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Freitag in a black and white striped shirt in front of a window

Student Thomas Freitag Wins Top Scholarship for LGBT STEM Undergraduates

Thomas Freitag won the top undergraduate National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) Out to Innovate scholarship. The $5,000 scholarships are intended for undergraduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or an active ally of the LGBT community.

Freitag is in their third year at Pitt, double majoring in neuroscience and psychology with minors in chemistry and social work. After graduation, they plan to pursue a medical degree and a master’s in public health. They intend to work in psychiatry and public health policy focusing on issues affecting LGBT and associated communities and to conduct research on health disparities among underprivileged communities.

Freitag’s achievement follows a summer interning with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs. Freitag received a David C. Frederick Public Service Internship Award, which provides a stipend so students with an interest in leadership and community service can pursue unpaid public service internships. As an intern with the City of Philadelphia, Freitag helped craft groundbreaking legislation to make tax documents gender-neutral, which removed barriers and will help to streamline legal proceedings.

three young women packing a stack of books

Office of Child Development Donates Resources to Children in Squirrel Hill

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development held a book drive to provide resources for children affected by gun violence in Squirrel Hill and the surrounding community.

Pitt students, staff and faculty have started delivering the nearly 3,000 books to approximately 200 schools and early childcare facilities, just in time for the holidays. They plan to finish their deliveries in January.

The Pitt community and people from across the country donated the books, which will be used to help local children heal and embrace diversity.

“The outpouring of donations and support we’ve received has been remarkable, and we are hopeful that the Office of Child Development can deliver even more resources to help children process fear and embrace diversity,” said Director Shannon Wanless.

The Office of Child Development and its partners in the Pitt Early Childhood Community, including Falk School, the University Child Development Center and early childhood programs in Pitt’s School of Education, are part of this ongoing effort.

Woman riding bike in a Pitt shirt

Pitt’s Bike-friendly Efforts Recognized

Each year, the League of American Bicyclists recognizes colleges and universities that support bicycling with its Bicycle Friendly University status. This year, Pitt earned the status with a bronze distinction, joining nearly 200 other universities on the overall list.

“This is the first year we applied for recognition on campus, but we have had the infrastructure and programs in place for quite some time,” said Jeff Yeaman, senior manager, Department of Parking, Transportation and Services. Yeaman cited specific examples like the bike rooms in Nordenberg Hall and fix-it stations around campus as evidence of Pitt’s commitment to being a bike-friendly campus.

The league’s bronze distinction recognizes institutions that have taken notable steps in supporting bicycling for recreation and tranporation, which can be seen in above-average numbers of students, faculty and staff riding bikes. The league scores institutions that apply for distinction across five categories, including engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

Read more information about the distinction process online.

Architectural detail in nationality room

Nationality Rooms on National Geographic Traveller UK’s ‘The Cool List 2019’

The Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh were named on the “The Cool List 2019” by National Geographic Traveller UK.

The article features 19 “destinations set to hit the headlines” in the year 2019, and names Pittsburgh as one of its “must-see” sites, with a mention of the Nationality Rooms.

The 30 Nationality Rooms inside the University’s Cathedral of Learning represent different cultures from the world. Most also function as classrooms, and the public is available to tour the rooms year-round. The 31st room, the Philippine Nationality Room, will be dedicated in a June 2019 ceremony.

Headshot of Tao Han in sweater and collared shirt

Tao Han Elected Vice Chair at the American Physical Society

Tao Han, Distinguished Professor of High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected vice chair of the executive committee for American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields.

The American Physical Society represents more than 55,000 physicists across the globe and uses advocacy, research journals, meetings and other forms of outreach to promote its work. Han will begin his duties in January 2019 and will assume as chair in 2021.

Steven Little headshot in jacket and tie

Steven Little Receives Pittsburgh Award

Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was named the recipient of this year’s Pittsburgh Award.

The award is given by the Pittsburgh Section of the American Chemical Society. Little received the award for his “service and commitment to the field of chemistry over the years, with particular emphasis on efforts to reinvent chemical engineering education in the Pittsburgh area.”

Little’s research focuses on novel drug delivery systems that mimic the body’s own mechanisms of healing and resolving inflammation. The society’s annual award banquet was held Dec. 6.

Harms in front of a blue background

Viktoria Harms Honored by American Association of Teachers of German

Viktoria Harms, lecturer in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of German, has been selected by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Goethe-Institut as a recipient of their Certificate of Merit.

The award honors language educators for “achievement in furthering the teaching of German in the United States.”

Harms serves as the Department of German’s director of language studies and director of undergraduate studies within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She was honored at the AATG and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Convention and World Languages Expo on Nov. 17 in New Orleans.

Barson in a yellow jacket with gray lapels

Jazz Studies PhD Student Debuts New Opera

Benjamin Barson, who is working toward a PhD in jazz studies at Pitt, will present his new opera “Mirror Butterfly: the Migrant Liberation Movement Suite” on Dec. 14 and 15 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. The event is part of the 2018 conference of the National Performance Network. It is open to the public but attendees must RSVP.

Barson, on baritone saxophone, will be joined by members of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, who represent a blend of funk, jazz, hip-hop, rap, African music and indigenous music of Northern Mexico, along with powerful political themes of liberation and community.

“Mirror Butterfly” focuses on the journey of three women and their engagement with a violent colonial oppression they are trying to flee. The piece is sung in multiple genres, and the title aria is sung in the Yaqui language of Yoeme, with translation into English provided by a narrator.

“This multi-genre and multi-ethnic approach is meant to communicate a diversity of migrant experiences and culture,” said Barson.

Blain in black rimmed glasses

Keisha Blain’s Book Named One of the Best History Books of 2018 by Smithsonian Magazine

Keisha N. Blain’s book "Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom" was named one of the best history books of the year by Smithsonian Magazine. Blain is an assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of History. To read the full list of best books, visit the magazine's website.

Three From Pitt Named Forbes ‘30 Under 30’

Three University of Pittsburgh-affiliated researchers were named to Forbes magazine’s 2019 “30 Under 30” list.

The list features 600 business and entrepreneurial leaders from 20 industries, including healthcare, energy, art and education, among others.

The following from Pitt were named to this year’s list: Inmaculada Hernandez, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy, for her work in drug pricing research; Shinjini Kundu, a biomedical engineering graduate from Pitt’s Medical Scientist Training Program for developing new technology to analyze medical images and detect disease using artificial intelligence; and Coleman Stavish (A&S ’16), chief technology officer and co-founder of Proscia, a company that uses artificial intelligence to speed up pathology tests for cancer patients.

images of the three

yellow statue in front of a building

20 Pitt Researchers Named to ‘Highly Cited’ List

Twenty professors from varying fields at the University of Pittsburgh were named to Clarivate Analytics’ list of Highly Cited Researchers over the past decade.

The list “recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top one percent by citations for field and year in ‘Web of Science.’” To view the full list, visit their website.

Announcing Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grant Recipients

The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced the winners of the fall 2018 Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants Program. Winners will receive funding for research projects that examine the swiftly changing technological landscape and the rules, practices and safeguards designed to keep it secure. Spring 2019 grant applications are due Friday, April 5. For more information, email

Awards have been granted to:

  • Kevin Ashley, professor of law and intelligent systems in the School of Law
  • Jaromir Savelka, PhD candidate, School of Computing and Information
  • Elena Baylis, professor of law in the School of Law
  • Julia Santucci, senior lecturer in intelligence studies in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
  • Lt. Col Diana Bishop, chair of the Department of Aerospace Studies
  • Michael Colaresi, William S. Dietrich II Chair of the Department of Political Science
  • Jon Woon; departmental chair and professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science
  • Ronald Idoko, adjunct faculty in the public service program at the College of General Studies
  • Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering

Three Pitt Professors Named American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has appointed three University of Pittsburgh professors as members of its 2018 lifetime fellowship cohort. 

AAAS will recognize James Woodward, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science; Jeremy Levy, a Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics in the Department of Physics; and Astronomy and Adam K. Leibovich, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, during its annual meeting on Feb. 16. The professors were among 416 fellows selected this year and will join a list of distinguished scientists including inventor Thomas Edison, astronomer Maria Mitchell and computer scientist Grace Hopper.

More information on the winners can be found here.

Moran in a salmon shirt, wearing a diamond-patterned tie and a sport coat

Pitt Grounds Department Gets a Green Star

Andy Moran, senior manager of grounds in Facilities Management, accepted a 2018 Green Star Award on behalf of the University at the Professional Grounds Management Society’s recent awards dinner in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Green Star Awards program brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape award programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction.

Pitt was recognized with an Honor Award in the Urban University Grounds category for exceptional grounds maintenance.

Pitt Grounds’ 31 full-time and 15 seasonal grounds employees provide 24-hour maintenance to all landscaped areas, lawns, parking lots, garages and athletic fields across the University’s 145-acre Pittsburgh campus as well as winter maintenance of 30 miles of sidewalks and over 2,000 steps. 

Newman and Schulz

Pitt Researchers Honored for Senior Service Efforts

Two medical researchers from the University of Pittsburgh were recently recognized for their efforts in the field of medicine by UPMC Senior Services.

Anne Newman, professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Epidemiology, was named Grand Champion for her work in the epidemiology of aging, longevity and disability. It is the highest honor awarded by UPMC Senior Services.

Richard Schulz, distinguished service professor of psychiatry, was honored as Caregiver Champion. Schulz’s work focuses on social-psychological aspects of aging, including the impact of disabling late-life disease on patients and their families.

Both, along with Community Champion United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, were honored at an October ceremony in Pittsburgh.

panther statue

13 Faculty Members Receive Discipline-based Science Education Research Center Leader Award

Congratulations to 13 faculty members in the Natural Sciences Departments in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences who were recently awarded the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC) Leader Award. This yearly award recognizes and celebrates their valuable contributions to the dB-SERC faculty learning community and their active participation in many dB-SERC events during the last academic year.

These faculty members have played a key role in the dB-SERC weekly lunch discussions about innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the natural sciences. The dB-SERC promotes and supports evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning in the natural sciences departments at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to workshops and special events, the dB-SERC faculty learning community gives the faculty members opportunity to share their course transformation projects involving evidence-based approaches which helps everyone who is part of this community contemplate, adopt and adapt scholarly approaches to teaching and learning. The center strives to help Pitt be a national leader in evidence-based instruction in the natural sciences.

dB-SERC Leader Award winners (2017-2018 year):

  • Danielle Andrews-Brown, Geology and Environmental Science
  • Meghan Bechman, Biological Sciences
  • Sean Garrett-Roe, Chemistry
  • Joe Grabowski, Chemistry
  • Kirill Kiselyov, Biological Sciences
  • Barbara Kucinski, Psychology
  • Jim Mueller, Physics and Astronomy
  • David Nero, Physics and Astronomy
  • Kim Payne, Biological Sciences
  • Welkin Pope, Biological Sciences
  • Jackie Powell, Chemistry
  • Katie Sinagoga, Biological Sciences
  • Kyle Whitinghill, Geology and Environmental Science
Nindl holding a plaque

Bradley Nindl Delivers Keynote on Research

Bradley Nindl, director of the Neuromuscular Research Lab/Warrior Human Performance Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, recently spoke about how scientific and technological advances in physical education and exercise science will make way for an injury-free military as a featured speaker for Springfield College’s Karpovich Lecture.

Nindl researches science and strategies to help members of the military be able to perform at their best physical and mental peak through best practices in rehabilitating and preventing injuries.

He is also a professor in Pitt’s Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, part of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.


Three PittGlobal Centers Receive Funding Boost

Three centers in the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) received more than $7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources. Pitt’s Asian Studies Center; European Studies Center; and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies received a total of six awards under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. This means a National Resource Center designation and Foreign Language Areas Studies fellowships for each.

In addition, the Asian Studies Center received significant funding from the Freeman Foundation that will allow it to expand its East Asia seminars for K-12 educators and summer study tours of China to teachers in 11 states. The European Studies Center secured new funding to continue collaborating with three universities in Europe. And the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies received more than $1 million in grant finding to advance language training and research.

“The University of Pittsburgh is a force in global education and engagement,” said Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs and UCIS director. The National Resource Center designation and the other funding reflects our commitment to taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”


Mary Rugh Inducted Into Electric League of Western Pennsylvania’s Hall of Honor

Mary Rugh, senior manager for electrical in Facilities Management, has been inducted into the Electric League of Western Pennsylvania’s Hall of Honor.

This lifetime achievement award recognizes those who have made significant contributions in furthering the high ideals and goals of the industry. 

Rugh’s career in electrical engineering includes her work over the past 33 years on the University’s electrical infrastructure systems.

She is responsible for operation and maintenance of the University’s Pittsburgh campus 5kV electric power distribution system. Rugh has negotiated University electric contracts since the inception of deregulation, saving the University more than $10 million over the past two decades.

A professional engineer, she came to Pitt in 1985 as a control systems engineer, was promoted to senior electrical engineer in 1997 and became senior manager for electrical in 2015.

She has been part of the Electric League since 2008 and serves on its education and expo committees.

University Wins Innovation and Economic Prosperity Innovation Award

The University of Pittsburgh has been awarded the Association of Public and Land-grant University (APLU) Innovation and Economic Prosperity Innovation award. The award recognizes exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development. Winners are limited to universities that have conducted internal studies examining its local and regional economic engagement and have been designated by APLU as Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities. The University of Pittsburgh earned the designation in 2014; 64 institutions have been named IEP University designees since the program was launched in 2012.

In its announcement of the award, the APLU praised Pitt and its Office of Economic Partnerships for work with the Brookings Institution and Pitt’s Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, noting the latter as "one of a host of innovation hubs the university is launching across the city to support pathbreaking research and business development."