Accolades

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Physical Therapy Alumni Inducted to American Physical Therapy Association Fellowship

Three Department of Physical Therapy alumni — Kim Nixon-Cave (SHRS ’81), Mary Lou Galantino (SHRS ’82) and Greg Hicks (SHRS ’02G) — were inducted into the American Physical Therapy Association’s 2018 Catherine Worthingham Fellows class, the highest membership class of the organization.

Of the more than 100,000 members of the association, these three alumni were among just 15 recognized as fellows at the association’s NEXT 2018 meeting, held in June in Orlando.

statue outside the Frick Fine Arts building

University Japan Council to Recognize Japanese Documentary Filmmaker

The University of Pittsburgh’s Japan Council has chosen filmmaker Kazuo Hara as the recipient of the council’s first biennial Japan Documentary Film Award for his latest directed film “Sennan Asbestos Disaster.” The documentary follows a group of former asbestos workers as they seek justice and recognition from an indifferent Japanese government. Prior to a Sept. 27 screening of his film, Hara will be recognized at an award ceremony earlier that evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets to the screening are free but require an RSVP. The event is held in conjunction with the 2018 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.

Badylak in a gray/brown suit

Technologies Developed in McGowan Lab Licensed for Development

ECM Therapeutics, Inc. has licensed multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) technologies developed in the laboratory of Stephen Badylak (pictured) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, including hydrogels, bioactive derivatives and methods for delivering these materials within the body. 

The Pittsburgh based company will initially develop EsophaGel™, an ECM hydrogel for the treatment of Barrett's Esophagus which is often a precursor to esophageal cancer. EsophaGel has been shown in pre-clinical studies to halt and possibly reverse the progression of esophageal cancer.  

"We are pleased to license this portfolio of patents and patent applications to a startup company based in the Pittsburgh region," said Alex Ducruet, director for licensing and intellectual property in Pitt's Innovation Institute. "Dr. Badylak is one of Pitt's most prolific innovators, and we look forward to the positive impact that these regenerative medicine technologies will have on people's lives."

ECM Therapeutics was founded by Badylak and business development colleague Katie Collins. Badylak lab members Jenna Dziki and George Hussey and the University of Pittsburgh hold equity in the company.

Vitone in a leather jacket in a field

Elaine Vitone Wins Inaugural Award From National Association of Science Writers

The National Association of Science Writers announced that Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) will receive the organization’s first-ever Excellence in Institutional Writing Award. Vitone is senior editor at Pitt Med, the magazine of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in collaboration with the Office of University Communications. NASW established the award to recognize high-caliber, publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization.

Vitone’s feature about Pitt psychiatrist Lisa Pan’s work to fight intractable depression earned her the win. Of the story, the judges said: “Her compelling narrative follows both an early patient, depicted authentically with details from reports, and an MD leading much of the research. The writing is colorful, compassionate and well-grounded in the science.”

Vitone will receive a cash prize to be awarded at a reception on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her work at the magazine, Vitone is a writer and producer of Pitt Medcast, which has been featured on National Science Foundation’s Science360 Radio and several NPR member stations.

Elliott in a black blazer and chunky brown necklace

Emily Elliott Receives 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring

Emily Elliott, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School's Department of Geology and Environmental Science, is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union's 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award was presented by AGU's Biogeosciences Section.

The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is given annually to one mid-career female scientist for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists. 

Elliott, who also serves as the director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and the director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research, joined the Dietrich School in 2007 as an assistant professor.

Kinloch in a yellow shirt

Valerie Kinloch Receives NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, received the 2018 Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This award recognizes a person of color who has made a significant contribution to NCTE and to the development of their professional community. It is bestowed only when the selection committee decides a nomination warrants presentation of the award.

Kinloch, who joined Pitt in 2017, has published many books and articles about race, place, literacy and equity, as well as the literacies and community engagements of youth and adults inside and outside schools. Among other awards, Kinloch is also a recipient of the 2018 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education.

Aman wearing a suit

Aman Mahajan Appointed Chair of Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Aman Mahajan was recently appointed chair of Pitt’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, part of the School of Medicine.

Mahajan joins the University from UCLA, where he was chairperson of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and director of Perioperative Services at UCLA Health. His research focuses on spinal neural modulation of cardiac electrophysiology and the assessment of cardiac function in heart failure.

He is also a member of professional associations and national scientific societies in his fields of clinical and research interests, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Heart Association, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the American Physiological Society.

Pitt–Bradford monument sign

Pitt–Bradford Recognized as College of Distinction

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been named a College of Distinction for the fourth time by the Colleges of Distinction website and e-guidebook. Pitt–Bradford received further program-specific recognition in education, nursing and business.

Colleges of Distinction highlighted Pitt–Bradford’s real-world learning opportunities, such as monitoring stream health in the Allegheny National Forest. Groundbreaking facilities, including the Crime Scene Investigation House, were also cited, as were opportunities that offer students leadership experience through campus activities.

In program-specific recognitions, Colleges of Distinction recognized Pitt–Bradford’s education program for its use of an enriching liberal arts perspective, as well as its nursing programs for hands-on learning opportunities. Pitt–Bradford was also recognized for cultural activities including author events, student and faculty theater productions and career-networking opportunities.

Following nominations from high school counselors and educators, Colleges of Distinction evaluates schools based on engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges must demonstrate results in four key areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.

Chemistry’s Kabirul Islam Awarded $650,000 from NSF to Study Cell Lineage

Kabirul Islam, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemistry, recently won a three-year $650,000 grant from the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences area of the National Science Foundation to develop answer a central question in mammalian biology: how is it that identical DNA in an organism can create diverse cell lineages?

The grant funds an integrated chemical biology research and educational program, which will reprogram expression of genes that underlie cell division, differentiation, lineage and ultimately, organismal development.

“The interdisciplinary research setting that brings together organic synthesis, protein engineering and cell biology, will provide a unique training ground for graduate and undergraduate students,” Islam said.

Leece in his uniform in front of flags

Law Alumnus Appointed Staff Judge Advocate to Commandant of Marine Corps

The Department of Defense has announced that Marine Corps Col. Daniel J. Lecce (LAW ’87), has been promoted to major general. He will be the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the senior legal adviser in the Marine Corps. Among Lecce’s personal awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

Lecce will join fellow Pitt alum Brigadier General John G. Baker (LAW ’97) as the only active duty Marine Judge Advocate general officers. 

two women smiling

Med Students Receive Innovative Programming Award at Family Physicians Conference

The Family Medicine Interest Group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine received the 2018 Award of Excellence for Innovative Programming at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference in Kansas City in early August.

Elise Pearson (left) and Sarah Minney (right), both members of the Pitt School of Medicine’s Class of 2020, accepted the award on behalf of the group, which promotes advocacy, service and education regarding current issues in family medicine. Both are coordinators for the group.

The group’s initiatives, which helped earn them the award, included connecting with local organizations to offer blood pressure and blood sugar screenings at health fairs, holding a fundraiser and day of service benefiting a local food pantry, hosting a family medicine mixer event for students to meet family medicine physicians in an informal setting, and participating in the creation of a five-session mini-elective for students called “Transitions: Primary Care’s Role in Addiction Medicine.”

Diane Litman headshot

Diane Litman Awarded Research Grant from Institute of Education Sciences

Diane Litman, director of the Intelligent Systems Program, professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information and senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) has been awarded a research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to study undergraduate STEM education.

With colleagues Muhsin Menekse and Ala Samarapungavan of Purdue University, Litman will pursue research titled “Enhancing Undergraduate STEM Education by Integrating Mobile Learning Technologies with Natural Language Processing.” In this project, the researchers will use the mobile application CourseMIRROR in large science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lectures to monitor student engagement and the effect of feedback on learning. Developed by researchers at LRDC, CourseMIRROR  is a mobile application that prompts students to reflect on their learning in the classroom. It also provides immediate and continuous feedback to instructors about the difficulties that their students encounter, providing insight to instructors on what was and was not learned.

This grant is under the program Postsecondary and Adult Education, which strives to support research for the betterment of student education at both the college level and in adult education programs.   

woman with short hair wearing red lipstick

Interim Executive Director Named at Institute for Learning

There is a new leader at the helm at Pitt’s Institute for Learning (IFL). Rose E. Apodaca, who is nationally recognized with a proven track record in improving equitable outcomes for underserved students, is the new interim executive director of the IFL, which is part of Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Apodaca most recently served as director of outreach and development at the IFL, and prior to that, she was a senior cabinet-level officer in large urban school districts, a teacher and a principal of a foreign language school. She also led bilingual education programs for three major urban districts and served as an expert witness in federal court on the teaching and learning of English language learners.

Said Anthony Petrosky, IFL codirector and associate dean of Pitt’s School of Education: “Under Rosita’s leadership, the IFL will continue its important work in urban schools while growing its national and international presence. She exemplifies the bold thinking and action needed to ensure that every child receives the best educational opportunities.”

Aukerman in front of a bright red door

Physics Student Conducts Research at CERN with ThinkSwiss Scholarship

Andrew Aukerman spent the summer researching at the world’s largest particle physics lab with the ThinkSwiss Scholarship.

He conducted research with the ATLAS experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland. His project focused on particles called Higgsinos, the theorized super-partners to the Higgs boson. He also conducted archival research at the CERN library to investigate the impact that CERN has had on regional and global politics.

 Auckerman is a senior double majoring in physics and history and philosophy of science.

Bernard Rousseau Named Chair of Department of Communication Science and Disorders

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) has named Bernard Rousseau as the new chair of the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. He will officially assume his position on Sept. 1, 2018.

Rousseau joins Pitt from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he most recently served as associate vice chair for research and director of the Laryngeal Biology Laboratory, and as chancellor faculty fellow and associate professor of otolaryngology, hearing and speech sciences and mechanical engineering.

Two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research projects are coming to Pitt with Rousseau, along with a majority of his research team from Vanderbilt. The first project focuses on improving outcomes for patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis through innovative technology designed to improve pre-operative surgical planning. The second project seeks to determine the safety and efficacy of treatments for voice disorders.

“As I step into my new role at Pitt, I am energized by the fact that the university and the city of Pittsburgh have all the necessary ingredients to truly advance the study of communication science and disorders,” said Rousseau. “The outstanding faculty, the clinical infrastructure, and the exciting opportunities to leverage and strengthen partnerships across the various schools, programs and highly ranked departments at Pitt will allow us to take this program and this field to the next level.”

Swanson School Pair Receives Gilliam Fellowship

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has selected Swanson School of Engineering PhD student Emily Ackerman (pictured, left) and her thesis adviser Jason Shoemaker as one of 45 doctoral student-adviser pairs to receive a 2018 Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study. The Gilliam Fellowships encourage a more diverse and inclusive environment in science and academia. Each pair will receive an annual award totaling $50,000 — which includes a stipend, a training allowance and an institutional allowance — for up to three years. As part of their three-year grant, Ackerman and Shoemaker will organize a symposium at the University that will examine science, technology and diversity. Ackerman is pursuing her doctorate in chemical engineering, and Shoemaker is an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

Cathedral

Pitt Cyber Announces First Awardees of Accelerator Grants Program

Pitt's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced the first 10 awardees of the first cycle of its Accelerator Grants Program. The honorees will receive funding for projects designed to advance Pitt Cyber’s mission to investigate critical questions surrounding technology law, policy and security.

Awards have been granted to: Kevin Ashley, professor of law and intelligent systems; Matthias Grabmair, Carnegie Mellon University Systems Scientist; Julia Santucci, senior lecturer, intelligence studies; Daniel Cole, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Alex K. Jones, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; Bo Zeng, assistant professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Zhi-Hong Mao, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor Swanson School of Engineering; Mai Abdelhakim; visiting assistant professor School of Computing and Information; James Joshi, professor School of Computing and Information; Balaji Palanisamy, assistant professor School of Computing and Information.

h2p spelled out in sparklers in the night

4 Students and Alumni Named 2018 Critical Language Scholars

Five University of Pittsburgh students and alumni have been named 2018 Critical Language Scholars, an overseas intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment program designed to promote rapid language gains.

Joseph Acevedo, a Marine Corps veteran and junior majoring in Russian and Economics and minoring in Chinese with certificates in Russian and East European Studies and Asian Studies, will study Hindi in Jaipur, India.

Michael Andrews, a junior majoring in Finance and Supply Chain Management and minoring in Chinese, will study Mandarin in Dalian, China.

Matt Eskuchen, a current Boren Scholar in China, this August will receive a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, a Chemistry minor; and a Conceptual Foundations of Medicine certificate. He will study Mandarin in Tainan, Taiwan.

Brandon Yee, a senior majoring in Chinese with a certificate in Asian Studies, is studying Mandarin in Tainan, Taiwan.

The Critical Language Scholarship is a program of the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

 

panther statue

Physical Therapy Students Win Annual Donation Challenge

Physical therapy students at the University of Pittsburgh took first place in the 2017-2018 Mercer-Marquette Challenge by raising $50,552 for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. They also earned the title of "Leaders Society" for bringing the University’s total donations to more than $600,000 over the last 30 years. Students from Pitt’s Department of Physical Therapy, which is part of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, have won the challenge 15 times in its 30-year history.

The money raised in the annual challenge helps fund scholarships and grants that advance patient care. The challenge also supports the rigorous scientific review process for all foundation grants and scholarships. See a photo of the team.

blue bag with gold printing that says BYO[Bag] on it, with a grassy background and vegetables tumbling into the bag

Pitt BYO[Bag] Featured in 2018 Sustainable Campus Index

Pitt’s BYO[Bag] reusable shopping bag program is among the impactful initiatives highlighted in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2018 Sustainable Campus Index.

To encourage use of reusable bags at Pitt, after the first two weeks of each term, students pay 25 cents for a plastic bag at campus dining or bookstore locations. Half the proceeds from the fee and from sales of BYO[Bag] reusable bags go to the Pitt Green Fund to support other sustainability initiatives.

The program, one of many Pitt dining sustainability initiatives, has cut the number of plastic bags used at campus dining locations and book stores by 98 percent — from 30,000 per week to about 600 per week, said Nick Goodfellow, sustainability coordinator for Sodexo Dining Services at Pitt.

That’s more than 1.3 million bags saved and nearly $6,500 raised for the Pitt Green Fund since BYO[Bag] launched in 2014.

The AASHE Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), and highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from STARS institutions.

Pitt achieved a STARS Silver rating its first-ever STARS submission this year.