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Panther statue

Pitt Ranked a Top Employer for New Grads

The University of Pittsburgh has been named among the best employers for new graduates by Forbes. 

In its 2021 list of America’s Best Employers for New Graduates, Pitt ranked No. 9 among education employers — ahead of colleges such as Harvard University, the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University — and No. 89 overall among businesses with at least 1,000 employees.

The rankings were based on a survey of 20,000 Americans with less than 10 years’ professional experience. Respondents ranked their employers based on factors such as opportunities for advancement, compensation, safety and diversity and inclusion efforts. Company image and how likely responders would be to recommend their employer to others were also considered. 

Toren Finkel in a black suit

Toren Finkel Receives Scholar-Innovator Award

Professor of Medicine Toren Finkel is one of eight physician-scientists awarded a 2021 Scholar-Innovator Award from the Harrington Discovery Institute. 

Finkel, who is also director of the Aging Institute of UPMC, researches mitochondrial function, cellular metabolism, oxidative stress and aging.

The Harrington Discovery Institute seeks to accelerate the development of new treatments to address major unmet needs in medicine and society. Harrington scholar-innovators are accomplished physician-scientists whose research demonstrates innovation, creativity and potential for clinical impact. 

In addition to grant funding, scholar-innovators receive guidance and oversight in all aspects of drug development.

John Wallace in a black suit

John Wallace Named Interim Director of the Center on Race and Social Problems, New Initiative Announced

John Wallace, vice provost for faculty diversity and development and David E. Epperson Chair and Professor, has agreed to step in to be the interim director of Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP). 

In addition, a new initiative within CRSP of a visiting scholar position has been created, and the first visiting scholar will be Waverly Duck, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.

CRSP has been led by interim director James Huguley since 2019. 

“I thank Jay very much for his excellent leadership of CRSP for the past two years,” said School of Social Work Dean Betsy Farmer. “And I welcome and thank John and Waverly for their willingness to bring their talents, expertise and vision to CRSP for the coming year.”

Read more about Wallace and the center.

Statue of a man with a harp

University Library System Releases New Journal Issue on Telehealth

If you visited a doctor by video chat during the pandemic, you had an experience with the field known as telehealth or telemedicine. Pitt’s University Library System (ULS) recently published a new edition of the International Journal of Telerehabilitation, which has open access articles about changes in the field during COVID-19, as well as telehealth in school settings. 

ULS has been publishing research and clinical practice articles in this field since the journal’s inception in 2008. 

Student writing on a paper

Study Lab Wins Website Award

The University of Pittsburgh’s Study Lab won third place in the 2021 National College Learning Center Association/Learning Support Centers in Higher Education Website Excellence Awards. The award recognizes superior technology work.

The Study Lab provides in person and online tools and resources to students in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences to help them study smarter, not harder, and make the most of their time at Pitt. 

Winners will receive their award at the Forging Academic Success conference in Birmingham, Alabama, this fall.

Hand on a laptop

Student-led Coronavirus Site, Magazine Launches

A group of students from across the United States have collaborated to create The Corona Page, a nonprofit platform designed to share coronavirus research and vaccine information in a straightforward manner. Pitt juniors Alicia Loui, who is studying biology, and Michelle Evans, a rehabilitation sciences major, were part of the team. 

“The articles encapsulate the journey to a vaccine and combat vaccine myths in hopes of a healthy return to normalcy. We at The Corona Page are looking to make the biggest positive impact on our community,” said Loui.

The effort also includes a magazine. All articles are sourced and reviewed by doctors for accuracy.

Rick Esch in a dark suit

Rick Esch Named Interim President of Bradford, Titusville Campuses

Rick Esch (UPB ’83, BUS ’98G) will serve as interim president of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and University of Pittsburgh at Titusville following the resignation of Catherine Koverola. 

Esch had served as vice president for business affairs for nearly 20 years, responsible for several areas on the Pitt-Bradford campus including budget and financial reporting, auxiliary services and facilities management. For the past 18 months, he has also been leading the campus’s COVID-19 response.

Read more about the appointment and his background.

Cailyn Hall in a black jacket, grey hardhat and goggles

Cailyn Hall (ENGR ’21) Wins Student of the Year Award

Cailyn Hall, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, received the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Employers (PennACE) JoAnne Day Student of the Year Award for the STEM category. 

PennACE recognizes the achievements and contributions made by undergraduate students enrolled at member institutions who have completed an internship or co-op assignment. Hall completed four co-op work rotations with Sherwin-Williams/Valspar during her time at Pitt. She worked directly with engineers on more than 10 capital projects that directly impacted the company and drew from her interests in chemical engineering and supply chain management.

Read more about the award.

Panther statue

Pitt Joins White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge

The White House and the U.S. Department of Education have invited colleges and universities across the country to join in federal efforts to end the pandemic by signing up for the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge.

As a Vaccine Champion University, Pitt is one of hundreds of higher education institutions across the country committed to encouraging and educating their communities be vaccinated. Participating institutions commit to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated in an effort to end the pandemic: 1) Engage every student, faculty and staff member; 2) Organize your college community; 3) Deliver vaccines for all.

Participating college also get to learn from each other’s efforts, successes and challenges along the way through White House-facilitated events and briefings with administration officials. 

Kingsley Laura in a blue shirt

Laura Kingsley Wins Future of the Field Award

Laura Kingsley, senior associate director in the Office of Sponsored Programs, has been awarded the Future of the Field Award from the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI).

Kingsley was also elected to the National Council of University Research Administrators Board of Directors in January 2021 for a two-year term.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by the Society of Research Administrators International and to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Council of University Research Administrators. I am proud to be a part of Pitt Research and highlight the research administration profession,” she said.

Kingsley was selected by a committee of her peers for the SRAI honor. Candidates were evaluated based on their career history, demonstration of exceptional professional growth and significant contributions made to the advancement of research administration. Awardees will be recognized at the SRAI annual meeting in October.

Rory Cooper in a black suit

Rory Cooper Receives Biomedical Engineering Award

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has honored Pitt’s Rory Cooper with its Biomedical Engineering Award for his “extensive contributions to wheelchair technology that have expanded mobility and reduced secondary injuries for millions of people with disabilities.”

Cooper, Pitt’s first-ever assistant vice chancellor for research for STEM-health sciences collaborations and founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, among many other titles, is also an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and several other professional societies.

“This award is shared by my students (past and present), family, friends and colleagues within the Human Engineering Research Laboratories," Cooper said of the IEEE honor.

Andrea Hergenroeder in a black suit

Andrea Hergenroeder to Direct Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers

Andrea Hergenroeder, director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in Pitt’s School of School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been appointed as the new director of the Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers (PIC Health Careers), effective July 1.

She succeeds Susan M. Meyer, who steered the center as director since its launch in 2018 and announced earlier this year her intention to retire.

“Andrea’s 25 years of varied experience and expertise spanning work as a physical therapy clinician, manager and educator make her a superb fit as the new director of PIC Health Careers,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. 

Hergenroeder (EDUC ’09) came to Pitt in 2002 and is a board-certified clinical specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy. Her extensive background includes patient care, research and teaching leadership roles with the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. She promotes the use of simulation, educational technology and experiential learning activities to support student learning and has frequently published and presented on these topics throughout her career.

She has been recognized with the Innovation in Teaching Award from the University of Pittsburgh, the APTA Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy Educator Award and the SHRS Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, among other honors.

Birdseye view of Oakland

Pitt Nuclear Engineering Awarded $1.6M from the Department of Energy

Interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are recipients of $1.6 million in advanced nuclear energy research and development funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

The investment announced this week is part of more than $61 million in awards for 99 advanced nuclear energy technology projects nationwide, $58 million of which was awarded to U.S. universities. According to DOE, the projects focus on nuclear energy research, cross-discipline technology development and nuclear reactor infrastructure to bolster the resiliency and use of America’s largest domestic source of carbon-free energy.

“Pittsburgh is the global nexus of peacetime nuclear energy history and research, and we are proud to contribute to its continued success,” said Brian Gleeson, the Swanson School’s Harry S. Tack Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “Our faculty and students have a strong foundation in modeling and simulation, materials, sensing technologies and non-destructive evaluation of critical reactor components, and so we are thankful to the DOE for supporting our research.”

Read more about the Pitt projects funded.

Valerie Kinloch in a yellow shirt

Valerie Kinloch Named Trustee of Undergraduate Alma Mater

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has been appointed to the board of trustees of her undergraduate alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Her two-year appointment begins on July 1, 2021, and can be extended for successive three-year terms.

Kinloch is a graduate of JCSU, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with honors.

"I am extremely honored and excited to have been appointed to the Board of Trustees of my undergraduate alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University," said Kinloch. "I owe so much of my professional achievements and personal growth to the impactful education and critical mentoring I received at JCSU. Undoubtedly, I will always treasure my time there. As a trustee, I look forward to supporting the future of our university, particularly as we continue to center on student learning, educational equity, innovation and collaboration.”

Read more about the honor.

Evan Facher in a dark suit and purple shirt

Pitt Leaps Eight Spots in Worldwide Patent Ranking

The University of Pittsburgh made a significant move up the list of the top recipients of U.S. utility patents among worldwide universities in 2020, according to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Pitt ranked No. 20 for the 2020 calendar year with 106 patents. In the previous year, the university ranked No. 28.

“Filing for and receiving patent protection for innovations is an important step in creating research of impact by Pitt researchers,” said Evan Facher (pictured), vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and director of the Innovation Institute, which is responsible for managing and licensing intellectual property at the University. “We are pleased to see Pitt rise in this ranking, especially as it indicates that more Pitt innovators are getting involved in the commercial translation of their work.”

Read more at the Innovation Institute’s website.

Xandria Phillips in a black shirt

Center for African American Poetry and Poetics Names New Creative Writing Fellow

Poet and visual artist Xandria Phillips has been named the 2021-2023 creative writing fellow at Pitt’s Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. The fellowship provides two years of support to an early career poet, as well as the opportunity to teach community workshops, present at events and interact with the public.

Phillips, a Whiting Award winner and recipient of a Lambda Literary Award for their 2019 book “Hull,” is working on an experimental nonfiction manuscript, studio artwork and a book of ekphrastic poetry.  

Read more about Phillips’ selection in The Pitt News.

Nikhil Bajaj in a dark suit

Engineering’s Nikhil Bajaj Receives U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Grant

Assistant Professor Nikhil Bajaj has been awarded $450,000 from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a nationally recognized nuclear research program and grow the overall nuclear program at the University of Pittsburgh.

The grant will support Bajaj in establishing research in advanced sensors and artificial intelligence for reactor applications, specifically high temperature, high-reliability sensor designs using machine learning and advanced communication technology. 

Inside of the Cathedral of Learning

GSPIA Students of Color Alliance Wins Inaugural Award

The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs has awarded the Students of Color Alliance (SOCA) in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs its inaugural Inclusion Award.

SOCA was formed in fall 2019 by and for Black, Indigenous and people of color at GSPIA. The group works toward building a safe space and learning environment for students of color and their allies. For more information about SOCA, email

Rick Esch in a dark suit

Rick Esch Receives Pitt-Bradford's Staff Recognition Award

Rick Esch, vice president for business affairs at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, was chosen by his fellow staff members to receive the university’s Staff Recognition Award for his leadership in helping the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We never would have gotten through this challenging time without Rick,” said Catherine Koverola, Pitt-Bradford’s president. “He is the bedrock of Pitt-Bradford and embodies servant leadership.”

Read more about his leadership.

Laura Schmid in a pink shirt

Laura Schmid Named Director of Shared Services

Effective July 12, 2021, Laura Schmid will serve as the director of shared services in the Office of Human Resources (OHR). In this role, she will oversee the development and execution of strategic plans within shared services and continue to evolve OHR’s operational performance to cultivate a culture of consistent process improvement and optimization.

Schmid is an experienced administrator with an extensive background in higher education. She specializes in a multitude of disciplines including project management, operational process analysis, efficiency improvement, organizational design and strategic planning. She most recently served as the director of personnel at the Graduate School of Public Health.