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Adrian Lee Receives Distinguished Mentor Award
Adrian Lee, a biomedical professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, recently received the Distinguished Mentor Award from Pitt’s Biomedical Graduate Student Association.
Lee earned the award for his “service to graduate students through research training, teaching and administration.”
Lee also serves as director of the Institute for Precision Medicine and director of the Womens Cancer Research Center. His research areas include pharmacology of cell and organ systems, cancer genomics, systems biology of cancer and hormone signaling and action.
Rory Cooper Is Fastest American Handbiker in Berlin Marathon Race
Rory Cooper, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories, was the top finishing American to complete the men’s handbiker competition of the Berlin Marathon, held in September. Cooper placed 49th out of 111 finishers with a time of 1:26:17.
“The course had a lot of turns, and a couple of grades, but no hills. The roads are very fast,” Cooper said. “I was able to stay with a small group of the ‘fast’ riders until mile 22, which helped me to finish in about 86 minutes.”
Cooper also serves as associate dean for inclusion in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and is a distinguished professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.
3 Pitt Researchers Named to National Academy of Medicine
Three medical researchers from the University of Pittsburgh were recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
The elected researchers are Amy Houtrow, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine; Clifton Callaway, professor and Ronald D. Stewart Endowed Chair in Research in Pitt’s Department of Emergency Medicine; and Robert Friedlander, the Walter E. Dandy Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology at Pitt’s School of Medicine.
The academy addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. It also works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation, and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.
Epidemiologist Jane Cauley Wins Prestigious Service Award
Jane A. Cauley has received the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award. Cauley is a distinguished professor and executive vice chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. She received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society.
Cauley’s primary research interest is the epidemiology of osteoporosis, especially the worldwide ethnic and geographic variability in fracture, osteoporosis screening and treatment, risk factors for fractures and the consequences of osteoporosis in both men and women.
Associate Professors Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan Receive NSF Award for Privacy Work
Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan, associate professors in the School of Computing and Information, recently received more than $280,000 from the National Science Foundation for their project that explores privacy-enhanced sensor designs that provide people with the knowledge and assurance of when they are being recorded and what data is being captured.
Today, casual conversations and encounters, that were once thought to be private, may now be recorded and archived digitally. Networked microphones and cameras can give rise to serious electronic privacy concerns. While these types of devices that listen to us and capture data can benefit users in many ways, users may also face serious privacy violations. Their project brings together expertise in computer security and privacy, access control, human computer interaction and social computing. Through this interdisciplinary team, the goal is to make socio-technical contributions to both theory and practice. Lee and Farzan’s project combines hardware and software techniques to tangibly and visually convey a sense of privacy to people who are impacted by sensors.
School of Medicine’s David Binion Wins 2018 Sherman Prize
The award, presented by the Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation, recognizes outstanding contributions in the fight to overcome Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which are known as inflammatory bowel diseases.
Binion was recognized for the “novelty and creativity” of his research on the immunologic, cellular and physiologic alterations associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, applying his insights to improving care for those most severely impacted by these diseases.
Two Female Faculty Members Recognized for Research in Computational Social Science
Professor Diane Litman and Associate Professor Yu-ru Lin have been named to SAGE journal’s list of 39 women doing amazing research in computational social science across the world. The list includes women who have made significant contributions to social sciences and humanities with their innovative use of computational methods and explorations of cutting edge tech.
Litman, professor of computer science and co-director of the Intelligent Systems Program, focuses on artificial intelligence and its application to a variety of areas including linguistics, education, reasoning and behavior. Lin, also in the School of Computing and Information, leads the Pitt Computational Social Dynamics Lab. Her research focuses around the ways we become more informed and how that affects our behavior.
Three Pitt Researchers Win NIH Director’s Awards
Peter Strick, the Thomas Detre Professor of Neuroscience and distinguished professor and chair of neurobiology, was one of three Pitt people to receive NIH Director’s Awards this year. Strick earned the Transformative Research Award, part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, for his work on identifying a biological basis for the mind-body connection.
Warren Ruder, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Erik Wright, assistant professor of biomedical informatics, each won NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards, given to “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose high-impact projects.”
Ruder’s team will work to engineer cells that can be activated by high magnetic field gradients; Wright’s group will use thousands of microbial genomes to discover new antibiotics and figure out better ways of prescribing them to address the serious public health threat of antibiotic resistance.
Mary Allias Named Distinguished Fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants
Mary Allias, an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies program at Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for exemplary achievement in service to the profession, the advancement of health care and in dedication to the community. This honor is bestowed upon an elite group of less than one percent of practicing physician assistants.
Allias’ interests include instructional methods for enhancing clinical reasoning and communication, as well as workforce issues surrounding the physician assistant profession.
NSF Awards Pitt Engineers $200,000 to Study the Impact of Reflection on Learning
Assistant professors Samuel Dickerson and Renee Clark have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help students in the Swanson School of Engineering start to think about thinking. The two-year, $200,000 award will support a project to improve learning and development by promoting the frequent use of reflection and “metacognition” among students in a Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering class on microelectronic circuits.
“Engineering is different from other disciplines because this type of thought process isn’t inherent in our training,” Dickerson said. “Reflection and metacognition are not skills that are regularly cultivated or practiced in the engineering curriculum — in the classroom we are more focused on immediate problem-solving rather than pausing and looking at the big picture, which is more common in the engineering workplace.”
According to Clark, it is easier for a student in a classroom environment to ask a professor or teaching assistant to help them solve a problem. Outside of college however, there may be fewer resources on which to rely. Dickerson and Clark want to encourage engineering students to develop lifelong learning skills that will help them independently learn how to find a solution and ultimately give them an advantage when they join the workforce. Read more about the project.
State Awards $2 Million for Pitt-Bradford Tech Building
Pitt-Bradford has been awarded $2 million in state funding to support development of new engineering and technology facilities.
“This grant will be critical to us in developing the facilities which will make it possible for us to offer new academic programs and expand existing ones. This is an investment that will provide benefits for many years to multiple generations of Pitt students, as well as to the companies in the region who will hire our graduates,” said Pitt-Bradford Interim President Lawrence Feick.
The campus plans to develop a building to house classrooms, engineering and computer labs and shops and other specialized spaces to support new programs to meet local education and workforce needs.
An architectural firm has been hired to study whether to construct a new building or to acquire and renovate an existing building to accommodate the new programs.
Affinity Group Honored Regionally for Workplace Pride Efforts
The Pitt Queer Professionals (PQP) faculty and staff affinity group recently won an award at Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Regional Economic Inclusion Summit. The Workplace Award, which honors employee resource groups who are committed to creating an inclusive workspace culture, was accepted at the summit awards luncheon, Sept. 17, 2018. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher was also recognized.
Vibrant Pittsburgh is an organization devoted to attracting, retaining and elevating a diversity of talent in the region.
Pitt’s PQP affinity group, established in 2016, promotes the professional and social development of LGBTQIA+ staff and faculty by supporting active recruitment and retention, engaging in dialogue with administrators surrounding issues the community faces, and in general, assessing the campus climate for inclusivity.
Learn more about the list of Pitt faculty and staff affinity groups linked by common interests, and find out how to get involved at https://bit.ly/2Q1WvHR.
School of Medicine’s Ann Thompson Wins Leadership Award
Ann Thompson, vice dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was recently announced as a winner of the 2018 Leadership Award for an Individual from the Group on Women in Medicine and Science.
The award is given to people and organizations that demonstrate “a significant impact for the advancement of women’s roles in academic medicine and science.”
Thompson, who is also a professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics in the School of Medicine, will receive the award at Learn Serve Lead 2018 in Austin, Texas, Nov. 2-6. The annual event is held by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Faculty Honored for Evidence-Based Methods that “Transform” Instruction
Recognizing efforts to use more evidence-based methods to improve student performance, the Discipline-Based Science Education Resource Center (Db-SERC), located in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, gave 10 Pitt faculty members awards to “transform” the way their classes are taught.
Faculty members selected for the award receive up to $10,000. Uses for the money can include equipment, summer salaries for faculty or for paying graduate or undergraduate students for help in transforming the class.
- Matteo Broccio, lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- Russell J. Clark, senior lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- Candice Damiani, lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences
- Jennifer Ganger, lecturer, Department of Psychology
- Kirill Kiselyov, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences
- Bryan Nelson, assistant lecturer, and Nancy Pfenning, senior lecturer, Department of Statistics
- Armin Schikorra, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics
- Michelle Ward, lecturer, Department of Chemistry
- David Nero, lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy; and Rashid Williams-Garcia, post-doctoral fellow, Department of Neurobiology
Faculty members are also encouraged to share their course transformations within faculty learning communities. This sharing of information supports and promotes scholarly approaches to teaching and learning, and faculty members can help each other learn about evidence-based approaches they can use in their own courses.
Read more about the recognized projects and evidence-based teaching transformations in the University Times.
University Japan Council to Recognize Japanese Documentary Filmmaker
The University of Pittsburgh’s Japan Council has chosen filmmaker Kazuo Hara as the recipient of the council’s first biennial Japan Documentary Film Award for his latest directed film “Sennan Asbestos Disaster.” The documentary follows a group of former asbestos workers as they seek justice and recognition from an indifferent Japanese government. Prior to a Sept. 27 screening of his film, Hara will be recognized at an award ceremony earlier that evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets to the screening are free but require an RSVP. The event is held in conjunction with the 2018 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.
Faculty Promotions at Swanson School of Engineering
Ten professors across three departments in the Swanson School of Engineering received promotions for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Department of Mechanical and Materials Science
G. Paolo Galid, Distinguished Professor
Jung-Kun Lee, Professor
David Schmidt, Associate Professor
Nitin Sharma, Associate Professor
Sung-Cho Sung, Professor
Swanson School of Engineering Welcomes Six New Faculty Members
Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering has six new assistant professors beginning as faculty members in the 2018-2019 academic years. Their areas of expertise range from innovative health and energy systems to mechanical and materials science, and they will join colleagues in four departments within the school.
The new faculty members include:
With a focus on electroacoustics, tactile audio and audio signal processing for virtual reality applications and papers published in leading acoustics journals, Anderson joins the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
With particular interest in developing new optimization and control algorithms for electric power systems, Barati’s current research focus includes the intersection of data science and optimization theory with power grid applications. Barati joins the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Joining the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Haig has published papers on environmental engineering and microbiology in leading journals. Her research combines microbiology, environmental chemistry and public health with a focus on drinking water systems.
Rodriguez brings more than 15 years of technical expertise in the manufacture of refinery special products and thermal conversion processes to the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.
Joining the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Zhan’s research includes bioinformatics, machine learning and algorithm development. In 2017, he received an award from the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging to study early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Xiayun Sharon Zhao
Zhao brings to the Department of Mechanical and Materials Science her research in real-time process monitoring, measurement science and control technology for additive manufacturing.
Read more about the appointments at the Swanson School site.
Technologies Developed in McGowan Lab Licensed for Development
ECM Therapeutics, Inc. has licensed multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) technologies developed in the laboratory of Stephen Badylak (pictured) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, including hydrogels, bioactive derivatives and methods for delivering these materials within the body.
The Pittsburgh based company will initially develop EsophaGel™, an ECM hydrogel for the treatment of Barrett's Esophagus which is often a precursor to esophageal cancer. EsophaGel has been shown in pre-clinical studies to halt and possibly reverse the progression of esophageal cancer.
"We are pleased to license this portfolio of patents and patent applications to a startup company based in the Pittsburgh region," said Alex Ducruet, director for licensing and intellectual property in Pitt's Innovation Institute. "Dr. Badylak is one of Pitt's most prolific innovators, and we look forward to the positive impact that these regenerative medicine technologies will have on people's lives."
ECM Therapeutics was founded by Badylak and business development colleague Katie Collins. Badylak lab members Jenna Dziki and George Hussey and the University of Pittsburgh hold equity in the company.
Elaine Vitone Wins Inaugural Award From National Association of Science Writers
The National Association of Science Writers announced that Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) will receive the organization’s first-ever Excellence in Institutional Writing Award. Vitone is senior editor at Pitt Med, the magazine of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in collaboration with the Office of University Communications. NASW established the award to recognize high-caliber, publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization.
Vitone’s feature about Pitt psychiatrist Lisa Pan’s work to fight intractable depression earned her the win. Of the story, the judges said: “Her compelling narrative follows both an early patient, depicted authentically with details from reports, and an MD leading much of the research. The writing is colorful, compassionate and well-grounded in the science.”
Vitone will receive a cash prize to be awarded at a reception on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C.
In addition to her work at the magazine, Vitone is a writer and producer of Pitt Medcast, which has been featured on National Science Foundation’s Science360 Radio and several NPR member stations.
Emily Elliott Receives 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring
Emily Elliott, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science, is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award was presented by AGU’s Biogeosciences Section.
The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is given annually to one mid-career female scientist for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.
Elliott, who also serves as the director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and the director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research, joined the Dietrich School in 2007 as an assistant professor.