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Mathew Rosenblum

Music Department Chair's Composition Performed in Poland and Boston

Mathew Rosenblum, chair of the Department of Music in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is just back from hearing his most personal composition to date performed for an international audience. His clarinet concerto “Lament/Witches’ Sabbath” is a collaboration with American clarinetist David Krakauer, a high school friend of Rosenblum’s from New York City. The Polish National Radio Symphony recently performed the piece in Warsaw and again in Katowice, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project presented the work at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall.

The composition tells the story of Rosenblum’s grandmother, Bella Liss, whose family fled Proskurov, Ukraine, in 1919 during that town’s massacre. Every Passover, in the family’s crowded Bronx apartment, Bella would gather Rosenblum and her other grandchildren to relate how she and her six children fled out the back door and got onto a hay cart to make their escape. Before they left, Bella tied the family’s sterling silverware to her legs, underneath her long skirts. As she fled, she stopped in the woods to give birth to Rosenblum’s mother. Eventually, they crossed the border and ended up in Vienna, where Bella sold the silver for tickets to Palestine, where she and her family lived for four years. Sometimes Bella wailed and cried while telling the tale, making it a passionate lament.

The work combines actual recorded Ukrainian and Jewish laments, Bella’s own voice, Krakauer’s clarinet and a strong allusion to Hector Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique,” all in Rosenblum’s microtonal musical language.

“Through the mining of diverse musical and cultural sources … and addressing the universal and timely themes of migration, loss and cultural transformation, the work speaks to diverse audiences, both in the U.S. and internationally,” said Rosenblum.

Hear Rosenblum explain a portion of the composition in a Music at Pitt podcast.

Gina Garcia

Gina Garcia Appointed to Board of Directors of National Higher Education Organization

Gina Garcia, assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has been elected to the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).

With over 2,000 members, ASHE is a national organization for scholarship in higher education administration. Garcia’s appointment will run from 2019-2021.

Garcia focuses her research on Hispanic-Serving Institutions (not-for-profit, degree-granting colleges and universities that enroll at least 25% or more Latinx students) in post-secondary education, Latinx college student experiences and the effects of racism and microaggressions in collegiate settings. Pitt celebrated the launch of her book, “Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities,” on Oct. 15.

Alex Toner

Alex Toner Recognized as Western Pennsylvania Rising Star

Alex J. Toner (SCI ’11G), assistant director of community engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, was recognized as a 2019 Western Pennsylvania Rising Star by Get Involved!, Inc., at its 10th annual Pittsburgh Service Summit on Sept. 12.

The Rising Star awards recognize 21 local young professionals who “dedicate their time and talent to community organizations and who are making a positive difference in the region.”

In addition to his role at Pitt, Toner serves as a high school mentor at Brashear High School through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor 2.0 program, is an active member of Brookline Together and is pursuing a Masters of Public Policy and Management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

According to its website, Get Involved!, Inc. “provides leadership and development programs and initiatives that engage, energize, educate and empower students, young professionals and lifelong learners to make a positive difference in their communities and to become civically engaged.”

Catherine Palmer

Study on Hearing Loss and Social Participation Receives Award

Catherine Palmer, associate professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at Pitt, has been approved for a $2.23 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study hearing aids’ role in participation in senior communities.

Through this three-year award, Palmer and her team in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) will find out if people are more satisfied with their social participation when more hearing support is available, and if people with hearing loss find their quality of life improves when they have access to hearing help more frequently.

Palmer’s study was selected for PCORI funding through a highly competitive review process in which patients, clinicians and other stakeholders joined clinical scientists to evaluate the proposals. Applications were assessed for scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders and their methodological rigor among other criteria.

Palmer is also director of the SHRS Audiology Program, director of the Center for Audiology and Hearing Aids at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the current president of the American Academy of Audiology. Other Pitt researchers who will work with Palmer in this study include audiology associate professor Elaine Mormer, occupational therapy associate professor Natalie Leland and physical therapy professor Charity Patterson.

Peter Strick

Peter Strick Honored for Brain Research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, was selected for a 2019 Krieg Cortical Kudos Discoverer Award in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the cortical circuits involved in motor control.

He was presented the award by the Society for Neuroscience at the Cajal Club in Chicago. Each year, neuroscientists at senior, intermediate and beginning stages in their careers are honored by the society for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex.

Strick's research focuses on four major areas: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the motor areas of the cerebral cortex; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.

Jeanne Marie Laskas

“The Mister Rogers No One Saw”: Jeanne Marie Laskas Pens Essay in The New York Times Magazine

Jeanne Marie Laskas, Distinguished Professor of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and founding director of Pitt’s Center for Creativity, published an essay in The New York Times Magazine on her friendship with Fred Rogers.

Laskas first met Rogers after finishing graduate school and remained friends with him until his death in 2003.

“Fred Rogers’ philosophy guided me to teach in the way that I do now. He gave me the confidence to become a writer,” said Laskas, a New York Times best-selling author of eight books.

During Pitt’s Year of Creativity, Laskas said we can all learn a lot from Fred Rogers. “Fred believed that the creative process was a fundamental function at the core of every human being,” Laskas wrote in her essay.

Her essay appeared in The New York Times Magazine, on shelves Nov. 24. In addition to serving as a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, Laskas is also a correspondent at GQ. Her bylines have also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Esquire.

A University of Pittsburgh sign

Human Resources Welcomes 8 New Hires

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) has welcomed eight new hires since September. These new staff members have joined the administration, benefits and talent acquisition departments.

  • Erika Carpio, special projects coordinator, supports various HR special projects, specifically the Pitt Worx implementation.
  • Brittany Frund, benefits analyst, is responsible for health and welfare plans and enrollment eligibility for the University.
  • Zach Kurta, recruiter, is involved in all aspects of recruiting, hiring and onboarding staff employees.
  • Kimberly Kushon, director of operations, oversees business operations for OHR, including policy/procedure development, IT systems support and facilities needs.
  • Victoria Lancaster, director of shared services, manages the daily workflow of the front desk, supervises the service center staff and handles customer service inquiries.
  • Jessica Phillips, recruiting assistant, provides customer and administrative support for All-Temps and assistance to recruiters for hiring and onboarding responsibilities.
  • Tammy Weaver, benefits analyst, is responsible for health and welfare plans, enrollment eligibility and benefits packages for University retirees.
  • Lauren Wilson, human resources assistant, provides customer support for HR systems and administrative support for the talent acquisition and compensation departments.

OHR is pleased to welcome its new teammates and looks forward to the difference they will make at Pitt.

Pitt, UPMC to Lead New National Research and Training Center on Family Support

The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have been selected to create the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support

Through a $4.3 million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the center will serve as a national hub that leverages state-of-the-art research to improve the care, health and quality of life of all persons with disabilities and the families who support them.

The center, which builds upon 30-plus years of Pitt’s efforts in support of caregiving, is directed by Heidi Donovan, professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Health and Community Systems; Scott Beach, interim director and director of survey research of the University Center for Social and Urban Research; and Bambang Parmanto, professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Health Information Management in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

“The need nationwide for this center is huge. Despite the important role that caregivers provide to our health system, there are still gaps in knowledge in the field of family caregiving,” said Gabriela Prudencio, Hunt Research Director at the National Alliance for Caregiving. “Pitt and UPMC bring over 30 years of extensive research experience in this field and have been leveraging key relationships to translate research into programs and policies.”

Celeste Welsh

Athletics Promotes Celeste Welsh to Director of Media Operations and Community Engagement

Celeste Welsh has been promoted to Pitt Athletics’ director of media operations and community engagement. 

In this capacity, she will continue to impact the overall operations of the media relations division and also be a chief coordinator and liaison for the Panthers’ various community service endeavors throughout the year. 

“This is a richly deserved promotion for one of the finest people and professionals I’ve had the honor of knowing,” said Executive Associate Athletic Director E.J. Borghetti. “Celeste’s wonderful talents are only matched by her passion for helping others, both at Pitt and in the larger community. If Celeste is leading an effort, we know it is going to be highly successful. The Panthers are very fortunate to have her in this vital role.”

Welsh has been a part of Pitt Athletics’ media relations team since 2004. She is well-known throughout Pittsburgh’s Top 25 media market for her orchestration of the Panthers’ press operations at Heinz Field and the Petersen Events Center. Welsh also liaises for visiting media, professional scouts and bowl game representatives.

Read more about Welsh on Pitt Athletics’ website. 

Using sparklers to write H2P

Pitt Hosts Students from Franklin Regional School District for Disability Mentoring Day

The University of Pittsburgh hosted 13 students from Franklin Regional School District as they participated in Disability Mentoring Day on Oct. 16. Disability Mentoring Day is a nationwide effort to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration. The effort began in 1999 and takes place annually on the third Wednesday of October.

The Franklin Regional students toured Panther Central, University Mailing Services and the University Store on Fifth in the morning, where they received Pitt IDs, learned how to use student mailboxes and explored the ins and outs of running and working in a retail space. In the afternoon, representatives from the Office of Human Resources, Department of Athletics and Office of Diversity and Inclusion met with the students to talk about what they do at Pitt, assist with resume building and practice mock interviews. They also enjoyed lunch together and took pictures with Roc.

The day-long event was hosted by Pitt’s human resources office. Organizers included Tom Armstrong, Veterans and Individuals with disABILITIES recruiter, and Sarah Morgan, talent acquisition manager.

“It was a pleasure to host Franklin Regional students—they were engaging, thoughtful and such a delight,” Morgan said. “We are always happy to help our community members discuss career paths and jobs at Pitt, but this particular event gave us the chance to meet students that we might not otherwise have had the chance to meet. It was a great day.”

“Disability Mentoring Day was a real opportunity to introduce the kids to the different departments at Pitt so that they can get an idea of what everyone does around the University. We were proud to be asked to participate with the rest of the organizations in Pittsburgh, and we hope to continue to develop this event in the years to come,” said Armstrong.

Running on a treadmill

Pitt Honored in Healthiest Employers of Pittsburgh Awards

The University of Pittsburgh has been named an honoree for the Healthiest Employers Awards.

Since 2009, the Healthiest Employers Awards aim to recognize leaders in corporate wellness across the U.S. The Healthiest Employers company researches over 8,000 employers nationally to assemble trends, challenges and practices to enhance corporate wellness programs. Employers are assessed on their health and wellness programs using six fundamental areas of health programming:

  • Culture and leadership commitment
  • Foundational components
  • Strategic planning
  • Communication and marketing
  • Programming and interventions
  • Reporting and analytics

Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Benefits John Kozar is helping develop Pitt’s health and wellness program for faculty, staff and students. “This honor helps create an awareness of the University’s wellness efforts. It also further supports our designation as a Live Well Allegheny Workplace by the Allegheny County Health Department,” said Kozar.

Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Dave DeJong agrees. “Pitt is dedicated to bringing the best health and wellness services and resources to its faculty, staff and students. As a healthy employer, we are paving the way for other higher education organizations to follow our lead and support their employees in health,” said DeJong.

The University of Pittsburgh was recognized for its dedication and commitment to employee health and wellness as a large employer in the Western Pennsylvania region. One such example is the Wellness for Life program for faculty and staff, which focuses on proactive health management, positive lifestyle choices and physical activity. Pitt employees can visit the on-campus UPMC MyHealth@Work Health and Wellness Center to treat a variety of health issues, partner with a health coach to make healthy lifestyle changes and get in shape and explore Life Solutions services to help balance work and the stresses of daily life.

Lisa Bodnar

Lisa Bodnar Named Committee Member for Infant Feeding Study

Lisa Bodnar, professor in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology, has been named a full member on the National Academy of Medicine's “Committee on Scoping Existing Guidelines for Feeding Recommendations for Infants and Young Children Under Age 2.”

The committee will review existing documents and resources about what to feed and how to feed infants and children from birth up to two years of age, and assess descriptions of best practices for implementation strategies to support communication and dissemination of feeding guidance. They'll then inform stakeholders about the feasibility of consolidating feeding guidelines and/or harmonizing guidance for feeding infants and children up to two years of age, and will make recommendations about communication strategies.

Bodnar’s research focuses on discovering the healthiest weight and dietary patterns for pregnant women and their children. 

The University of Pittsburgh

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) turns 50 this year. 

The school began as one of the smallest schools on Pitt’s campus in 1969 and has grown to be one of the most prominent today.

“We are fortunate that the leadership in SHRS sees the challenges as opportunities to demonstrate our collective innovativeness in educational delivery. This is especially evident as we boldly move into the arena of distance education,” said Anthony Delitto, who has served as the school’s dean since 2015. 

Read more about the school over its half-century existence in the latest edition of FACETS, SHRS’ magazine.

Paul Leu

Paul Leu Receives Award to Lead Effort for Better Smartwatch and TV Screens

Paul Leu, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, will lead a collaborative study that aims to replace indium tin oxide with metal “microgrid” conductors to improve performance of organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

Leu will work with Electroninks, a technology company in Austin, Texas, thanks to a $1 million award from the Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

OLEDs are present in smartwatches and 4K television screens. Indium tin oxide is expensive, doesn’t perform well enough for larger areas and can crack with repeated touching or swiping. By using a new metal patterning technique that prints the metal grid directly on glass or plastic, the team aims to create “microgrid” conductors that can outperform indium tin oxide at a lower manufacturing cost.

Nena Ansari

Nena Ansari Named Assistant Director of Operations for Community Engagement Centers

Nena Ansari joined the Office of Community and Governmental Relations as the assistant director of operations for the Community Engagement Centers (CEC).

In this new position, Ansari will provide operational and administrative support to the Community Engagement Center initiative in both Homewood and the Hill District. The CEC is part of Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitments, an effort to build stronger communities and a stronger University based on long-term, place-based partnerships.

Ansari previously served as a research review analyst on the Institutional Review Board in the Human Research Protection Office at Pitt. She brings personal and professional connections to the Homewood and Hill District communities as a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh.

Panther statue

Anika Jones Joins Community and Government Relations as Outreach Coordinator

Anika Jones joined the Office of Community and Governmental Relations as the outreach coordinator at the Community Engagement Center (CEC) in Homewood.   

In this role, Jones is responsible for engaging residents and encouraging participation in CEC programs and activities. She also serves as a point of contact for University and community members interested in collaborating to offer programs. The CEC is part of Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitments, an effort to build stronger communities and a stronger University based on long-term, place-based partnerships.

Jones graduated from Pitt in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in social work and psychology. She is familiar with the Homewood community having served as a community assistant with Homewood Community Sports during the 2017-18 school year. 

Tara Wilson Byrne

Tara Wilson Byrne Starts at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Tara Wilson Byrne joins the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences as administrative assistant to research faculty. 

She will support research faculty with coordinating pre-award grant applications and submissions, managing initial activities of post-awards, assisting in manuscript preparation and other scheduling and logistics in regards to research. 

Byrne hails from the Department of Neurological Surgery, where she served as the administrative coordinator since 2016. She has worked with UPMC and Pitt since 1995. 

Elaine Devlin

Elaine Devlin Joins the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Health Information Management welcomes Elaine Devlin as department administrator. 

She has been with the University for more than 13 years. Devlin's most recent position was with the Department of Critical Care Medicine as a financial grants administrator.

Devlin is also a Pitt alumna with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in accounting.

Katy Holt

Katy Holt Named Instructional Technologist at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Office of Online Learning is expanding with the addition of Katy Holt as instructional technologist. 

At SHRS, whether observing classes or discussing teaching practices, she’ll act as a resource for adapting learning from face-to-face settings to asynchronous or online environments.

Holt is a Virginia native who recently relocated to Pennsylvania, having come to Pitt from the University of Arizona.

Josh Woolford

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Adds Josh Woolford as Research Coordinator

Josh Woolford joins the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Occupational Therapy as a research coordinator supporting the "ForAging" study. 

He comes to SHRS from Allegheny Health Network where he was a research coordinator in the Cancer Center. Previously, Woolford worked at Department of Epidemiology here at Pitt. 

He earned his Master of Public Health from Tulane University.