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View of Pittsburgh skyline from campus

Pittsburgh Among Cities with Greatest Longevity

Besides being the third most livable city in the U.S., Parade listed Pittsburgh as one where residents have a higher chance of reaching their 100th birthday.

Parade cited health care as Pittsburgh’s new economic driver, but also mentioned “culture and top-notch education at all ages.”

According to the University of California, Irvine, talking to neighbors ranked high among habits of those over age 90. Parade highlighted that “community engagement is rich in this city’s distinct and tight-knit neighborhoods,” with Squirrel Hill residents having an average life expectancy of 86 years old.

Allison Shertzer

Allison Shertzer Awarded Grant to Study Housing Market Past for Better Future

Allison Shertzer, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Economics, recently received a three-year, $607,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine the evolution of real estate values and the standard of living in the U.S. over the period of 1880 to 1990.

Shertzer and her team will combine state-of-the-art methods in housing price index construction with newly digitized newspaper archives, with the goal of making important improvements over existing housing price series.

“We can't really understand what is happening in today's housing economy or make predictions for the future, unless we understand how the price of housing moved during booms and busts of the past,” she said. 

Nishauna Ball and Tom Klemmer

Alumni Added to Board of Sojourner House

Two University of Pittsburgh alumni are now members of the Board of Sojourner House, an East Liberty agency that offers residential and other services to women in recovery and their children.

One is Nishauna Ball (SOC WK ’10, 11G), from Penn Hills, who currently is a program development manager at POWER, the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery. 

The other is Tom Klemmer (A&S ’87), a Wilkinsburg resident, who is a senior analyst in Global Customer Care for ABB Enterprise Software.  

Ball and Klemmer are two of five new board members for Sojourner House, which partners with other agencies and community groups to fulfill its mission of strengthening family relationships and promoting long-term sobriety and mental health stability.

School of Education Receives $1 Million Grant from Gates Foundation

The School of Education and Remake Learning have received a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an innovative network of educators of color and learning scientists who will work together to transform how research and development are conducted in education.

Called the Shifting Power initiative, the project aims to change how educational research is performed by bringing in the voices of more educators and students of color. The project will create new advisory group of 20 people from K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, museums and education technology companies. This network is intended to become a national model for implementation.

“Shifting Power is an important undertaking that will center and uplift the voices, identities, power, and brilliance of Black and Latinx educators,” said Valerie Kinloch (pictured), the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, Co-chair of the Remake Learning Council, and co-principal investigator on this grant.

Kinloch added, “Our network will ensure that they play a leading role in the educational innovations that improve the spaces where our young people learn. We are proud to partner with Remake Learning and the Gates Foundation on this ambitious endeavor, which supports our school’s mission to ignite learning and to strive for well-being for all.”

Read more about the Shifting Power initiative on the School of Education’s website.

Matthew Sterne

Matthew Sterne Appointed Vice Chancellor for Business Services

Matthew Sterne will be joining the University of Pittsburgh as vice chancellor for business services, announced Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations Greg Scott. Sterne comes to Pitt from the Fairmont Pittsburgh, where he is general manager. He will begin Feb. 10.

In this role, new within Business and Operations, Sterne will provide oversight and direction for the University’s auxiliary services, including housing, dining, transportation and mobility; the University Club; University retail stores; the Petersen Events Center; conference services; and mailing and print production services. In this position, he will ensure that each business unit supports the mission, vision and strategic priorities of the University.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Matthew,” said Scott. “As Pitt continues to innovate and transform, we have added this new senior leadership role to meet our current and future operational needs, expanding our bench strength to support the exciting, significant growth ahead.”

Scott said that this new senior leadership role was created to meet the current and future operational needs at the University, and that it “expands our bench strength to support the exciting, significant growth ahead.”

Read more about Sterne and his role at Pitt.

Tessa McCarthy

Education’s Tessa McCarthy Receives National Research Award

Tessa McCarthy, assistant professor in the School of Education, received the 2019 Alan J. Koenig Research in Literacy Award.

The award, which is one of the highest honors that can be given to educators of people with visual impairments, is granted to one person every two years. 

McCarthy, who teaches courses in the Vision Studies program in the School of Education’s Department of Instruction and Learning, focuses the majority of her research on the mechanical and pedagogical aspects of teaching Braille reading. 

The School of Education is one of a few dozen higher education institutions in the United States that offer degree and certification programs for educators in vision studies.

Read more about McCarthy and the Vision Studies program.

Shelome Gooden

Shelome Gooden Named First Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research for the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Related Fields

Shelome Gooden was recently named as the University of Pittsburgh’s first-ever assistant vice chancellor for research for the humanities, arts, social sciences, and related fields. She will begin her position on Jan. 1, 2020.

Gooden will provide intellectual leadership across the humanities, arts, social sciences and related areas. She has served as associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Linguistics, researching language contact and sound structure in Creole languages. For the past 14 years, she has served on the executive committee for the Society for Pidgin & Creole Languages and currently serves on the advisory board for an international research group, Creative Multilingualism.

Pitt created this position because the University offers an incredible diversity of modes of research and creative endeavors, and corresponding ranges of research and creative products. 

“Our office (“Pitt Research”) needs to promote and engage with faculty working in all these knowledge domains, and creating this position helps us to do so,” said Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research at Pitt. “I know Shelome’s vision will help to advance the research conducted here at Pitt, and will enhance interdisciplinary opportunities.”

The Cathedral of Learning

Pittsburgh Named One of the Best Places to Find a Job

Pittsburgh is one of the best places to find a job the U.S., according to WalletHub’s “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs” rankings.

Pittsburgh ranked 13th overall, seventh in socioeconomics and 36th for market quality. To determine the ranking, the personal finance website compared “more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 key indicators of job-market strength,” such as “job opportunities to employment growth to monthly average starting salary.”

Scottsdale, Arizona, landed at number one on the list, with Detroit, Michigan, rounding out the list at number 182. 

Pittsburgh at dusk

Pittsburgh Named One of the World’s Smartest Cities

Pittsburgh has been named one of the world’s smartest cities, as part of Newsweek’s 2019 Momentum Awards.

According to Newsweek, each city that made the list is “doing something bold and unique that is leading us into the land unknown.” 

Newsweek noted that Pittsburgh has “undergone a dramatic environmental and technological transformation over recent years,” mentioning the city’s efforts in sustainability as well as several successful smart city projects. 

Lina Dostilio

Lina Dostilio Leads Study on Hyperlocal Community Engagement

Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, published a new study in conjunction with her work as the inaugural fellow with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), with support by the Kresge Foundation.

For the study, Dostilio focused on hyperlocal engagement, or “instances in which post-secondary institutions have strategically organized community engagement efforts to focus on a bounded area within a larger city or metropolitan region in ways that enhance the institution’s ability to form partnerships and advance community development.”

The benchmarking report examined the hyperlocal practices of 22 CUMU institutions with a total of 26 engagements across 33 sites—including Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood

The report also “catalogs the diversity of hyperlocal engagement strategies and investigates which areas of community capacity were of interest to hyperlocal engagements.” Read the full report.

“To me, the benefits of a hyperlocal engagement are the ability to have a sustained institutional platform for partnership, to be able to grow alongside community anchors, and to think together about how we dream and build the future," said Dostilio. "A university’s future is intertwined with the futures of its surrounding communities.” 

Dostilio’s research team included the following Pitt community members:

Panther statue

Pitt Collaboratory Releases Paper on Water Issues

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach has released a white paper outlining key challenges to water quality research, monitoring and improvement in the region. The collaboratory, founded by faculty out of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, recommended coordinated regional efforts to test waterways for a broader range of pollutants and increased public awareness surrounding water quality issues. The paper, “Water Quality in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches,” is the second of three examining knowledge gaps surrounding water issues within the region. 

Evelyn Rawski

History Professor Emerita Evelyn Rawski Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Evelyn Rawski, distinguished university professor emerita in the Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized by the American Historical Association with a lifetime achievement award.

Rawski won the Award for Scholarly Distinction, given to “senior historians for lifetime achievement.”  

Rawski specializes in Chinese historiography, Chinese economic history and borderlands in northeast Asia.

Valerie Kinloch

Valerie Kinloch Served as Keynote for Equity Summit

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, was the keynote speaker for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Equity Summit. 

The summit drew school district leadership from across Pennsylvania to “learn best practices, network with others and engage in discussions on how to develop a culturally responsive and inclusive school environment.”

The summit was held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 15.

Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte Named Finalist for National Book Award for Poetry

A publication by Toi Derricotte, professor emerita in the Department of English within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been named a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. 

Derricotte’s "'I': New and Selected Poems" is a retrospective volume of work that includes more than 30 new poems and selections from five of Derricotte’s previously published poetry books. It was published in 2019 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Since 1950, the National Book Awards have celebrated the best writing in America, and currently honors the best fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature published every year.

Derricotte is also the co-founder of Cave Canem, a national poetry organization that cultivates “the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.”

Austin A. Davis

Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association Names Austin A. Davis its 2019 Alumnus of Distinction

The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its annual Alumnus of Distinction award to Pennsylvania State Rep. Austin A. Davis (35th District) at its Oct. 5 Alumni Celebration Dinner. 

The award acknowledges excellence among alumni of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and is the highest honor bestowed by PGAA. Candidates are evaluated based on outstanding professional achievement, service to the community, service to the University, special recognition or honors and other special efforts or success. 

Davis earned a degree in political science at Pitt-Greensburg in 2012. "Austin's passionate interest in politics and policy came shining through as a student at Pitt-Greensburg,” said political science faculty member Paul Adams, chair of Pitt-Greensburg’s Behavioral Science Division. “Austin always had something to add to class discussions and debates and was energized by his classes here. His engagement inside and outside the classroom were strong early indicators of his future success as a public official and leader in his community and in our commonwealth."

Elected in 2018, Davis serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee as the Democratic Secretary, the Insurance Committee as the Democratic Vice Chair and the Urban Affairs Committee.

Davis also is Vice Chairman of the Allegheny County Housing Authority board of commissioners. He is Vice Chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, and serves on the board of directors for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, The Consortium for Public Education, and Communities in Schools of Pittsburgh and Auberle.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as this year’s Alumnus of Distinction,” said Davis. “My passion and commitment for public service was fostered at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and I would not be the public servant I am today without those experiences. It is my hope that the University continues to inspire students to seek careers in public service.”

Peter Strick

Peter Strick Honored for Brain Research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh's Brain Institute, was selected for a 2019 Krieg Cortical Kudos Discoverer Award in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the cortical circuits involved in motor control.

He was presented the award by the Society for Neuroscience at the Cajal Club in Chicago. Each year, neuroscientists at senior, intermediate and beginning stages in their careers are honored by the society for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex. 

Strick’s research focuses on four major areas: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the motor areas of the cerebral cortex; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.

Kenneth Jordan

Kenneth Jordan's Paper on Hydration, Surfactants Published in PNAS

Kenneth Jordan, Richard King Mellon Professor and Distinguished Professor of Computational Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, is part of the research team behind the paper “Molecular-Level Origin of the Carboxylate Head Group Response to Divalent Metal Ion Complexation at the Air-Water Interface,” published in the July edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper examines at a microscopic level the hydration of a model surfactant system. Surfactants such as soaps have one end that is attracted toward water, with the other end being attracted to oily substances.

Panther statue

Four Alumni Named 2020 Distinguished Alumni by Department of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry has named four former students as 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awardees. Alumni honorees are:

  • Jingguang G. Chen, who received his PhD in 1998 under advisor John Yates. Chen is Department Chair and Thayer Lindsley Professor of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University.
  • Jamie McCabe Dunn, who received a PhD in 2007 under advisor, Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Kay Brummond. Dunn is director of the Kenilworth Discovery Process Chemistry Site-Lead at Merck & Co., Inc.
  • McMahan Gray, who received a Bachelor’s of Science from the school in 1980. Gray is Project Leader: Sorbent Development for CO2 Removal for Flue Gas Applications-Component 1 for National Energy Technology Laboratory. 
  • Jeremy P. Walker, who received a PhD in 2006 under advisor Distinguished Professor Sanford A. Asher. Walker is Director of Science and Technology for FLIR Systems. 

The awards were founded in 2000, when the department celebrated its 125th anniversary. Since that time, it has recognized more than 60 alumni who have made significant contributions to the field. Chen, Dunn, Gray and Walker will be recognized at a dinner on Oct. 9, 2020. 

John V. Williams

Pediatrics Researcher John V. Williams to be Presented Award for Scientific Contributions

John V. Williams was recently announced as the recipient of the 2020 Norman J. Siegel Outstanding Science Award by the American Pediatric Society for “his considerable contributions to pediatric science.”

Williams is the division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology; professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and director of the Institute for Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity in Children (i4Kids). 

Williams is an international leader in the field of respiratory virus biology, particularly human metapneumovirus (HMPV), and a recognized researcher and contributor to leading scientific journals. He will be presented the award on May 3 during the APS Presidential Plenary at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2020 meeting in Philadelphia. 

Read more about Williams and the American Pediatric Society's honor.

Inside the Cathedral of Learning

Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences turns 50 this year. 

The school began as one of the smallest schools on Pitt’s campus in 1969 and has grown to be one of the most prominent today.

“We are fortunate that the leadership in SHRS sees the challenges as opportunities to demonstrate our collective innovation in educational delivery. This is especially evident as we boldly move into the arena of distance education,” said Anthony Delitto, who has served as the school’s dean since 2015. 

Read more about the school over its half-century existence in the latest edition of FACETS, SHRS’s magazine.