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Lambert in a dark suit, blue shirt and swirly blue tie

Robert F. Lambert (SCI ’95G) Named to Bank Board of Directors

Robert F. Lambert (SCI ’95G) has been named the newest director of York Traditions Bank, effective September. Besides earning his master’s in library and information science from Pitt, he is also a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania and of Penn State University. 

Lambert has served as president of York County Libraries in Pennsylvania since 2016. His history of community leadership includes serving as Controller for the City of York from 2008–16.

“I am excited to join the Board of Directors of York Traditions Bank to help support its mission as a valued community partner,” said Lambert in a press release. “The Bank’s commitment to investing in the communities it serves is exemplary. They are a highly visible, consistent force for good! I look forward to serving its stakeholders and contributing to the organization’s future success.”

Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis and Caroline Runyan headshots

Two Scientists Win High-risk High-reward Grants for Research Programs

Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis, assistant professor of computational and systems biology in the School of Medicine, and Caroline Runyan, assistant professor of neuroscience in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, have won NIH Director’s Awards for pursuing major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that require trans-NIH collaboration to succeed.

Carvunis’ research focuses on addressing questions about the uniqueness of different plant, fungi and animal species. These questions include how new genes can emerge without having parent genes, how networks of interacting molecules form and change within cells and how these networks differ across species.

Runyan’s work looks at the brain’s ability to flexibly control perception and behavior in different situations. Specifically, she images and manipulates cells and circuits to learn how the brain is able to shift gears quickly, as well as how it processes different types of sensory information depending on behavioral context.

Carvunis and Runyan both won New Innovator Awards. Part of the High-Risk High-Reward Research Program, these honorees are early stage investigators within 10 years of doctoral or postgraduate training who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences.

a statue on Pitt's campus

Pitt Law Boasts Highest First-time Passing Rate for Pennsylvania Bar Exam

The rate of first-time takers who passed the Pennsylvania bar exam from Pitt’s School of Law is 91.36%—the highest in the state. Eighty-one Pitt Law graduates sat for the test for the first time this past July, and 74 of them passed. Pitt Law was followed in the rankings by Dickinson, with a rate of 88.46%, Penn with 88.24% and Duquesne with 87.88%. The overall state average was 80.6%.

The rigorous two-day test, which includes six hours of written essay questions and 200 multiple choice questions, was given at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on July 30 and 31. Pitt Law offers bar exam prep courses and provided therapy dogs on site for its local test-takers, as well as boxed lunches with notes of encouragement signed by Pitt Law staff and faculty.

“We congratulate the Class of 2019 on their incredible achievement, which reflects their collective hard work, perseverance and support of one another,” said Pitt Law Dean Amy J. Wildermuth. She also credited Rob Wible, Pitt Law’s director of academic success and bar exam services.

“He is our cheerleader-in-chief,” she said. “His day-in and day-out support of our students made all the difference.”

The Cathedral on a blue sky day with American flags planted in the foreground yard

Pitt Celebrates Veterans Week 2019 With Films, Photos and Food

Beginning Nov. 1, the Office of Veterans Services will host Veterans Week 2019 with a series of events aimed at building bridges, promoting understanding and encouraging dialogue. 

Community members are invited to events such as an annual drive for toys, coats and gloves (running through Dec. 6, email for information); a screening of the film “The Weight of Honor” and a Pitt Military Community Appreciation Brunch. The week will end with the 100th Annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh. For more details and to RSVP for the events, please visit this form.

Additionally, the School of Social Work will hold a continuing education workshop titled “Working with Veterans and their Families,” on Nov. 15. The workshop aims to better prepare social workers to be a more effective helping professional in relating to and intervening with veterans and their families, and will cover topics including Veterans Administration scope and resources, suicide prevalence and intervention with veterans, working with post-traumatic stress and understanding and working with military sexual trauma.

two people walking on campus with the bright sun behind them, obscuring their faces and bodies

Pitt Ranked a Top 50 Best Global University

The University of Pittsburgh was again named among the world’s top 50 universities in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings. Pitt landed at No. 47, tied with University of Minnesota.

In the latest ranking, the magazine evaluated a list of the world’s top 1,500 universities — which includes institutions from the U.S. and more than 80 other countries. The universities were rated based on 13 different indicators measuring their academic research performance and their global and regional reputations.

Several Pitt programs ranked in the top 50 by subject, including Surgery at No. 3, Clinical Medicine at No. 18 and Psychiatry/Psychology at No. 19.

Other programs in the top 50 are:

  • No. 23: Neuroscience and Behavior
  • No. 23: Oncology
  • No. 34: Pharmacology and Toxicology (tied with University of Pennsylvania)
  • No. 36: Arts and Humanities
  • No. 39: Immunology
  • No. 42: Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • No. 49: Microbiology (tied with University of Toronto)

Pitt students come from 108 countries and all 50 states, in addition to the U.S. Territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Internationally, most students come from China, India and Korea. The Pitt Study Abroad program sends more than 1,800 students per year across its five campuses to over 350 programs in more than 75 countries on six continents. The university has also ranked among the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Students.

Panther statue

Six Rising African American Leaders Recognized at 2019 Sankofa Homecoming Farewell Brunch

As part of the annual Sankofa farewell fellowship brunch at Homecoming, Pitt’s African American Alumni Council is honoring six recent graduates with Rising African American Leader (RAAL) awards. Six outstanding leaders of Black Greek organizations will also be recognized. Since 2013, the RAAL awards have honored young professionals who excel in their careers and community contributions. The 2019 awardees are:

  • Brian Burley (BUS ’13G): Director of economic inclusion at Allegheny Conference and author of YNGBLKPGH, Burley is an entrepreneur, speaker and one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 and Under 40 in 2017. He was also recognized for his efforts with diversity and inclusion by Whirl magazine.
  • Rodney Kizito (ENGR ’15): A doctoral student in industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee and research and development engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy, Kizito is actively involved with under-represented middle and high school students and Pitt Excel students and mentoring programs.
  • Emiola Oriola (A&S ’13): Founding program manager of the Pitt Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement and founder of My Father’s Business International, Oriola is an itinerant minister, spoken word artist/poet and PhD student. He is also a 2016 One Young World U.S. Ambassador and a recipient of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award.
  • Jade Richardson (A&S ’14): Founder and CEO of Totally Screwed Up, Inc., a company that supports people affected by scoliosis and spinal fusions, Richardson was Miss Black Pennsylvania USA 2018 and a devoted member of the Pitt Alumni Association Young Alumni advisory team.
  • Lauren Wallace (BUS ’12, EDUC ’14G): Director of recruitment in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Wallace was named an honoree to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40 list by the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project. Wallace holds multiple leadership positions with Urban League of Young Professionals. Wallace also established and implemented the Pittsburgh Admissions Collaboration, a partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools, Community College of Allegheny County and Pitt. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education Program in the School of Education.
  • Christina Whittaker (BUS ’10): Founder, transition strategist and career planning coach with, Whittaker for 10 years worked as a marketing executive with Fortune 100 companies. She is a community advocate dedicated to transforming K-12 urban education.

photos of each of the winners

H2P spelled in sparklers in the dark

African American Alumni Council to Honor Five During Homecoming 2019

At the Sankofa 50th Commemoration Gala on Saturday, Oct. 26, part of Homecoming 2019, five distinguished alumni will be honored by Pitt’s African American Alumni Council (AAAC). The gala recognizes alumni who have excelled in their careers and carved a national footprint with outstanding contributions to society and the University community.

Visit AAAC’s website for more information about the group’s 2019 Homecoming activities.

Daniel Armanios, Rhodes Scholar and Marshall Scholar

A 2007 summa cum laude graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering, as well as the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Armanios received the Goldwater Scholarship in 2004 and the Truman Scholarship in 2005. In 2007 he was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, with which he earned two master’s degrees at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

After earning a PhD in 2015 at Stanford University, Armanios returned to Pittsburgh. He is an assistant professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University where his research focuses on the public policy impact upon China and Africa concerning the interrelationship between entrepreneurship, high-tech innovation, infrastructure and public organizations.

Yvonne Cook, president of the Pittsburgh Highmark Foundation

A 1991 graduate of the College of General Studies, Cook went on to earn a master’s degree in public management at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cook is president of the Highmark Foundation. In 2018, the foundation granted nearly $3 million to health and wellness related nonprofits in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Previously, she was an official on the staff of Allegheny County Executive Jim Rodney. 

In 2017 Cook created the exhibition “Instill and Inspire: The John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art.” The landmark show was presented at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in downtown Pittsburgh. An accompanying book of the same name was published by University of Pittsburgh Press.

Marvin Perry Jones, varsity athlete and retired Pan American airline pilot

A 1959 graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering, Jones earned a bachelor’s degree from the mechanical and aeronautical departments.

A letter winner in each of the years he competed for the Panthers in varsity track and field from 1955-1959, Jones was a member of the 1955 relay team that won the IC4A championship in New York City.

Upon graduation, Jones, through ROTC, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of captain by the time of his honorable discharge six years later. He was the first Black pilot to fly for Pan American Airways in 1965. In 1986, he became the airline’s first African American captain. He was a founder and president of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. His generosity to Pitt has earned him membership in the Chancellor’s Circle for many years.

Charles Smith, former NBA player and Olympian

A record-setting Panther basketball player, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from the Dietrich School in 1988 and that same year won a Bronze Medal in the Summer Olympics. He played 10 seasons in the NBA before becoming an NBA Players Association executive.

Smith is the leading scorer in Panther varsity basketball history with 2024 points. He blocked 236 opponents’ shots, also a Pitt record. 

The first Pitt student to be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft, Smith was the third overall pick in 1988. Smith played on four NBA teams, four years each, including the Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks.

Smith is currently head of sports and entertainment at MediaCom and is the executive in residence at St. Francis College. In 2018 he was inducted into the Pitt Athletic Department Hall of Fame. 

Carol Wise, chief operating officer of Dallas Area Rapid Transit

A 1979 graduate of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Wise earned a master’s of public administration from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in 1981. Wise is executive vice president and COO of Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Wise was among the first staffers appointed to the Pitt Black Studies program (now the Department of Africana Studies) in 1969. While assisting students in their quest of higher learning, she completed her own Pitt degree in urban studies as an adult learner. 

Having worked in Washington D.C., four states and the Asian Pacific rim, Wise is now a leading transportation executive, winning the 2019 Women Who Move the Nation award from the National Association of Minority Transportation officials.

the Cathedral on a blue-sky day

Three Distinguished Alumni Fellows Named

Howard W. Hanna, Jr. and siblings Simone Myers Karp and Lloyd N. Myers have been named Distinguished Alumni Fellows in recognition of their outstanding service to the University and their professions. The award is the highest alumni honor conferred by the University of Pittsburgh and its Alumni Association.

Hanna (BUS ’42, ’49G) established Howard Hanna Real Estate Services in 1957 and built the company into the nation’s third-largest real estate firm. He was instrumental in creating the industry-changing West Penn and East End Multi Lists and in 1991 was appointed Chair of Pennsylvania’s State Real Estate Commission.

In 2014, the Howard Hanna Family Foundation established Howard W. Hanna, Jr. Scholarship Funds in the College of Business Administration and the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Karp (PHARM ’86) helped revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry through her work in educating physicians on the use of emerging oncology medicines. The complex drugs required doctors to not only understand how to use the medications, but also the complexities of supporting patients through the intense prescription regimens.

As a retail pharmacist, Myers (PHARM ’84) created a new standard for dispensing specialty pharmaceuticals such as those used to treat organ transplant and cancer patients. Pharmacies throughout the nation quickly adopted the system, which includes patient support and proactive interactions with insurance providers to help patients better manage their prescription costs and adherence.

Siblings Karp and Myers teamed to form CECity in 1997. The company introduced a new model for medical continuing education that took advantage of the still-young internet, using online training to teach doctors and pharmacists to prescribe and distribute new pharmaceuticals.

Karp funded the Hank Karp Brain Cancer Drug Project and the Hank S. Karp Neuro-Oncology Fellowship at Pitt in honor of her late husband.

Myers, through the Myers Family Foundation, provides lead financial support for the educational component of the Center for PharmacoAnalytics at the School of Pharmacy.

three images of the awardees, each wearing professional outfits

Willa Doswell headshot

Willa Doswell Named 2019 Woman of Excellence by New Pittsburgh Courier

Willa Doswell, associate professor in the School of Nursing, has been named a 2019 Woman of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The awards are given annually to 50 African American women who have made significant contributions to the community.

Doswell will be recognized at a luncheon in downtown Pittsburgh on December 12, 2019. She is also a member of the Internal Advisory Council for Pitt’s Community Engagement Centers.

Carolyn Carlins Keller headshot

Education Affiliate Carolyn Carlins Keller Receives 30 Under 30 Award

Carolyn Carlins Keller, operations manager for the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate housed within the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, received Pittsburgh’s 30 Under 30 Award given by the Pittsburgh Business Times in partnership with Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.

The award recognizes leaders in Pittsburgh’s nonprofit and business landscape who “exemplify the creativity, passion and perseverance that have come to characterize western Pennsylvania’s new economy.”

The award recognizes Keller’s work outside of Pitt as the founder of Curio412, a consulting firm for mission-driven organizations including nonprofits, foundations and social businesses. In the School of Education, she coordinates, manages and monitors the various operations of the Carnegie Project, an international nonprofit consortium of over 115 schools of education.

Michel Gobat headshot

History Professor Michel Gobat Honored for Best Book

Michel Gobat, professor in the Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized by the American Historical Association with an award for the best book in Latin American and Caribbean history.

Gobat will receive the Friedrich Katz Prize for his book Empire by Invitation: William Walker and Manifest Destiny in Central America.

The association annually recognizes “exceptional books, distinguished teaching and mentoring in the classroom, public history and other historical projects.”

Erv in Dyer headshot

Ervin Dyer Receives Pulitzer Center International Reporting Grant

Pitt Magazine’s senior editor, Ervin Dyer, is the recipient of a 2019 Pulitzer Center international reporting grant. The Center partners with individual journalists and news organizations to support in-depth, high-impact reporting on topics of global importance, including telling stories on problems that are often overlooked by mainstream U.S. media.

Dyer will use the grant to report from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on an emerging and innovative urban church and its pastor. He will chronicle how the church is helping to strengthen the congregation members and build programming to battle the forces of inequality and corruption.

Dyer earned a doctorate in sociology from Pitt studying African immigrant settlement into urban America and is an award-winning former reporter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He is also the founder of a storytelling collective that takes journalists, photographers and others to Haiti to share the voices of the ordinary men and women who fight back against oppression. 

“We know that poverty is a huge challenge for many Haitian citizens. This Pulitzer Center grant is important because it allows me to tell one story of how oppressed Haitians are challenging and resisting poverty to make their lives better," Dyer said. "There is a humanity in their resistance that we don’t hear much about.”

Headshot of Lauren O. Wallace

Lauren O. Wallace Recognized on 40 Under 40 List

Lauren O. Wallace (BUS ’12, EDUC ’12G), director of recruitment in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, has been named an honoree to the 40 Under 40 List by Pittsburgh Magazine and Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project.

The award annually recognizes 40 “outstanding” individuals who meet the age requirement whose “creativity, vision and passion” enrich the Pittsburgh region. Since 1998, artists, entrepreneurs, doctors, educators, nonprofit executives and public figures have been among the recipients of this honor.

Wallace is also currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education Program in the School of Education.

Still image from "Making Montgomery Clift" film, showing a circular viewfinder with images of the actor standing against a red-planked wall

Pitt Faculty Members' “Making Montgomery Clift” Wins Documentary Feature Award

The documentary “Making Montgomery Clift,” directed by Pitt assistant professor of film and media studies Robert Clift and his wife, senior lecturer Hillary Demmon, has been honored by the University Film & Video Association (UFVA).

The film won the Silver Award in the Documentary Feature category at the UFVA 73rd Conference Award Ceremony, held recently at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.

“It was a great honor to have the film recognized by my academic peers,” said Clift, the legendary actor’s nephew, of the UFVA event. 

Clift and Demmon have spent the last year screening the documentary at film festivals around the globe. It has played at more than 50 venues, including at a packed house at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre during Frameline 43, one of the largest LGBTQ+ film exhibition events in the world.

The film now heading to streaming and on-demand services, and the film’s Facebook page contains updates on how and when to watch.

Decorative gate inside Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning, arches of hallway in background

Pitt Innovation Challenge Awards $460,000 for Novel Health Care Solutions

$460,000 in prizes were awarded at the 2019 Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) final event, where University of Pittsburgh research teams proposed creative solutions to a live audience and a panel of judges to address important health problems.

After two rounds of pre-selection, 14 project teams were invited to the final event where six finalists — each competing for a $100,000 prize — and eight finalists competed in a poster session for $25,000 prizes. 

This year, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the challenge's sponsor, incentivized solutions for problems known to impact rural health disparities by offering an additional bonus award up to $25,000.    

$100,000 awards:  

  • OneValve: A self-regenerating heart valve that uses the patient’s natural healing process to replace diseased heart valves, decreasing the risk of blood clots and improving durability over current therapy.
  • HIV Detective: A “one-minute” HIV test that can detect infection at the point of patient contact with health care providers.
  • CyteSolutions Lens: A silicone-hydrogel-based contact lens that has been coated with natural biopolymers containing an immune modifying drug for the treatment of dry eye disease.

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute website shows the full list of winners and project descriptions.

Holger Hoock headshot

Dietrich School Awarded $1.5 Million Grant to Transform Doctoral Education in the Humanities

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh has been awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a transformation of doctoral education in the humanities.

The four-year, $1.5 million grant will fund Humanities Engage, a comprehensive plan to prepare doctoral students to become scholar-leaders ready to pursue high-impact careers within and beyond a changing academy. The grant will foster an ongoing culture change as programs, faculty and graduate students embrace the full spectrum of postdoctoral humanistic careers.

“The support from the Mellon Foundation will help us prepare our graduate students to face challenges in an interconnected yet divided world,” said Kathleen Blee, Bettye J. and Ralph E. Bailey Dean of the Dietrich School. “Validating these diverse career outcomes is a vital part of transforming the culture of humanistic doctoral education.”

The grant will support significant curricular change and the creation of an immersive fellowship program, including funded summer fellowships across the non-profit, public and corporate sectors.

The initiative will also support a new position of director of graduate advising and engagement to modernize cultures of mentoring.

“I’m very excited about the immense potential of this novel position to help us model the benefits of expansively team-based mentoring,” said Holger Hoock, associate dean for graduate studies and research and J. Carroll Amundson Chair of British History in the Dietrich School.

Hoock, who is also principal investigator of the initiative, added, “The director will help advise PhD students on their professional development, support their evolving career aspirations and connect them with opportunities across the campus, city and region as well with our alums. They will serve, too, as a resource to the graduate faculty as we reimagine the broader importance of humanities PhDs and the societal impacts of humanistic training.

Humanities Engage builds on the Mellon-supported Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh project (2015-19) and Humanities Careers, which was funded by a Next Generation Humanities PhD planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The initiative also benefits from the Public Humanities Fellows Program piloted by the Humanities Center, which created opportunities for graduate students in local arts and cultural institutions.

Ann E. Cudd

U.N. Forum Focuses on Pittsburgh as Leader in Advancing Sustainable Development Goals

A forum during the 74th United Nations General Assembly featured Ann E. Cudd, Pitt’s provost and senior vice chancellor, along with Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and other local leaders who highlighted regional accomplishments to advance Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a more peaceful, prosperous planet with fair and inclusive societies.

The efforts were summarized Sept. 23 in New York City during a “Spotlight on Pittsburgh” panel discussion to showcase the best of American leadership and innovation to achieve the SDGs. The goals were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 after years of discussion and input from millions of people — especially young people — around the world. The SDGs include 17 global goals to realize “The Future We Want.”

Provost Cudd and Mayor Peduto were joined by James Garrett, provost and chief academic officer of Carnegie Mellon University; David Finegold, president of Chatham University; and Lisa Schroeder, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Pitt’s highlighted commitments included: the Millennium Fellowship, with 14 students selected for this United Nations Academic Impact/MCN program who will focus on SDG projects; two Community Engagement Centers established in partnership with residents and stakeholders in traditionally underserved Pittsburgh neighborhoods where the University has made long-term commitments of investment, infrastructure, programming and staffing; and the Pitt Success Program to expand access and affordability through a new financial aid program that has already dramatically increased the percentage of Pell students.

“The University of Pittsburgh is proud to work together with city leadership and our neighboring universities to advance a common and powerful commitment to participate in active, effective and transformative efforts framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals — all meant to benefit our students, our region, and the world,” said Cudd.

Read more about the United Nations General Assembly forum on the Office of the Provost’s website.

Cayla Ray headshot

Cayla Ray to Receive Young Alumni Leadership Award

Pitt-Greensburg (UPG) alumna Cayla Ray has been named the recipient of the 2019 Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association Young Alumni Leadership Award. The honor recognizes established and future leaders age 35 and younger who have distinguished themselves among their peers and in their profession, community and/or at the University.

Ray, a native of Derry, Pennsylvania, graduated with a major in biological science and a minor in psychology from UPG in 2014. She earned a doctor of dental medicine and a certificate in dental public health from the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health and is currently serving her pediatric dental residency at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At UPG, Ray cofounded the campus’ Pre-Health Committee, developed unique guidebooks for entrance into various health programs and organized study groups for MCAT, DAT and GRE admissions tests. She also served as a commuter mentor, and was president and vice president of the campus chapter of Beta Beta Beta biology honor society. She volunteered at The End Hunger Café, serving food, creating a bimonthly clothing closet and organizing a back-to-school fundraiser for three underserved families.

Ray was a UPG Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an NCAA Woman of the Year in recognition of her outstanding community service and grades within the NCAA Division III.

Said Ray, “To this day, I still connect with many of my mentors, professors and coaches from Pitt-Greensburg, and I truly can't thank them enough for their commitment to my success and longterm camaraderie. I am confident that Pitt-Greensburg helped me develop the foundation for a successful future and I am honored to share in those achievements as my academic and professional journey continues."  

Paul Cohen headshot

Pitt’s Newest School Builds Its Expertise With New Faculty

The School of Computing and Information (SCI), established in 2017, SCI is Pitt’s first new school in 20 years – and has a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and modeling to solve global issues.

New faculty members with backgrounds vital to building the school’s expertise have recently joined the school.

“SCI is very excited to welcome 18 new faculty,” said Paul Cohen, founding dean. “Each faculty member has a deep understanding of cross-disciplinary collaboration and a commitment to furthering SCI’s mission of making the world a better place through polymathic education and the science of interacting systems.”

SCI welcomed the following faculty at the start of the fall 2019 term:

  • Wonsun Ahn, visiting lecturer. Ahn obtained his PhD in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a Samsung Frontier founding member. His research interests include computer architecture, compiler optimization, scripting languages, speculative parallelization and parallel computing.
  • Katharine Anderson, visiting assistant professor. Anderson models and analyzes the structure, formation and dynamics of scientific collaboration networks, skill diversity and synergy and the complexities of human capital. She earned her PhD in economics from the University of Michigan in 2010.
  • Amy Babay, assistant professor. Babay’s research focuses on modeling and designing new internet services with demanding performance requirements and on building dependable critical infrastructure systems. Babay received her PhD in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in 2018.
  • Jacob Biehl, associate professor. Biehl comes to Pitt after a decade with FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Fuji Xerox’s computer science research laboratory in Silicon Valley, California. He earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008.
  • Seong Jae Hwang, assistant professor. Hwang’s research areas include medical imaging, computer vision and machine learning with an emphasis on modeling disease progression. He earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019.
  • Stephen Lee, assistant professor. His research interests span several areas of computer systems, including distributed systems and cyber-physical systems, with an emphasis on domains such as smart cities, smart buildings and transportation. He earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2019.
  • Eleanor “Nora” Mattern (SCI 14G), teaching assistant professor. Mattern returns to Pitt, where she earned her PhD, after serving as a librarian at the University of Chicago. Prior, she held a joint visiting position with the University Library System’s Digital Scholarship Services and SCI at Pitt. With SCI, she previously taught courses in preservation, archival ethics and metadata and archival access systems and developed experiential learning projects.
  • Luis de Oliveira, visiting lecturer. Oliveira graduated from the University of Porto, Portugal, with a PhD in 2016, with a thesis focused on wireless communications and localization for small teams of mobile robots. His current research interests are the preservation of reproducible software execution, real time communication protocols for teams of mobile agents and anchorless localization using RF signals.
  • Song Shi, visiting assistant professor. Shi’s research includes examining new media interventions for development and social change initiated by activists, NGOs and the government as detailed in his monograph “China and the Internet: Using New Media for Development in Social Change.” Shi received his PhD in communication and media studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013.
  • Xulong Tang, assistant professor. Tang’s research interests include modeling and designing high-performance computing and parallel computer architectures and systems. He earned his PhD in computer engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 2019.
  • Lingfei Wu, assistant professor. Wu is a computational social scientist whose current research aims at unleashing the power of artificial neural network techniques to overcome cognitive and social constraints of human knowledge creation. Additionally, Wu co-founded one of the largest non-governmental science associations in China, which is the incubator of three million-dollar AI startups in self-driving, natural language processing and urban planning.
  • Joseph Yurko, teaching assistant professor. Yurko’s background spans both machine learning and traditional engineering applications. He comes to Pitt from Arconic, a manufacturing company, where he served as a data scientist. He earned his PhD in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Additional faculty who joined SCI in the last academic year:

  • Kayla Booth, research assistant professor. Her research interests include diversity and social inclusion, social and health informatics, and social media. She obtained her PhD from Pennsylvania State University.
  • Matt Burton, lecturer. Burton was previously a visiting assistant professor at SCI before becoming a lecturer. His research interests focus on infrastructure studies, data science, and scholarly communication. He holds a PhD in information from the University of Michigan.
  • Timothy Hoffman, lecturer. Hoffman is a former corporate trainer for software development and former assistant teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His interests center on developing software tools to streamline the grading and administrative aspects of course management- along with tools to assist department researchers working on issues such as early identification of struggling students, tools for tutoring and remedial work for struggling students and the gathering of meta data relating to pedagogy.
  • Vinicius Petrucci, lecturer. Petrucci was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He obtained his PhD in computer science at Fluminese Federal University in 2012. He is a member of ACM.
  • Marcia Rapchak, lecturer. Rapchak’s research interests span multiple areas and include information literacy, academic libraries, computer-supported collaborative learning and critical librarianship. She obtained her EdD from Duquesne University and has several recent publications. Rapchak is the 2018 recipient of the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award.
  • Erin Walker, associate professor. Walker completed in PhD in 2010 at Carnegie Mellon University in Human-Computer interaction. Her research uses interdisciplinary methods to improve the design and implementation of educational technology and then to understand when and why it is effective.


Headshot of  Dana Thompson Dorsey

Center for Urban Education to House Educational Researcher Journal

The Center for Urban Education (CUE) within the School of Education has been selected as the new home institution of the academic journal Educational Researcher

Educational Researcher is a publication of the American Educational Research Association. One of the journal’s goals is to “make major programmatic research and new findings of broad importance widely accessible.”

Dana Thompson Dorsey, CUE’s associate director of research and development, will be one of the journal’s five senior editors situated across the country. CUE director T. Elon Dancy II will serve as associate editor, along with Jennifer Russell, assistant professor of Learning Sciences and Policy and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development center (LRDC), and Lindsay Page, assistant professor of research methodology and research scientist at the LRDC.

The Center for Urban Education will house the journal from 2019 to 2022. It is customary for the assignments to rotate every three years among the top schools of education.