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April 15, 2020
Student Innovation Competitions Nearing Application Deadline
Two student innovation competitions scheduled for this October at the University of Pittsburgh have submission deadlines set for May 15.
The Michael G. Wells Student Healthcare Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup will award a total of over $60,000 in funds that can go back to the faculty member’s department to further commercialization efforts of their research. The Wells Competition is for students who are developing innovations related to the healthcare field, while the Kuzneski Cup is for students who are developing innovations that can positively impact people’s lives in areas outside of healthcare.
Both competitions require a student to apply, but must be working on Pitt research. The Innovation Institute will also offer a cash prize up to $1,000 for the entrepreneurial student who applies and wins.
April 15, 2020
Water Collaboratory Publishes Paper on Regional Flooding
The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach, which was founded in January 2018 by faculty out of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science with support from The Heinz Endowments, has released the white paper report “Flooding in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches.”
The paper’s recommendations are based on a meeting of regional stakeholders that included representatives from the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and over 50 participants from NGOs and local residents. Its recommendations include targeted assessments of urban watersheds to understand the true costs of flooding, the creation of a regional- or multi-municipality stormwater utility district and increased observation of tributaries. The paper is the third of a series designed to assess knowledge gaps related to regional water resources.
April 15, 2020
Pitt-Bradford Receives National Advertising Awards
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has received four awards in the 2019 Collegiate Advertising Awards program, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities for excellence in communications, marketing, advertising and promotions.
Pitt-Bradford received two awards for the materials its admissions counselors use to recruit new students. It received a Gold Award in the Recruitment Series category for a series of brochures, postcards, posters and flyers; and a Silver Award in the Direct-Mail category for a postcard sent to prospective students who originally applied to the University of Pittsburgh and were accepted at Pitt-Bradford.
Pitt-Bradford received another Silver Award in the Brochure-Multiple Pages category for a case statement of support that is being used to raise funds for a new STEM building, which will house two new engineering technology programs—mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology—and two existing programs, computer information systems and technology and petroleum technology.
The third Silver Award was in the Newspaper Ad-Series category for print ads published in regional newspapers last spring that featured Pitt-Bradford students and graduates, including Katie Treat, a biology major from Cyclone, Pennsylvania, and Kacie Appleby, a criminal justice major from Port Allegany, Pennsylvania.
April 12, 2020
Emily Murphy Named Distinguished Fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants
Emily Murphy, assistant professor of physician assistant studies in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
This honor is bestowed in recognition of exceptional leadership, contributions to the physician assistant profession and community service.
Murphy is also vice chair for academic and administrative affairs and director of the physician assistant studies program. Her clinical background is in neurosurgery, interventional radiology and pulmonology. Murphy currently holds a clinical appointment in addiction medicine with a private physician group.
April 12, 2020
Pitt MBAs Win Global Supply Chain Case Competition
For the third year in a row, a team from Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has placed first at the Global Supply Chain Management Initiative Case Competition at Purdue University.
Katz MBA students Sarthak Arora, Anthony Perry, Faizan Saadullah, Shubham Kishore and Rohit Dubey made up this year’s winning team. They used 2019 World Economic Data to develop a strategic sourcing model for generating sustainable profits in adverse times, such as the current COVID-19 outbreak.
“The case competition was designed to build an optimization model to arrive at a profit maximization solution for Global Widget—a manufacturing company with operations in China, Turkey, Mexico and the U.S.,” said Arora.
“Our team had to consider the different variability in the production capacity, customer demand, currency exchange rates and governmental policies such as trade wars between different countries at each location.”
April 12, 2020
Douglas J. Weber Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite
The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Douglas J. Weber, associate professor of bioengineering, to its College of Fellows.
Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is composed of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. 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/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."
Weber was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “outstanding contributions to neurorehabilitation engineering, translational neuroscience and leadership in the field of neural engineering.”
April 12, 2020
Graduate Student Michael Sullivan Wins Hammond Scholarship
Michael Sullivan (ENGR '19), a master’s student in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected to receive this year’s Siemens Peter Hammond Scholarship for $10,000.
The annual scholarship, which is in its fourth year, was open to any student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson School.
Before attending the Swanson School, Sullivan worked for a decade as an electrician, where he was first introduced to the field of electrical engineering. Excited to learn of a career path so well suited to his curiosity about how things work, he pursued a bachelor’s degree at Pitt. Once he finishes his master’s degree in 2021, he plans to become a research engineer and work part-time toward a PhD.
April 10, 2020
Pitt Students to Host Graduate Symposium for American Chemical Society
Six Pitt graduate students and a student from Carnegie Mellon University have been selected for the American Chemical Society Spring 2021 National Meeting Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee (GSSPC).
Emily Eikey, Paige Moncure, Xing Yee Gan, Zoe Simon and Sydney Brooks from the Department of Chemistry and Michael Cowan from the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, in the Swanson School of Engineering will organize a full-day symposium at the ACS National Meeting in March 2021 in San Antonio, Texas.
The Graduate Student Symposia series was created to increase graduate student involvement in planning for ACS meetings and encourage conversation among scientists at all stages of their careers. The symposium, entitled “Bridging Disciplines to Build Better Materials,” is designed to highlight successful collaborations in the field of materials chemistry. The symposium will feature talks from a variety of distinguished scientists.
April 9, 2020
Basketball’s Jeff Capel Treats Hillman Cancer Center Staff with Lunch
Doctors, researchers and staff critical to the essential needs of patients at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center were recently treated to lunch, courtesy of Pitt men’s basketball Head Coach Jeff Capel and his wife, Kanika.
Every Hillman staff member received the meal, catered by Oakland-neighborhood deli Food for Thought, on April 2.
Capel recently penned a message about adapting during times of adversity and how he’s reinforcing with his team the importance of showing gratitude. Read his letter to Panther Nation on pittsburghpanthers.com.
April 8, 2020
Two Seniors Named to P&Q Best & Brightest Business Majors
The business education publication’s annual list recognizes the top 100 members of the graduating class across the nation’s leading business schools.
Braza, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is a triple major in business information systems, supply chain management and marketing. Following graduation, she plans to join Deloitte as a business technology analyst in Arlington, Virginia.
Smith, of West Orange, New Jersey, is a double-major in marketing and business information systems. He plans to remain in Pittsburgh after graduation to join Dick’s Sporting Goods as a retail marketing associate.
Read more about these two students in this Pitt Business feature.
April 8, 2020
J. Jeffrey Inman Named Fellow of the Society for Consumer Psychology
J. Jeffrey Inman, associate dean for research and faculty and Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been named a fellow of the Society for Consumer Psychology.
One honoree is named each year in recognition of unique and outstanding contributions to the field of consumer psychology.
“It’s humbling and flattering to be selected by my peers for a prestigious recognition such as this,” said Inman, who presented a Fellow’s Address at the Society’s annual meeting in early March.
Inman was president of the society in 2017 and served on the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Psychology 2005-2017.
He is currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Consumer Research, has published more than 50 articles and has more than 11,000 Google Scholar citations. His current research includes cutting-edge consumer-technology interaction and applied consumer behavioral theory in health care.
April 7, 2020
Big Idea Competition to be Held Virtually
Despite social distancing efforts in place at the University of Pittsburgh, the annual Randall Family Big Idea Competition is still on with final round submissions due Wednesday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m.
This year’s competition, hosted by the Big Idea Center in Pitt’s Innovation Institute, will be held virtually after polling from interested graduate and undergraduate students indicated they still wanted to compete. Student teams will pitch their innovative ideas via video to a panel of judges consisting of local entrepreneurs. A total of $100,000 in prize money will be awarded, with the winning idea taking home the grand prize of $25,000.
The competition’s award ceremony will now be held virtually on Wednesday, April 22, at 5 p.m. virtually on the Big Idea Center’s YouTube page. For questions, please contact Babs Carryer (pictured), director of the Big Idea Center.
April 6, 2020
Thyra-Lilja Altunin Wins Beinecke Scholarship
Third-year student Thyra-Lilja Altunin has been awarded a Beinecke Scholarship of $34,000 to support her graduate education.
Altunin is set to graduate in April 2021, with majors in the Department of Music, under the music and cultural history track, and the Department of Classics Greek language track in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She is also minoring in classics, under the Latin language track. She is also pursuing certificates in Western European Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
The scholarship, which was established in 1971, is meant to “encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.” This is the fourth consecutive year a Pitt student has received the scholarship, and Altunin is one of 18 scholars nationwide to be awarded this year.
In 2018, Altunin completed a research fellowship through Pitt Honors, where she worked on an analysis of the accentuation patterns that appear in the Bankes Homer papyrus. She is also president of the classical civilizations club and a Nationality Rooms Tour Guide with Quo Vadis.
Altunin said that she plans to complete a masters and PhD in classics, with a focus on the reconstruction, study and performance of ancient music.
“I hope that the Beinecke Scholarship will help me to become involved with institutions where scholars have already been doing research in these areas and which have access to original documents and resources that I could use in my research,” Altunin said.
April 6, 2020
Graduate Students Find Small Ways to Help
Helping others in the community during a public health crisis need not always mean large food shipments or cases of water. Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences doctoral student Mariah Callas (pictured) has found that smaller gestures can go a long way. She and her roommate and fellow doctoral student Kayley Renz have been writing letters to elderly people in personal care homes, and dropping hand-written notes in older neighbors’ mailboxes, offering to buy groceries. They baked a four-layer “isolation cake” and dropped slices off on the doorsteps of other physical therapy students.
And then there are the bugs. Callas purchased live caterpillars and praying mantises online and is taking photos of them daily, sending them to a friend who is a nanny, who in turn shares them with the child she cares for.
“We are watching them grow together,” said Callas. "After they cocoon and become butterflies, I plan on posting and sharing their journey for even more people to enjoy!”
The two are helping coordinate online exercise classes and Callas has joined an online group of people seeking to learn sign language. “It could help me better serve my patients in the future,” she said.
“It feels easy to want to hide away and focus on what is directly in front of us as individuals,” she added. “Shifting my focus and supporting those around me really gives me my sense of purpose back, even from my couch. And seeing people’s reactions just brings so much light to a time that could feel very dark and lonely.”
April 3, 2020
Swanson School Labs Donate Supplies to Fight COVID-19
Knowing that health care workers need personal protective equipment and other supplies in the effort against COVID-19, faculty and staff at the Swanson School of Engineering organized a donation of supplies to UPMC.
The effort began when Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, contacted Associate Dean for Research David Vorp (pictured) to find out where she could donate her lab’s unused supplies. After contacting UPMC’s Clinical Laboratories with the idea, Vorp coordinated a donation.
“Once I saw the excitement and happiness that the idea brought to the laboratory staff, I knew that we needed to respond in a big way, so I sent the request out to our faculty and tried to get the request out to a wider group with some success,” said Vorp. “In the end, I was blown away by the response of my Pitt colleagues. It truly was humanity at its finest. It was Pitt at its finest!”
The effort collected five pallets of personal protective equipment, such as masks (including the much-needed N95 masks that protect against the virus), peroxide, sanitizers, eye protection and other supplies. The pallets were delivered to UPMC to be distributed to health care facilities in need.
April 3, 2020
Swanson Lab Repurposes Equipment to Produce Sanitizer for UPMC
When labs at the Swanson School of Engineering closed for research purposes, Götz Veser (pictured), the Nickolas DeCecco Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and associate director of the Center for Energy, looked for a way his equipment could be put to use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riddhesh Patel, one of Veser’s graduate students, had an idea: Use the lab’s large-scale batch reactors—essentially enormous stirred glass containers—to blend hand sanitizer for UPMC, which is experiencing a severe shortage for their medical personnel.
After receiving permission to return to the Pittsburgh campus, Goetz, Patel and graduate student Nasser Al Azri set to work. Al Azri maintains and cleans the equipment with support from Patel, as the scope of the effort has increased.
Goetz supervises production, solicits donations of chemicals needed and shuttles the sanitizer to UPMC’s South Side operation. “I do what any good professor does: Stay out of the way and make sure that my students have what they need to do their good work,” he said.
To date, the lab has produced about 75 gallons of sanitizer and just received a significant donation of ingredients, which should yield another 50 gallons. The lab plans to continue to produce sanitizer as long as it can get supplies.
April 2, 2020
Staff Member Gets Crafty to Make Masks for Health Care Workers
Judith Camarda, payroll specialist in Facilities Management, has been a seamstress since her mother taught her the craft when she was 12 years old. Over the years, she has sewn clothes for herself and her daughter, as well as household décor like curtains and pillows.
Now, she’s putting her talent to use making masks for health care workers fighting COVID-19.
Camarda saw an interview with a New York-based physician talking about the need for supplies like masks. “I thought, ‘I can do that,’” she said, having all the needed supplies already.
Through Pittsburgh-based crafts store Firecracker Fabrics, Camarda found Maskmakers PGH, an effort led by nonprofit Radiant Hall. The artists’ organization coordinates all logistics, including pick up and distribution. All Camarda has to do is make 50 masks.
She’s up to 35 so far. “It was so frustrating to see that our medical people don’t have what they need, but this was a small way I can help, and it does make you feel better to help.”
March 27, 2020
Pitt Professor’s Porch Pantry Supports Neighbors in Need
Before the pandemic outbreak, Carla Chugani, assistant professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Dormont resident, built a pantry with the help of a neighbor. As COVID-19 cases began to be reported in Allegheny County, Chugani moved the pantry to her porch and shared information about its location in a Facebook group.
“It just seemed really important. We saw this immediate need for basic things,” said Chugani.
The response was immediate, with donations including child-friendly staples like juice boxes and fruit snacks, as well as individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper and paper towels.
Chugani is encouraging people to leave donations near the pantry at her home at 2958 Belrose Avenue; she brings items into her home and restocks the pantry as needed. “It’s really moving to see the way this community has come together to take care of its own,” she said.
March 27, 2020
Aspinwall Neighbors Toast Community from Afar
For the neighborhood of Aspinwall, with myriad spots to dine and socialize amidst wide sidewalks in front of large porches, social distancing can feel particularly isolating. Residents on their way to dinner or yoga are used to greeting neighbors out on walks with children or dogs.
That’s why Carrie Benson, Aspinwall resident and prevention and education coordinator in the Title IX Office in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, took to an Aspinwall Facebook page with a neighborly invite: Step out into a brisk Saturday evening and share a toast from their porches.
It worked. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, Aspinwall residents raised their toasts to their neighbors and community—even the firetrucks, typically reserved for the Memorial Day Parade, made an appearance.
“It was the easiest party I’ve ever planned,” said Benson. “Aspinwall is built for this type of response to social distancing.”
March 23, 2020
History Professor Advocates for the Humanities on Capitol Hill
Ruth Mostern, associate professor in the Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of the World History Center, advocated for the importance of federal funding for the humanities on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at the Humanities Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 10.
Mostern had the opportunity to talk to congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle about humanities research at Pitt—including the World Historical Gazetteer, a World History Center project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mostern serves as the project’s principal investigator.
“I am teaching Environmental History this semester, and even before the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, students were exploring questions that are urgent for the present moment,” said Mostern. “This is a chance to make sure that our congresspeople understand how the humanities transforms their districts and the whole world through education, outreach, and new insights about human past and futures.”