Emily Murphy Named Distinguished Fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants
Emily Murphy, assistant professor of physician assistant studies in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
This honor is bestowed in recognition of exceptional leadership, contributions to the physician assistant profession and community service.
Murphy is also vice chair for academic and administrative affairs and director of the physician assistant studies program. Her clinical background is in neurosurgery, interventional radiology and pulmonology. Murphy currently holds a clinical appointment in addiction medicine with a private physician group.
Douglas J. Weber Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite
The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Douglas J. Weber, associate professor of bioengineering, to its College of Fellows.
Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is composed of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers. Membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice or education” and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."
Weber was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “outstanding contributions to neurorehabilitation engineering, translational neuroscience and leadership in the field of neural engineering.”
Basketball’s Jeff Capel Treats Hillman Cancer Center Staff with Lunch
Doctors, researchers and staff critical to the essential needs of patients at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center were recently treated to lunch, courtesy of Pitt men’s basketball Head Coach Jeff Capel and his wife, Kanika.
Every Hillman staff member received the meal, catered by Oakland-neighborhood deli Food for Thought, on April 2.
Capel recently penned a message about adapting during times of adversity and how he’s reinforcing with his team the importance of showing gratitude. Read his letter to Panther Nation on pittsburghpanthers.com.
J. Jeffrey Inman Named Fellow of the Society for Consumer Psychology
J. Jeffrey Inman, associate dean for research and faculty and Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been named a fellow of the Society for Consumer Psychology.
One honoree is named each year in recognition of unique and outstanding contributions to the field of consumer psychology.
“It’s humbling and flattering to be selected by my peers for a prestigious recognition such as this,” said Inman, who presented a Fellow’s Address at the Society’s annual meeting in early March.
Inman was president of the society in 2017 and served on the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Psychology 2005-2017.
He is currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Consumer Research, has published more than 50 articles and has more than 11,000 Google Scholar citations. His current research includes cutting-edge consumer-technology interaction and applied consumer behavioral theory in health care.
Swanson Lab Repurposes Equipment to Produce Sanitizer for UPMC
When labs at the Swanson School of Engineering closed for research purposes, Götz Veser (pictured), the Nickolas DeCecco Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and associate director of the Center for Energy, looked for a way his equipment could be put to use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riddhesh Patel, one of Veser’s graduate students, had an idea: Use the lab’s large-scale batch reactors—essentially enormous stirred glass containers—to blend hand sanitizer for UPMC, which is experiencing a severe shortage for their medical personnel.
After receiving permission to return to the Pittsburgh campus, Goetz, Patel and graduate student Nasser Al Azri set to work. Al Azri maintains and cleans the equipment with support from Patel, as the scope of the effort has increased.
Goetz supervises production, solicits donations of chemicals needed and shuttles the sanitizer to UPMC’s South Side operation. “I do what any good professor does: Stay out of the way and make sure that my students have what they need to do their good work,” he said.
To date, the lab has produced about 75 gallons of sanitizer and just received a significant donation of ingredients, which should yield another 50 gallons. The lab plans to continue to produce sanitizer as long as it can get supplies.
Swanson School Labs Donate Supplies to Fight COVID-19
Knowing that health care workers need personal protective equipment and other supplies in the effort against COVID-19, faculty and staff at the Swanson School of Engineering organized a donation of supplies to UPMC.
The effort began when Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, contacted Associate Dean for Research David Vorp (pictured) to find out where she could donate her lab’s unused supplies. After contacting UPMC’s Clinical Laboratories with the idea, Vorp coordinated a donation.
“Once I saw the excitement and happiness that the idea brought to the laboratory staff, I knew that we needed to respond in a big way, so I sent the request out to our faculty and tried to get the request out to a wider group with some success,” said Vorp. “In the end, I was blown away by the response of my Pitt colleagues. It truly was humanity at its finest. It was Pitt at its finest!”
The effort collected five pallets of personal protective equipment, such as masks (including the much-needed N95 masks that protect against the virus), peroxide, sanitizers, eye protection and other supplies. The pallets were delivered to UPMC to be distributed to health care facilities in need.
Staff Member Gets Crafty to Make Masks for Health Care Workers
Judith Camarda, payroll specialist in Facilities Management, has been a seamstress since her mother taught her the craft when she was 12 years old. Over the years, she has sewn clothes for herself and her daughter, as well as household décor like curtains and pillows.
Now, she’s putting her talent to use making masks for health care workers fighting COVID-19.
Camarda saw an interview with a New York-based physician talking about the need for supplies like masks. “I thought, ‘I can do that,’” she said, having all the needed supplies already.
Through Pittsburgh-based crafts store Firecracker Fabrics, Camarda found Maskmakers PGH, an effort led by nonprofit Radiant Hall. The artists’ organization coordinates all logistics, including pick up and distribution. All Camarda has to do is make 50 masks.
She’s up to 35 so far. “It was so frustrating to see that our medical people don’t have what they need, but this was a small way I can help, and it does make you feel better to help.”
Pitt Professor’s Porch Pantry Supports Neighbors in Need
Before the pandemic outbreak, Carla Chugani, assistant professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Dormont resident, built a pantry with the help of a neighbor. As COVID-19 cases began to be reported in Allegheny County, Chugani moved the pantry to her porch and shared information about its location in a Facebook group.
“It just seemed really important. We saw this immediate need for basic things,” said Chugani.
The response was immediate, with donations including child-friendly staples like juice boxes and fruit snacks, as well as individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper and paper towels.
Chugani is encouraging people to leave donations near the pantry at her home at 2958 Belrose Avenue; she brings items into her home and restocks the pantry as needed. “It’s really moving to see the way this community has come together to take care of its own,” she said.
Aspinwall Neighbors Toast Community from Afar
For the neighborhood of Aspinwall, with myriad spots to dine and socialize amidst wide sidewalks in front of large porches, social distancing can feel particularly isolating. Residents on their way to dinner or yoga are used to greeting neighbors out on walks with children or dogs.
That’s why Carrie Benson, Aspinwall resident and prevention and education coordinator in the Title IX Office in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, took to an Aspinwall Facebook page with a neighborly invite: Step out into a brisk Saturday evening and share a toast from their porches.
It worked. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, Aspinwall residents raised their toasts to their neighbors and community—even the firetrucks, typically reserved for the Memorial Day Parade, made an appearance.
“It was the easiest party I’ve ever planned,” said Benson. “Aspinwall is built for this type of response to social distancing.”
History Professor Advocates for the Humanities on Capitol Hill
Ruth Mostern, associate professor in the Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of the World History Center, advocated for the importance of federal funding for the humanities on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at the Humanities Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 10.
Mostern had the opportunity to talk to congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle about humanities research at Pitt—including the World Historical Gazetteer, a World History Center project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mostern serves as the project’s principal investigator.
“I am teaching Environmental History this semester, and even before the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, students were exploring questions that are urgent for the present moment,” said Mostern. “This is a chance to make sure that our congresspeople understand how the humanities transforms their districts and the whole world through education, outreach, and new insights about human past and futures.”
Pitt Programs Rise in National Rankings, Physical Therapy Program Remains in Top Spot
The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) and School of Nursing recently announced new and improved rankings for several educational programs, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 edition of Best Graduate Schools.
Rankings rose for two SHRS graduate programs—occupational therapy is now ranked number three in the country, moving from its spot at number four. Speech-language pathology had the largest jump from number seven to number three. Physical therapy remains number one for the second consecutive rankings report, as well as the audiology program at number seven. No SHRS program rankings fell and no other comparable programs at other schools ranked higher in Pennsylvania.
Pitt Nursing meanwhile is now number six among Master of Science in Nursing programs, moving up six spots from number 12. The Doctor of Nursing Practice programs is now number eight in the country, moving up from number nine.
Every four years, U.S. News collects data by surveying experts who teach and direct programs in multiple health care professions asking them to evaluate their peers. U.S. News surveys only accredited programs.
Pitt Nursing also moved up two spots in the QS World University Rankings to number 16 in the world, ninth in the U.S. These rankings represent a weighted average of indicators that include peer assessment, student selectivity and achievement, mean grade-point average, acceptance rate, student-faculty ratio, faculty credentials and academic achievements and research activity.
Dietrich School Faculty Recognized in Inaugural Mentorship Award
Khristen Scott, assistant professor of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and Jennifer Josten, associate professor of history of art and architecture, also in the Dietrich School, received the inaugural Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring.
The Dietrich School created the award to celebrate and honor the exemplary mentorship of faculty whose practices enhance the overall quality of graduate education. All graduate students and chairs of Dietrich School departments were eligible to nominate faculty, who were then evaluated by an award committee, chaired by Holger Hook, associate dean for graduate studies and research in the Dietrich School.
Scott and Josten received their awards, along with a cash prize of $1,500.
Valerie Kinloch Releases New Co-Edited Book Advocating for Social Change
Valerie Kinoch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, has released a new co-edited book titled, Race, Justice, and Activism in Literacy Instruction. It advocates for social change by encouraging educators to engage in equity and justice-centered literacy work.
“This book serves as a conversation into how and why we must engage in this work and it contributes to ongoing discussions about how this work could look in schools and communities,” said Kinloch, who is also an American Educational Research Association fellow and the vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English.
The book was co-edited with Tanja Burkhard, postdoctoral associate in the School of Education, and Carlotta Penn, director of community partnerships in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University. Leigh Patel, associate dean for equity and justice for the School of Education, also contributed to the book.
Philosophy Ranks High in QS World University Rankings by Subject
The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Philosophy, in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, received recognition in the 2020 edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject.
In its latest rankings, global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds named the best universities in the world for a study of 48 academic disciplines from over 13,000 individual university programs from around the world.
According to the latest QS World University Rankings, Pitt ranked no. 3 in philosophy. Pitt’s other top-ranked specific subject areas also include nursing and library and information management.
School of Education Faculty Member Wins National Literacy Research Award
Jon-Philip “Jay” Imbrenda, faculty member in the School of Education, is the recipient of the 2019 Arthur Applebee Award for Excellence in Research on Literacy.
The award is known as one of the highest honors in the field of literacy education. It’s given annually to “honor an outstanding article in literary research published in a referred journal in the previous calendar year.”
Imbrenda’s “Developing Academic Literacy: Breakthroughs and Barriers in College Access Intervention,” was the article that won him this recognition. The article reports findings from Imbrenda’s analysis of a classroom intervention in which students from a comprehensive urban high school were given a curriculum designed to prepare them for reading and writing demands of early college coursework. Read more about Imbrenda and his work on the School of Education’s website.
Five Partnerships Receive Distinction at Community Engaged Scholarship Forum
More than 250 people attended the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum (CESF), now in its second year at Pitt, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
The day featured breakout sessions, poster presentations, panel discussions and networking planned around the theme of building momentum through community partnerships, which echoes one of the pillars of the Plan for Pitt: Strengthening Communities.
“Service has always been a part of Pitt, but we’ve tried our best to move beyond a theoretical format and toward a practical format” for strengthening communities, said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees.
To that end, five projects were honored for reflecting Pitt’s highest community engagement aspirations, two Pitt staff members were recognized for their commitment to engaged leadership and collaboration and one partnership to watch was named. Learn more about the Honorees in @Pitt.
The Community Engaged Scholarship Forum planning committee was co-chaired by Jamie Ducar in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations and Julia Spears in the Office of the Provost. Sixteen schools and offices across the University helped to sponsor the event.
Solar Project Selected for U.S. Department of Energy Prize
A project developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been selected for the American-Made Solar Prize, a U.S. Department of Energy competition designed to incentivize entrepreneurs toward U.S. solar energy innovation and manufacturing.
The project is led by Paul W. Leu (pictured), associate professor of industrial engineering, Sajad Haghanifar, a doctoral candidate in Leu's lab, and Sooraj Sharma, a senior studying materials science and engineering who began developing this project in 2018 through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Undergraduate Summer Research Program. The team is evaluating new methods to improve the top glass sheet in solar panels.
The project is one of 20 that has made it to this round out of the 120 submissions, chosen for the novelty of the solution and how impactful it would be against the problems facing the solar industry. Each team will receive a $50,000 cash prize and is eligible for the next round of the competition, which rewards a cash prize of $100,000 and up to $75,000 in vouchers. The following, final phase of the competition will select two final projects to win a $500,000 prize in September 2020.
Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti Receives Prestigious International Literary Award
Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti, professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, received the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize in the essay category.
Established in 1959, the award is considered the oldest and most coveted prize in literature in Latin America—much like the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S., according to Sotomayor-Miletti.
Sotomayor-Miletti received the literary award for her work titled “Apalabrarse en la desposesión (Ley, arte y Multitud en el Caribe Insular).” She accepted her award earlier this year in Havana, Cuba.
Pitt-led Study Leads to Method to Calculate Stress on Rails
A study led by Pitt researchers calculating stress on railways was recently published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, Diagnostics and Prognostics of Engineering Systems.
The study was led by Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt in the Swanson School of Engineering, and senior author on the paper, and Stanford University researcher Amir Nasrollahi, who was previously a PhD candidate and then post-doctoral researcher in Rizzo’s Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies.
The two developed a nondestructive evaluation method to measure stress in rails, with the eventual aim of calculating when the ambient temperature will be problematic.
Pitt-Bradford Building Earns Campus’ First LEED Status
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s newest residence hall, the 170-bed Livingston Alexander House, has earned silver-level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the first building on the campus to achieve LEED certification.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification that takes into account sustainability considerations that include green construction practices, water and energy efficiency and more.
“It’s about caring for the environment,” said Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Bradford. “Climate change is real. When you build sustainable buildings, it benefits the environment, the health of residents and the health of those constructing and making the materials that go into a LEED-certified building.”