Accolades

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Giuseppe Intini in a light striped shirt

Pitt Researchers Helping Study Bone Health in Space

The University of Pittsburgh is teaming up with medical device company RevBio, Inc. to study the effects of an adhesive biomaterial on bone health in space.

An experiment will take place onboard the International Space Station later this year, where the material Tetranite’s effectiveness on the bone healing process will be examined. A side-by-side experiment will be conducted on Earth to examine the differences between healing under both normal and osteoporotic conditions induced by the micro-gravity environment of outer space.

“Tetranite is a uniquely osteoconductive biomaterial that is also adhesive and injectable,” said Giuseppe Intini, associate professor of periodontics and preventive dentistry at Pitt, and faculty member at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who will serve as the principal investigator for this study. “If we are able to show that this novel scaffold can facilitate bone repair in space, new methods may be developed to treat or prevent bone fractures in osteoporotic patients on Earth as well.” 

Ivet Bahar in a light blue collared shirt with bookcases in the background

Ivet Bahar Receives Congratulations from Consul General of the Republic of Turkey on Her Election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

Ivet Bahar, distinguished professor of computational and systems biology and John K. Vries Chair in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was named the to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in April 2020.

Earlier this month, the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey visited Pitt’s campus to commemorate Bahar’s achievement as the first female member of NAS from Turkey by offering a gift and taking a photo of that exchange in the Turkish Room, part of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. 

Bahar’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of functioning biological systems at multiple scales, from molecular to cellular and systems levels. Bahar is also associate director of Pitt’s Drug Discovery Institute. She received her PhD in chemistry from the Istanbul Technical Institute in Turkey and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Boğaziçi University in Turkey.

Editor’s note: A previously published version of this Accolade contained inaccurate information.

Freddie Fu in a black jacket and white shirt

Freddie Fu Is the Most-Cited Author on ACL Reconstruction

A study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine identifying the top 100 most-cited articles on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, the procedure to fix the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, found that the University of Pittsburgh was the most prolific institution of influential ACL research. Furthermore, Freddie Fu, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, was the number one author.

Researchers at The Central South University in Changsha, China, reviewed more than 17,000 articles on ACL reconstruction published since 1950. When they narrowed the list down to the top 100 most cited articles, the University of Pittsburgh was the most productive research institution, publishing 14 of these top 100 articles. Fu authored 13 of these, making him the researcher with the most total publications on the top 100 list. These findings reinforce the degree of international influence the University of Pittsburgh and Fu have established in the field of ACL research.  

Fu has been investigating the ACL since the start of his career, and has worked to better understand ACL reconstruction while also fostering the spirit of collaboration that allowed research at the department to flourish. In addition to establishing the Sports Medicine Fellowship program at Pitt, Fu has also served as the head team physician and orthopaedic surgeon for the University of Pittsburgh athletic department for nearly 35 years, and has been the David Silver Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine since 1998.

Eben Witherspoon in a blue jacket and white dress shirt

Eben Witherspoon (EDUC '19G) Wins Outstanding Doctoral Research Award

Pitt alum Eben B. Witherspoon (EDUC '19G), currently a researcher in education and instruction at the prestigious American Institutes for Research (AIR), received the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) 2021 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. Witherspoon completed his PhD in the School of Education's Learning Sciences and Policy Program in 2019. Witherspoon was also a postdoctoral researcher at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) working under the mentorship of professor of psychology Christian Schunn.

NARST is a global organization dedicated to improving science teaching and learning through research. The Outstanding Doctoral Research Award was established in 1992 and is given annually for the doctoral dissertation judged to have the greatest merit and significance in the field of science education.

Witherspoon’s dissertation, “Localizing and Understanding Mechanisms of Gender Differences Within Pathways Towards And Away From Science Degrees,” was also named the Outstanding Alumni Dissertation by the Pitt School of Education in 2020.

Witherspoon joins two other Pitt doctoral candidates and LRDC scholars as recipients of the NARST Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. In 2017, Anita Schuchardt was a NARST awardee. In 2011, Catherine Eberbach was granted the NARST award.

Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis in a black top

Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis Earns Prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship

Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis, assistant professor of computational and systems biology in the School of Medicine, is among 128 early career researchers receiving a 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“I am incredibly proud of the honor granted to me,” said Carvunis, expressing “immense gratitude” to her lab members, collaborators, the Pitt community and many supportive colleagues around the world.

“A Sloan Research Fellow is a rising star, plain and simple,” said foundation President Adam F. Falk. “To receive a fellowship is to be told by the scientific community that your achievements as a young scholar are already driving the research frontier.”

A Sloan Fellowship offers investigators $75,000 over two years. Carvunis promised forthcoming “ambitious and risky evolution projects.” Her research encompasses the principles that underlie change and innovation in living systems. She works at the cross section of evolutionary and systems biology to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that make each species unique, including the origins of new species-specific genes.

Francis Celentano, Alpha Red and Orange Alternates, 1969.

Art History Students Curate Museum Exhibition

A new exhibition called Pattern Makers, designed and curated by Pitt art history students, runs through May 9 at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. The show tracks the presence and meaning of patterns across some of the museum’s collection that has rarely been on public view.

The students in Assistant Professor Alex Taylor’s Curatorial Development class mined the collection virtually—poring over spreadsheets and databases to examine thousands of pieces of art available to them. The result was an exhibition of 67 pieces of art from the museum’s permanent collection, presented in 12 clusters. It includes fine art as well as furniture, quilts and artisan-made objects. 

“I hope the students’ chief takeaway was just how many rich and complex connections one can draw across disparate works in a museum’s collection and how understanding its objects in new combinations can provide almost inexhaustible narratives,” said Taylor.

Two upcoming virtual conversations about the exhibition are scheduled:

Students who took part in the project include Annie Abernathy, Isaiah Bertagnolli, Alan London, Katie Loney, Janina Lopez, Emily Mazzola, Morgan Powell, Olivia Rutledge and Vuk Vukovic.

Pictured at left: Francis Celentano, Alpha Red and Orange Alternates, 1969.

Collection: Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Ethan Arnold-Paine in a blue jacket and checkered dress shirt

Undergraduate Ethan Arnold-Paine Wins De Nora Student Pitch Competition

Ethan Arnold-Paine, an undergraduate studying chemical engineering, won the top prize at the De Nora Student Pitch Competition.

Arnold-Paine presented a closed-cycle PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) remediation system that uses a fast-growing plant—such as bamboo or cattails—to absorb the PFAS from contaminated water as it is run through a hydroponic system. After a growth cycle, the plants would be harvested and sent to a biomass furnace to be turned into char. The char then could be recycled as a filter bed, creating little waste.

Arnold-Paine was competing against graduate students from top-tier research universities from around the world. As a winner of the competition, Arnold-Paine received a cash prize as well as the opportunity to intern with De Nora.

“For Ethan to be as poised and prepared as he was in the midst of such tough competition is a remarkable achievement,” said David Sanchez, whose lab is developing the PFAS system. “He was an excellent standard-bearer for our lab and the work we’re doing to sustainably clean up the environment, and I look forward to all the ideas and innovations he’ll surely bring to other lab projects and the field.”

Read more about the competition.

Keisha Blain in a black top

Keisha Blain Awarded Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study

Associate Professor Keisha N. Blain from the Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a prestigious fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey. IAS is one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The IAS collaborates with Princeton University and Rutgers University, as well as other nearby institutions. Previous IAS members and faculty include Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Clifford Geertz. During the 2012-22 academic year, Blain will be one of 25 distinguished fellows in residence at the institute's School of Social Science. She will be writing a new book on the history of Black women and the struggle for human rights. 

Ryan Davis in a checkered shirt and dark jacket

Ryan Davis (LAW ’16) Honored for Veterans Tech Transfer Work

Pitt Law alumnus and technology transfer professional Ryan Davis (LAW ’16) has been awarded for his work with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Technology Transfer Program—a unit that determines which outcomes of veterans’ health-based research may have application or commercial potential in the real world.

Davis was selected as Rookie of the Year—an award for someone in a position for no more than three years. From his Washington, D.C., work site, he manages all VA tech transfer activity across a wide swath of the U.S., overseeing patent applications and looking for people within various industries to partner with VA researchers or further develop their ideas.

Recently, he filed patent applications and eventually licensed the technology for a skin-inspection device—a wireless camera with a flexible handle that transmits video to a smartphone app and allows someone to inspect the skin on the bottom of their foot, for example. The person can take video or snapshots and easily monitor their skin for diabetic ulcers or other wounds. A southern California start-up company called Habit Camera, headed by a combat-disabled Marine veteran, will roll out the product this spring.

Davis says his Pitt degree, a Juris Doctorate with a concentration in intellectual property law along with a certificate in health law, prepared him well for his profession.

“The concept behind it—taking cutting-edge technologies straight from the lab and the minds of brilliant researchers—and finding a way to get those technologies out into the world to improve the lives, and specifically the health, of the public, was one of the main reasons I actually decided to attend law school,” said Davis. He says he finds it fulfilling to be “one of the first sets of eyes on new technology.”

The award was presented by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, a nationwide network of more than 300 labs and research centers.

A female student studying

The Pitt News Wins 15 Pennsylvania Media Awards

The Student Keystone Media Awards have honored The Pitt News staff with a record number of 15 awards this year in 12 categories. The statewide student media competition recognizing student journalists across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced the winners on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The awards and winners are as follows:

First place:

General News: Rashi Ranjan
Public Service/Enterprise Package: Nathan Fitchett, Martha Layne
Editorial: Leah Mensch
Column: Devi Ruia
Cartoon/Graphic Illustration: Dalia Maeroff
Layout and Design: Maria Doku, Jon Moss, Mary Rose O'Donnell, Sarah Cutshall

Second Place:

Public Service/Enterprise Package: Neena Hagen
Cartoon/ Graphic Illustration: Promiti Debi
Photo Story: Sarah Cutshall

Honorable Mention:

Ongoing News Coverage: Rebecca Johnson
Feature Story: Stephen Thompson
Cartoon / Graphic Illustration: Shruti Talekar
Sports Photo: Thomas Yang
Feature Photo: Sarah Cutshall
Website: Jon Moss, The Pitt News Staff

A full video celebrating the 2021 Student Keystone Media Awards winners will be available in the spring. In the meantime, catch up with the award-winning student newspaper on The Pitt News website.

Elaine Vitone in a blue top

Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) Shares Her Science Writing Origin Story

How do you get started in science writing? Elaine Vitone, senior editor of Pitt Med magazine and writer/producer of Pitt Medcast, recently shared her story with The Open Notebook, a nonprofit organization that provides tools and resources to help science, environmental and health journalists at all experience levels sharpen their skills.

Vitone, who earned her MFA from Pitt’s Writing Program in 2006, has been on the staff at Pitt Med since 2010. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, including the inaugural Excellence in Institutional Writing Award from the National Association of Science Writers. She also mentors early career writers through the magazine’s internship programs.

Her latest feature story, “No Recharge for the Weary: Stress is an Inequitable Arbiter of Health,” was published in the winter 2021 issue of Pitt Med. Her latest podcast episode, “Like Daughter, Like Mother,” was released in February.

A student in a blue shirt writing

Teaching Center’s 2020 Advancing Educational Excellence Awardees Announced

Nine Pitt staff members earned the University Center for Teaching and Learning’s 2020 Advancing Educational Excellence Award.

Andrew P.K. Bentley (instructional designer), Lex Drozd (instructional designer), Max Glider (learning space services coordinator), Joy Hart (senior program coordinator), Cressida Magaro (assistant manager of educational software consulting) and Team Testing (Sue Richardson, manager, and testing coordinators Joe Hogle, Brandon Styer and Eric Weaver) all received the award.

The annual honor is a peer-driven award that recognizes teaching center staff members who exemplify the values of the center, demonstrate a positive attitude and commitment to responsibilities and make above and beyond contributions to the University.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Pitt Professors Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for Project on Public Access to Justice

Professors Kevin Ashley from the School of Law and Diane Litman from the Department of Computer Science were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) award, FAI: Using AI to Increase Fairness by Improving Access to Justice. Part of the NSF Fairness in Artificial Intelligence (FAI), their project works to improve public access to justice. Ashley and Litman are also professors in the Intelligent Systems Program and senior scientists at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).

Ashley and Litman’s project applies artificial intelligence to increase social fairness by developing two tools to make legal sources more understandable: Statutory Term Interpretation Support (STATIS) and Case Argument Summarization (CASUM). STATIS is an AI-based legal information retrieval tool that will help users understand and interpret statutory terms. CASUM summarizes case decisions in terms of legal argument triples: the major issues a court addressed in the case, the court’s conclusion with respect to each issue and the court’s reasons for reaching the conclusion.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Six Pitt Dining Locations Designated ‘Live Well Allegheny’ Restaurants

Five campus dining locations have become Live Well Allegheny Restaurants: The Eatery at The Towers, Schenley Cafe, Cathedral Cafe, plus Pitt Subs and Shake Smart at the Petersen Events Center.

They join The Perch at Sutherland, which became Pitt’s first Live Well Allegheny Restaurant location in 2019.

This designation by the Allegheny County Health Department is part of its Live Well Allegheny initiative for improving the health and wellness of county residents. Municipalities, school districts, restaurants and workplaces in Allegheny County may commit to the campaign, which highlights the importance of increasing physical activity and healthy eating, and of taking a proactive approach to health. 

The University of Pittsburgh has been a Live Well Allegheny Workplace since 2017.

Live Well Allegheny Restaurants recognizes restaurants or food businesses that have eliminated trans-fat oils, are smoke free and do not sell tobacco products, and that take additional action steps toward improving good health.

On campus, the additional actions include providing calorie counts and nutritional information; offering low-calorie alternatives; vegetarian and vegan fare; healthful side dish choices that include fruits or vegetables; low-calorie salad dressings; brown rice and whole grain options; using plant-based oils and providing bicycle parking nearby.

Michael Goodhart in a blue shirt in front of a map of the world

Michael Goodhart Named Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study

Michael Goodhart, professor of political science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Global Studies Center, has been named a fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study for 2021-22. The Swedish Collegium aims to articulate the significance of the social and human sciences for an understanding of the contemporary and historical condition of humankind in its diverse global contexts. It is a global scholarly community where fellows pursue research of their own choosing in a context of interdisciplinary dialogue and cooperation, free from the teaching and administrative obligations of ordinary university life.

Alyson Stover in a black shirt

Alyson Stover Named President of American Occupational Therapy Association

Alyson Stover, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, was recently elected the newest president of the American Occupational Therapy Association. She will begin her three-year term on July 1.

According to school leadership, she is the first Pitt occupational therapy alumnus or faculty to ever hold this national position, and will serve as the face of occupational therapy to over 100,000 practitioners. Stover's interests include using occupational therapy as a force for larger health care change, advancing occupational therapy’s national and global relevance and its role as a leader in policy development and implementation. Stover is also interested in access to care for underserved and underrepresented populations. 

"I am confident that I have the passion to fulfill these responsibilities with enthusiasm, innovation and unity for the profession,” she said.

The Cathedral of Learning

Five Pitt-UPMC Faculty Elected into American Society for Clinical Investigation

The American Society for Clinical Investigation recently elected its 2021 membership class, which includes five faculty members and clinical leaders at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. The society seeks to support the scientific efforts, educational needs and clinical aspirations of physician-scientists to improve the health of all people.

The five new members are as follows:

They will be officially inducted into the Society on April 8 as part of the 2021 AAP/ASCI/APSA joint meeting, held virtually April 8-10.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Three Pitt Professors Named to National Academy of Inventors Senior Members Class

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) this week announced it has selected three University of Pittsburgh professors among 61 academic inventors for the 2021 class of NAI senior members.

They are:

  • Bryan Brown, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering
  • Michael Lotze, professor in the Department of Surgery
  • Kacey Marra, professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery

NAI senior members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have growing success in patents, licensing and commercialization.

“I want to congratulate Drs. Brown, Lotze and Marra on joining an exclusive society of academic inventors,” said Evan Facher, vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt and director of the Innovation Institute. “They all have demonstrated exceptional commitment to achieving impact for their research through commercial translation. Importantly, they have years of innovating ahead of them. We look forward to helping bring more of those discoveries to market where they can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Rosta Farzan against a dark background

Rosta Farzan to Lead Diversity Efforts at School of Computing and Information

Rosta Farzan, an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information, was recently appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the school.

In this new role, Farzan will look to create more inclusive space, provide scholarships and increase inclusive activities for students, using perspectives from the school’s students, faculty and staff. The role complements her research in social computing, which examines the interplay between technology and social issues, in the school’s Department of Informatics and Networked Systems.

“I became interested in diversity for this field during my graduate studies, including what ways we can increase representation,” said Farzan, who received her PhD from Pitt’s Intelligent Systems Program in 2009. “It’s been a centerpiece for my research. I want voices in the school to be heard.”

Hands on a laptop

Pitt Commons Surpasses 10,000 Users

Pitt Commons, the University’s online hub for mentoring and networking, recently reached an important milestone: It now hosts more than 10,000 registered users.

Designed to foster connections among members of the Pitt community, the site has generated a great deal of engagement since its inception in 2018. More recently, it has served a critical role in enabling users to virtually network, access resources and pursue opportunities during a time in which there has been significant disruption to in-person services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This growth is reflected in the data. More than 10,000 users located across five continents have sent nearly 8,000 messages and made more than 1,500 connections via the online platform. The data also demonstrates an upward trend in yearly messages sent and connections made, not only reinforcing the importance of the site in the wake of COVID-19, but also suggesting its effectiveness in terms of user utility.

Members of the Pitt Community are invited to join Pitt Commons by visiting commons.pitt.edu.