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cooper in a dark suit

Rory Cooper Completes Heidelberg Hand-Bike Marathon

Rory Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt and associate dean for inclusion at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently raced in and completed the Heidelberg Hand-Bike Marathon. Cooper finished with a time of one hour, twenty-seven minutes.

“The course was a bit more challenging than I thought, and I ended up most of the time by myself or pulling others along. I sported by Army jersey,” he said.

Twenty-one family members and friends came to Heidelberg to cheer for him and other participants.

the Cathedral on a blue-sky day in fall

Pitt Innovators Deliver Another Banner Year of Impactful Discoveries

Pitt innovators continued to demonstrate their passion for translating lab discoveries to solutions that make an impact on people’s lives at a record pace in fiscal year 2019. They matched last year’s record number of licenses and options executed at 162 and set a new record for discoveries disclosed to the Innovation Institute at 367.

Pitt innovators were issued 91 U.S. patents and formed 17 startup companies based on intellectual property developed at the University, reinforcing a strong recent performance for those metrics.

“These results reflect the ever-strengthening culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among Pitt faculty, students and staff,” said Evan Facher, director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute. “We have been able to put more resources at their disposal to accelerate their journey on the path to market because achieving impact through commercialization has been made a top priority by the University leadership.”

In the five years since the formation of the Innovation Institute, the activity of Pitt innovators has increased substantially across numerous metrics compared to the previous five year period as the result of increased funding and support. Invention disclosures, which are submitted to the Innovation Institute by faculty, staff and students when their research produces new discoveries with the potential for commercial translation, are up more than 25 percent in the most recent five year period; licensing transactions are up 11 percent, and issued patents are up 46 percent.

Significantly, startups formed in the 2015-2019 period are up nearly 130 percent over the previous comparable period.

In addition, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Innovation Institute’s affiliated organization serving small businesses throughout Western Pennsylvania, is expanding its impact. During the year, the IEE served 736 clients with nearly 7,000 hours of consulting services, which resulted in, 52 businesses started, $16,438,768 capital formation, $28,329,576 in sales increase and 433 jobs created.

Wolinsky holding a disposable coffee cup, wearing a white sweater

Student Hosts Medical Humanities Podcast

Rising senior Emma Wolinsky is bringing conversations about medical humanities to life in a podcast called “Remains to be Seen.”

Wolinsky, a pre-med student who is majoring in English Literature in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, launched the podcast in April 2019 with the help of Jeff Aziz, senior lecturer and adviser in the Department of English, and Jason Dechant, assistant professor in the School of Nursing. Wolinsky and her faculty co-hosts bring perspectives across disciplines as they discuss topics like the history of the human body in medicine, anatomy and culture. Episode subjects have ranged from the theft of a dead body of a United States president’s son to “shocking” results from an over-the-counter genetic test.

Wolinsky says her two diverse interests of science and literature come from her parents. “My mother is an anesthesiologist, which is where my fascination for medicine comes from, and my father was a reformed rabbi who taught me how to appreciate texts and the power of personal connection,” said Wolinsky, originally of Beachwood, Ohio. “These two fields of medicine and the humanities are inseparable to me and come together to make me who I am today.”

 “Remains to be Seen” is available on iTunes and Spotify; search for “Remains to be Seen” under “podcasts,” or in your podcast app.

Huguley in a dark suit and yellow tie, holding a microphone to his mouth

Just Discipline Project Shows Progress in New Report

A project out of Pitt’s School of Social Work designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions at the Pittsburgh-area Woodland Hills Intermediate School has shown that, after two years, there has been a 28 percent decrease in the number of students suspended.

The Just Discipline project, funded by The Heinz Endowments, established community-building activities at the school, professional development courses for faculty and staff, and training for adolescent student leaders who have been able to successfully diffuse behavioral problems at the school before they escalate. Just Discipline leaders Assistant Professor of Social Work James Huguley and Associate Professor of Education Ming-Te Wang have released a report citing the progress made since the program’s 2017 inception.

Key findings include:

  • A 28% decrease in the number of individual students receiving suspensions
  • A 20% decrease in the number of individual students receiving office referrals
  • A 19% increase in the students’ perception of school safety
  • Academic gains in math, language arts and science
  • 91% of the teachers would like the program’s work to continue

“We’re still working toward where we want to be in terms of the resources and systems, but we’re certainly encouraged by this progress,” said Huguley, who hopes to expand the program in the near future to other schools in Woodland Hills.

the Cathedral on a blue sky day

Pitt Cyber Announces Accelerator Grant Recipients

Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security is pleased to announce the grant recipients of its third round of Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants (PCAG).

The grants to Pitt faculty provide initial funding for novel and innovative projects that advance Pitt Cyber’s mission: to bring the breadth of one of the world’s leading public research universities to bear on the critical questions of networks, data and algorithms, with a focus on the ever-changing gaps among law, policy and technology.

This term’s recipients are:

  • Vladimir Zadorozny (School of Computing and Information), Panos Chrysanthis (SCI), Michael Colaresi (Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), Patrick Manning (Dietrich) for their project, Social Weather Service: A Cyber-enabled Forecasting of Social Unrest and Conflicts.
  • Kevin Ashley (School of Law) and Jaromir Savelka (Intelligent Systems Program) for their project, Annotating Cases for Learning.
  • David Tipper (SCI) and Alexis Kwasinski (Swanson School of Engineering) for their project, Toward Resilient Smart Critical Infrastructure.
  • Rosta Farzan (SCI), Dmitriy Babichenko (SCI), and Zak Risha (SCI) for their project, Fighting Cyberbullying: A Transformative and Educational Game for Promoting Empathic Understanding.

“Pitt Cyber is excited to support the ever-expanding group of Pitt researchers exploring the many challenges of networks, data and cybersecurity,” said Pitt Cyber academic director and law professor Michael Madison.

Learn more about the grants at Pitt Cyber.

Rinaldo in a tan suit coat

Pitt Men’s Study Renewed by NIH, Will Enter Fourth Decade of HIV Research

The Pitt Men’s Study, part of the national Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), will be renewed into 2026 at nearly $4 million per year. The funding from the National Institutes of Health will carry the long-running study into its fourth decade.

The confidential study on the natural history of HIV/AIDS is part of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and is directed by the department's chair, Charles Rinaldo (pictured).

Read more about the study at UPMC.

Ntaiya in a black and white photo

Alumna Kakenya Ntaiya Recognized as ‘Emerging Leader’ by Obama Foundation

Kakenya Ntaiya (EDUC ’11G) was selected to participate in the Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Africa 2019 program, an initiative to “support and develop the next generation of leaders.”

Ntaiya, a native of Kenya, has been applauded for her work of using her education to become a leading advocate for girls’ education and empowerment. With her PhD from Pitt’s School of Education, Ntaiya founded Kakenya’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that provides education, mentoring and health and leadership training for girls of her native community.

As part of the Leaders: Africa program, Ntaiya was one of 200 emerging leaders selected from 45 different countries to “explore new ways to take on the biggest challenges in their communities.” The program was held in Johannesburg from July 10-15.

Panther statue on campus

Office of Child Development Develops Parenting Guide of Original Research

Over the past decade, experts at the Office of Child Development, part of the School of Education, developed a set of parenting guides designed to help raise healthy children.

“You and Your Child” is a series of 49 guides, broken down into categories of behavior, health and nutrition, parenting, development and safety. The guides contain best practices described by the Office of Child Development and have been reviewed by development experts and practitioners.  

“These guides are an easy way for parents and caregivers to gain knowledge and answer specific questions they might have,” said Shannon Wanless, director of the Office of Child Development.

The guides are available online free of charge to parents, family organizations, agencies, professionals and others who work with children and their families. They are also available in Spanish.

H2P spelled out in sparklers

Four Student-Athletes Named to 2019 All-ACC Outdoor Track and Field Academic Team

A total of four student-athletes from the University of Pittsburgh track and field program were named to the 2019 All-ACC Outdoor Track and Field Academic Team, as announced by the conference office in June.

The four representatives for the Panthers — Nate Sloan (ENGR ’19), Nikki Scherer, Nina Crawford and Flora Ahiarakwe — all earned the recognition for the first time in their Pitt careers.

“All of our Academic All-ACC honorees have been workmanlike on the track this season and it's great to see that they work equally as hard inside the classroom,” said head coach Alonzo Webb. “With the exception of Nate, they all return next season to continue achieving the gold standard that we expect from them. It’s a challenge being a student-athlete in this conference but they receive great support from our academic advisors and our Life Skills Program to keep them on track with time management and academic focus. I’m proud of their achievements and look forward to more of the same in the future.”

Read more about the honor.

James in a dark blue suit and blue tie

Everette James Named Interim Dean of Graduate School of Public Health

Everette James was recently appointed as interim dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH). James is taking the place of Donald S. Burke, who stepped down from his position on July 1.  

“I am confident that Everette will provide strong leadership for the School during this important transition period,” said Burke, who will remain on the faculty of GSPH.

James is the M. Allen Pond Professor of Health Policy and Management at GSPH, and is also director of the Pitt Health Policy Institute and associate vice chancellor for health policy and planning for the six Schools of the Health Sciences. He joined the University in 2010. 

A committee to hire a permanent dean will be formed in the coming months.

Dancy in a dark suit and tie

Center for Urban Education Hosts Annual Summer Educator Forum

Pitt’s Center for Urban Education within the School of Education will host its annual Summer Educator Forum (CUESEF) from July 18-20, centered on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

Scholars, educators and researchers from across the country — even as far as Turkey — will take part in intensive forums to re-imagine policies, practices and politics in education systems, in addition to a series of practitioner workshops and research panels.

The sold-out two-day forum has garnered the attendance of several nationally-recognized scholars such as Michelle Alexander, who will serve as a featured panelist. Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” is a legal scholar, social justice advocate and columnist at the New York Times. She also serves as visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. 

CUESEF events reinforce the importance of collective dialogue when considering justice in educational practice, according to CUE Director T. Elon Dancy.  “We look forward to learning with a diverse group of researchers, activists and practitioners about what we can and must do about the school/prison relationship,” said Dancy.

Co-sponsored by the Heinz Endowments, CUESEF is open to K-12 educators as well as those in higher ed. Educators who attend 15 hours of presentations and breakout sessions will receive 15 PA Act 48 credits. 

Watt Geer in a pink blazer and white shirt

Alumna Bobbi Watt Geer Chosen to Lead United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Bobbi Watt Geer (GSPIA ’09) has been named the new president and chief executive of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, one of the region’s largest organizations dedicated to charitable giving. She will be the first woman to lead the nonprofit, after having worked for more than a decade with United Way, serving in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Butler counties.

Watt Geer earned a doctorate in public administration and public policy from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Watt Geer began her new role on July 1, following a seven-month national search. She succeeds Robert Nelkin, who retired after 12 years of leading the local United Way branch.

Brooks and Barrios head shots stitched together with a white bar separating them

Robin Brooks and Esther Palacios-Barrios Named 2019 Ford Foundation Fellows

Robin Brooks, an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies, and Esther Palacios-Barrios, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology who also works with the Learning Research and Development Center, have been accepted to the 2019 Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.

The program, administered by the Fellowships Office of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, is designed to increase diversity among faculty in the nation’s colleges and universities.

Brooks, who was recognized in the postdoctoral competition, will be working on a book manuscript with host institution, Emory University, during the fellowship. Palacios-Barrios, recognized in the predoctoral competition, will continue her work in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology Program.  

Mitchell in a cream-colored jacket, holding a flute with a curved mouthpiece

New Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell Tops Jazz Polls

Two significant honors were recently announced for Nicole Mitchell, Pitt’s new William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies, who arrived at Pitt this month. The prestigious 2019 Downbeat International Critics Poll named Mitchell the winner in the flute category. Downbeat Magazine is one of the country’s oldest jazz magazines and critically reviews the top talent in jazz each year. The complete 2019 Critics Poll list is in Downbeat’s August issue.

In addition, members of the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) named Mitchell “Flutist of the Year” this past spring. The JJA is a global professional organization of media content providers who disseminate news and views about jazz. 

Mitchell says she is “truly honored” to have received both of these awards. Said Music Department Chair and Professor Mathew Rosenblum: “The Department of Music is thrilled to hear about the latest honors bestowed upon Nicole. Her original creative voice continues to make a huge impact in the music world at-large, and we greatly look forward to the leadership that she will bring to our department and to the City of Pittsburgh.”

Gellad in a light blue shirt and dark blue tie

Walid Gellad Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Walid Gellad, associate professor of medicine and health policy was named a winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”

Gellad’s research focuses on physician prescribing practices and on policy issues affecting access and adherence to medications for patients. Read a recent Pittwire story about his work using artificial intelligence to better predict opioid overdose risk in patients.

George in a dark suit and white shirt

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Receives NSF Funding for New Tech

The National Science Foundation has awarded $10 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), a joint research center between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, to build a new supercomputer.

The supercomputer, Bridges-2, will contain different types of state-of-the-art hardware and larger memory space for solving problems in engineering, biology and artificial intelligence, for example. It will also be more user-friendly for researchers who may not be well-versed in supercomputing.

“PSC is unique in combining the strengths of two world-class universities (CMU and Pitt) and a world-class medical center. Bridges-2 will amplify these strengths to fuel many new discoveries,” said Alan D. George, interim director of PSC and department chair of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

Cunningham in a dark suit, white shirt and gold tie

Larry Cunningham Jr. Appointed Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Associate Dean of Hospital Affairs

Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine has announced Larry Cunningham Jr. as its next chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and associate dean for hospital affairs.  Cunningham, a native of Texas, comes to the University of Pittsburgh after an 18-year career at the University of Kentucky, where he served as professor and chief of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 

Cunningham has a broad clinical interest in maxillofacial surgery and is an internationally recognized expert in the management of traumatic facial injuries. He has 18 years of experience as a member of the cleft lip and palate team, where his practice included alveolar cleft repairs and jaw surgery for patients with facial differences. He is particularly skilled in the surgical management of patients with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease, including total joint replacements. Cunningham frequently lectures on the management of injuries to the nerves that innervate of the lower lip and tongue.

At Pitt, Cunningham also will serve as interim program director for the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program.

Read more about his goals in these new roles at UPMC.

Lyke in a yellow dress and Boissonneault in a gray blazer, each holding the shoulder of a jersey with the latter's name on it

Emily Boissonneault Named First Head Coach in Pitt Lacrosse

University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Heather Lyke has announced the hiring of Emily Boissonneault as the first head coach in Pitt lacrosse history. Boissonneault has spent the past four seasons at James Madison helping guide the Dukes to three Colonial Athletic Association Conference Championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2018 National Championship.
“It takes a special individual to build a program from scratch. You need someone who has great vision, relentless energy and confidence to build something unprecedented,” said Lyke in a statement. “I am excited we have found that type of person and leader in Emily Boissonneault. She brings to Pitt an excellent pedigree as a coach and player and knows what it takes to compete against the premier lacrosse conference in the country. Emily’s experience helping to bring a national championship to James Madison University will be invaluable. Moreover, her tremendous contacts in the sport, both across the country and internationally, will be major assets in building Pitt lacrosse into a program that will make a mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We are thrilled she will be joining Pitt, bringing the highest level of lacrosse to the city of Pittsburgh and confident in her ability to attack this unique challenge and opportunity.”

See footage of the announcement and watch a video of Boissonneault’s first day.

a panther statue

Pitt Law Launches Graduate Program on Human Resources Law

Pitt’s School of Law is now taking applications for a new online graduate certificate program that tackles the legal issues that sometimes arise in the human resource industry. Human Resources Law Online will consist of courses that explore the practical application of the law within that field. Students will learn key negotiating skills to help improve their ability to manage difficult workplace situations, such as employee contract negotiations, workplace accommodations requests and employee terminations.

Human Resources Law Online Program Director Joseph Hornack said that human resources, like many areas of business, has become more complicated. “Artificial intelligence has been playing a larger role in hiring, work evaluation and termination decisions at some of the larger companies,” he said. The algorithms are established in ways that may contain biases.”

Pitt professor of law and director of online legal programs Alan Meisel said the program is aimed at non-lawyers. “We’re trying to provide a legal education for people already working in the industry,” he said. “Legal problems can arise but people don’t realize it’s a legal problem until they need a lawyer. With the knowledge gained through these courses, one can head off serious legal problems.”

The courses will take 40 weeks to complete and will be taught by Pitt Law’s expert faculty and local practitioners.

Meyer in a black and white blouse in front of a Pitt seal

Susan Meyer Receives Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award

Susan Meyer, associate dean for education and professor in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, recently received the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award. The award recognizes an individual’s excellence in teaching, scholarship and service in pharmacy education.

At Pitt, Meyer is director of the Interprofessional Center for Health Careers and co-director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. Her work in the School of Pharmacy focuses on curricular and institutional quality improvement, instructional design and assessment, faculty development and interprofessional health professions education.