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Nicole Mitchell plays the flute in a red top

Pitt Jazz Launches New Video Blog on International Jazz Day

The Pitt Jazz Studies Program is launching a new initiative: a video blog called Jazz Talk, hosted by Nicole Mitchell, director of the Jazz Studies program, which is in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The series, which will feature solo performances by local jazz musicians who will be interviewed by Mitchell, will premiere at noon on April 30, International Jazz Day. To view it, visit Pitt Jazz Studies’ Facebook page.

“Featuring Pittsburgh jazz artists on an online platform will hopefully bring more outside attention to the great talent that Pittsburgh jazz has to offer,” said Mitchell. “It will also help local fans get to know the musicians more personally. I’d also like to make space for voices of artists in other disciplines whose work is informed by jazz and improvisation.”

Jazz Talk’s first installment will feature bassist Dwayne Dolphin and vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield. Dolphin was playing bass with jazz greats Geri Allen, Nathan Davis, Pete Henderson, Roger Humphries and Fred Wesley by the time he was 15. He toured with famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis throughout the U.S. and appeared on “The Tonight Show.” Dolphin’s diverse experience has included a performance with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s production of “Indigo in Motion.” He is an adjunct professor of jazz at Duquesne University.

Wingfield is a vocalist and teaching artist specializing in opera, classical, jazz and soul.  She is the founding director of Groove Aesthetic, a Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary artist collective. Wingfield has performed such lead operatic roles as Magda Sorel in Carl Menotti’s “The Consul,” Hanna Glawari in Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” and Zerlina in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” As the education director for the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, she oversees early childhood programs in schools and communities.

For more information, contact the Jazz Studies office at 412-624-4187 or pittjazz@pitt.edu.

panther statue

2020-2021 Will Be the Year of Engagement

The Office of the Provost has announced that the next academic year's theme will focus on engagement. As in past years, students, faculty and staff can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for projects related to the theme. Read more in the University Times.

The Cathedral of Learning

Three Pitt Researchers Inducted into AIMBE

Three University of Pittsburgh researchers have been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Election to the institute’s College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer.

The following Pitt researchers were recently inducted:

The College of Fellows is comprised of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice or education and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing and implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."

A yellow compass

Pitt’s Global Hub Still Abuzz with Free Events, Watch Parties, Virtual Tours

Pitt’s Posvar Hall may be shuttered, but its Global Hub is still buzzing with activity, albeit virtual in nature. There are the regular ongoing offerings, like the United Nations noon briefings, and virtual tours of sites ranging from world-class museums to Croatia’s national parks. Then there are the special events—live interviews, lectures, webinars, panel discussions and watch parties. The content is developed by all of the units under the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), but it is promoted by the Hub, the central place at Pitt to find ways to stay globally engaged. All of the activity is free to the public.

Hub Manager Karen Lue says she is especially proud to promote the virtual International Tea Time Workshops, at which students from around the globe have a space to air concerns, ask questions or just feel included.

“These are hard times for everyone, but particularly for international students who are, in effect, ‘stuck’ here in a place that is not their home culture,” said Lue. “Having a space where they can speak with students who are going through similar challenges, in a discussion led by professional counselors, is a way for them to feel like they are part of a community.”

The Hub is also a resource for those students completing UCIS certificates or the Global Distinction credential. And the Hub’s Instagram account features clips from its Experience Wall, as well as testimonials from UCIS students.

The main goal: global engagement. “Now more than ever, it is clearly evident that we live in an interconnected world that requires our ability to understand and empathize with one another,” said Belkys Torres, executive director of global engagement. “That is only possible through increased knowledge of other cultures, peoples and experiences.”

A piece of art depicting a person

Annual Studio Arts Student Exhibition Moves Online

A wide array of drawings, paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, video and animation is available online in Pitt’s 2020 Studio Arts Student Exhibition and will remain online until the fall.

The show features 43 works by 11 new studio arts alumni and 12 other students.

The exhibition reveals the names of participants in a column on the right side of the page. Click on a student’s name to see their profile and gallery page, at the bottom of which are images they are exhibiting this year. The image shown on the left side of this page, in black and white, for example, is of "The Tale of Medusa," a cut-paper still used in a digital animation by graduating senior Azize Altay Harvey from Chicago, Illinois.

Under “Selected Works by Faculty” on the right-side list are names of other students who contributed to the show; some are art majors, some are not. Their works are included in a gallery at the bottom of that page. The exhibition also includes a printed catalogue that can be viewed and purchased and the department’s lively and colorful Instagram account.

Associate Professor and Chair of Studio Arts Delanie Jenkins said when it became clear that this year’s exhibition could not be mounted in a physical space due to the public health crisis, the seniors collaborated in a multi-pronged strategy to put the show online.

Added Jenkins: “Though viewers will not experience the materiality of the students’ work directly—the lushness of textures and surfaces, the sensitivity and nuance of a particular mark, the physical presence of a work experienced in person—we invite viewers to stay tuned, in hopes that there will be some version of the exhibition to experience in person in the future.”

Two people talk with one another over graphs and other data

PInCh Offering Bonus Prize Money for Pandemic Health Ideas

The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) 2020 is now offering a bonus award of up to $25,000 for ideas that impact aspects of health that are related to an epidemic or pandemic.

Proposals are not required to address this issue, but those that do would be eligible to receive additional funding. Applications will continue to be accepted for any innovative solution to a challenging health problem, from any discipline and on any topic that impacts health.

Two-minute video applications are due Wednesday, April 29, by 5 p.m.

A total of $555,000 in awards are available, with individual project awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. Teams that enter must include at least one University of Pittsburgh faculty member. Find more information or assistance with your submission online.

A sign for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Joshua Groffman Selected for Bradford Campus Teaching Award

Joshua Groffman, assistant professor of music, will receive the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award. Groffman is the director of Pitt-Bradford’s music programs.

Jeff Guterman, associate professor of broadcast communications and chair of the campus's Division of Communication and the Arts, cited Groffman’s creation of a music minor and pep band in 2018 as well as positive teaching reviews and making a point of connecting visiting musicians directly with students in a learning environment.

Groffman is also a prolific composer and active performer. Several performances planned for spring and summer have been postponed, most notably a June pre-premiere workshop of a new opera, “Halcyon.” Groffman now expects that to take place in 2021.

Bright pink flowers on a tree, with the Cathedral of Learning in the background

12 Pitt Students Recognized by NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Twelve Pitt graduate students have been recognized by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for their work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at the University.

The country’s oldest fellowship program that supports STEM, the NSF GRFP helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States.

Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, along with a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development and the freedom to conduct their research.

Pitt recipients include:

  • Janet R. Canady, STEM education and learning research, technology education
  • Julia Lucette Driscoll, chemistry, chemical synthesis
  • Alex Michael Francette, life sciences, systems and molecular biology
  • Zachary Fritts, engineering, bioengineering
  • Brian Gentry, engineering, mechanical engineering
  • Douglas Getty, pyscholinguistics, psychology
  • Veronica Iriart, life sciences, ecology
  • Anne Maheux, psychology, development psychology
  • Evan Vincent Miu, engineering, chemical engineering
  • Benjamin Patty, life sciences, systems and molecular biology
  • Rachel Anne Reeb, life sciences, ecology
  • Mariya Alisa Savinov, mathematical sciences, applied mathematics
A University of Pittsburgh-Bradford Sign

Bradford Campus Named to Transfer Honor Roll

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been named to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Transfer Honor Roll in recognition of the dynamic pathways it has created to support transfer students.

Phi Theta Kappa is the honor society for students at two-year colleges and universities. It recognizes four-year colleges and universities deemed most friendly to transfer students. This is the first year that Pitt-Bradford has been recognized.

The Bradford campus was one of only two public universities in Pennsylvania that were recognized.

Pitt-Bradford provides an extensive database of courses at other universities for students to identify potential transfer credit. 

An aerial view of downtown Oakland

Alumna Delivers Meals to Essential Health Care Workers

Pitt alumna Sara Cannon (A&S ’06) was one of 10 volunteers responsible for distributing more than 400 meals to Pittsburgh-area hospitals this month.

On April 12, just 10 days after its establishment, Frontline Foods PGH distributed 165 meals to West Penn and Allegheny General Hospitals with local restaurant partners. And on April 17, the organization and its restaurant partners provided 300 additional meals to Allegheny General and UPMC East.

Frontline Foods PGH is a local chapter of a national grassroots organization Frontline Foods that raises money from the community to support local restaurants and feed health care workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The Pittsburgh chapter was established earlier this month by a small crew of volunteers that included Cannon who met through college and work experience in Pittsburgh.

“We have an amazing pipeline of restaurant and hospital partnerships in addition to those who have already executed on deliveries,” said Cannon.

Frontline Foods PGH intends to remain a resource and partner to hospitals and restaurants as long as it takes, collecting donations for restaurants, who prepare and deliver meal boxes safely.

“The restaurant industry has been absolutely crushed by stay-home orders, and this has been an effective formula to lend them some stability while taking care of our local caregivers,” said Cannon, who was blown away by the response from hospitals.

“After our first delivery, we received so many messages from meal recipients thanking us, and telling us that the meal box they received was a bright spot in their stressful days,” she said.

Nationally, Frontline Food’s 500 volunteers have helped raise more than $2 million and deliver more than 70,000 meals to workers in over 150 hospitals nationwide.

The Cathedral of Learning

Office of Human Resources Recognized Nationally for COVID-19 Resources for Supervisors

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) has been nationally recognized for its guidance in helping supervisors during the COVID-19 crisis.

EAB, a higher education firm, cited OHR in its April 13 article “3 ways to engage staff with excess capacity during coronavirus.”

The article highlights OHR’s new framework to help supervisors keep their employees engaged and productive during the pandemic. The framework offers tools and tips for supervisors on different ways they can shift their thinking “from challenge mode to opportunity mode,” as their staff’s normal responsibilities and routines may have changed due to the pandemic. The tips are:

  • Think AHEAD: Use this time for long-term, strategic planning.
  • Think BACK: Examine data on previous projects.
  • Think DEEP: Analyze systems currently in place.
  • Think ACROSS: Brainstorm ways to help others in their work.
  • Think GROWTH: Focus on self and team development.
  • Think WELL-BEING: Prioritize physical and mental health.
  • Think NOW: Consider which tasks are critical to tackling immediately.

Visit OHR’s website for more guidance, and additional COVID-19 resources for faculty and staff.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Back Issues of Environmental Magazine Now Available Online

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the University Library System (ULS) is making available nearly 300 back issues of Environmental Action Magazine, a publication of Environmental Action, Inc., which helped establish the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. The back issues, spanning 1970 to 1995, are available online, through Pitt’s ULS Digital Collections.

Environmental Action stopped operations in 1996 but was known for its pioneering work to pass clean air and water laws; reform electric utilities; oppose the construction of new urban highways; stop the production of supersonic aircraft; battle solid waste and the introduction of throwaway bottles and cans; ban toxic chemicals; and promote legislation that covered the production, use and disposal of dangerous substances. Articles in its magazine reflect these initiatives.

ULS also holds the records of the Environmental Action Foundation and contains a number of other environmental collections, including Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Records, 1970-1997, AIS.2000.16; Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) Records, 1968-2002, AIS.1979.21; Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Records, 1885-2006, AIS.1999.13 and many others.

Ben Rottman in a blue collared shirt

Program Connects Pitt Community for Shopping, Delivery Help

Ben Rottman, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, wanted to make it easier for people to find the help they needed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. His solution? The Pitt Shopping Helper program.

“There are so many people in the Pitt community who don't own a car, don't have extra money for delivery services or recently moved to Pittsburgh and don't have extensive social support,” said Rottman.

Working with Anthony Peck, a University technical consultant in Pitt IT, Rottman built the map-based tool that members of the psychology department and Learning Research and Development Center could use to find people who lived nearby and needed help with shopping and other necessities.

It came to the attention of Frits Pil, provost fellow for faculty and director of instructional innovation and faculty development at Pitt Business. Pil connected Rottman with the Pitt Pandemic Service Initiative, hosted by the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, which enabled the tool to become a cross-University effort.

“We are now looking for ways to reach the full Pitt community. What’s super exciting about this is that it’s Pitt colleagues helping each other,” said Pil. “The goal is for this to present minimal incremental risk to volunteers … We hope that they can provide the assistance when they would be going out for themselves any way.”

Currently, the Pitt Shopping Helper tool is part of the My Pitt platform, accessible to anyone with a pitt.edu email address.

“The current focus is shopping, but it can provide a framework and volunteer base to build off if the needs get more complex,” said Pil, who encouraged people to sign up as helpers and to request help if they need it.

“We would like for everyone in the Pitt community who needs help to ask for it. There is no stigma to requesting assistance at this time. We stay through this as a community. We support each other.”

Bharath Chandrasekaran in a blue collared shirt

Bharath Chandrasekaran Appointed to National Institutes of Health Study Section

Bharath Chandrasekaran, a communication science and disorders associate professor and vice chair of research in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been appointed to a four-year term to serve as a charter member of the Language and Communication Study Section, beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2024. The section is part of the Center for Scientific Review of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Members of NIH study sections are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. 

Chandrasekaran’s research examines the neurobiological computations that underlie human communication and learning.

Chandralekha Singh

Chandralekha Singh Named President of American Association of Physics Teachers

Chandralekha Singh, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, who is founding director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, has been appointed as the 2020 president of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

Singh, who had previously served as vice president of the AAPT board of directors, will work to connect physics educators at all education levels and expand professional development activities in ways that encourage inclusion and equity. “These activities can help physics instructors improve students’ sense of belonging and create a low anxiety learning environment in which all students can contribute to physics related discussions without fear of being wrong,” she said.

A collection of bottles of hand sanitizer

Chemistry Department Making Hand Sanitizer for Community Nonprofits

Members of the Department of Chemistry in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences are using their spare time and the department’s extra resources to make hand sanitizer and donate it to local community groups.

Department Chair Sunil Saxena and graduate student Joshua Casto, along with Dietrich School director of shared research support services Peter Chambers, used compounds left in the department to create batches of hand sanitizer that were distributed to the Light of Life Mission in Pittsburgh’s North Side, the Community Engagement Association in Homewood and Meals on Wheels in the Hill District. Saxena said the effort will continue as long as there is a community need.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Swanson School Students Host Letter Drive for UPMC Seniors

Knowing that social isolation is particularly difficult for senior citizens and can lead to worsening dementia or depression, Swanson School of Engineering students in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Student Chapter are holding a letter drive.

With an ambitious goal to make sure every resident in UPMC’s two senior living communities receives a letter, the students hope to collect 249 letters. Organizers said that this is a great way for seniors to feel connected during this difficult time, and letters will be distributed to those without extended family first. Letters can be submitted electronically or by mail. To type a letter or upload a photo of a drawing or handwritten letter, use an online Google form.

Otherwise, you can mail your letter to:

Christine M Cassese
Cumberland Woods Village
700 Cumberland Woods Drive
Allison Park, PA 15101

Or to:

Canterbury Place
Attn: Crista Magness
310 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

People running on treadmills in athletic clothes

Pitt Jumps in Athletic Equality Index

The University of Pittsburgh earned a score of 95 out of 100 in the 2019 Athletic Equality Index (AEI), an increase from the previous score of 48 in the report’s inaugural edition in 2017.  A report was not issued in 2018.

The AEI, issued by Athlete Ally, provides “a comprehensive look at how member institutions of the NCAA Power 5 conferences … are utilizing policies to support their LGBTQ+ student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff and fans.”

To measure this, institutions were asked to provide information on the following and were scored in these areas:

  1. Comprehensive nondiscrimination policies
  2. LGBTQ+ resources and educational materials
  3. An inclusive fan code of conduct
  4. Policies for transgender student-athlete inclusion
  5. Student-athlete initiatives relative to LGBTQ+ inclusion
  6. Out of ally-trained athletics staff members
  7. A co-hosted event supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion
  8. A recurring LGBTQ+ inclusive initiative or campaign

Learn more about LGBTQIA+ resources on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.

the Cathedral with pretty red flowers in the foreground

Vote for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition People’s Choice Award

Anyone with a Pitt email address has one day left to cast votes for the People’s Choice winner in the 2020 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Twenty graduate students from across the University are participating in this year’s competition, now in its third year at Pitt.

Students are challenged ahead of their Doctor of Philosophy dissertation defense to effectively present their research in three minutes or less to a non-specialist audience. This year’s contestants range from engineering to psychology to public health.

Check out the current leaderboard and recorded video presentations. Voting for the People’s Choice award closes Friday, April 17, 2020 at 5 p.m. ET.

The people’s choice winner will receive a $1,000 travel grant. A panel of judges will award three additional travel grants. Prizes are sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library System and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

A virtual reveal will take place Monday, April 20. Check back at Pitt’s 3MT website for details.

A student walking on a sidewalk

Carbon Commitment Committee Named

A Carbon Commitment Committee has been established in support of the University of Pittsburgh’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2037.

Director of Sustainability Aurora Sharrard will chair this subcommittee of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability.  

Carbon Commitment Committee members are:

  • Jennifer Barnes, supplier diversity and sustainability coordinator, Purchasing
  • Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor, Facilities Management
  • Melissa Bilec, deputy director, Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Brendan Fouracre, Executive Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning and Projects and Facility and Event Operations, Athletics
  • Max Harleman, PhD candidate, Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
  • Mike Holland, Vice Chancellor for Science Policy & Research Strategies, Research
  • Katrina Kelly, assistant research professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mary Beth McGrew, associate vice chancellor, Planning, Design and Real Estate
  • Ellen Oordt, undergraduate student, Ecology & Evolution '22
  • Rebecca Roadman, senior HR project manager, Human Resources

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced the accelerated carbon neutrality goal, timed to align with Pitt’s 250th anniversary in 2037, in conjunction with the signing of the Second Nature Climate Leadership Statement and Carbon Commitment. The University is on a trajectory to meet the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use 50% by 2030 (from a 2008 baseline), while producing or procuring at least 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.