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Juleen Rodakowski in a red blouse, headshot

Occupational Therapy Researcher Juleen Rodakowski Receives More Than $3 Million for Aging Study

Juleen Rodakowski, assistant professor of occupational therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently received over $3 million from the National Institute on Aging to study the influence of strategy training on daily activities for older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Current interventions do not alter the underlying pathology for older adults in the early stage of cognitive decline. Thus, interventions that focus on slowing decline to disability are critical. Strategy Training is designed to engage at-risk older adults in daily activities.

This study is the next step in advancing strategy training as a nonpharmacological intervention designed to support independence and quality of life for older adults at-risk for decline to disability.

Rediker in a black coat

Distinguished History Professor Examines Historical Context of Spielberg Film

Marcus Rediker, distinguished professor in the Department of History, recently published an essay in “Writing History with Lightning: Cinematic Representations of Nineteenth-Century America.”

In his essay, Rediker critically examines Steven Spielberg’s film “Amistad,” and compares it to his own extensive historical research. Rediker says he found that Spielberg “distorted and omitted a great many important things about the ‘Amistad’ story, and that we must not leave the teaching of history to Hollywood.”

“My approach is called ‘history from below,’ which emphasizes the history-making power of ordinary people who are normally left out of the history text books,” said Rediker. “My account of the Amistad revolt stresses the power of enslaved people to emancipate themselves and challenge the institution of slavery.”

The essay also serves as a spin-off of Rediker’s 2012 book, The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom.

Madeline Guido and Kaylene Stocking headshots.

Kaylene Stocking and Madeline Guido Win Top Undergraduate Student Awards at Honors Convocation

The 43rd annual Honors Convocation recognized the academic achievements of nearly 3,700 students and 478 faculty members, including the University’s highest awards for undergraduate students.

The Emma W. Locke Award, given to a graduating senior in recognition of high scholarship, character and devotion to the ideals of the University of Pittsburgh, went to Kaylene Stocking (pictured, right). The Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award, presented to a graduating senior who has attained a high standard of leadership in college activities, went to Madeline Guido (left).

Stocking is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both bioengineering and computer engineering. Her research has led to three journal publications, two presentations and a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention. She is also an undergraduate teaching assistant, an Honors College ambassadors and member of the Pitt orchestra. She plans to continue her education after graduating this spring.

Guido is the president of the Blue and Gold Society and director of communications for the Omicron Delta Kappa honors leadership society. She also served as the vice president and chief of finance for the Student Government Board. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with minors in Spanish and chemistry, and, outside the classroom, helps community members by translating medical Spanish.

Headshot of Heather Lyke in navy blazer and white blouse with script Pitt lapel pin and headshot of James Conner in Pitt football jersey

Heather Lyke and James Conner Honored at Dapper Dan Dinner

University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Heather Lyke and all-time great Pitt running back James Conner were honored at the 83rd Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction on Feb. 20.

Lyke was named Sportswoman of the Year and Conner was named Sportsman of the Year at the awards dinner and auction, held to celebrate the best in Pittsburgh sports and to benefit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dapper Dan Charities.

Lyke has been Pitt’s director of athletics for just under two years, and Conner now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Visit Pitt Athletics news site for a photo gallery and more coverage of the award ceremony.

Wood in a gold outfit in front of a yellow background

Alumna Sossena Wood Featured on NBC

Sossena Wood, a Pitt alumna twice over who most recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy in bioengineering in 2018, developed a realistic phantom head for magnetic resonance research while at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Now, Wood and her research are featured in NBC News Learn’s new online video collection “Discovering You: Engineering Your World.” Debuting during National Engineers Week, which runs through Feb. 23, the series highlights the careers of engineers in a variety of sectors and offers insights to the next generation of students. The video segment on Wood’s research delves into her work while she was a doctoral student at Pitt. She is now a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

Read more about her work and watch the NBC segment.

Wallace in a Navy suit

John Wallace Named Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare

John Wallace, Dave E. Epperson Chair and Professor of Social Work, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The academy is a society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in social work and social welfare through work that advances social good.

Wallace does this in a number of ways, particularly in Homewood, the neighborhood in which he was born and raised. He is a co-founder of the Homewood Children’s Village and board president of Operation Better Block, both of which use community-based research to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable city residents. His Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools (PACS) program enriches the education of Westinghouse High School students. Through PACS, members of a group of teenaged Justice Scholars are taking Pitt courses, visiting Pitt for college-prep workshops and engaging in community service.

Wallace, also the pastor of Bible Center Church in Homewood, helped launch the Everyday Cafe coffee shop in Homewood two years ago, partners with colleagues in business and engineering to lead the Direct Curent HEaRT (Direct Current Humanity, Energy, and Regional Transformation) initiative and plays a key role with programming at Pitt’s Community Engagement Center.

“I am humbled to have been inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare,” said Wallace. “Having my work recognized by such an accomplished group of scholars is truly an honor.”

Jakicic in a suit, spliced with Rogers in a red shirt

Healthy Lifestyle Institute Leaders to Give Keynote at Professional Summit

John Jakicic (EDUC ’95G), chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity (HPA) in the School of Education, and Renee Rogers (EDUC ’09G, ’12G), assistant professor in HPA, will give a keynote presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) International Health and Fitness Summit in March.

Jakicic, who is also the founding director of Pitt’s new Healthy Lifestyle Institute (HLI), and Rogers, who serves as HLI’s programming director, will jointly present on the scientific evidence regarding the health benefits of physical activity.

Particularly, Jakicic and Rogers will focus on “novel science that contributed to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Jakicic served on the advisory committee that revised the guidelines.

“It is an honor to be asked by the American College of Sports Medicine to give a featured presentation at the International Health and Fitness Summit. As leaders at the Healthy Lifestyle Institute at PITT, we are passionate about translating research into practice,” said Jakicic.

Rogers added, “The opportunity to do this on a broader scale not only highlights the innovative work being done at Pitt, but allows for us to engage and inspire health, wellness and fitness professionals from all over the country.”

Ebel in a gray sweatshirt

First Joseph G. Jurcic Endowed Scholarship Awarded

Hanna Ebel is the first recipient of a new endowed scholarship at Pitt. The scholarship, established by Joseph G. Jurcic (A&S ’84), supports students who are eligible to enroll in Honors College courses.

Ebel hopes to be admitted to the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Emergency Medicine program. Her ultimate goal is to become an emergency room physician.

Read about how this sophomore already is saving lives in her hometown of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in this feature story.

two people walking with a brilliant sun ray behind them

Pitt Sets Record for Low Employee Injury Rate

Pitt has set a record-low employee injury rate for the third year in a row.

The University’s 2018 employee injury rate fell to 0.94, calculated in incidents per 100 full-time workers, down from 1.04 in 2017 and 1.15 in 2016.

Pitt’s employee injury rate consistently has been below the national average for colleges and universities since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began its current industry classification system in 2003. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors workplace injuries and illnesses.

The OSHA recordable injury rate for colleges and universities held steady at 1.7 in 2016 and 2017. National figures for 2018 have yet to be posted.

Gregory A. Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, credited a campuswide dedication to safety for Pitt’s positive trend.

“This achievement is the result of a conscious effort — by supervisors, faculty and staff — to create a culture of safety at Pitt by consistently considering safety in all activities,” he said. “Their commitment is making a measurable difference.” 

Wharton Boyd in front of a brown screen

Linda Wharton Boyd Named a Top Woman in Public Relations

Linda Wharton Boyd (A&S ’72, ’75G, ’79G), a past president of Pitt’s African American Alumni Council, was among the 99 women cross the nation recently honored as one of the Top Women in PR, which celebrates their achievements in the communications field. The honor was given by PRNews, an intellectual hub for the communications and marketing industry.

Wharton Boyd is the director of communications, external affairs and strategic stakeholder engagement for the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority. She was recognized for her work with the campaign DC Health Link: Get the Facts. Get Covered, a multi-year, multi-faceted effort for the District’s online marketplace, The campaign has successfully reached people where they live, work, shop, play and pray.

Woon in front of a blue screen

Jonathan Woon Named Associate Editor of the American Journal of Political Science

Professor Jonathan Woon, chair of the Department of Political Science, has joined a team of associate editors of the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS), a leading political science journal and the flagship publication of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Woon has also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Political Science. His research focuses on political behavior, American politics, game theory and political economy.


Arthur S. Levine to Keynote 43rd Honors Convocation

Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, will be the keynote speaker for the 43rd annual University of Pittsburgh Honors Convocation on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. 

After more than 20 years of service to Pitt, Levine has announced his intent to step down from his current leadership posts and open a new lab within the University devoted to researching Alzheimer’s disease. 

Among the featured awards celebrated at the ceremony will be the Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service, Teaching and Research Awards.

statue thumbnail

Iris Marion Young Award Winners Announced

The Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program honored four student, staff and faculty members with the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement for outstanding efforts in social justice at the University, local, national level, and international level.

The following honorees were recognized during a ceremony in January:

Dighan Kelly, a junior, received the 2019 undergraduate award, has been active with Pitt student organizations register voters and research sexual assaults on campus. Kelly has served on the local International Women’s Strike chapter’s steering committee and as president of Pitt’s Planned Parenthood Club.

Medha Kadri is pursuing a degree in the School of Social Work and received the 2019 graduate award. Kadri has a master’s in health psychology and worked for a child-rights focused, non-governmental organization in India that primarily rescued bonded child laborers and mainstreamed them back into school education.

Crystal McCormik Ware, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University Library System, received the 2019 staff award. Ware directed the Welfare to Work program in the School of Social Work, which trained lifelong welfare recipients with job skills and job placement at Pitt and UPMC, and serves as a founding member of the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium.

Kari Kokka, assistant professor of mathematics education in the School of Education, received the 2019 faculty award. Kokka researches student and teacher perspectives of social justice mathematics and the longevity of STEM teachers of color in urban schools. In her teaching, Kokka incorporates social justice issues into course readings and assignments.

Seniors Nathan Carnovale and Shamus O’Haire Named IEEE Power and Energy Society Scholars

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society (PES) selected University of Pittsburgh seniors Nathan Carnovale (left) and Shamus (James) O’Haire as recipients of the 2018-19 IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Award. Both are majoring in electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. This is Carnovale’s second IEEE PES Scholarship in as many years. 

Over the past seven years, the Scholarship Plus Initiative has awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarships to students interested in pursuing a career in the power and energy industry. Carnovale and O’Haire are the Swanson School’s 11th and 12th PES recipients since the scholarship’s inception in 2011 and continue the School’s seven-year streak of at least one awardee each year. Also, according to IEEE, Pitt is one of only 16 universities that have had at least one recipient every year since 2011. 

Read more about the awardees on engineering’s website.

Cathedral of Learning on a sunny blue day

Pitt Joins EPA’s Green Power Partnership

Pitt has joined the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership. The program aims to increase the use of green power among organizations in the United States as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. 

Currently, 15 percent of Pitt’s electricity comes from renewables. The University’s green power usage is equal to the electric power used by approximately 3,000 typical American homes.

In accord with the goals of the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University aims to produce or procure 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Pitt recently announced its intent to purchase 100 percent of the hydropower produced by a proposed hydroelectric plant to be built on the Allegheny River at the existing Allegheny Lock and Dam No. 2, just below the Highland Park Bridge. This is the University’s largest-ever commitment to renewable power.

The hydropower facility, which is expected to begin commercial operation in 2022, will generate enough electricity to supply 25 percent of the Pittsburgh campus’ electricity needs.

Swan in a brown sweater

Pitt Professor Translates Holocaust-Era Diary of Warsaw Ghetto Survivor

Oscar E. Swan, professor in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and advisor for the Polish minor, translated the memoir of a Warsaw ghetto survivor that has topped the list of New Releases in Jewish Biographies on Amazon.

Swan met Leokadia Schmidt in 1972 and translated her diary from Polish to English. Schmidt’s journal recounts her traumatic experiences evading the Nazis with her husband and 5-month-old son, and eventually hiding in a tinsmith’s shed in the “Aryan side” of Warsaw. It wasn’t until recent years that Schmidt’s son contacted Swan about publishing his translation.

Swan’s English translation of “Rescued from the Ashes: the Diary of Leokadia Schmidt, Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto” comes on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

a group of people walking around campus

Schools of Education, Social Work, CEC Named Finalists for Institutional Challenge Grant

The Schools of Education and Social Work, in partnership with the Homewood Children’s Village and Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood, have been collectively selected as finalists for the William T. Grant Foundation’s Institutional Challenge Grant.

The Institutional Challenge Grant “encourages university-based research institutes, schools and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.”

This proposed research project will “empirically demonstrate the impact of simultaneous parent and child interventions to improve key student educational outcomes — grades, school attendance, and behavior.” The Pitt-Homewood Children’s Village project is one of four research-practice partnerships selected as a national finalist. The winning partnership will be announced at the end of March 2019.

“This opportunity is consistent with our university’s focus on engaging in impactful work with communities, building and sustaining educational partnerships, and contributing to community engaged work and research-practice partnerships,” said Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and the project’s principal investigator.

Co-principal investigators are John Wallace, David E. Epperson Chair and Professor in the School of Social Work, Katz School of Business, and Department of Sociology; and Walter Lewis, President and CEO of Homewood Children’s Village.

gate in the Cathedral

Pitt Cyber Announces New Affiliates

The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced three new affiliate scholars — Rosta Farzan, Maria Kovacs and Ana Radovic — as well as affiliate practice scholar Keith Mularski.

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. Affiliate scholars are a source for transdisciplinary collaboration and innovation across Pitt and beyond. Affiliate practice scholars are selected from across industries and disciplines to be a source of practical experience and expertise for research, experiential learning and discussion.

Rosta Farzan is an associate professor at the School of Computing and Information where she researches social computing and socio-technical systems; studying how technology and people can come together to tackle major societal challenges.  

Maria Kovacs is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and professor of psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Kovacs has been studying the role of emotion regulation in depression across the life span and in multiple generations. She is currently exploring research on the processing of disinformation and its affective context by youths and young adults.

Ana Radovic is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Radovic practices at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health. Her research focuses on using technology in the real world to help adolescents with depression or anxiety access earlier treatment and support.

Keith Mularski is an advisory executive director in the cybersecurity practice at Ernst & Young LLP. He was previously supervisory special agent assigned to the Pittsburgh division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he worked to develop proactive targeting protocols for emerging cyber threats. Mularski has worked undercover to infiltrate international underground cyber-criminal organizations and led investigations with Pitt Cyber Founding Director David Hickton into the indictments of members of the People’s Liberation Army of China, the GameOver Zeus botnet, the Avalanche botnet takedown and other significant cyber enforcement actions.

Zhang in a collar shirt and sweater

New Documentary Based on ULS Initiative Puts China’s Cultural Revolution in Context

A new feature-length documentary is in production that will highlight the CR/10 Project — an ongoing University Library System (ULS) initiative that records, preserves,and publishes video interviews with Chinese citizens sharing their memories of China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Launched in 2015 by the ULS East Asian Library, CR/10 illuminates a watershed 10-year period in China, where an attempt by Chairman Mao Zedong to protect the Communist Party’s purity resulted in a serious class struggle. From 1966 through 1976, universities and schools were forced to close; teachers and scholars were publicly beaten and tortured. The oral histories in CR/10 present a variety of memories — views not from scholars or politicians, but from the common man. The project began with around 30 oral histories and now hosts more than 100.

With funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, the 90-minute documentary, “Unreconciled Memories: Reflections on China’s Cultural Revolution,” will help put the CR/10 project in context. In addition to online accessibility, hundreds of DVDs will be produced and distributed in 2020, mainly for use in high school and college classrooms and conferences. The project’s academic director is Edward Gunn, professor emeritus of Modern Chinese Literature at Cornell University. He is supported by Haihui Zhang (pictured), executive director and head of the ULS East Asian Library, and Kun Qian, professor of modern Chinese literature and film at Pitt.

Costello in a blue bowtie and black jacket

Dental Medicine Dean Begins Tenure as Medical Association President

Bernard J. Costello, dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, has begun his year as president of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA).

Costello, who is also a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, said in a recent welcome message that the association will “aim to improve upon the notable successes of the past and innovate for the future.”

“The chance to help lead this organization is a rare privilege and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to work with such fantastic leaders,” he said. “ACPA is filled with people who know teamwork like no other organization that I am a part of.”