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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.
Social Work's Jaime Booth Honored for Work with Teens
Assistant Professor of Social Work Jaime Booth was recently awarded the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research at the organization’s recent national conference in Washington, D.C. She was recognized for using innovative approaches in her research, much of which involves young people in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“I’m engaging with new technology to answer traditional social work questions,” she said of her work.
Booth, along with Associate Professor of computing and information Rosta Farzan and other partners, is spearheading a pilot project called Data Forerunners. Close to 20 high school students from the Hill District and Homewood are using public data to explore issues in their communities, ranging from crime rates to commuting habits to affordable housing.
Now she is immersed in the SPIN Project, or Spaces and People in Neighborhoods for Positive Youth Development. Nearly 80 Homewood teenagers, carrying mobile devices equipped with a special app, responded to several surveys a day that asked how they felt about where they were. Did they feel respected? Are there people around that could help them if they need it? A survey at day’s end asked how they felt that day and if they had used any substances. The teens themselves are assisting with the data collection and Booth and the teens will present the findings this spring at local community centers.
“We want to understand how spending time in safe and risky spaces impacts these young people’s levels of stress and substance abuse,” said Booth. “The ultimate goal is to increase their access to safe spaces while addressing those spaces that are stressful.”
Booth, along with Assistant Professor of English Khirsten Scott also are developing H.Y.P.E. Media, a literacy program in which youth are taught the skills needed to engage new media to rewrite neighborhood narratives for community change.
Pitt Day of Giving 2020 Sets Records
Pitt Day of Giving on Feb. 25 prompted gifts from 7,630 Pitt supporters—alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends from all 50 states and 31 countries, surpassing the goal of 7,000 donors.
“Every year it gets better and better,” said Kris Davitt, senior vice chancellor for Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement. “We have more Pitt Day of Giving social media mentions; people are keeping track of the challenges and leaderboards; and people are talking about the day. It’s all about momentum and the message to simply participate—just join in.”
The annual 24-hour fundraising blitz supports scholarships, research, academic programs, student activities and initiatives across the University. By the time the clock struck midnight, donations totaled more than $1.65 million, with givers designating their support to more than 200 funds including every Pitt school, college and campus.
A total of $200,000 in challenge dollars sparked friendly competition for support. See the leaderboards for a full list of winners.
More than 1,200 members of the University community joined Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, Provost Ann Cudd, Athletic Director Heather Lyke and Panther mascot Roc at an on-campus celebration in the William Pitt Union. The event was livestreamed to viewers across the world.
Social media support added to the excitement. #PittDayOfGiving was the number one trending hashtag in Pittsburgh all day.
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.”
Shawn Ellies Appointed Chair of American Society of Industrial Security Pittsburgh Chapter
The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) Pittsburgh chapter has named Commander of the Pitt Police and Director of Security Shawn Ellies (GSPIA ’08, EDUC ’15) as the chair of the local chapter, leading more 200 members. Additionally, Ellies is a ASIS Certified Protection Professional, having completed a comprehensive certification program recognized as the gold standard for security management professionals worldwide.
Ellies oversees the University’s integrated safety and security needs. He has been a member of the University of Pittsburgh Police Department for the past 23 years in public safety leadership roles including patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift lieutenant, administrative lieutenant, commander of the special emergency response team and commander of operations.
Ellies served in the United States Army for 23 years. He earned a doctorate degree from the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh in administration and policy studies, a masters degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a masters degree in leadership and management from Duquesne University.
Ellies chairs the Veterans Community group on Pitt’s campus.
Clapp Hall Renovation Awarded LEED Silver Certification
The University of Pittsburgh’s Clapp Hall renovation has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.
It’s the latest among a dozen Pittsburgh campus projects that have received a LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The $34 million Clapp Hall project brought new infrastructure, interior renovations and exterior upgrades to the building that houses the Department of Biological Sciences.
Classrooms, laboratories, conference and seminar rooms, support spaces and offices were renovated; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and telecommunication systems were replaced; and a new fire suppression system was installed. The building’s elevator and restrooms were modernized to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Outside, doors, windows and roofing were replaced and the exterior was cleaned and repainted.
Features contributing to the LEED certification were energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, a demand-control ventilation system and a lab exhaust energy recovery system. More than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 90% of existing building elements were reused and 36% of building materials were regionally manufactured. Clapp Hall also features bike storage and changing rooms for commuters and an indoor air quality system throughout the entire building.
Clapp Hall, part of the Life Sciences Complex, opened in 1956.
Pitt Earns 2020-2021 Military Friendly Designation Across Campuses
The University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community.
For the ninth consecutive year, the University’s Pittsburgh campus has been recognized as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School.
Also receiving recognition for the 2020-2021 year:
- Pitt-Greensburg, Military Friendly
- The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, Bronze status
- Pitt-Bradford, Bronze status
- Pitt-Johnstown, Military Friendly
The Military Friendly Schools survey is “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-2021 survey with 695 earning the designation.
Raja Adal Receives NEH Grant
NEH grants support innovative digital projects for the public, humanities initiatives on college campuses and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.
As a Fellow for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, Adal will use this grant to support his project “The Typewriter and the History of Writing Technologies in Japan,” which includes research and writing for a future book.
Adal is one of only seven scholars Pennsylvania—and the only researcher at Pitt—to receive this award.
Swanson School’s Bopaya Bidanda Elected President of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernest E. Roth Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has been elected president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), the largest professional society dedicated to industrial engineering.
New officers are elected by the institute’s professional members and serve for three years, with terms beginning on April 1. Bidanda's is one of three seats filled in the annual election; he is joined by Ronald Askin (Arizona State University) as senior vice president of publications and Rohan Shirwaiker (North Carolina State University) as senior vice president of operations.
Bidanda has been an IISE Fellow since 2002 and won the IISE’s Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award in 2013.
Dietrich School Launches New Writing Institute
The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences recently launched a new writing institute to help create a “more vibrant writing culture” on Pitt’s campus.
The William S. Dietrich II Institute for Writing Excellence, which is rooted in the Department of English’s Composition Program, will help Dietrich School professors advance their writing instruction and help them teach discipline-specific writing in their courses. The new institute will also provide an environment for instructors to share tools that they’ve developed and learn from one another. The center plans to offer workshops for faculty and graduate students working on large projects.
“Writing is important because it allows us to move our ideas forward, to create knowledge, to figure things out,” said Jean Grace (pictured), senior lecturer in the Department of English and director of the Institute for Writing Excellence. “Writing is the life force of the academic community—it’s how we communicate research and advance our fields, how we document our work, how we earn credentials.”
The institute is named for William S. Dietrich II, the late philanthropist and double-degree Dietrich School alumnus who made a historic gift of $125 million to the University to name the then-School of Arts and Sciences to honor his father, Kenneth P. Dietrich. The Dietrich Foundation also gave a generous gift to help create the new writing institute.
Read more about the new writing institute on the Dietrich School’s website.
Pitt Sets New School Record for Producing Fulbright U.S. Students
The University of Pittsburgh once again is among the nation’s top institutions for producing Fulbright students.
Fourteen recent Pitt graduates—13 undergraduate alumni and one graduate alumnus who is currently pursuing his PhD—are abroad in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This is a Pitt record; the University’s historical record of 11 recipients was set in 2015.
The prestigious Fulbright program awards grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs in more than 160 countries around the world.
“This recognition, and the work that goes into realizing it, is an exceptional achievement for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “It highlights Pitt’s enduring capacity to not just attract—but to elevate and advance—the very best students in America today.”
“Global impact is a core of the Pitt Honors experience as it prepares our scholars to compete at the highest level and move toward a career of global impact,” said Audrey J. Murrell, acting dean of the Honors College. “Receiving a Fulbright award, as one of the most recognized international awards, is an important recognition of their achievement and shows that they take that global commitment seriously. I'm incredibly proud of their drive and boundary-crossing leadership.”
Pitt-Johnstown’s Pat Pecora Becomes Wrestling Wins Leader
With a 22-12 victory over Mercyhurst College, Pat Pecora, wrestling coach and athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, became the coach with the most all-time wins in NCAA history. Pecora has been with Pitt-Johnstown for 44 years and currently has an overall record of 617-151-5.
“Pitt-Johnstown congratulates our legendary wrestling coach, Pat Pecora, for a historic achievement—the all-time winningest NCAA coach! We are enormously proud of this monumental accomplishment, which stands as a testament to his great work ethic, inspirational leadership, spirited enthusiasm and love for his wrestling teams and UPJ,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar.
Pecora has led the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cats to 22 NCAA Regional titles and four straight PSAC Championships. He has been named National Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association multiple times, and has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches, NCAA Division II Wrestling, Pitt–Johnstown Athletics and National Wrestling Halls of Fame.
Pitt Faculty Named 2020 Sloan Research Fellows
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has named three Pitt faculty as 2020 Sloan Research Fellows:
- Susan Fullerton Shirley, an assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering was recognized for advancements in the field of chemistry.
- Michael Hatridge, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences was recognized for advancements in the field of physics.
- Robin E.C. Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in the School of Medicine was recognized for work in the field of computational and evolutionary molecular biology.
The fellowship, awarded annually to 126 scientists in the United States and Canada, is dedicated for scholars studying chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Since the fellowship was founded in 1955, 38 Pitt faculty have received the honor.
Winners will receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship to support their research.
Study Lab Wins Silver Award for Marketing and Communications at CASE
The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) announced that Pitt’s Study Lab: Revolutionizing the Story of Academic Success won the 2020 Silver Accolades Award under Institutional Marketing Identity/Branding Programs.
Study Lab has undergone a rebranding in recent years, resulting in increased student engagement levels. Pittwire wrote about it in November 2019 and the online database company Knack spotlighted the “amazing results” on their blog. The marketing and communications team behind the efforts are being recognized for their work.
The award recognizes the visibility, support and prestige that marketing and programming bring to their institution. Criteria for the award included quality, creativity, innovation, adherence to professional standards and success in meeting stated objectives.
The team included Rebecca Farabaugh, communications manager in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Marygrace Reder, marketing manager in the Office of University Communications and Marketing (OUCM); and Jane Dudley, designer and assistant creative director in OUCM.
Toi Derricotte Wins Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry
Toi Derricotte, professor emerita in the Department of English within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is the 2020 recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.
The award, named to honor the late poet Robert Frost, is presented annually by the Poetry Society of America to recognize the lifetime achievements of an American poet.
Jiebiao Wang Joins Pitt Public Health as Assistant Professor of Biostatistics
Jiebiao Wang has joined the Graduate School of Public Health as an assistant professor of biostatistics.
After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics at Renmin University of China in Beijing, Wang completed his PhD in biostatistics at the University of Chicago. He moved to Pittsburgh in 2017 to join the Department of Statistics and Data Science at Carnegie Mellon University as a postdoctoral researcher.
Wang’s research interests are designing statistical methods from machine-learning to causal inference to extract meaningful information from massive biological data. His wife is also a faculty member in quantitative methods at Pitt.
Medical Researcher Paul Palevsky Named President-Elect to Foundation Board
Palevsky is a professor of medicine and clinical and translational science in the renal-electrolyte division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is chief of the renal section at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
He is internationally recognized as an expert in acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology and has helped lead multiple clinical trials focused on the management of acute dialysis, prevention of acute kidney injury and slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease. He has published more than 250 original articles, reviews and book chapters and has held multiple editorial positions.
Anjali Sachdeva Named NEA Fellow in Literature
The NEA grants fellowships to writers and translators of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction to allow recipients to “set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.”
Chosen from nearly 1,700 eligible applicants, Sachdeva is one of 36 creative writing fellows who received a grant of $25,000.
Awardees of Excellence in Advising Prize Announced
The Dietrich School's annual award recognizes outstanding faculty and staff academic advising of its undergraduate students.
Cohen is the director of undergraduate studies, senior lecturer, and undergraduate advisor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. Mowrey is an academic advisor in the Dietrich School's Academic Advising Center.
Recipients are nominated by fellow faculty and staff, and nominations are supported by the experiences of undergraduate students.
Pitt IT Welcomes Shahfar Shaari as Director of Organizational Transformation
Pitt Information Technology is pleased to announce that Shahfar Shaari will join the department as director of organizational transformation. Shaari previously led change readiness efforts related to the implementation of Pitt Worx Talent Center in 2018 and 2019.
In his new role, Shaari will guide organizational change—partnering with key stakeholders and collaborating with end-user groups—on the deployment and adoption of complex IT projects throughout the University. Shaari’s first order of business will be the Pitt Worx Human Capital Management implementation, which includes core HR, benefits, payroll and time and labor modules, and is scheduled to launch in January 2021.
Shaari has more than 20 years of experience leading organizational transformation. Previous positions include management at global firms such as AmerisourceBergen, KPMG and Willis Towers Watson; enterprise technology management; and working with systems by Oracle, SAP, Workday and others.