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Dio Kavalieratos Honored for Work in Palliative Care

Dio Kavalieratos, assistant professor of medicine, palliative care and medical ethics at the University of Pittsburgh, and director of implementation research for the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute has been awarded the 2019 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Early Career Investigator Award. 

Kavalieratos, who is the first PhD to ever win this award, is a health services researcher who is passionate about studying and developing best practices regarding palliative care implementation within health systems. 

Robert Arnold, medical director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, and Yael Schenker, director of palliative care research at the University of Pittsburgh, nominated Kavalieratos for this distinction. They describe him as “one of the most talented PhD health services researchers in palliative care.”

“My overarching goal for my work is to create systems, based on scientific evidence, that make palliative care an assumed part of everyone’s health care,” Kavalieratos said.

Lin in front of a white wall with gold painting behind her

Yu-Ru Lin Receives Funding from Adobe Research

Associate Professor Yu-Ru Lin recently received a funding from Adobe Research to support her work in data science and computational social science. The funding will provide the resources to help Lin and her team to investigate research topics including visualization for interpretable artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques for understanding human social behavioral patterns and outcomes. This gift will also help build and strengthen the collaboration between Adobe Research and School of Computing and Information at Pitt.

Fullerton in a gray jacket and purple collar shirt

Susan Fullerton Awarded NSF Funding for ‘2D’ Materials Research

Susan Fullerton, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was recently received the $540,000 CAREER Award for her research in super-thin “2D” materials.

The award, which comes from the National Science Foundation, supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Fullerton and her group invented a new type of ion-containing material, or electrolyte, which is only a single molecule thick. This will ultimately introduce new functions that can be used by the electronic materials community to explore the fundamental properties of new semiconductor materials and to develop electronics with completely new device characteristics.

Panther statue

Occupational Therapy Researchers Awarded

Ten researchers in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Occupational Therapy received awards from the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association during the 2018 POTA Annual Conference in October. The department is part of Pitt’s School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences. The following were given awards.

  • Research Award: Roxanna Bendixen, assistant professor
  • Academic Educator Award: Amit Sethi, assistant professor
  • Fieldwork Educator Award: Susan Lobur, fieldwork educator
  • OT Award of Recognition: Megan Driscoll (SHRS ’12G)
  • Master Clinician Award: Kim Kubistek, adjunct instructor
  • OT Student Award of Recognition: Marybeth Moscirella, Class of 2020
  • Reba M. Sebelist Scholarship: Kim Holliday, Class of 2020
  • Academic Scholarship: Marybeth Moscirella, Class of 2020
  • Academic Scholarship: Laura Otchy, Class of 2020
  • Academic Scholarship: Madeleine Wirth, Class of 2020
tree-lined sidewalk near the Cathedral

Center for Urban Education Receives Portion of $1.5 Million Grant

The Center for Urban Education (CUE) has been awarded a portion of a grant totaling $1.5 million that will help support the re-emergence of the Ready to Learn program.

The Chan Zuckerburg Initiative grant was awarded to researchers at CUE and its partners at Carnegie Mellon to “support a group of urban and rural districts in the Pittsburgh region … to develop a set of culturally sustaining and digital approaches to improving literacy and numeracy.”

The year-long Ready to Learn program will provide math tutoring and culturally-relevant mentoring to kids in Pittsburgh Public Schools — matching students with Pitt undergrads who can apply to serve as mentors across three different school sites.

Housed in the School of Education, CUE is planning for a 2019 launch date for Ready to Learn.

“Our school partnerships are deeply meaningful to us. This program underscores CUE’s two-fold commitment to educate the whole student and to identify the pathways and possibilities for change in education systems. I am excited about what this program can mean for student learning and support in the Hill District and surrounding communities,” said CUE Director T. Elon Dancy II.

“We look forward to supporting students in learning not just math skills, but other life skills that will support them in their futures,” added Kenny Donaldson, Associate Director of Strategic Programming and Initiatives at CUE. “We recognize the communities we are collaborating with already have tremendous assets, and we are just aiming to partner and engage with these entities.”

Pitt Engineering Team Wins Award for Big Brain Data Research

The National Science Foundation BIGDATA program awarded $1.2 million to a research team led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering to study data of complex brain disorders and design new algorithms that address computational challenges in multi-site collaborative data mining.

Heng Huang, the Swanson School’s John A. Jurenko Professor of Computer Engineering, is principal investigator of the study. In this project, Huang will create a framework to address these issues and facilitate data and computing resource sharing.

The goal of this project is to ease computational challenges and enable investigators in neuroimaging, genomics, neuroscience and other brain-related disciplines to securely and more efficiently further their research.

Panther head fountain

LifeX to Partner in ‘Liquid Biopsy’ Cancer Diagnostics

GeneNews Limited, which provides innovative solutions for early cancer detection, has announced a partnership with LifeX to develop strategies for incorporating several proprietary early-cancer diagnostics into healthcare settings to improve patient compliance with cancer screening, as well as to bridge diagnostic gaps in current screening procedures.

Early detection of cancer is known to improve outcomes. Toronto-based GeneNews has several tests proven to detect cancer at an early stage using a simple blood test, or “liquid biopsy.”

“Other liquid biopsy companies are focused on monitoring response to chemotherapy or detecting recurrence of tumors after initial treatment,” said LifeX founder Dietrich Stephan.

“GeneNews, one of the pioneers of the liquid biopsy principle, has developed the ‘holy-grail’ — a suite of tests that have the correct sensitivity and specificity to see tumors in Stage 1 and perform correctly as a screening tool at the population level. We look forward to bringing these solutions to the marketplace to make a tangible difference in global health by enabling cures when tumors are most treatable.”

LifeX, based on Pittsburgh’s South Side, develops first-in-class solutions to alleviate suffering and death from prevalent and intractable diseases. The LifeX team partners with innovator-entrepreneurs to unlock the potential of their technologies and deliver them to patients and their physicians across the globe. LifeX was founded with support from the University of Pittsburgh and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

Carson in front of a blue background

Urban Studies Advisor Recognized for Outstanding Work

Carolyn Carson, coordinator and undergraduate advisor in the Urban Studies program and senior lecturer in the Department of History, has been awarded the 2019 Ampco-Pittsburgh Prize for Excellence in Advising. The $4,000 cash award honors outstanding faculty and staff academic undergraduate advisors.

Carson started at Pitt in 1996 and began her advising position in 1998. To be considered for the Ampco-Pittsburgh Prize, faculty members must be nominated by their department chair and two or more undergraduate students whom they have advised.

“This award means a great deal to me,” said Carson. “Most of my time in this position has been spent with students, teaching as well as advising. I have found it to be very rewarding as I have learned a great deal from my students. I am humbled knowing that I have had an impact on their lives. I really love them all and have worked very hard to help them get the most out of their experiences here as they prepare for the future. I am extremely grateful that they recognized the effort and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Evans in front of a dark background

Katz Accounting Professor Receives Lifetime Contribution Award

John H. Evans III, the Katz Alumni Professor of Accounting and professor of business administration at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, received the 2019 AAA Lifetime Contribution Award for his 40-plus years of research and teachings of key management accounting issues and other contributions to the profession.

Given by the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the award recognizes professionals who have made a significant contribution to management accounting education, research and practice. The award is given on behalf of the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, which distinguishes a unique group of 150,000 management accountants worldwide who have reached the highest benchmark of quality and competency.

Evans has received numerous awards for his research, including the Outstanding Management Accounting Paper Award from the AAA in 2012 and the Best Paper Award for the Management Accounting Section from the Journal of Management Accounting in 2012. He is also recognized for his excellence in teaching. In 2011, he was honored with the University of Pittsburgh’s Provost Award for Excellence in Mentoring and has been named teacher of the year numerous times.

Murphy in a blue shirt and black blazer

SHRS’s Emily Murphy Earns ‘Educator of the Year’ Honor

Emily Murphy, an assistant professor and clinical coordinator in the University of Pittsburgh Physician Assistant Studies Program won the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants’s Physician Assistant Educator of the Year Award.

It’s the second year in a row that a Pitt physician assistant faculty member has received this honor — David Beck, an assistant professor in the program, receiving the award last year.

The PA program is part of Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. It is committed to the development of highly qualified physician assistants who will serve as tomorrow’s leaders in the delivery of health care, patient education and professional service.

Kitzes in front of a blue background

Justin Kitzes Receives Grant From Microsoft and National Geographic to Study Bird Songs

Justin Kitzes, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded a $91,000 grant from Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation to develop the first free, open source models to allow academic researchers, agencies, non-profits and citizen-scientists to identify bird songs in acoustic field recordings. The goal is to use the system to improve research and conservation efforts by monitoring bird species population change. Work is expected to kick off in early 2019, with the models and associated software to be released by the end of the year.

Petek in front of a tree-filled landscape

Hrvoje Petek Honored by American Chemical Society

Hrvoje Petek, R.K. Mellon Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has received the Ahmed Zewali Award in Ultrafast Science & Technology from the American Chemical Society. Petek will be honored during an awards ceremony April 2 during the 257th ACS national meeting in Orlando. The award is sponsored by the Ahmed Zewali Endowment fund established by Newport.

panther statue in front of a lush green background

Six Receive Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability Awards

Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) has named the 2019 awardees in the John C. Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability.  

The program is designed to enhance the University’s mission of interdisciplinary excellence in research and education. Faculty from all Pitt schools and disciplines are eligible to apply as faculty fellows, faculty scholars or faculty lecturers.

Awards are for one year with the option for renewal for an additional year for the Mascaro fellowships and scholarships.

During the year, fellows are expected to contribute to intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and/or education as well as help to team-teach one sustainability course as part of the University’s undergraduate certificate in sustainability and master’s degree in sustainable engineering.

photo of the sign

Historical Marker on Campus Celebrates City’s Early Radium Industry Ties

A Pennsylvania Historical Marker commemorating Standard Chemical Company and its role in radium production has been dedicated outside Allen Hall.

Already famous for steel, Pittsburgh became the worldwide center for radium production in the early 20th century thanks to the entrepreneurship of brothers J.J. and Joseph Flannery, founders of Standard Chemical Co.

Their company, founded in 1913 and headquartered at Forbes and Meyran Avenue in Oakland, was the nation’s first commercial producer of radium.

By 1920, Standard Chemical radium researchers Glenn D. Kammer and Henry J. Koenig, two 1912 graduates of Pitt’s School of Chemistry, were supervising the production of more than two-thirds of the world’s radium.

The company produced the gram of radium that was presented to French physicist Marie Curie in 1921 as a gift from the women of America. During her tour of the U.S., Curie asked to visit Standard Chemical’s headquarters and production facilities. She also was conferred an honorary doctorate by the University of Pittsburgh in a convocation at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.

Flannery family members, including Sarah Flannery Hardon, great-great granddaughter of J.J. Flannery, were among the guests at the Nov. 12 marker dedication.


University of Pittsburgh Press Publication in Running for America Literary Award

A University of Pittsburgh Press publication has landed on the PEN America Literary Awards longlist for 2019.  

Shauna Barbosa’s “Cape Verdean Blues” is a semi-finalist in the PEN Open Book Award category. This specific award honors “an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States.” A collection of poetry, “Cape Verdean Blues” addresses Barbosa’s upbringing as a Cape Verdean living in Boston.

The PEN America Literary Awards honor “literary excellence and celebrate voices that challenge, inform, and inspire.” The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in February.

DeMarco in a pink top in front of green leaves

Pitt Alumna, Sustainability Advocate Receives Visionary Award

Patricia DeMarco (A&S ’68, ’71G) recently received the Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light Visionary Award, after publishing a book on sustainability with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The annual award honors “a Pennsylvania visionary who has engaged in significant actions ‘to tend and sustain’ the earth and all its creatures.”

In her book, “Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective,” DeMarco uses Rachel Carson as inspiration to explore Pittsburgh’s path to achieving a sustainable future — and the challenges the city faces.

A Pittsburgh native, DeMarco is a councilwoman for the Borough of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania. She formerly served as executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University.

a statue of a panther on the campus

Pitt–Greensburg Nursing Program Awarded $1.5 Million

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was recently awarded $1.5 million in grant money by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation in support of a growing nursing degree program at the school.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is in its second year at the Greensburg campus and follows the same curriculum as the Pitt School of Nursing, the latter of which is consistently ranked among the top 10 nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

The foundation has supported a wide range of important initiatives at the Greensburg campus throughout the years, including supporting two academic building on campus, McKenna Hall and Frank A. Cassell Hall; upgrading and improving technology resources; and helping to address economic growth and revitalization through the Smart Growth Partnership

Leland in a dark sweater in front of a tan background

Natalie Leland Named Fellow of Gerontological Society

Natalie Leland, an associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, has been named a fellow of The Gerontological Society of America.

Leland's research focuses on understanding and improving care quality for older adults, with a particular interest in how occupational therapy can contribute to interdisciplinary patient-centered outcomes.

The society is the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging. The status of fellow — the highest class of membership within the society — is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in gerontology. Leland was one of 89 fellows selected for the class of 2018.

Doiron in a collar shirt in front of a blue background

Brent Doiron Joins NIH BRAIN Initiative as Theoretical Neuroscience Investigator

Brent Doiron, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, will work with a team from Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute to develop mathematical models of the brain’s primary visual cortex.

The effort is supported by a five year, $16.75 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative. Doiron will serve as a theoretical neuroscience investigator, receiving $1.7M for his investigations as part of the grant. Doiron, who’s also a member of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, collaborates extensively with faculty in other departments to advance theoretical models of brain activity and cognition.

Chimielus in a suit and tie

Swanson School and General Carbide Team Up for 3D Printing Advancement

Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering is collaborating with General Carbide Corporation in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to research better base powders and 3D printing methods for more effective and economical use of tungsten carbide in additive manufacturing.

The project was financed in part by a $57,529 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and the first round of the PA Manufacturing Innovation Program. Cost share from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and General Carbide will provide a total funding of $145,000.

Pitt’s principal investigator for this project is Markus Chmielus, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.