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Audrey J. Murrell

Audrey J. Murrell to Serve as Acting Dean of the University Honors College

Audrey J. Murrell, who most recently served as associate dean of Pitt’s College of Business Administration and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership, has been appointed as acting dean of the University Honors College. She begins on June 17, 2019.

Murrell is a professor of business administration at Pitt and holds secondary appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

In her research, teaching and consulting work, Murrell focuses on building the capacity of people and organizations, with special emphasis on enhancing outcomes for women, mentoring, diversity, ethical leadership development and social responsibility. Additionally, she pursues community service with many organizations, including through board positions with the Women and Girls Foundation, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and Food21 of Pennsylvania. 

As a result of all of these efforts, Murrell has been widely recognized through prestigious awards such as the Mayor’s Citizen Service Award from the City of Pittsburgh, the “Women of Influence” award from the Pittsburgh Business Times, and the SBA Minority Business Champion of the Year Award.

“Audrey’s exceptional experience and far-reaching scholarship make her ideal for her new role in the University Honors College, where innovation and mentoring are key to the success of our students,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. “From start to finish, she possesses the leadership qualities to further advance the scope and mission of the college.”

Chrysanthis in a suit and tie in front of a red curtain

Panos Chrysanthis Receives Alumni Honor From Alma Mater

Panos Chrysanthis, a professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Information, has been recognized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Science for Outstanding Achievements in Education. He and seven other alumni of the school were honored in April for achievements in education, entrepreneurship, research and management as well as computing for the common good and outstanding achievements by a young alumnus.

At Pitt, Chrysanthis is founding director of the Advanced Data Management Technologies Lab. He has received seven teaching awards and, in 2015, was given the University of Pittsburgh Provost Award for Excellence in Mentoring for doctoral students.

H2P written in sparklers in the dark

7 Pitt Athletics Programs Post Highest Multiyear Academic Progress Report Scores

Seven University of Pittsburgh athletic programs — baseball, football, men’s cross country, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s tennis and women’s track & field — set or matched their highest multi-year Academic Progress Report scores as released by the NCAA.

Pitt had 11 of its 17 programs perform at or above the national average for multi-year rate ending with the 2017-18 academic year, including the women’s basketball, women’s tennis and women's cross country teams that posted perfect 1,000 scores to earn APR Public Recognition honors. The women’s tennis team posted a perfect score for the fifth consecutive year and seventh time overall since the start of the APR. Women's cross country posted a perfect score of 1,000 for the second consecutive year and third time overall, while women’s basketball accomplished the feat for the first time.

Read more about these achievements at the Pitt Athletics news site.

Hornyak in a pink top

Victoria Hornyak Recognized as 2019 Geriatrics Teacher of the Year

Victoria Hornyak, assistant professor of physical therapy in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently received the 2019 Geriatrics Teacher of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Geriatrics Society — Western Division.

Hornyak is recognized for her work at Pitt, which includes coordinating and serving as the primary instructor for courses related to patient management and geriatrics in Pitt’s Department of Physical Therapy program. She also serves as the faculty mentor for the students’ Geriatrics Special Interest Group and is an SHRS representative for Pitt’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

Her research addresses advancing dementia care competency and preparedness across disciplines through a grant as part of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program. The project’s goal is to adapt existing communication skills programs to better interact with patients who have dementia.

John Kozar

John Kozar Named Workplace Wellness Champion

Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Benefits John Kozar was recently named a Pittsburgh Business Times Workplace Wellness Champion.

The new award honors Pittsburgh leaders who are working to advance the physical, mental and fiscal health of their employees and their families. Kozar and other wellness champions will be honored at a luncheon at the Westin Convention Center Hotel on Thursday, May 23.

Kozar told the Pittsburgh Business Times that when he began his career at Pitt more than 15 years ago, he set out to develop health and wellness programs, with a goal of changing the culture around wellness at the University.

“It’s about doing the right thing, creating awareness, trying to reach faculty, staff and students in as many ways as we can,” said Kozar. 

In his role in the Office of Human Resources, Kozar oversees the benefits department and negotiates all contracts and agreements, as well as develops costs and any changes in plan designs. He provides oversight of the on-site MyHealth@Work Center health and wellness center for faculty and staff. Additionally, he serves as a liaison for the University Senate’s benefits and welfare committee.

the Cathedral on a blue-sky day

Record-High Dollar Amount Given to Nationality Rooms Scholarships Winners

Fifty-four students have received Nationality Rooms Scholarships to support their summer abroad research endeavors. This year, a record amount of $205,000 was awarded among the recipients. View a full list of 2019 Nationality Rooms Scholarships winners, along with their destinations and research plans.

The recipients, which include undergrad and graduate students, were honored at an awards ceremony in April before setting off to their international destinations — from Ghana to Shanghai, Krakow to Tanzania.

Since 1948, the Nationality Rooms committees have provided summer study abroad scholarships to Pitt students. The University Center for International Studies also awards scholarships through the Study Abroad Program.

Dickerson in a blue Pitt fleece

Sam Dickerson Named 2019 Outstanding Educator

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has presented Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the computer engineering undergraduate program, with this year’s Outstanding Educator Award. This competitive award recognizes his excellence in teaching and innovative work in developing and improving the department’s undergraduate program.

The award includes a $2,000 grant to further enhance the recipient’s teaching.

Dickerson joined the Swanson School as assistant professor in 2015 after completing his PhD, MS and BS degrees in electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. In addition to teaching, Dickerson plays an influential role in the development and improvement of curricula in the school. Read more at the Swanson School’s website.

students sitting on a gazebo railing

Pitt Recognized as Military Friendly School for Eighth Consecutive Year

The University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus has been honored as a 2019-2020 Military Friendly Top 10 School, as recognized by Viqtory Media. This the eighth year in a row that the Oakland campus has received this honor.

Military-affiliated students at Pitt are supported by the Office of Veterans Services, PITT VETS and other entities across campus. Viqtory Media’s “Military Friendly” designation aims to measure and assess and organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.

Pitt-Bradford was also recognized as a Military Friendly School by Viqtory Media this year.

Gaskew in front of a brick wall

Pitt–Bradford’s Tony Gaskew Appointed to NCAA Committee

Tony Gaskew, professor of criminal justice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, has been appointed to a three-year term on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, effective September 2019.

The 18-member committee is responsible for reviewing issues and promoting NCAA programs and policies related to student athletes, coaches and administrators who are ethnic minorities, LGBTQ or who have disabilities. It was established in 1991 to enhance commitment to foster racial equality and diversity in collegiate athletics.

Gaskew is professor of criminal justice, director of the criminal justice program, and founding director of the Prison Education Program at Pitt-Bradford. He is the senior faculty advisor to the Pitt-Bradford Office of the President in the area of athletics.

He is a graduate of the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Fellows Institute and since 2016, Gaskew has served as the campus’ faculty athletics representative to the NCAA. As such, he  plays a vital strategic and tactical role in overseeing its institutional responsibilities in the NCAA’s three broad areas of academic integrity (including academic reform initiatives), institutional control and student-athlete well-being.

a gate in the Cathedral

New Awards Celebrate Pitt’s Community Partnerships

Five outstanding community partnerships were recognized in the University’s first annual Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s Partnerships of Distinction Awards, presented as part of the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum.

Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, presented the awards to five exemplary community engagement partnerships. Honorees receive $2,000 in support of their work.

The inaugural awards were presented to:

Read more about these vital local partnerships in this feature story from the awards event.

Banerjee in a black top

Ipsita Banerjee Wins 2019 Faculty Diversity Award

Ipsita Banerjee, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is the recipient of the School’s 2019 Faculty Diversity Award. 

“It would be an understatement to say that Ipsita earnestly strives each year to improve the academic environment fostering the success of under-represented minority students at the graduate, undergraduate and high school levels,” says Steven Little, department chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School. Read more at the Swanson School’s website.

painting of Cooper using a wheelchair with a blue and gold background

HERL Director Rory Cooper Joins Hall of Inventors

Rory A. Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt, was recently honored with his U.S. Patent and Trademark Office inventor trading card and portrait.

Cooper is the 28th inventor and the first Pitt professor to receive this honor, which was established in 2012. Other inventors who have received this honor include Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Abraham Lincoln and Hedy Lamarr, among others.

Cooper has over two dozen patents in his name, with his portrait featuring one of them — the Ergonomic Dual Surface Wheelchair Pushrim, a wheelchair accessory designed to relieve stress on the wheelchair pusher's upper body. He is also the associate dean for inclusion and the FISA/Paralyzed Veterans of America Distinguished Professor at Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

See Cooper’s inventor card here.

Runyan in a black speckled blouse

Neuroscience’s Caroline Runyan Wins Searle Scholarship

Caroline Runyan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has been named a 2019 Searle Scholar. She is one of 15 young scientists selected for recognition this year.

The Searle Scholars Program awards grants to support the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences or chemistry who are in their first tenure-track position. An advisory board of eminent scientists chooses the scholars based on rigorous standards designed to find the most creative talent pursuing academic research careers. The recognition comes with an award of $300,000 in flexible funding to support work over the next three years.

Runyan’s research at Pitt focuses on sensation and how the meaning of sensory stimuli can change in different contexts to enable survival. The goal of her research is “to understand the circuit mechanisms that control the flow of information between brain regions. How do networks filter out irrelevant information? How does incoming sensory information interact with the animal’s internal brain state?” she said.

panther statue on a sunny day

Lab Safety Program Wins National Recognition

The Department of Chemistry and Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) have won the American Chemical Society (ACS) 2019 SafetyStratus College and University Health and Safety Award for Pitt’s “outstanding comprehensive laboratory safety program in higher education (undergraduate study).”

EHS director Jay Frerotte credited chemistry faculty member Ericka Huston’s successful Safety in the Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM1010) course, developed with input from EHS staff led by environmental manager Keith Duval, as key to the award.

Awards committee chair Kimi Brown, a senior lab safety specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, called Pitt’s approach to chemical safety education a model for other institutions.  

“Dr. Huston is passionate about ensuring that all Pitt chemistry students are educated in the philosophy of risk assessment and control, regardless of whether they participate in her CHEM1010 course,” Brown said. “To that end, she has added more engaging and informative safety content to both the undergraduate teaching lab curriculum and to the graduate student research-safety training. Furthermore, those students who do enroll in CHEM1010 are given a unique opportunity to develop important leadership skills and deepen their understanding of how safety integrates with science.” 

In addition to a plaque, the award includes $1,000 for expenses to present at the ACS national meeting in San Diego in August.

Ducar in a black sweater with a chunky metallic necklace

Jamie Ducar Earns Community Partnership Micro-credential

Jamie Ducar, director of community engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, is among the first individuals in the higher-education civic and community engagement field to earn a micro-credential in Community Partnerships through Campus Compact’s new Community Engagement Professional Credentialing Program.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. 

Ducar earned this distinction by demonstrating competency in effectively cultivating, facilitating and maintaining high-quality partnerships with community organizations and representatives. 

The program provides formal recognition for the knowledge and skills practitioners develop throughout their careers and provides a framework for them to grow and achieve in the field in ways that encourage effective, inclusive and equity-based partnerships and practices. Practitioners who earn a requisite number of micro-credentials may apply for Campus Compact’s full certification as a Community Engagement Professional.

Among the content advisers to this new program is Pitt Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement Lina Dostilio.  

Ressin in a green sweater

Senior Sam Ressin Receives Udall Scholarship

Sam Ressin of Vienna, Virginia, is one of only 55 college students out of 443 nationwide candidates to receive a 2019 Udall Scholarship.

The Udall Foundation gives scholarships to sophomores and juniors for “leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.”

The funding will support Ressin’s plans to travel to Colombia in summer 2019, where he will collect independent research on food waste — one of the top contributors to global emissions.

Ressin is a rising senior studying economics and statistics in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and is completing a certificate in Global Studies out of the University Center for International Studies. Ressin serves as director of Pitt Green Fund, is a Chancellor’s Scholar and a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Award. He is also founder and former president of Pitt’s Climate Stewardship Society.

studio portraits of each winner, stitched together

Jayant Rajgopal and Sylvanus Wosu Honored With American Society for Engineering Education Awards

Honoring commitment to excellence and diversity in engineering education, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) has selected professors at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering to receive two of its annual awards. 

Jayant Rajgopal, professor of industrial engineering, won the John L. Imhoff Global Excellence Award for Industrial Engineering Education and Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity affairs and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, won the DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award.

The ASEE will honor Rajgopal and Wosu at the Annual Awards Luncheon during their Annual Conference and Exposition on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at the Tampa Convention Center. Read more at the Swanson School.

Chaves-Gnecco in a white shirt in front of a brown background

Diego Chaves-Gnecco Named 2019 Pediatrician of the Year

Diego Chaves-Gnecco, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, has been named 2019 Pediatrician of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter (PA AAP).

The Pediatrician of Year award recognizes a chapter member who exemplifies excellence in the profession. The award was presented during the 2019 PA AAP Annual Meeting on May 4.

Diego’s clinical and academic interest include the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, providing care to families and children with disabilities, providing care to children from minority and underserved populations and addressing barriers to health care access.

He has been a long-time PA AAP chapter member and involved with many chapter activities including Healthy Teeth, Healthy Children and the Traffic Injury Prevention Project. In the summer of 2002, Diego created the First Pediatric Bilingual-Bicultural Clinic in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Since its creation, this clinic has expanded to the program Salud Para Niños (Health for the Children), which provides culturally and linguistically competent primary care for children and families is complemented with activities oriented toward prevention and empowering the community about its own health.

Kinloch in a yellow shirt

Valerie Kinloch to Speak at Event for Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, will speak at a national symposium of education, law and policy scholars to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. The civil rights case declared that the segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th Amendment, and therefore, unconstitutional. The unanimous ruling was delivered on May 17, 1954, by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.

Kinloch was selected among a handful of speakers who will discuss Brown’s “promise of integration amid major contemporary threats to civil rights in education.” Kinloch, who has built her career on working to change the narrative of equity in education, will specifically speak on the topic of “Growing Critically Conscious Teachers.” The event, titled Brown@65, will be held at Penn State University on May 10.

Iordanova in a dark shirt

Bistra Iordanova Receives $25,000 to Research Gender in Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the leading causes of disability in the elderly, affecting 5.4 million people in the United States and 35 million people worldwide. Two-thirds these individuals are women, and though they are disproportionately affected, the biological basis of the sex differences in AD onset and progression is not well understood. 

Bistra Iordanova, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, received a $25,000 award from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to collect data from female rodent models, integrate it with her existing datasets from males and begin to examine whether AD onset and progression differs between the two. Read more at the Swanson School.