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HIV Prevention and Care Project Marks Quarter-Century of Work

The HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health turns 25 years old this year.

The project started in 1993 with a one-year grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to assist and educate HIV prevention providers and the state HIV prevention planning body. Today, it has 12 staff and three faculty members who run four programs focusing on direct prevention interventions, capacity building and training, statewide integrated HIV planning with the Department of Health and the diffusion of novel, effective community programs for vulnerable communities.

The project’s work has received multiple recognitions from federal health bodies in recent years, helping Pennsylvania set the national standard in several respects for integrated HIV planning.

Dennis Doyle headshot in green sweater

Dennis Doyle Named One of 20 National Beinecke Scholars for 2018

Dennis Doyle, a University of Pittsburgh junior studying studio arts and chemistry, has been named a 2018 Beinecke Scholar.

Doyle, of Pittsburgh, will receive $4,000 now and $30,000 after he graduates from Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in April 2019 with a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science. The latter gift will support his pursuit of a Master of Fine Arts degree in interdisciplinary art.  

“This scholarship will allow me to explore my passions and forge a future in the arts,” he said. 

As student, researcher and teaching assistant, Doyle focuses on interdisciplinary artwork that spans media and concept. Through the creative process, Doyle blends media and message to incite new discussions on the notions of identity, community and the intersection of science and art.

Outside of classroom work, he is exploring artistic concepts through the London Field Study Award, the Physics Artist-in-Residence Program and the University Honors College Brackenridge Summer Research Fellowship.

Gothic style gated passageway interior of Cathedral of Learning

Four Pitt Undergraduates Receive Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mentions

Four University of Pittsburgh students received honorable mention distinction from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Education Excellence Foundation, which recognizes thousands of undergraduate students each year and encourages students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Pitt’s 2018 honorable mentions study within the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the Swanson School of Engineering.

Brittany Chamberlain, of Boardman, Ohio, is a third-year student studying neuroscience and history and philosophy of science and minoring in chemistry. Upon graduation, Chamberlain plans to obtain a medical degree and a doctoral degree in neuroscience and connect psychiatric research with the clinical application of treating patients and teach at a university level to encourage development of aspiring scientists.

Morgan Cyron, a native of New London, Pennsylvania, is a third-year student studying chemistry and minoring in materials science and engineering with certificates in Russian and Eastern European Studies. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in materials science and engineering or chemistry and conduct research in the national defense sector developing new materials to defend against chemical and biological weapons.

Kalon Overholt, of Erie, Pennsylvania, is a third-year student studying bioengineering. He plans to earn a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering and conduct research engineering artificial organs, communicate science to the public and teach at the university level.

Kaylene Stocking, of Woodinville, Washington, is a third-year student studying computer engineering and bioengineering. She plans to earn a doctoral degree in bioengineering and investigate how engineered devices can interface with and help understand the human brain.

Erika Forbes and Jennifer Silk Named Association for Psychological Science Fellows

Jennifer Silk (left) and Erika Forbes have been named fellows of the Association for Psychological Science. The national honor recognizes “sustained outstanding contributions to the advancement of psychological science.” Their election to fellow status places them among the country’s most lauded researchers and teachers with over a decade of postdoctoral contributions.

Silk, an associate professor of psychology, and Forbes, a professor of psychiatry, both study the development of depression and anxiety in adolescents. Silk’s work looks at how teens’ emotional reactivity and regulation change during this crucial developmental period, and how these changes look different for people who develop anxiety and depression. Forbes studies reward circuits in the brain for clues as to how mood problems and substance abuse develop.  

“The prevention and treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders in teens is a timely issue, and Pitt has a longstanding history of breaking ground in this area,” Silk said.

“Being named an APS fellow is a great honor, and it feels even more valuable to be named at the same time as a distinguished colleague and longtime collaborator,” Forbes added.

Pitt Nursing Programs Rank No. 1 in State, Top 10 in Nation

The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing placed high in recent rankings published in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools.

Pitt Nursing’s doctor of nursing program is ranked top in Pennsylvania according to the rankings and moved up to fifth from seventh in the nation. The master of science of nursing program also moved up to seventh from eighth in the nation.

Multiple indicators are used to create these rankings, including peer assessment, student selectivity and achievement, mean grade-point average, faculty credentials and academic achievements, among others.

A list of other program rankings can be found here.

Veser in a lab coat and goggles

Department of Energy-backed Research Aims to Boost Rust Belt Manufacturers

Two new research collaborations led by Götz Veser, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, aim to boost manufacturing industries in America’s Rust Belt. The research is backed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and totals nearly $10 million.

One project is a collaboration between Pitt and Ohio-based chemical manufacturer Lubrizol that aims to replace Lubrizol’s current practice of batch processing chemicals with continuous processing; the latter gives much greater control over the processing conditions of chemicals. Veser's other project aims to find an efficient way to convert methane to benzene, a key part of sustainable processing that has not yet been commercialized due to low efficiency.

Read more about the grants at the Swanson School of Engineering's website.

Philosophy, Library Among Pitt’s Highlights in International Rankings

The University of Pittsburgh was one of 22 institutions with at least one subject ranked at No. 1 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018. The University’s philosophy program was recognized with a No. 1 ranking for the third consecutive year. Pitt was also featured in the new ranking for the library and information management subject (No. 9). Academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and h-index — a calculation that reflects most-cited papers and citation totals — are among the factors that may contribute to a specific ranking. To see the University’s entire performance in these rankings, visit the rankings webpage.

New Issue of Student-run Publication The Pitt Pulse Now Live

The Pitt Pulse, a student-run biomedical science magazine and multimedia platform, has published its spring edition. In this issue, find pieces about medical care for prison inmates, flu vaccines, what brain scientists have to say about the 2016 election and more. A hard copy of the magazine can be picked up in Langley and Chevron Hall, the ground floor lobby of the Hillman Library, the University Honors College and the Biology and Neuroscience advising offices.

Beck in a blue suit, white shirt and striped blue tie

David Beck Named Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants

David Beck, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Physician Assistant Studies Program, has been recognized as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for exemplary achievement in service to the profession, the advancement of health care and in dedication to the community. This honor is bestowed upon an elite group of less than one percent of practicing PAs.

Beck studies the application and evaluation of transformative learning in educating health professionals, among other topics.


statue of a panther

Two Student Teams to Compete in Rice Business Plan Competition

Two Pitt teams are among 42 competitors from around the world competing for more than $1.5 million in prizes in the 2018 Rice Business Plan Competition. This is the first time two Pitt teams have been selected to compete at the Rice competition. Team Four Growers is developing a robotic tomato harvesting system and Team FRED is designing a platform for dynamic social science modeling. Both teams have been honing their entrepreneurial skills through Pitt’s Innovation Institute programs and are contestants in the March 29 Randall Family Big Idea Competition on campus.

The Rice Business Plan Competition, which bills itself as the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition, is set for April 6-7 at Rice University in Houston.

Med Students Celebrate Match Day

Medical students and their families and well-wishers gathered in the Petersen Events Center Friday, March 16, for the ceremonial opening of the envelopes at Match Day — a national event where fourth-year medical students simultaneously learn where they will be completing their residencies.

Of the 146 Pitt students who matched, 37 will be staying in Pittsburgh. Two Pitt records were also broken: 10 students matched in orthopedics and nine matched in psychiatry — the highest ever for those specialties.

57 students, or almost 40 percent, matched in primary care fields, which is close to the 42 percent of last year’s class.

Personalized Education Grants Awardees Announced

An Uber or Lyft for finding a tutor, a Netflix for research opportunities, civic engagement programs and live broadcast internships in athletics are among the 17 projects awarded grants up to $26,000 through the Office of the Provost’s Personalized Education Grants Program. Personalized education is defined as enhancing learning through tailored engagement in educational activities that reflect each student’s unique identities, experiences, interests, abilities and aspirations. The winners will be recognized at a reception on March 26. For a list of the grantees, visit Pitt’s personalized education website.

Music Chair Deane Root Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Pitt Department of Music Chair Deane Root has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of American Music, which is a member of the Council of Learned Societies and a group of which Root was a founding member. At the society’s international conference in March, Root was lauded for his accomplishments — his deep and wide-ranging contributions to the study of American music; preserving and growing the Foster Hall Collection at the Stephen Foster Memorial and the archives of Pitt’s Center for American Music, of which he is director; and his successful initiative Voices Across Time, in which teachers from across the country come to Pitt’s main campus to learn how to integrate American music into social studies and language arts classes.

Root is an author, editor in chief of Grove Music Online, an educator, a mentor of young scholars and a past president of the Society of American Music. As its representative said when Root received the award, “Deane has exercised consistent leadership ... and has been at the forefront of musical discovery in a broad range of areas.”

Savio Woo Honored as Inaugural Orthopaedic Research Society Fellow

Savio L-Y. Woo, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Bioengineering of the Swanson School of Engineering, was honored by the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) as an Inaugural Fellow at the annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 10, 2018. Woo received this honor in recognition of his outstanding service and leadership, substantial achievement, expert knowledge and significant contributions to the field of musculoskeletal research and the ORS. Woo served as president of the ORS from 1985 to 1986, was a member of the board of directors from 1983 to 1987 and has been chairman or member of various ORS committees.

GSPIA Alumna Named Nonprofit Leader in Social Work

Sharon L. McDaniel (GSPIA ‘91) will receive the 2018 Social Work Day on the Hill Outstanding Individual in the Nonprofit Sector Award. The award is presented by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and the 2018 Social Work Day on the Hill Planning Committee. McDaniel will be recognized for demonstrating a commitment to promoting the principles and values of the social work profession in the pursuit of social and economic justice.

McDaniel is the president and CEO of A Second Chance, Inc., a licensed foster care agency that meets the unique needs of kinship families in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties. She founded A Second Chance in 1994, about three years after obtaining her Master of Public Administration degree from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

She will be honored during a reception at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on March 21.

SHRS' Walt Stoy Receives Leadership Award

Walt Stoy, Director and Professor of Pitt’s Undergraduate Program in Emergency Medicine, recently received the James O. Page/JEMS Leadership Award at the EMS Today 2018 conference.

The award is given to individuals or agencies who have exhibited the drive necessary to develop improved emergency medicine systems, resolve important emergency medicine issues and bring about positive changes to the field.

Stoy, who teaches in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and created the bachelor’s degree program in Emergency Medicine for emergency medical services personnel at Pitt in 1988, is internationally renowned for his endeavors in the field and regarded as a national leader in emergency medical services education.

Pitt News Wins State Student Journalism Awards

The writers, photographers, videographers and editors at The Pitt News, Pitt's student newspaper, cleaned up in the 2018 Keystone Awards contest for student journalists in Pennsylvania. The newspaper won four first-place awards, four second-place awards and three honorable mentions.

First-place awards went to Christian Snyder for column writing, John Hamilton for photography, Raka Sarkar for illustrations and Janine Faust for a personality profile. 

Stephen Caruso, Zoe Pawliczek and Ashwini Sivaganesh won second place in the news category for their collaboration on a story, as did James Evan Bowen-Gaddy and Amber Montgomery for a personality profile and Elaina Zachos for a photograph. Hamilton, Sivaganesh and Rachel Glasser secured an honorable mention in the general news category, Garrett Aguilar earned an honorable mention for his basketball preview cover illustration, and Li Yi earned an honorable mention for the photograph.

Robotic Harvester Team Picked to Compete for the ACC InVenture Prize

Four Growers, a student team that’s developing a tomato-harvesting robot, will represent Pitt in the 2018 ACC InVenture Prize innovation competition. The annual event pits one team of undergraduates from each Atlantic Coast Conference university in competition for $30,000 in prizes. Students will pitch their innovations to a panel of judges before a live audience April 5 and 6 at Georgia Tech. The Four Growers team includes Brandon Contino (ENGR ’17) and Dan Chi, a mechanical engineering student in the Swanson School of Engineering (both pictured), as well as senior neuroscience student Daniel Garcia.

Four Growers has competed in several Innovation Institute student innovation programs, including last spring’s Blast Furnace student accelerator and the most recent Startup Blitz innovation competition.

The team also is competing for $100,000 in prizes at the March 29 Randall Family Big Idea Competition at Pitt and is among two Pitt teams at the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston April 6 and 7.

Employee Injury Rate Falls to Record Low

The University in 2017 posted its lowest-ever employee injury rate of 1.0, calculated in incidents per 100 full-time workers. 

Jay Frerotte, director of Pitt’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, attributed the downward trend to ongoing efforts to enhance the University’s longstanding culture of workplace safety.

National figures have yet to be posted for 2017, but the University’s employee injury rate consistently has been below the national average for colleges and universities since the start of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current industry classification system in 2003. That year, the Pittsburgh campus rate was 1.8 compared to a national average of 2.7.

By 2016, Pitt’s rate declined to less than 1.2 — a campus low at that time  — compared with a national average of 1.9.

Margaret McDonald to Receive Association of American Medical Colleges Service Award

Margaret "Maggie" McDonald, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and international programs at the University of Pittsburgh’s Schools of the Health Sciences, will be presented with the Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA) Distinguished Service Award at the upcoming 2018 Association of American Medical Colleges National Professional Development Conference for Institutional Advancement.

The award recognizes McDonald for her significant and longstanding contributions to the GIA, the AAMC and her profession. In McDonald's nomination letters, colleagues recognized her as an accomplished writer and editor, dedicated to the GIA and academic medicine, and generous in sharing best practices to help advance the field.