Internal Funding Fuels Faculty, Staff to Forge New Paths

On Monday, Feb. 24, faculty and staff gathered in Alumni Hall for the inaugural showcase of interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching: Fueling Our Future.

In her opening remarks, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd recalled that the seeds of the event had been sown in a conversation with Senior Vice Chancellor for Research Rob A. Rutenbar.

“It grew into thinking deeply about ways the University could enhance and streamline funding opportunities while continuing to support high-quality research, scholarship and creative endeavors,” she said.

Advancing the frontiers of knowledge

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, Fueling Our Future spotlighted faculty and staff projects which received internal funding from the  Pitt Momentum Funds and Forge Your Own Path—Personalized Education Grants, and also showcased funding programs such as the Pitt Seed GrantsInnovation in Education Innovation Awards and Course Incubator Projects from the previous year.

“Investing in our faculty is one of the most important things the chancellor, the provost and I do to ensure that Pitt advances the frontiers of knowledge and has a positive impact on the world,” said Rutenbar to Momentum Fund grant awardees. “We want to encourage you to pursue new challenges, and so we are putting programs in place that support projects at all levels of ambition.”

Both new and continuing projects proposed by faculty, staff and students at the Pittsburgh and regional campuses received funding through the Forge Your Own Path—Personalized Education Grants. “These grants provide key support for the Pitt community to develop transformative ideas for how courses, advising and extracurricular programming can be matched to the interests and goals of our students,” said Cudd.

“Our intent is to continue to transform the student experience at Pitt and we want to provide national leadership in how to personalize the university experience; it’s a priority for the Office of the Provost and the University.”

Opportunities to share stories

The event provided space for the research community to come together and share research as well as camaraderie.

“The part I love most about what's happened over the course of the day, and something we have not done before, is we've never sat down and celebrated and most importantly, shared the stories,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

“There's this great networking where you are comparing notes and learning from other colleagues, seeing what else is happening across the University and realizing those kinds of collective opportunities that in our day-to-day busy lives are often the hardest things to realize.”

Pitt Momentum Funds

New this year, the Pitt Momentum Funds restructured and extended existing research development funds into a tiered suite of awards designed to offer support across multiple stages of large, ambitious projects.

A full list of Pitt Momentum Fund recipients and their abstracts can be found on the D-Scholarship website.

Seeding Grants

Seeding Grants of up to $16,000 for a one-year term are awarded to projects across the University to support significant and innovative scholarship by individual or small groups of faculty. Attention is given to supporting early career faculty and areas where opportunities for extramural funding are extremely limited.

This year, a track was included as one of the dedicated funding streams made available to energize grassroots solutions for preventing sexual misconduct at the University.

The full list of Seeding Grant recipients begins on page 10 in the event program.

Teaming Grants

Awarded in amounts up to $60,000 for a one-year term, Teaming Grants support the formation of new multidisciplinary collaborations to successfully pursue large-scale extramural funding; these may include inviting external speakers or organizing workshops.

Teaming Grants, like Scaling Grants (below), are specifically designed to further the goal of the Plan for Pitt to engage in research of impact by positioning the University to participate in large research collaborations.

A Black Women’s Health Agenda: Applying an Intersectional Systems Approach and Reproductive Justice Lens
Dara Mendez, Department of Epidemiology; Tiffany Gary-Webb, Department of Epidemiology; Esa Davis, Department of Medicine; Abi Fapohunda, Department of Africana Studies; Tomar Pierson-Brown, School of Law; Jada Shirriel, Healthy Start, Inc.; Alysia Tucker, Allegheny County Health Department; Dannai Wilson, Allegheny County Health Department; and La’Tasha Mayes, New Voices for Reproductive Justice

Deciphering Redox Free Radical Mechanisms of 15LOX/PEBP1-driven Ferroptosis in Skin
Yuri Bunimovich, Department of Dermatology; Valerian Kagan, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health; and Sunil Saxena, Department of Chemistry

Developing University Infrastructure to Foster Equity and Inclusion in College Classrooms
Kevin Binning, Department of Psychology; Lorna Kearns, University Center for Teaching and Learning; Linda DeAngelo, Department of Administrative and Policy Studies; Christian Schunn, Department of Psychology; and Erica McGreevy, Department of Biological Sciences

History and Future of the “Neglected Tropical Diseases”: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Research to Improve Public Health Outcomes
Mari Webel, Department of History; Sarah Krier, Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology; Thuy Bui, Department of Medicine; Matiangai Sirleaf, School of Law; Michael R. Dietrich, Department of History and Philosophy of Science; and Wilbert Van Panhuis, Department of Epidemiology

Identification of Factors Associated with Subsequent Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis Using Machine Learning over Complex Large-scale Longitudinal Health Data
Richard Boyce, Department of Biomedical Informatics; Steven Albert, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences; and Paul Munro, Department Informatics and Networked Systems

Pittsburgh Phage Project
John Williams, Department of Pediatrics; Jennifer Bomberger, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Vaughn Cooper, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Tim Corcoran, Department of Medicine; Yohei Doi, Department of Medicine; Balasubramani Goundappa, Department of Epidemiology; Graham Hatfull, Department of Biological Sciences; Ghady Haidar, Department of Medicine; Alina Iovleva, Department of Medicine; Geoff Kurland, Pediatrics; Seema Lakdawala, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Marian Michaels, Department of Pediatrics; Stephanie Mitchell, Department of Pathology; Lisa Parker, Department of Human Genetics; Joe Pilewski, Department of Medicine; Jim Pipas, Department of Biological Sciences; Doug Reed, Department of Immunology; Ryan Shields, Department of Medicine; Fernanda Silveira, Department of Medicine; Daria Van Tyne, Department of Medicine; Anna Wang-Erickson, Department of Pediatrics; and Steve Wisniewski, Department of Epidemiology

Transnational Dialogues in Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx Studies
Michele Reid-Vazquez, Department of Africana Studies; Shawn Alfonso-Wells, Dietrich School Advising Center; George Reid Andrews, Department of History; Jerome Branche, Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures; Gina Garcia, Department of Administrative and Policy Studies; Martha Mantilla, Hillman Library; and Luis Van Fossen Bravo, Center for Latin American Studies

Scaling Grants

Scaling Grants provide up to $400,000 over two years and support detailed project planning, gathering of proof-of-concept results and reduction of technical risk so that so that teams can competitively pursue an identified large extramural funding opportunity. Like Teaming Grants, Scaling Grants are specifically designed to further the goal of the Plan for Pitt to engage in research of impact by positioning the University to participate in large research collaborations.

Attacking the Global Plastics Waste Problem
Eric Beckman, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Melissa Bilec, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Vikas Khanna, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Götz Veser, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Peng Liu, Department of Chemistry; Amy Wildermuth, School of Law; and Joshua Galperin, School of Law

Pittsburgh Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation in Medical Imaging
Shandong Wu, Department of Radiology; David Vorp, Department of Bioengineering; Ashok Panigrahy, Department of Radiology; John Gilbertson, Department of Biomedical Informatics; Seong Jae Hwang, Department of Computer Science; Wendie Berg, Department of Radiology; Kayhan Batmanghelich, Department of Biomedical Informatics; Rivka Colen, Department of Radiology; Michael Becich, Department of Biomedical Informatics; Jules Sumkin, Department of Radiology; and Robert Nishikawa, Department of Radiology

Forge Your Own Path Grants

When students are empowered to engage in educational experiences and activities

tailored around their individual needs and interests, they learn more. Forge Your Own Path Grants, which provide up to $25,000, support projects that integrate the rich expertise and network of the Pitt community with new and emerging technologies to provide customized and meaningful collaborations, connections and experiences that prepare and empower students to lead lives of self-determined impact.

Biology Transfer Students: Building Personalized Connections
Jessica Wandelt, Christine Berliner, and Kevin Wu, Department of Biological Sciences

Changing the Narrative of Student Success
Mary Napoli and Rebecca Farabaugh, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Developing Self-care and Personal Wellness in Graduate Students in Health Professions
Jamie Kulzer and Laura Dietz, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology

Expanding and Refining First-year Learning Communities at Pitt-Greensburg
Kayla Heffernan, Division of Natural Sciences, and Frank Wilson, Social Sciences, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Expanding STEAM Education Pathways: Opportunities for Deeply Personalized Education
Cassie Quigley, Department of Instruction and Learning

Persistence, Performance, and Law School: Implementing Interventions to Encourage Growth Mindset, Maximize Education, and Ensure Practice-ready Professionals
Ann Sinsheimer and Leigh Coogan, School of Law

Personalized Course Coaching at Scale: Bringing ECoach to Pitt
Jennifer Ganger, Department of Psychology; Lingfeng Liu, Department of Chemistry; and Jessica Wandelt, Department of Biological Sciences

Personalized Education Opportunities within Pitt Studios
Kelly Hammonds, Department of Athletics

Professional Development Advisor Training and Educational Resources Development
Colleen Culley, Karen Pater and Kristine Schonder, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Using Data Analytics for Advisors: StudentPaths and Concept Progression Maps
Daniel Mosse, Sean Bridgen and Nathan Ong, School of Computing and Information

Innovation in Education Awards

Innovation in Education Awards support projects by faculty members for the development of enhanced and innovative teaching techniques and materials that will strengthen the teaching mission of the University. The program seeks ideas that focus on experiential or active learning; innovative, discipline-based approaches to teaching and learning; technology-enhanced learning; and data-driven approaches to the design or assessment of curricular innovation.

A Flexible and Scalable Approach to Multidisciplinary Introductory Computer Science
Nicholas Farnan and William Garrison, Department of Computer Science

An Augmented Reality Platform for Clinical Procedure Training
Dmitriy Babichenko, Department of Informatics and Networked Systems

Championing Hearing Using Accessible Medication Experts at the Community Pharmacy: An Over-the-counter Hearing Aid Certificate Program for Student Pharmacists
Lucas Berenbrok, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, and Elaine Mormer, Department of Communication Science and Disorders

Instructional Design for Teaching Clinical Skills in a Flipped Classroom
Dawna Duff, Department of Communication Science and Disorders

Integration of Computer-aided Design into Electrical Engineering Curriculum Using COMSOL Multiphysics
Robert Kerestes, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

#FakeNews: Understanding Journalism, Mass Communication Technologies, and the Rise of Clickbait
Jessica Ghilani, Division of Humanities, Pitt-Greensburg

Course Incubator Grants

Course Incubator Grants support projects to radically redesign large-enrollment classes (those that enroll more than 100 students) to increase the success of students. Projects focus on transformative design of an entire course, including revising syllabi, designing learning activities, developing assessment strategies and reimagining classroom teaching.

Department of Biological Sciences—BIOSC 0150
Suzanna Gribble, Lesley J. Ashmore, Candice L. Damiani, Samuel S. Donovan, Kathryn E. Gardner, Erica M. McGreevy, Valerie Oke, Linda P. O’Reilly, Laurel B. Roberts, Zuzana Swigonova and Laura S. Zapanta

Department of Chemistry—CHEM 0110
Sean Garrett-Roe, Tara Meyer, Tamika Madison and Jill Millstone

Department of Economics—ECON 0100
Jane Caldwell Wallace, Katherine Wiley Wolfe, David Hewitt, Svitlana Maksymenko, James Maloy, Kevin Shaver and Margarita Zabelina

  • Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd browsed the poster session at Fueling Our Future, the University’s inaugural showcase of research receiving internal funding. “This research is as inspiring and collaborative as it is far-reaching, and it’s really exciting to see the cross-disciplinary nature of the projects we’re celebrating today,” she said. (Mike Drazdzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • During the poster session, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher (right) spoke with Frank Wilson (left), professor of social sciences at Pitt–Greensburg. Wilson, along with Kayla Heffernan (not pictured), assistant professor of mathematics at Pitt–Greensburg, received a Forge Your Own Path grant which provides additional funding for their research project Expanding and Refining First-year Learning Communities at Pitt–Greensburg. (Mike Drazdzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • In addition to the research councils and hundreds of faculty members who reviewed proposals Rob A. Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, first thanked the early adopters and teams invited to pitch their ideas. “I’m speaking for Ann as well, but that was one of the funnest mornings we’ve had recently, watching groups of eager, shining faculty pitch gigantic ideas.” (Mike Drazdzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, received a 2018 Central Research Development Fund grant for her work examining contaminants in drinking water. “I feel lucky and privileged about where my research group is today. Having translated those seed funds into more long-term support means students can follow where their dissertation research leads, and we can expand our capabilities to tackle urgent environmental problems,” said Ng. (Mike Drazdzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Julia Spears, associate vice provost for academic innovation, hosted a panel featuring previous years’ internal funding recipients who shared best practices and what had surprised them about both their research and the process of applying for and receiving University funding. From left are Spears; Lorna Kearns, director of online programs at the University Center for Teaching and Learning; Jane Wallace, undergraduate advisor and co-director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics; and Brian Gala, faculty in the Department of Psychology in Education in the School of Education. (Mike Drazdzinski/University of Pittsburgh)