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Accolades


Wood in a gold outfit in front of a yellow background

Alumna Sossena Wood Featured on NBC

Sossena Wood, a Pitt alumna twice over who most recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy in bioengineering in 2018, developed a realistic phantom head for magnetic resonance research while at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Now, Wood and her research are featured in NBC News Learn’s new online video collection “Discovering You: Engineering Your World.” Debuting during National Engineers Week, which runs through Feb. 23, the series highlights the careers of engineers in a variety of sectors and offers insights to the next generation of students. The video segment on Wood’s research delves into her work while she was a doctoral student at Pitt. She is now a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

Read more about her work and watch the NBC segment.


Wallace in a Navy suit

John Wallace Named Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare

John Wallace, Dave E. Epperson Chair and Professor of Social Work, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The academy is a society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in social work and social welfare through work that advances social good.

Wallace does this in a number of ways, particularly in Homewood, the neighborhood in which he was born and raised. He is a co-founder of the Homewood Children’s Village and board president of Operation Better Block, both of which use community-based research to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable city residents. His Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools (PACS) program enriches the education of Westinghouse High School students. Through PACS, members of a group of teenaged Justice Scholars are taking Pitt courses, visiting Pitt for college-prep workshops and engaging in community service.

Wallace, also the pastor of Bible Center Church in Homewood, helped launch the Everyday Cafe coffee shop in Homewood two years ago, partners with colleagues in business and engineering to lead the Direct Curent HEaRT (Direct Current Humanity, Energy, and Regional Transformation) initiative and plays a key role with programming at Pitt’s Community Engagement Center.

“I am humbled to have been inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare,” said Wallace. “Having my work recognized by such an accomplished group of scholars is truly an honor.”


Jakicic in a suit, spliced with Rogers in a red shirt

Healthy Lifestyle Institute Leaders to Give Keynote at Professional Summit

John Jakicic (EDUC ’95G), chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity (HPA) in the School of Education, and Renee Rogers (EDUC ’09G, ’12G), assistant professor in HPA, will give a keynote presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) International Health and Fitness Summit in March.

Jakicic, who is also the founding director of Pitt’s new Healthy Lifestyle Institute (HLI), and Rogers, who serves as HLI’s programming director, will jointly present on the scientific evidence regarding the health benefits of physical activity.

Particularly, Jakicic and Rogers will focus on “novel science that contributed to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Jakicic served on the advisory committee that revised the guidelines.

“It is an honor to be asked by the American College of Sports Medicine to give a featured presentation at the International Health and Fitness Summit. As leaders at the Healthy Lifestyle Institute at PITT, we are passionate about translating research into practice,” said Jakicic.

Rogers added, “The opportunity to do this on a broader scale not only highlights the innovative work being done at Pitt, but allows for us to engage and inspire health, wellness and fitness professionals from all over the country.”


two people walking with a brilliant sun ray behind them

Pitt Sets Record for Low Employee Injury Rate

Pitt has set a record-low employee injury rate for the third year in a row.

The University’s 2018 employee injury rate fell to 0.94, calculated in incidents per 100 full-time workers, down from 1.04 in 2017 and 1.15 in 2016.

Pitt’s employee injury rate consistently has been below the national average for colleges and universities since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began its current industry classification system in 2003. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors workplace injuries and illnesses.

The OSHA recordable injury rate for colleges and universities held steady at 1.7 in 2016 and 2017. National figures for 2018 have yet to be posted.

Gregory A. Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, credited a campuswide dedication to safety for Pitt’s positive trend.

“This achievement is the result of a conscious effort — by supervisors, faculty and staff — to create a culture of safety at Pitt by consistently considering safety in all activities,” he said. “Their commitment is making a measurable difference.” 


Woon in front of a blue screen

Jonathan Woon Named Associate Editor of the American Journal of Political Science

Professor Jonathan Woon, chair of the Department of Political Science, has joined a team of associate editors of the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS), a leading political science journal and the flagship publication of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Woon has also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Political Science. His research focuses on political behavior, American politics, game theory and political economy.


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Iris Marion Young Award Winners Announced

The Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program honored four student, staff and faculty members with the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement for outstanding efforts in social justice at the University, local, national level, and international level.

The following honorees were recognized during a ceremony in January:

Dighan Kelly, a junior, received the 2019 undergraduate award, has been active with Pitt student organizations register voters and research sexual assaults on campus. Kelly has served on the local International Women’s Strike chapter’s steering committee and as president of Pitt’s Planned Parenthood Club.

Medha Kadri is pursuing a degree in the School of Social Work and received the 2019 graduate award. Kadri has a master’s in health psychology and worked for a child-rights focused, non-governmental organization in India that primarily rescued bonded child laborers and mainstreamed them back into school education.

Crystal McCormik Ware, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University Library System, received the 2019 staff award. Ware directed the Welfare to Work program in the School of Social Work, which trained lifelong welfare recipients with job skills and job placement at Pitt and UPMC, and serves as a founding member of the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium.

Kari Kokka, assistant professor of mathematics education in the School of Education, received the 2019 faculty award. Kokka researches student and teacher perspectives of social justice mathematics and the longevity of STEM teachers of color in urban schools. In her teaching, Kokka incorporates social justice issues into course readings and assignments.


Swan in a brown sweater

Pitt Professor Translates Holocaust-Era Diary of Warsaw Ghetto Survivor

Oscar E. Swan, professor in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and advisor for the Polish minor, translated the memoir of a Warsaw ghetto survivor that has topped the list of New Releases in Jewish Biographies on Amazon.

Swan met Leokadia Schmidt in 1972 and translated her diary from Polish to English. Schmidt’s journal recounts her traumatic experiences evading the Nazis with her husband and 5-month-old son, and eventually hiding in a tinsmith’s shed in the “Aryan side” of Warsaw. It wasn’t until recent years that Schmidt’s son contacted Swan about publishing his translation.

Swan’s English translation of “Rescued from the Ashes: the Diary of Leokadia Schmidt, Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto” comes on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.


a group of people walking around campus

Schools of Education, Social Work, CEC Named Finalists for Institutional Challenge Grant

The Schools of Education and Social Work, in partnership with the Homewood Children’s Village and Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood, have been collectively selected as finalists for the William T. Grant Foundation’s Institutional Challenge Grant.

The Institutional Challenge Grant “encourages university-based research institutes, schools and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.”

This proposed research project will “empirically demonstrate the impact of simultaneous parent and child interventions to improve key student educational outcomes — grades, school attendance, and behavior.” The Pitt-Homewood Children’s Village project is one of four research-practice partnerships selected as a national finalist. The winning partnership will be announced at the end of March 2019.

“This opportunity is consistent with our university’s focus on engaging in impactful work with communities, building and sustaining educational partnerships, and contributing to community engaged work and research-practice partnerships,” said Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and the project’s principal investigator.

Co-principal investigators are John Wallace, David E. Epperson Chair and Professor in the School of Social Work, Katz School of Business, and Department of Sociology; and Walter Lewis, President and CEO of Homewood Children’s Village.


Cathedral of Learning on a sunny blue day

Pitt Joins EPA’s Green Power Partnership

Pitt has joined the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership. The program aims to increase the use of green power among organizations in the United States as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. 

Currently, 15 percent of Pitt’s electricity comes from renewables. The University’s green power usage is equal to the electric power used by approximately 3,000 typical American homes.

In accord with the goals of the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University aims to produce or procure 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Pitt recently announced its intent to purchase 100 percent of the hydropower produced by a proposed hydroelectric plant to be built on the Allegheny River at the existing Allegheny Lock and Dam No. 2, just below the Highland Park Bridge. This is the University’s largest-ever commitment to renewable power.

The hydropower facility, which is expected to begin commercial operation in 2022, will generate enough electricity to supply 25 percent of the Pittsburgh campus’ electricity needs.


Zhang in a collar shirt and sweater

New Documentary Based on ULS Initiative Puts China’s Cultural Revolution in Context

A new feature-length documentary is in production that will highlight the CR/10 Project — an ongoing University Library System (ULS) initiative that records, preserves,and publishes video interviews with Chinese citizens sharing their memories of China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Launched in 2015 by the ULS East Asian Library, CR/10 illuminates a watershed 10-year period in China, where an attempt by Chairman Mao Zedong to protect the Communist Party’s purity resulted in a serious class struggle. From 1966 through 1976, universities and schools were forced to close; teachers and scholars were publicly beaten and tortured. The oral histories in CR/10 present a variety of memories — views not from scholars or politicians, but from the common man. The project began with around 30 oral histories and now hosts more than 100.

With funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, the 90-minute documentary, “Unreconciled Memories: Reflections on China’s Cultural Revolution,” will help put the CR/10 project in context. In addition to online accessibility, hundreds of DVDs will be produced and distributed in 2020, mainly for use in high school and college classrooms and conferences. The project’s academic director is Edward Gunn, professor emeritus of Modern Chinese Literature at Cornell University. He is supported by Haihui Zhang (pictured), executive director and head of the ULS East Asian Library, and Kun Qian, professor of modern Chinese literature and film at Pitt.


Costello in a blue bowtie and black jacket

Dental Medicine Dean Begins Tenure as Medical Association President

Bernard J. Costello, dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, has begun his year as president of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA).

Costello, who is also a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, said in a recent welcome message that the association will “aim to improve upon the notable successes of the past and innovate for the future.”

“The chance to help lead this organization is a rare privilege and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to work with such fantastic leaders,” he said. “ACPA is filled with people who know teamwork like no other organization that I am a part of.”


gate in the Cathedral

Pitt Cyber Announces New Affiliates

The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced three new affiliate scholars — Rosta Farzan, Maria Kovacs and Ana Radovic — as well as affiliate practice scholar Keith Mularski.

Pitt Cyber affiliate scholars are drawn from faculty across the University of Pittsburgh and are selected for their excellence in cyber-themed research and teaching. Affiliate scholars are a source for transdisciplinary collaboration and innovation across Pitt and beyond. Affiliate practice scholars are selected from across industries and disciplines to be a source of practical experience and expertise for research, experiential learning and discussion.

Rosta Farzan is an associate professor at the School of Computing and Information where she researches social computing and socio-technical systems; studying how technology and people can come together to tackle major societal challenges.  

Maria Kovacs is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and professor of psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Kovacs has been studying the role of emotion regulation in depression across the life span and in multiple generations. She is currently exploring research on the processing of disinformation and its affective context by youths and young adults.

Ana Radovic is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Radovic practices at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health. Her research focuses on using technology in the real world to help adolescents with depression or anxiety access earlier treatment and support.

Keith Mularski is an advisory executive director in the cybersecurity practice at Ernst & Young LLP. He was previously supervisory special agent assigned to the Pittsburgh division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he worked to develop proactive targeting protocols for emerging cyber threats. Mularski has worked undercover to infiltrate international underground cyber-criminal organizations and led investigations with Pitt Cyber Founding Director David Hickton into the indictments of members of the People’s Liberation Army of China, the GameOver Zeus botnet, the Avalanche botnet takedown and other significant cyber enforcement actions.


Kovashka

Adriana Kovashka Receives Funding from Amazon Research Awards

Assistant professor of computer science Adriana Kovashka recently received funding from the Amazon Research Awards for her project studying how objects foreshadow film plots and explain advertisements. She proposes to understand two artistic media — movie plots and advertisements — via the objects emphasized in movie frames.

“We propose to understand objects in film and ads through models that rely on common-sense knowledge extracted from: movies and knowledge bases. We use films as a medium to visually capture life experiences, including the context (i.e.objects) in which they occur,” Kovashka said.

This funding will help strengthen the relationship and collaboration between the School of Computing and Information and Amazon Research.


Russell in a white jacket in front of a panther statue

Jennifer Russell Receives $1.4 Million Grant to Improve Schools

Jennifer Russell, associate professor in the School of Education and research scientist in the Learning and Research Development Center, was awarded a $1.4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for her project titled, "Conceptualizing and Measuring Network Health in the Networks for School Improvement (NSI) Initiative."

The NSI Initiative funds organizations who will “support groups of middle and high schools working together to identify and solve common problems that best fit their needs, learning what works as they go and refining their approaches.”

At LRDC, Russell leads the Partners for Network Improvement (PNI) team that specializes in the developmental evaluation of improvement networks. Other Pitt group members include scientist Jennifer Post Iriti, research associate Jennifer Sherer, and research assistant Chris Matthis.


sparklers in the dark spelling H2P

Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence Receives Grant to Help Small Businesses in Coal-impacted Communities

A $1.035 million Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant will assist individuals displaced by the declining market for Appalachian coal by providing job-search and business startup assistance through Western Pennsylvania Small Business Services for Coal-Impacted Communities (SBS) programs.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE), part of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, has received $285,000 for its part in the program and will match the ARC grant for a total of $664,950. The IEE will offer three programs through its Small Business Development Center:

  • Launch My Business” for startups and those thinking of starting a business due to displacement.
  • Planning for Profits” where business owners use the Business Model Canvas tool to analyze direct feedback from existing and potential clients for sales growth and revenue.
  • Decision Makers” in which business owners resolve issues in a confidential group setting. 

It also will draw upon the expertise of PantherlabWorks, a resource for innovative companies seeking to bring new technologies, services and products into the marketplace.

“We have a long history of working with manufacturers, small businesses and individuals in communities affected by shifts in the economy,” said IEE executive director Robert Stein. “This partnership is an important outreach to communities where job losses have accelerated with the closing of coal mines.”

The SBS is a joint initiative of Pitt’s IEE, Innovation Works/Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania. Working together, these organizations provide coworking spaces, accelerators and incubators to serve business owners, independent contractors and entrepreneurs in communities where there are limited resources.


Pitt–Bradford signage

Pitt–Bradford Recognized as Military Friendly School

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has for the 10th year been named a Military Friendly School for its dedication to the success of veterans and their spouses. Among the resources that Pitt–Bradford makes available to these students are academic coaching and tutoring, an academic advising center and career and counseling services.

“The Military Friendly school designation is a reflection of the hard work and dedication made by so many different offices and people at Pitt–Bradford who actively help returning veterans and their dependents to be successful in their pursuit of higher education,” said James Baldwin, vice president of enrollment management at Pitt–Bradford.

Designated a recipient in the small public school category, Pitt–Bradford was one of just 766 schools to earn the designation among the nearly 9,000 schools evaluated nationwide. Institutions are evaluated based on survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, degree advancement or transfer and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans. 

Operated by veteran-owned Viqtory Media, the Military Friendly designation aims measure and assess an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.


Wang in a tan coat and blue shirt in front of a panther statue

Ming-Te Wang Receives American Psychological Association Award

Ming-Te Wang, who serves as associate professor in both the School of Education and the Department of Psychology, and as a research scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center, received the 2019 American Psychological Association (APA) Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions to Psychology. 

The award recognizes psychologists who are at early stages of their research careers. It is one of the most prestigious and influential awards for early career scholars’ scientific achievement.

Wang’s research focuses on child and adolescent development. He will be honored at the APA’s annual convention in August.


Fullerton in a gray jacket and purple collar shirt

Susan Fullerton Awarded NSF Funding for ‘2D’ Materials Research

Susan Fullerton, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was recently received the $540,000 CAREER Award for her research in super-thin “2D” materials.

The award, which comes from the National Science Foundation, supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Fullerton and her group invented a new type of ion-containing material, or electrolyte, which is only a single molecule thick. This will ultimately introduce new functions that can be used by the electronic materials community to explore the fundamental properties of new semiconductor materials and to develop electronics with completely new device characteristics.


tree-lined sidewalk near the Cathedral

Center for Urban Education Receives Portion of $1.5 Million Grant

The Center for Urban Education (CUE) has been awarded a portion of a grant totaling $1.5 million that will help support the re-emergence of the Ready to Learn program.

The Chan Zuckerburg Initiative grant was awarded to researchers at CUE and its partners at Carnegie Mellon to “support a group of urban and rural districts in the Pittsburgh region … to develop a set of culturally sustaining and digital approaches to improving literacy and numeracy.”

The year-long Ready to Learn program will provide math tutoring and culturally-relevant mentoring to kids in Pittsburgh Public Schools — matching students with Pitt undergrads who can apply to serve as mentors across three different school sites.

Housed in the School of Education, CUE is planning for a 2019 launch date for Ready to Learn.

“Our school partnerships are deeply meaningful to us. This program underscores CUE’s two-fold commitment to educate the whole student and to identify the pathways and possibilities for change in education systems. I am excited about what this program can mean for student learning and support in the Hill District and surrounding communities,” said CUE Director T. Elon Dancy II.

“We look forward to supporting students in learning not just math skills, but other life skills that will support them in their futures,” added Kenny Donaldson, Associate Director of Strategic Programming and Initiatives at CUE. “We recognize the communities we are collaborating with already have tremendous assets, and we are just aiming to partner and engage with these entities.”


Kavalieratos

Dio Kavalieratos Honored for Work in Palliative Care

Dio Kavalieratos, assistant professor of medicine, palliative care and medical ethics at the University of Pittsburgh, and director of implementation research for the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute has been awarded the 2019 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Early Career Investigator Award. 

Kavalieratos, who is the first PhD to ever win this award, is a health services researcher who is passionate about studying and developing best practices regarding palliative care implementation within health systems. 

Robert Arnold, medical director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, and Yael Schenker, director of palliative care research at the University of Pittsburgh, nominated Kavalieratos for this distinction. They describe him as “one of the most talented PhD health services researchers in palliative care.”

“My overarching goal for my work is to create systems, based on scientific evidence, that make palliative care an assumed part of everyone’s health care,” Kavalieratos said.