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Pitt Cyber Announces Accelerator Grant Recipients
Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security is pleased to announce the grant recipients of its third round of Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants (PCAG).
The grants to Pitt faculty provide initial funding for novel and innovative projects that advance Pitt Cyber’s mission: to bring the breadth of one of the world’s leading public research universities to bear on the critical questions of networks, data and algorithms, with a focus on the ever-changing gaps among law, policy and technology.
This term’s recipients are:
- Vladimir Zadorozny (School of Computing and Information), Panos Chrysanthis (SCI), Michael Colaresi (Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), Patrick Manning (Dietrich) for their project, Social Weather Service: A Cyber-enabled Forecasting of Social Unrest and Conflicts.
- Kevin Ashley (School of Law) and Jaromir Savelka (Intelligent Systems Program) for their project, Annotating Cases for Learning.
- David Tipper (SCI) and Alexis Kwasinski (Swanson School of Engineering) for their project, Toward Resilient Smart Critical Infrastructure.
- Rosta Farzan (SCI), Dmitriy Babichenko (SCI), and Zak Risha (SCI) for their project, Fighting Cyberbullying: A Transformative and Educational Game for Promoting Empathic Understanding.
“Pitt Cyber is excited to support the ever-expanding group of Pitt researchers exploring the many challenges of networks, data and cybersecurity,” said Pitt Cyber academic director and law professor Michael Madison.
Office of Child Development Develops Parenting Guide of Original Research
“You and Your Child” is a series of 49 guides, broken down into categories of behavior, health and nutrition, parenting, development and safety. The guides contain best practices described by the Office of Child Development and have been reviewed by development experts and practitioners.
“These guides are an easy way for parents and caregivers to gain knowledge and answer specific questions they might have,” said Shannon Wanless, director of the Office of Child Development.
The guides are available online free of charge to parents, family organizations, agencies, professionals and others who work with children and their families. They are also available in Spanish.
Robin Brooks and Esther Palacios-Barrios Named 2019 Ford Foundation Fellows
Robin Brooks, an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies, and Esther Palacios-Barrios, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology who also works with the Learning Research and Development Center, have been accepted to the 2019 Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.
The program, administered by the Fellowships Office of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, is designed to increase diversity among faculty in the nation’s colleges and universities.
Brooks, who was recognized in the postdoctoral competition, will be working on a book manuscript with host institution, Emory University, during the fellowship. Palacios-Barrios, recognized in the predoctoral competition, will continue her work in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology Program.
Walid Gellad Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Walid Gellad, associate professor of medicine and health policy was named a winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”
Gellad’s research focuses on physician prescribing practices and on policy issues affecting access and adherence to medications for patients. Read a recent Pittwire story about his work using artificial intelligence to better predict opioid overdose risk in patients.
New Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell Tops Jazz Polls
Two significant honors were recently announced for Nicole Mitchell, Pitt’s new William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies, who arrived at Pitt this month. The prestigious 2019 Downbeat International Critics Poll named Mitchell the winner in the flute category. Downbeat Magazine is one of the country’s oldest jazz magazines and critically reviews the top talent in jazz each year. The complete 2019 Critics Poll list is in Downbeat’s August issue.
In addition, members of the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) named Mitchell “Flutist of the Year” this past spring. The JJA is a global professional organization of media content providers who disseminate news and views about jazz.
Mitchell says she is “truly honored” to have received both of these awards. Said Music Department Chair and Professor Mathew Rosenblum: “The Department of Music is thrilled to hear about the latest honors bestowed upon Nicole. Her original creative voice continues to make a huge impact in the music world at-large, and we greatly look forward to the leadership that she will bring to our department and to the City of Pittsburgh.”
Larry Cunningham Jr. Appointed Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Associate Dean of Hospital Affairs
Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine has announced Larry Cunningham Jr. as its next chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and associate dean for hospital affairs. Cunningham, a native of Texas, comes to the University of Pittsburgh after an 18-year career at the University of Kentucky, where he served as professor and chief of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Cunningham has a broad clinical interest in maxillofacial surgery and is an internationally recognized expert in the management of traumatic facial injuries. He has 18 years of experience as a member of the cleft lip and palate team, where his practice included alveolar cleft repairs and jaw surgery for patients with facial differences. He is particularly skilled in the surgical management of patients with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease, including total joint replacements. Cunningham frequently lectures on the management of injuries to the nerves that innervate of the lower lip and tongue.
At Pitt, Cunningham also will serve as interim program director for the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program.
Three English Affiliates Receive 2019 Investing in Professional Artists Grant
Three affiliates of the Department of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences have been awarded funds from the Investing in Professional Artists Grant, a shared program of the Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.
The foundations recognized fifteen local artists and organizations and selected the grantees based on “not only the quality of their work, but also on the potential of their proposals to advance their careers.”
The three Pitt affiliates and their projects are:
Cameron Barnett (A&S ’16G), faculty of the Falk Laboratory School, received a grant of $8.500 to “support a second full-length book of poetry centered on the historical and racial roots of the artist’s heritage in the U.S. and Canada, and the histories of slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.” Barnett earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in poetry from Pitt in 2016.
Adriana Ramirez (A&S ’09G) received a grant of $10,000 to “complete research and manuscript for a book on the history of violence in the Americas, from Pittsburgh to Colombia and back, blending family and oral histories with larger national narratives.” Ramirez earned her MFA degree in creative nonfiction writing from Pitt in 2009.
Anjali Sachdeva, lecturer in the Composition Program and Writing Program in the Department of English, received a grant of $10,000 to “support development of a novel set in a near-future world where people are segregated by gender.”
Pitt Law Launches Graduate Program on Human Resources Law
Pitt’s School of Law is now taking applications for a new online graduate certificate program that tackles the legal issues that sometimes arise in the human resource industry. Human Resources Law Online will consist of courses that explore the practical application of the law within that field. Students will learn key negotiating skills to help improve their ability to manage difficult workplace situations, such as employee contract negotiations, workplace accommodations requests and employee terminations.
Human Resources Law Online Program Director Joseph Hornack said that human resources, like many areas of business, has become more complicated. “Artificial intelligence has been playing a larger role in hiring, work evaluation and termination decisions at some of the larger companies,” he said. The algorithms are established in ways that may contain biases.”
Pitt professor of law and director of online legal programs Alan Meisel said the program is aimed at non-lawyers. “We’re trying to provide a legal education for people already working in the industry,” he said. “Legal problems can arise but people don’t realize it’s a legal problem until they need a lawyer. With the knowledge gained through these courses, one can head off serious legal problems.”
The courses will take 40 weeks to complete and will be taught by Pitt Law’s expert faculty and local practitioners.
Aaron Donald Football Performance Center Unveiled, Supported by Historic Gift
The University of Pittsburgh officially unveiled the newly dedicated Aaron Donald Football Performance Center this June, with the two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in attendance.
The ground floor of the Duratz Athletic Complex, Pitt Football's daily home and practice facility, was renamed in honor of Donald after the Pitt legend and current Los Angeles Rams star recently pledged a historic seven-figure donation to the program. Donald donated to the Pitt Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in key areas such as facility improvement, recruiting, technology and student-athlete development. At 27 years old, Donald is the youngest seven-figure donor in the history of the University of Pittsburgh. It also marks the largest donation ever by a Pitt football letterman to the program.
“It was a dream come true to play for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Donald, who starred at Pitt from 2010-13. “My experience as a Panther is something that influences my life every day and I want to pay that forward. I believe in what Coach Narduzzi is building at Pitt and this was an opportunity for me to make a difference for our current and future players. Pitt will always be my school and I'm honored to be able to support the Blue and Gold.”
Martica Hall Receives Outstanding Educator Award
Martica Hall, professor of psychiatry, psychology, and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh, recently received the Sleep Research Society Mary A. Carskadon Outstanding Educator Award for excellence in education related to sleep and circadian research. The award honors outstanding educational contributions to disseminating the knowledge base, research methods and health and safety significance of the field.
Hall’s research explores the effect of sleep on behavioral and physical health, and she has published more than 175 peer-reviewed articles on topics in this area. Her current research pertains to sleep, circadian rhythms and cardiometabolic risk in retired shift workers.
Hall received the award at SLEEP 2019, the annual meeting of the Sleep Research Society.
Stephen D. Meriney Receives Grant for Neuromuscular Disease Research
Pitt’s Stephen D. Meriney has received one of 26 The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) grants for rare neuromuscular disease research.
Meriney, a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry, focuses on studying the mechanisms that control peripheral nervous system plasticity, including mechanisms that underlie neuromuscular diseases. The MDA awarded him more than $300,000 in critical funding to support the development of a new therapeutic approach for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This novel therapy is based on a new small molecule that was developed in a collaboration between the Meriney lab and Distinguished University Professor Peter Wipf from the Department of Chemistry.
Meriney’s lab focuses on regulating and modulating presynaptic ion channels — essentially looking at how one neuron “talks” to another by releasing neurotransmitters across both healthy and diseased synapses. He will use the grant to address current gaps in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that destroys motor neurons which control essential voluntary muscle movements such as speaking, walking and swallowing.
Julian Gill-Peterson Wins Lambda Literary Awards Prize in Transgender Nonfiction
Julian Gill-Peterson, an assistant professor in the Department of English, received top honors in the category of Transgender Nonfiction during the 31st Annual Lambda Literacy Awards in June. The awards, known as the “Lammys,” recognize the year’s best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature. Gill-Peterson was nominated for their book, “Histories of the Transgender Child.” Gill-Peterson is also a member of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program steering committee at Pitt.
Oscar E. Swan Receives Award from President of Poland
Oscar E. Swan, professor in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and advisor for the Polish minor, was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Republic of Poland.
Swan received the award "in recognition of [his] outstanding services in promoting Polish language and Polish culture, and for outstanding achievements in Slavic Studies."
Swan accepted the prestigious award, presented by the Polish Ambassador to the United States, in May in Washington, D.C.
Pitt–Johnstown Is Pennsylvania's First Campus Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has been designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. Pitt–Johnstown is the first Pennsylvania university to earn this certification, and only the eighth overall.
Pitt–Johnstown Supervisor of Campus Grounds Dave Finney, who led the effort to obtain sanctuary designation, was recognized by Audubon for his environmental stewardship. The Johnstown campus maintains a 655-acre grounds with 15 miles of trails.
"The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on their property," said Christine Kane, CEO at Audubon International. “By taking action to implement indoor and outdoor conservation projects, the administration, faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown have demonstrated their commitment to the sustainable management of their natural resources.”
Certification demonstrates an organization’s leadership, commitment and high standards of environmental management in areas such as environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, water quality and conservation, resource management and outreach and education. Recertification is required every three years to maintain the designation.
Pitt Researchers' Report Pushes for Regional Green Infrastructure Database
The Pittsburgh Collaboratory on Water Research, Education, and Outreach, has released the white paper “Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches.” The paper proposes methods to comprehensively study stormwater management and green infrastructure projects underway in local governments throughout Allegheny County. The recommendations are based on a meeting of 32 stakeholders in water management, including representatives from Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority. The collaboratory is an initiative founded by Professor Emily Elliott, Associate Professor Daniel Bain and Assistant Professors Eitan Shelef and Brian Thomas, all from the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, with support from The Heinz Endowments.
Keisha N. Blain Wins Book Prize
Keisha N. Blain, associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded the annual Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize for her recent publication “Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom.”
The book, which “[draws] on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs and poetry,” tells the stories of Black women nationalists in the 20th century. The book prize is given annually for “a first book that deals substantially with the history of women, gender and/or sexuality.”
According to a statement, the selection committee said, “Featuring an impressive archive and transnational in scope, every single chapter in this book offers serious interventions, contributions, and reinterpretations of familiar historical narratives.”
Blain also won the 2019 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians for the same publication.
New Pitt Partnership Expands Research into Rechargeable Battery Systems
The Next-Generation Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies Lab at the University of Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center recently announced a new energy research partnership with Malvern Panalytical that will enable the lab to see the chemistry of what is happening inside a battery while it is in use.
The lab, headed by Prashant N. Kumta, focuses on energy conversion and storage, including rechargeable battery systems. Malvern Panalytical’s Empyrean X-ray Platform, a multipurpose diffractometer, will be used in the lab to identify solid-state materials by determining their internal structure, composition and phase while they are in use.
Caroline Runyan Named Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
Caroline Runyan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has been named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The program provides funding to promising young investigators advancing human health who are in their first few years of their appointment at the assistant professor level.
Runyan, who arrived at Pitt in 2017, was one of 22 early career researchers named to the 2019 class of scholars by leading U.S. academic and research institutions. The award comes with four years of flexible funding to invest in exploratory research.
Runyan’s research focus is on the brain’s ability to flexibly control perception and behavior in different situations — specifically, she images and manipulates cells and circuits to learn how the brain is able to shift gears quickly, as well as how it processes different types of sensory information depending on behavioral context.
The Pew funding is helping the lab image activity both within and between brain regions, “so we can start to get a sense of how the brain is able to filter out irrelevant information, or amplify important information. We’re developing methods to study the local circuit mechanisms that control how two brain regions interact to transmit information.”
This will all hopefully enable new, systems-level approaches to understanding brain disorders with altered network communication, such as autism and schizophrenia, Runyan said.
Chair of Religious Studies Receives Grant from American Academy for Jewish Research
Adam Shear, associate professor of history and associate professor and chair of religious studies, is part of a team of scholars who received a Special Initiatives Grant from the American Academy for Jewish Research. The grant will help fund a training workshop and series of webinars that will teach a growing number of students and early career scholars how to read early modern Hebrew handwriting.
“Most paleography training is for medieval handwriting but we are interested in the handwriting of people who were writing in their printed books after the invention of print,” Shear said.
Shear, who studies medieval and early modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, says the workshop is still in planning phase.
The yearlong training course will begin with a three-day intensive workshop in New York tentatively scheduled for January 2020. Follow up webinars through spring, summer and fall 2020 will reinforce and expand upon lessons. The training is part of the larger Footprints project, a research project and database that tracks the movement of Jewish books since the inception of print.
Renee J. Rogers Inducted as Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine
Renee J. Rogers (EDUC ’09G, ’12G), assistant professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity in the School of Education, was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) at their conference in May. The fellowship “recognizes individuals who exhibit a deep and ongoing interest and dedication to the goals and long-range activities of the ACSM.”
Rogers’ work includes research on the health benefits of physical activity, with an emphasis on research into practice.