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August 21, 2019
Merritt named Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations
Nancy M.K. Merritt has joined the University of Pittsburgh as vice chancellor for alumni relations, bringing 17 years of experience to her new role along with plans to develop programs to help alumni to engage with students, pursue educational and professional opportunities and enrich their personal and career networks.
She most recently was assistant vice president for alumni relations at Carnegie Mellon University and previously spent 13 years in alumni relations at Lehigh University, where she directed student, young alumni, outreach and reunion programs before going on to serve as the director of the Lehigh University Alumni Association. Merritt holds two degrees from Lehigh: a bachelor of arts in journalism and communications and a master’s in political science.
Read more about Merritt in this Pitt Alumni Association post.
August 21, 2019
School of Education to Serve as New Home Base for International Society
The School of Education now serves as the new home base of the Comparative and International Education Society, following the recent appointment of M. Najeeb Shafiq as executive director. Shafiq, who serves as professor of education, economics and international affairs at Pitt, holds appointments in the School of Education, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Economics.
According to its website, the society “organizes and provides conferences, publications, professional networking and research support for the field of comparative and international education,” and represents members “from over 1,000 universities, research institutes, government departments, non-governmental organizations and multilateral agencies.”
As the new home institution of the society, the School of Education is poised to have greater exposure to the study of global issues in education, Shafiq said. The school is expected to host events with significant leaders in the field, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Economic Policy Institute, the RAND Corporation and the American Institutes for Research.
August 14, 2019
Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security Holds Successful Third Annual Cyber Camp
On July 26, the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber), wrapped up its third annual Air Force Association Cyber Camp, a five-day intensive cybersecurity training for high school students. This year, 213 students from high schools in Pennsylvania and nine other states attended the camp to learn cybersecurity basics, such as protecting personal information online, or for advanced skills such as networking and operations security in Windows and Ubuntu. In this year’s cohort, 43 percent of students identifed as nonwhite and an all-female team took home the top prize during team-based IT skills competitions.
August 14, 2019
Pitt Researchers to Create Vision System Mimicking Human Sight
New research from the University of Pittsburgh will develop a neuromorphic vision system that takes a new approach to capturing visual information that is based on the human brain, benefitting everything from self-driving vehicles to neural prosthetics.
The project will receive $500,000 from the National Science Foundation. Ryad Benosman, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who holds appointments in electrical engineering and bioengineering, and Feng Xiong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, are leading the effort.
The team will use a “spiking neural network” with realistic dynamic synapses that will enhance computational abilities, develop brain-inspired machine learning to understand the input, and connect it to a neuromorphic event-based silicon retina for real-time operating vision.
August 7, 2019
Swanson School’s Piervincenzo Rizzo to Receive Durelli Award
The Society for Experimental Mechanics has selected Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, to receive the 2020 A.J. Durelli Award.
The award recognizes “a young professional who has introduced, or helped to introduce, an innovative approach and/or method into the field of experimental mechanics,” according to the society.
The award will be presented at an Awards Luncheon on June 10, 2020, during the SEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics in Orlando, Florida.
August 7, 2019
Interim Associate Dean for School of Medicine Chosen
In this role, Rosenstock will ensure high-quality teaching in courses and clerkships for each year of medical school. This includes overseeing instructional support, academic development, facilities management, evaluation and feedback, student assessment, educational technology, faculty development and program evaluation.
“I’m honored to have been chosen for this role. I’ve spent most of my career working in medical student education, and this position gives me an opportunity to build on the successes of our school. It will be challenging, and a learning process for me, but also fun and rewarding,” he said.
August 7, 2019
University Art Gallery Director Sylvia Rhor Samaniego Selected for Getty Leadership Institute
University Art Gallery (UAG) Director Sylvia Rhor was one of 35 museum leaders from around the globe selected to participate in the 2019 Getty Leadership Institute Executive Education for Museum Professionals this past June.
The Getty program, now in its 40th year, combines online coursework and a residency program on the campus of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif.
While there, Rhor discussed museum industry challenges with peers from around the world, including directors, curators and education representatives from the British Museum, The Barnes Collection, the Van Gogh Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and others. They talked about how to keep museums and galleries relevant to their communities and the importance of expanding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on all levels of museum administration and programming.
As the representative of one of six academic museums in the cohort, Rhor said the Getty program reinforced her commitment to academic museums such as the UAG. “They can be testing grounds for innovative and challenging programs and ideas, and a platform for new methods of building exhibitions and programs,” she said, “and they offer a flexibility and nimbleness that other public institutions might not always have.”
July 29, 2019
William Kramer to Lead Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
William Kramer has been selected as the next director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint research center of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Kramer, currently project director and principal investigator of the Blue Waters Project and the senior associate director for @Scale Science and Technology at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, begins his new role in the fall of 2019.
Following his first academic appointment at the University of Delaware, Kramer has also held leadership roles at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at NASA Ames Research Center. Over the course of three decades, his award-winning career has focused on improving the efficiency of large-scale, complex computational and data analytics systems, and making the organizations that create and use them highly productive.
“I am extremely honored to be selected as the director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. The center, which is supported by two world-class universities, is well positioned to help current and future generations of scientists, engineers and researchers create insights into a wide range of challenges in fundamental science, health care, security and other areas that will expand our understanding of phenomena that are of critical importance to society,” Kramer said.
July 26, 2019
New Hillman Library Exhibit Chronicles Holocaust-era French Jews
David L. Rosenberg (MLS ’89), a French historian and retired labor collections archivist at Hillman Library, has a new installation on display at the ground floor entrance of the library, chronicling the experience of French Jews in Amiens during the Holocaust. The exhibit, called “Who is a Jew?” features photographs and text. It ran at Temple Emmanuel of the South Hills in 2018 and more recently at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.
Rosenberg said his 20 years working in the Pitt archives helped shape his approach to this “retirement project,” as he called it, which “has been very gratifying.”
“Personalizing and humanizing the lives of otherwise obscure or un-remembered people was an orientation and a practice I continued to hone while working at Pitt’s Archives Service Center,” he explained, which included chronicling the photo ID cards of about 10,000 World War II-era steelworkers at U.S. Steel’s National Works in McKeesport, as part of the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania Labor Legacy Project.
After Rosenberg was gifted a book on the history of the French city of Amiens which cited his 1974 dissertation from Yale, his interest in the experience of French Jews was reignited. “I’m very interested in not privileging certain stories over others,” he said.
In October of 2017, this work led Amiens city officials to install a plaque at the site of the war-era synagogue, acknowledging what had happened there. Rosenberg was also named knight of the order of arts and letters by the French culture ministry.
The exhibit is open to the public and will be displayed at Hillman Library through August 30.
July 26, 2019
LifeX Labs Receives Economic Development Administration Entrepreneurship Grant
LifeX Labs has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to enhance its efforts in southwestern Pennsylvania. It is among 44 organizations nationwide — and the only one in Pennsylvania — to share a total of $23 million awarded under the EDA’s i6 Challenge grant program to expand entrepreneurship.
LifeX Labs is a life science startup accelerator launched by the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 with a mission to help startup companies translate the region’s world-class research into breakthrough commercial products.
“LifeX helps young life science startup companies overcome the unique challenges that they face,” said Evan Facher, interim CEO of LifeX Labs. “The goal of this award is to help LifeX accelerate the development of resources and programming needed to enable these companies to thrive in the Pittsburgh region. In parallel, the award will also help us build a stronger sense of community within the life sciences ecosystem.”
With this three-year award, LIfeX Labs estimates that it will have the ability to serve thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs, add dozens of startups to its portfolio, and create over 100 jobs in the region by 2028.
In part, the funding will aid development of programming for pre-seed to Series A life-science companies; engagement of regional key opinion leaders to identify needs and opportunities in the life science community; and creation of a pipeline of life science workers at all skill levels in collaboration with local colleges and job training organizations.
July 26, 2019
Jill Millstone Wins Career Excellence Award
Jill Millstone, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded the 2019 Greater Pittsburgh Women’s Chemists Committee Award for Career Excellence in the Chemical Sciences. The honor recognizes female chemists and chemical engineers for accomplishments in their fields. Millstone’s research focus areas are inorganic and materials chemistry, nanomaterials, mechanochemistry and colloid chemistry.
July 26, 2019
Peyman Givi to Deliver Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics
Peyman Givi, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been invited to deliver the 13th Elsevier Distinguished Lecture in Mechanics. The lecture is sponsored by Elsevier and its publication Mechanics Research Communications. It will be hosted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2020.
Givi joins a long line of distinguished lecturers, beginning with the 2008 inaugural lecture by Jan Achenbach. The lecture will be on a topic of his choosing within the field of mechanics; previous topics have included “Structural Health Monitoring,” “Isogeometric Analysis” and “Seeking Simplicity in the Flow of Complex Fluids.”
Givi’s lecture will be available on Elsevier’s website after it is delivered.
July 26, 2019
Rory Cooper Completes Heidelberg Hand-Bike Marathon
Rory Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt and associate dean for inclusion at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently raced in and completed the Heidelberg Hand-Bike Marathon. Cooper finished with a time of one hour, twenty-seven minutes.
“The course was a bit more challenging than I thought, and I ended up most of the time by myself or pulling others along. I sported by Army jersey,” he said.
Twenty-one family members and friends came to Heidelberg to cheer for him and other participants.
July 26, 2019
Pitt Innovators Deliver Another Banner Year of Impactful Discoveries
Pitt innovators continued to demonstrate their passion for translating lab discoveries to solutions that make an impact on people’s lives at a record pace in fiscal year 2019. They matched last year’s record number of licenses and options executed at 162 and set a new record for discoveries disclosed to the Innovation Institute at 367.
Pitt innovators were issued 91 U.S. patents and formed 17 startup companies based on intellectual property developed at the University, reinforcing a strong recent performance for those metrics.
“These results reflect the ever-strengthening culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among Pitt faculty, students and staff,” said Evan Facher, director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute. “We have been able to put more resources at their disposal to accelerate their journey on the path to market because achieving impact through commercialization has been made a top priority by the University leadership.”
In the five years since the formation of the Innovation Institute, the activity of Pitt innovators has increased substantially across numerous metrics compared to the previous five year period as the result of increased funding and support. Invention disclosures, which are submitted to the Innovation Institute by faculty, staff and students when their research produces new discoveries with the potential for commercial translation, are up more than 25 percent in the most recent five year period; licensing transactions are up 11 percent, and issued patents are up 46 percent.
Significantly, startups formed in the 2015-2019 period are up nearly 130 percent over the previous comparable period.
In addition, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Innovation Institute’s affiliated organization serving small businesses throughout Western Pennsylvania, is expanding its impact. During the year, the IEE served 736 clients with nearly 7,000 hours of consulting services, which resulted in, 52 businesses started, $16,438,768 capital formation, $28,329,576 in sales increase and 433 jobs created.
July 24, 2019
Student Hosts Medical Humanities Podcast
Wolinsky, a pre-med student who is majoring in English Literature in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, launched the podcast in April 2019 with the help of Jeff Aziz, senior lecturer and adviser in the Department of English, and Jason Dechant, assistant professor in the School of Nursing. Wolinsky and her faculty co-hosts bring perspectives across disciplines as they discuss topics like the history of the human body in medicine, anatomy and culture. Episode subjects have ranged from the theft of a dead body of a United States president’s son to “shocking” results from an over-the-counter genetic test.
Wolinsky says her two diverse interests of science and literature come from her parents. “My mother is an anesthesiologist, which is where my fascination for medicine comes from, and my father was a reformed rabbi who taught me how to appreciate texts and the power of personal connection,” said Wolinsky, originally of Beachwood, Ohio. “These two fields of medicine and the humanities are inseparable to me and come together to make me who I am today.”
“Remains to be Seen” is available on iTunes and Spotify; search for “Remains to be Seen” under “podcasts,” or in your podcast app.
July 19, 2019
Just Discipline Project Shows Progress in New Report
A project out of Pitt’s School of Social Work designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions at the Pittsburgh-area Woodland Hills Intermediate School has shown that, after two years, there has been a 28 percent decrease in the number of students suspended.
The Just Discipline project, funded by The Heinz Endowments, established community-building activities at the school, professional development courses for faculty and staff, and training for adolescent student leaders who have been able to successfully diffuse behavioral problems at the school before they escalate. Just Discipline leaders Assistant Professor of Social Work James Huguley and Associate Professor of Education Ming-Te Wang have released a report citing the progress made since the program’s 2017 inception.
Key findings include:
- A 28% decrease in the number of individual students receiving suspensions
- A 20% decrease in the number of individual students receiving office referrals
- A 19% increase in the students’ perception of school safety
- Academic gains in math, language arts and science
- 91% of the teachers would like the program’s work to continue
“We’re still working toward where we want to be in terms of the resources and systems, but we’re certainly encouraged by this progress,” said Huguley, who hopes to expand the program in the near future to other schools in Woodland Hills.
July 19, 2019
Pitt Cyber Announces Accelerator Grant Recipients
Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security is pleased to announce the grant recipients of its third round of Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants (PCAG).
The grants to Pitt faculty provide initial funding for novel and innovative projects that advance Pitt Cyber’s mission: to bring the breadth of one of the world’s leading public research universities to bear on the critical questions of networks, data and algorithms, with a focus on the ever-changing gaps among law, policy and technology.
This term’s recipients are:
- Vladimir Zadorozny (School of Computing and Information), Panos Chrysanthis (SCI), Michael Colaresi (Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), Patrick Manning (Dietrich) for their project, Social Weather Service: A Cyber-enabled Forecasting of Social Unrest and Conflicts.
- Kevin Ashley (School of Law) and Jaromir Savelka (Intelligent Systems Program) for their project, Annotating Cases for Learning.
- David Tipper (SCI) and Alexis Kwasinski (Swanson School of Engineering) for their project, Toward Resilient Smart Critical Infrastructure.
- Rosta Farzan (SCI), Dmitriy Babichenko (SCI), and Zak Risha (SCI) for their project, Fighting Cyberbullying: A Transformative and Educational Game for Promoting Empathic Understanding.
“Pitt Cyber is excited to support the ever-expanding group of Pitt researchers exploring the many challenges of networks, data and cybersecurity,” said Pitt Cyber academic director and law professor Michael Madison.
July 19, 2019
Pitt Men’s Study Renewed by NIH, Will Enter Fourth Decade of HIV Research
The Pitt Men’s Study, part of the national Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), will be renewed into 2026 at nearly $4 million per year. The funding from the National Institutes of Health will carry the long-running study into its fourth decade.
The confidential study on the natural history of HIV/AIDS is part of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and is directed by the department's chair, Charles Rinaldo (pictured).
Read more about the study at UPMC.
July 19, 2019
Alumna Kakenya Ntaiya Recognized as ‘Emerging Leader’ by Obama Foundation
Kakenya Ntaiya (EDUC ’11G) was selected to participate in the Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Africa 2019 program, an initiative to “support and develop the next generation of leaders.”
Ntaiya, a native of Kenya, has been applauded for her work of using her education to become a leading advocate for girls’ education and empowerment. With her PhD from Pitt’s School of Education, Ntaiya founded Kakenya’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that provides education, mentoring and health and leadership training for girls of her native community.
As part of the Leaders: Africa program, Ntaiya was one of 200 emerging leaders selected from 45 different countries to “explore new ways to take on the biggest challenges in their communities.” The program was held in Johannesburg from July 10-15.
July 19, 2019
Office of Child Development Develops Parenting Guide of Original Research
“You and Your Child” is a series of 49 guides, broken down into categories of behavior, health and nutrition, parenting, development and safety. The guides contain best practices described by the Office of Child Development and have been reviewed by development experts and practitioners.
“These guides are an easy way for parents and caregivers to gain knowledge and answer specific questions they might have,” said Shannon Wanless, director of the Office of Child Development.
The guides are available online free of charge to parents, family organizations, agencies, professionals and others who work with children and their families. They are also available in Spanish.