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Rory Cooper in a dark suit and white collared shirt

Pitt Selected to Study Improved Mobility Access in AI Vehicles

The University of Pittsburgh was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the US. 

The department awarded Pitt $1 million to study the implications of accessible automated vehicles and mobility services for people with disabilities, in consortium with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and The Catholic University of America.

Rory Cooper will lead the project from Pitt’s end. He is director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt and associate dean for inclusion in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Cooper has over two dozen patents related to improved mobility for people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessories and improved prosthetics.

The team has partners and advisors from Toyota Mobility Foundation, Merlin Mobility, Paralyzed Veterans of America, UPMC Health System, and the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Task Force on People with Disabilities.


Paul Harper in a dark suit and light dress shirt

Pitt Business’ Paul T. Harper to Co-Chair Academy of Management Racial Justice Committee

Pitt Business faculty member Paul T. Harper has been named co-chair of a new Racial Justice Committee of the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.

The committee “will work to facilitate the creation of new knowledge, new networks and a new curriculum that benefits business research and education,” said Harper and his co-chair, Robbin Derry of the University of Lethbridge in announcing the formation of the ad-hoc group.

“The establishment of this committee is evidence of our division's responsiveness to the global Black Lives Matter movement and a broader social movement to eradicate systemic racism. Given our division's emphasis on justice, it makes sense that we would seek to provide leadership during this crucial period.”

Harper is a clinical assistant professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, where his research and teaching are focused on entrepreneurship, strategy and business ethics. His research interests include racial justice, social entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation.

The Academy of Management (AOM) is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars. Its membership of nearly 20,000 spans more than120 countries. The AOM’s Social Issues in Management Division studies the social issues, institutions, interactions and impacts of management. 


Susan Whitney in a black top

Susan Whitney Provides Health Recommendations to Department of State

Susan Whitney, professor of physical therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently provided recommendations to the U.S. Department of State.  She presented her expertise on vestibular disorders and concussions to the Standing Committee to Advise the U.S. Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and their Families at Overseas Embassies.

Whitney provided guidelines and best practices on treating current patients/government workers and potential patients if this should happen again. This committee will be writing recommendations on how to deal with possible future incidents. The goal is to not have to pull workers from their positions in other countries if there are more episodes. 


Alaina Roberts in a black top

Alaina E. Roberts Publishes Essay on Tulsa Massacre

Alaina E. Roberts, assistant professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences' Department of History, wrote an essay that appeared in History@Work, a blog of the National Council on Public History, on the commemoration of the Tulsa Massacre. 

The massacre, which occurred from May 31 to June 1, 1921, was an attack by White Americans on Black residents and their businesses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a wealthy community known as “Black Wall Street.” An estimated 100 to 300 African Americans were murdered.

In her essay, "Commemorating the Tulsa Massacre: A Search for Identity and Historical Complexity," Roberts discusses her personal connection to this point in history and the discovery of her Native American ancestry. According to Roberts, the broader historical context behind the massacre is not widely known—namely, the stories of the Native American and Black people who immigrated to and shaped the area almost a century before the massacre.

“Just as my research on Black-Native history helped me better understand myself and my career trajectory, the broader history behind the Tulsa Massacre allows us to better understand that Tulsa was a place shaped by its history of settlement by Native Americans and the people of African descent who lived within their nations,” Roberts said. “Acknowledgment of these intersections makes the process of telling and illustrating history more complex but also more accurate and inclusive.”

Roberts will further explore this topic in her upcoming book, “I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land,” which will be published in April 2021 by the University of Pennsylvania Press.


Ivet Bahar in a light blue collared shirt with bookcases in the background

Ivet Bahar Elected Member of National Academy of Sciences

Ivet Bahar has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Bahar is a distinguished professor and the John K. Vries Chair of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The National Academy of Sciences provides independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Academy membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

Bahar has been elected “in honor of outstanding contributions to computational biology.” Among other research accomplishments, she is a pioneer in structural and computational biology, and developed widely used elastic network models for protein dynamics.

She also co-founded the internationally acclaimed Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology, jointly offered by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.


A man in a dark suit jacket and white collared shirt

Chris F. Kemerer Wins Best New Author Award

Pitt Business faculty member Chris F. Kemerer is the recipient of the Best New Author Award in business case publisher Ivey Publishing’s 2019-2020 Best Seller Awards.

Kemerer is the David M. Roderick Professor of Information Systems, professor of business administration and area director for information systems and technology management in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

The award is presented to an author who published their first Ivey Publishing case within the last three years, and who had the highest total case usage across this time period.

Kemerer’s latest cases, Netflix Inc.: The Disruptor Faces Disruption and Apple v. The FBI, have seen interest worldwide, with the Netflix case being the second highest selling case in the world this past academic year.

Kemerer began writing business IT cases for use in his own classes, including in the Katz school’s Executive MBA program, and began submitting them for publication in order to make them widely available to other business school faculty.


Shannon Reed in a yellow scarf in front of a red background

Shannon Reed’s (A&S ’15G) Work Named ‘Book of the Week’ by People Magazine

Shannon Reed, a visiting lecturer in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Program, was recognized by People magazine for her new book, “Why Did I Get a B?: And Other Mysteries We’re Discussing in the Faculty Lounge.” 

Reed’s new work of memoir and humor was named Book of the Week by the magazine for its July 6th issue. In the write-up, the magazine calls the book “funny” and “revealing,” and also encourages readers to “send this book to your favorite teacher.”

The book, which was released on June 30, is composed of essays full of “humor, heart and wit,” and draws upon Reed’s 20 years working with students in ages ranging from preschool to college.

Writer’s Digest also featured Reed’s new book in its July/August 2020 issue. Reed earned a master of fine arts degree from the English department in 2015.


Lei Li in a black suit and checkered shirt

Engineering Researcher Lei Li Studying Oily Wastewater Conversion

Lei Li, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, recently received $110,000 from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund for his work developing 3D-printed membranes that will aid in oil-water separation. The development could help convert the oily wastewater into purified, usable water.

Oily wastewater from drilling and processing crude oil is the biggest waste stream in the oil and gas industry, which produces three times as much waste as it does product.

“What’s new about this work is its focus on surface and in-pore topography: The texture of the surface of the material and even the texture inside of the pores of the material have a profound effect on the membrane’s effectiveness,” said Li.


A blue sign reading

CBA’s Pitt Business Backstory Wins Graphic Design Award

The Pitt Business Backstory, an online feature created by communicators in the College of Business Administration, is among the winners in the Graphic Design USA 2020 American Web Design Awards.

Each Pitt Business Backstory features a CBA student’s individual journey from the classroom, to the city, to the world at Pitt Business.

CBA staff members RJ Thompson, Erin Noonan, Kenzie Sprague and Derek McDonald contributed to the winning series of student profiles.

To date, 18 students have told their stories in the ongoing feature, with more to come. Read about them online.


Hands on a laptop

School of Computing and Information Marks Third Anniversary with Accomplishments, Leadership Changes

The School of Computing and Information (SCI) is marking its third year as Pitt’s newest school. Since launching on July 1, 2017, SCI has committed to teaching and research that focuses on tackling the most pressing, complex challenges of today that require a new level of integrative thinking.

Among SCI’s accomplishments over the past three years:

  • Becoming a four-year admitting undergraduate program
  • Launching the Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems (momacs) Institute, aimed at using artificial intelligence and machine learning to model large-scale societal challenges such as food insecurity, national security and the opioid epidemic
  • Redesigning the Master of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) degree program
  • Hiring tenure and appointed stream faculty, including nine new faculty members for the fall 2020 term
  • Launching a Professional Institute, with its first offerings in cybersecurity to fill critical skills gaps in the industry and allow professionals to gain up-to-date competencies in this ever-changing field

As of July 1, founding dean Paul Cohen has transitioned into the role of director of the momacs Institute, as well as a faculty member of the Department of Computer Science. Bruce Childers has been appointed SCI’s interim dean. Childers has been with Pitt’s Department of Computer Science since 2000, and he has held a leadership role within SCI since its opening. Read Childers’ annual update message to the SCI community.

For more information about SCI’s new faculty, achievements and transitions as the School reflects on its first three years, visit SCI’s website.


Mostafa Bedewy in a black suit and gray tie

Industrial Engineering’s Mostafa Bedewy Earns NSF’s EAGER Award

Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt, was recently given a nearly $245,000 EAGER award by the National Science Foundation to study a new scalable laser patterning process for directly growing tailored nanocarbons on flexible polymers.

The research will enable patterning functional nanocarbons needed for a number of emerging flexible-device applications in healthcare, energy and consumer electronics.

“The multi-billion dollar global market for flexible electronics is still in its infancy, and is expected to grow exponentially because of accelerating demand in many applications,” said, Bedewy, who also leads Pitt’s NanoProduct Lab. “Exploring potentially transformative carbon nanomanufacturing processes is critical for realizing cutting-edge technologies.”


Santucci in a black top with floral patterns

Julia Santucci Named Director of The Johnson Institute, Hesselbein Leadership Forum

Julia Santucci, a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been named director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum. Santucci brings more than a decade of national security and foreign policy experience to the role and has held positions with White House National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Department of State. The Johnson Institute aims to produce professionals with the highest standards of ethics and accountability.

The Hesselbein Forum, within the Johnson Institute, provides a variety of opportunities for fostering and growing leadership, including the Leadership Program in International Affairs, which was designed and directed by Santucci.  


Heinz Chapel with pink flowers in the foreground

Swanson School Receives $1.9 Million in Awards From U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invested more than $65 million to advance nuclear technology, announced June 16, 2020. Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering received a total of $1,868,500 in faculty and student awards from the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).
 
According to the DOE, “NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.”

Read about the projects at the Swanson School’s website.


Feng Xiong and Nathan Youngblood in suits

Engineering Researchers Studying Efficient Data Storage

Pitt engineering researchers Feng Xiong and Nathan Youngblood secured a $500,000 award from the National Science Foundation to study how to store data more efficiently using optical and electrical techniques on two-dimensional (2D) materials.

The researchers will examine how certain 2D materials interacts with the light used in optical storage and gain a better understanding of its properties. This will allow researchers to advance technology and improve the use of 2D materials for high-speed, reliable and efficient memory and computation.

Both researchers are assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.


Carli Liguori

Carli Liguori Named Finalist for American Society for Nutrition Translation Award

Carli Liguori, a visiting instructor in the School of Education, has been named a finalist in the American Society for Nutrition Translation Award Program.

The award recognizes “outstanding early-career scientists and clinicians interested in translating their research to a defined audience to improve public health and/or health outcomes.”

Liguori was one of four finalists chosen from a pool of 70 applicants for the award.

In particular, Liguori, along with fellow School of Education faculty members in the Department of Health and Human Development, John Jakicic and Renee J. Rogers, were recognized for their study, “Changes in Dietary Intake with Varying Doses of Physical Activity within a Weight Loss Intervention: The Heart Health Study.”

In the study they found that following a calorie-restricted diet resulted in roughly the same amount of weight loss, about 20 pounds, regardless of a person’s level of physical activity. The team also saw that participants’ level of physical activity did not affect their ability to keep their calorie and fat consumption within bounds.

The team was honored at a virtual event held by the American Society for Nutrition in June 2020.


Luca Deseri in a dark gray shirt

New Research Investigates the Role of Lipid Rafts in Virus Infiltration

New interdisciplinary research co-led by Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University sheds light onto how and why the cell membrane forms and grows “lipid rafts” triggered by ligand-receptor activity. The work could lead to new strategies and innovative approaches to prevent or fight the action of the virus through the integration of biomedical and engineering knowledge.

“Our team used an interdisciplinary approach to better understand why active receptors tend to cluster on lipid rafts. More importantly, we confirm and predict the formation of the complex ligand receptors,” said Luca Deseri, professor in the Swanson School’s Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department.

Other institutions involved with the research include DICAM-University of Trento in Italy and the University of Naples-Federico II in Naples, Italy. The research was published in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.


Michele Cruse in a black suit jacket

Michele Cruse Named Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Pitt-Bradford

Catherine Koverola, president of Pitt’s Bradford and Titusville campuses, has named Michele Cruse vice president and dean of student affairs at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

In the role, Cruse will oversee career, counseling and health services; new student orientation and first-year experience; residence life and housing; student engagement, leadership development and community engagement; and student care and conduct. She will also continue to serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

“Since she joined us last fall, Michele has proven to be a strong, compassionate and transformative leader, whose priority is the students,” said Koverola. “During the spring semester, when we all left campus to work remotely, she worked tirelessly with others in Student Affairs to help our students with the transition and keep them engaged.”

Previously, Cruse was the associate dean of student affairs and experiential education, a role she began in November; she has been an integral part of the team determining that students could safely return to campus in the fall and planning for their return.

“I am very honored to be here at Pitt-Bradford, empowering every student to succeed through meaningful and inclusive experiences. It’s my ultimate goal to ensure that we provide students with a campus environment where every student feels valued, respected and that they belong here at Pitt-Bradford,” Cruse said.

Cruse comes to Pitt-Bradford from Portland (Oregon) Community College, where she served as the dean of student development. She has previously served as a director of TRIO Student Support Services at Portland Community College, led student accounts, and was an adjunct instructor. She has owned her own business and served as co-founder of an organization focused on workshops and education for community members, women, disenfranchised youth and those in alternative education.

Read more in the press release.


Giannis “Yanni” Mpourmpakis in a black suit and white shirt

Giannis Mpourmpakis Paper Published in ACS Catalysis, Featured on Cover

New research from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Catalysis and Catalytic Processes (Department of Energy) at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, advances the field of computational catalysis by paving the way for the simulation of realistic catalysts under reaction conditions. The paper was published in ACS Catalysis and featured on the cover of the print edition.

Computational catalysis, a field that simulates and accelerates the discovery of catalysts for chemical production, has largely been limited to simulations of idealized catalyst structures that do not necessarily represent structures under realistic reaction conditions. 

The paper was authored by Raffaele Cheula, PhD student in the Maestri group; Matteo Maestri, full professor of chemical engineering at Politecnico di Milano; and Giannis “Yanni” Mpourmpakis (pictured), Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow and associate professor of chemical engineering at Pitt.


Janey Freburger and Sara Piva in black and white shirts, respectively

SHRS Professors Named Fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association

Two professors in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recently earned a prestigious honor in physical therapy.

Janet Freburger, professor, and Sara Piva, associate professor, have been named Catherine Worthingham Fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the highest honor among APTA’s membership categories. To be eligible, individuals must have advanced the physical therapy profession through frequent and sustained efforts for a period of no less than 15 years. They also must have demonstrated excellence in one primary domain, such as advocacy, education, practice or research, and made significant contributions, achievements or leadership to at least two other domains.

Freburger and Piva become the 9th and 10th current and former Department of Physical Therapy faculty members, respectively, to receive designations as Catherine Worthingham Fellows.


Frances Mary D'Andrea in a black and red top

Frances Mary “FM” D’Andrea Provides National Guidance on Braille Code Changes

Frances Mary “FM” D’Andrea (EDUC ’10G), assistant professor of practice in the Vision Studies program in the School of Education, is working to ensure a smooth transition with the Braille standards in the United States by publishing a policy brief “Considerations for States Providing Materials in Braille,” which recently appeared in the National Center for Educational Outcomes.

The country’s Braille community is adjusting to major changes in the Braille code, with the old code, English Braille American Edition being phased out, to Unified English Braille (UEB).

D’Andrea is also the chair of the UEB committee for the Braille Authority of North America and has been a board member for more than 20 years. 

To ensure that future educators stay cutting-edge, the new Braille code standards are being taught in the Vision Studies programs at the School of Education. The school offers certifications in Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Graduates of the programs have a 100% placement rate and are employed all over the country.

Read more about D’Andrea’s policy brief and the Braille changes.