pitt seniors who display outstanding leadership, scholarship and performance as determined by a committee of eight professional engineers and Swanson School faculty. Winners receive a $2,500 Dean’s Fellowship and award plaque. An additional $7,500 is awarded if the winner attends graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh.

The George Washington Prize finalists include McKenzie Sicke and Timothy Wroge. Semi-finalists include Katherine Dunkelberger, Chloe Feast and Alexander Short.

Matt Sloan

Pitt Logistics and Printing Services Recognized with Life'sWork Partner of the Year Award

Life'sWork recognized the University of Pittsburgh with a Business Partner of the Year Award for their partnership and collaboration under the leadership of Matt Sloan, the director of logistics and printing services at Pitt. The Logistics and Printing Services team works with Life'sWork of Western PA, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting individuals with disabilities to strengthen their workplace abilities, build life skills and develop meaningful relationships in compassionate, inclusive and equitable communities. 

Life'sWork clients worked with the Logistics and Printing Services at the Pitt Surplus Property warehouse on electronic waste and technology recycling projects, where they assisted in disassembling hard drives as a last line of defense for data security. According to the Life'sWork announcement, the Business Partner of the Year Award honorees "made a commitment to diversity and inclusion by supporting our clients and our mission in many ways." 

Shawn Ellies in his police uniform

Shawn Ellies Appointed Chair of American Society of Industrial Security Pittsburgh Chapter

The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) Pittsburgh chapter has named Commander of the Pitt Police and Director of Security Shawn Ellies (GSPIA ’08, EDUC ’15) as the chair of the local chapter, leading more 200 members. Additionally, Ellies is a ASIS Certified Protection Professional, having completed a comprehensive certification program recognized as the gold standard for security management professionals worldwide.

Ellies oversees the University’s integrated safety and security needs. He has been a member of the University of Pittsburgh Police Department for the past 23 years in public safety leadership roles including patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift lieutenant, administrative lieutenant, commander of the special emergency response team and commander of operations.

Ellies served in the United States Army for 23 years. He earned a doctorate degree from the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh in administration and policy studies, a masters degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a masters degree in leadership and management from Duquesne University.

Ellies chairs the Veterans Community group on Pitt’s campus.

The Cathedral of Learning behind a field with small American flags standing upright

Pitt Earns 2020-2021 Military Friendly Designation Across Campuses

The University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community.

For the ninth consecutive year, the University’s Pittsburgh campus has been recognized as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School

Also receiving recognition for the 2020-2021 year:

The Military Friendly Schools survey is “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-2021 survey with 695 earning the designation.

Military-affiliated students at Pitt are supported by the Office of Veterans ServicesPITT VETS and other entities across all campuses. 

Clapp Hall

Clapp Hall Renovation Awarded LEED Silver Certification

The University of Pittsburgh’s Clapp Hall renovation has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.  

It’s the latest among a dozen Pittsburgh campus projects that have received a LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The $34 million Clapp Hall project brought new infrastructure, interior renovations and exterior upgrades to the building that houses the Department of Biological Sciences

Classrooms, laboratories, conference and seminar rooms, support spaces and offices were renovated; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and telecommunication systems were replaced; and a new fire suppression system was installed. The building’s elevator and restrooms were modernized to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Outside, doors, windows and roofing were replaced and the exterior was cleaned and repainted. 

Features contributing to the LEED certification were energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, a demand-control ventilation system and a lab exhaust energy recovery system. More than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 90% of existing building elements were reused and 36% of building materials were regionally manufactured. Clapp Hall also features bike storage and changing rooms for commuters and an indoor air quality system throughout the entire building.

Clapp Hall, part of the Life Sciences Complex, opened in 1956.

Raja Adal in a light dress shirt

Raja Adal Receives NEH Grant

Raja Adal, assistant professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of History, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH grants support innovative digital projects for the public, humanities initiatives on college campuses and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.

As a Fellow for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, Adal will use this grant to support his project “The Typewriter and the History of Writing Technologies in Japan,” which includes research and writing for a future book. 

Adal is one of only seven scholars Pennsylvania—and the only researcher at Pitt—to receive this award.

Bopaya Bidanda

Swanson School’s Bopaya Bidanda Elected President of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernest E. Roth Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has been elected president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), the largest professional society dedicated to industrial engineering.

New officers are elected by the institute’s professional members and serve for three years, with terms beginning on April 1. Bidanda's is one of three seats filled in the annual election; he is joined by Ronald Askin (Arizona State University) as senior vice president of publications and Rohan Shirwaiker (North Carolina State University) as senior vice president of operations.

Bidanda has been an IISE Fellow since 2002 and won the IISE’s Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award in 2013.

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Biostatistics Students Win Distinguished Paper Award

Two doctoral students in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health were recently named winners of the national Eastern North American Region Distinguished Paper Award.

Award winners Peng Liu and (GSPH '16) and Yichen Jia study biostatistics. Each will present their work at the International Biometric Society's Eastern North American Region (ENAR) Spring Meeting in Nashville, from March 22-25. Liu will present “Outcome-Guided Disease Subtyping for High-Dimensional Omics Data,” and Jia will present “Quantile Regression on Cause-specific Inactivity Time.”

As part of their winnings, both receive a certificate, reimbursement for meeting travel expenses up to $650, tuition waiver for one ENAR short course of choice and an invitation to the ENAR president's reception.

Jean Grace

Dietrich School Launches New Writing Institute

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences recently launched a new writing institute to help create a “more vibrant writing culture” on Pitt’s campus.

The William S. Dietrich II Institute for Writing Excellence, which is rooted in the Department of English’s Composition Program, will help Dietrich School professors advance their writing instruction and help them teach discipline-specific writing in their courses. The new institute will also provide an environment for instructors to share tools that they’ve developed and learn from one another. The center plans to offer workshops for faculty and graduate students working on large projects.

“Writing is important because it allows us to move our ideas forward, to create knowledge, to figure things out,” said Jean Grace (pictured), senior lecturer in the Department of English and director of the Institute for Writing Excellence. “Writing is the life force of the academic community—it’s how we communicate research and advance our fields, how we document our work, how we earn credentials.”

The institute is named for William S. Dietrich II, the late philanthropist and double-degree Dietrich School alumnus who made a historic gift of $125 million to the University to name the then-School of Arts and Sciences to honor his father, Kenneth P. Dietrich. The Dietrich Foundation also gave a generous gift to help create the new writing institute. 

Read more about the new writing institute on the Dietrich School’s website.