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Andrea Hergenroeder

Andrea Hegenroeder Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Andrea Hergenroeder, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Physical Therapy, is this year's recipient of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Hergenroeder was selected for creating life-long learning habits in the classroom, using creative and cutting-edge teaching methods and technologies, and developing experiential learning activities that support students through all stages of learning.

Her research interests include physical activity and its role in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, health promotion in physical therapy practice and measurement of vital signs and clinical responses to exercise among others.

Lia Winter

Alum Lia Winter Finalist in Innovation Competition

Lia Winter (ENGR ’17) was recently a finalist in the 2019 Collegiate Inventors Competition

Winter’s entry is a trademarked patent of hers, the EasyWhip, a double-loop stitching apparatus that leverages removable, connected needle portions, resulting in a new whip stitching method that improves graft accuracy, reduces the need for costly revision surgeries and provides better overall outcomes for patients.

While studying bioengineering at Pitt for her undergrad work, she also volunteered in cancer research at the former Pitt Summer Academy, investigating the use of native immune cells to induce cell-mediated autophagy as a cancer therapy.

Steven Abramowitch

Steven Abramowitch’s Work in Diversity Initiatives Receives Honor

Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering, recently received the Biomedical Engineering Society 2019 Diversity Lecture Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering. 

Abramowitch has made an impact through his career in women’s health and the Swanson School of Engineering’s diversity initiatives.

Since starting PITT STRIVE, the engineering school’s program focusing on engagement with and awareness of under-represented minorities, the Swanson School has surpassed historic levels of minority enrollment in the PhD program. Through the study abroad programs, Abramowitch has helped undergraduate students see the impact of engineering through the lens of another culture, and with CampBioE, he has educated more than 1,000 middle and high school students, with more than 40% participation from under-represented minorities and low-income students since the diversity campaign began in 2014.

Timothy Grebeck

Austism Awareness Advocate Timothy Grebeck Wins Thornburgh Forum Award

Graduate student Timothy Grebeck began educating those around him about what it was like to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was in the seventh grade at a regional school. Diagnosed with ASD at age nine but tired of being bullied, he says he chose as a young teen to devote his life to make sure others like him didn’t suffer the same way. Grebeck (EDUC ’19) is currently a graduate student at Pitt studying childhood and special education in the School of Education and the founder of the advocacy group Talking 4 Autism. Recently he was presented with the 2019 Dick Thornburgh Forum Disability Service Award, at a ceremony in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge. It’s an annual honor from the Dick Thornburgh Forum on Law & Public Policy.

“Changing the world for the better starts with changing the viewpoint of just one person,” said Ginny Thornburgh, as she handed Grebeck a check for $5,000 for his future work.

Through Talking 4 Autism, Grebeck provides intimate personal presentations about the world of autism to college students and faculty as well as corporate employees. “I expect and encourage people to ask things that are uncomfortable to talk about because that is how we all learn,” he said.

The award ceremony's keynote speaker was Ted Kennedy, Jr., chair of the board of the American Association of People with DisabilitiesListen to Kennedy’s keynote speech.

Kirk An

Kirk An Joins University Communications

Kirk An joined the Office of University Communications in October as an editorial production specialist. 

In this new role, An supports the digital production for University communications channels including @Pitt, My Pitt, Pittwire and Pittwire Health.

An is a 2017 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he was assistant editor, editor in chief and spotlight editor of the college newspaper. He completed fellowships and internships and freelanced for media outlets including USA Today, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Religion News Service. Most recently, he was the assistant editor at Providence Magazine in Washington, D.C.

Katie Johnstone

Katie Johnstone Joins Pitt as Social Media Specialist

Katie Johnstone joined the Office of University Communications in September as a social media specialist.

In this role, she’ll assist in managing the Office of University Communications' social media presence and serve as a resource for account managers across the University.

She has a strong background in higher education with experience working for Robert Morris University, Point Park University and most recently, CCAC. She’s also a Pitt alumna, having earned her Masters of Education in 2015.

Fall photo of the Cathedral of Learning

Sauntee’ Turner Named Executive Speechwriting Specialist

Sauntee’ Turner joined the Office of University Communications team in August as an executive speechwriting specialist. In this position, she supports members of Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s leadership team in their speeches and presentations.

Turner has a wealth of experience in public relations, special events and executive communications. During a decade of service with the City of Pittsburgh, she worked in parks and recreation, public safety, and the Office of the Mayor.

She is a Pitt alumna, having earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications and rhetoric. Turner also holds a Master of Arts in professional writing from Chatham University.

Adam Christian

Adam Christian Joins University Communications

Adam Christian joined the Office of University Communications' web services team in August as a web developer.

In this new role, he supports the web development team in building and maintaining websites for the University of Pittsburgh, including @Pitt.

Christian is a 2017 graduate of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to Pitt, he was the lead case manager at Net Driven, where he developed websites for the tire and automotive industry.

Christin Bongiorni

Christin Bongiorni Hired as Multimedia Specialist

Christin Bongiorni joined the Office of University Communications in June as a multimedia specialist.

In this role, Bongiorni will help University Communications tell stories through video and related multimedia products as well as serve as a resource for communicators across campus.

Bongiorni graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and worked for several years as a freelance animator and videographer prior to joining Pitt.

Erika Ninos

PittServes’ Erika Ninos Wins National Student Support Award

Student Affairs staff member Erika Ninos, sustainability program coordinator in the Office of PittServes, has received the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) Supportive Staff Member Award.

This national award recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond in supporting students. She was chosen for this student-nominated national award from among five nominees. 

Ninos was nominated by Student Office of Sustainability program associates Ellie Cadden and Zach Delaney, who praised her mentorship, patience and dedication. 

“One message that I have taken from her is to always recognize how powerful students are to implement tangible and positive change on campus,” wrote Cadden in her nomination. 

Wrote Delaney: “I've learned how to be an ambassador for social justice, environmental activism and everything else due to her. She has been supportive of me emotionally through difficult class schedules, working two jobs, taking summer classes, has been professionally supportive of me in my efforts on campus to serve the community here and the ones around me, and has dedicated her time on this campus to its general betterment.”

The award was presented Oct. 12 at the Students for Zero Waste Conference in Philadelphia, hosted by PLAN.

Pitt Police officers

University of Pittsburgh Police Department Named Corporate Citizenship Award Winner

The Pittsburgh Business Times announced on Oct. 9 that the University of Pittsburgh’s Police Department won a 2019 Corporate Citizenship Award for their “Most Wanted” food drive program.

The program, spearheaded by Sgt. Mark Villasenor, collects unwanted food from students’ dormitories when they leave campus at the end of the semester and uses it to stock The Pitt Pantry, a volunteer-run food pantry that serves Pitt community members who meet the federal guidelines for food assistance. They partnered up with pantry coordinator and Sustainability Program Assistant Ciara Stehley to stock shelves, cut out coupons and pass out groceries on a weekly basis. Community Relations Officers Heather Camp, Mallory Jarzynka and Guy Johnson helped with this effort. 

Devised in 2014, the food drive now gathers more than 1,500 pounds of nonperishable goods like pasta, cereal and canned goods annually. During the drive’s first year, Pitt’s police department collected enough food to fill 11 dorm move-in carts—this year, they filled 45.

The food is also given to CHS South Oakland to help fight food insecurity on campus and in the Oakland Community. The Community Relations Unit has also contributed its efforts to Special Olympics of Western PA, Adopt-A-Highway, United Way of Allegheny County, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Cops and Kids Camp and Camp Cadet.

Greg Scott, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for business and operations, said, “We are committed to strengthening communities … and thanks to the Pitt Police’s work, it truly shows.”

The Corporate Citizenship Award honors Western Pennsylvania individuals and companies that demonstrate significant contributions to society. The winners of the award are chosen by an online nomination process. Read more about the Pitt Police’s award-winning program in the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Lawrence R. John

Lawrence R. John Elected President of Pennsylvania Medical Society

Lawrence R. John, a clinical instructor for the department of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was recently sworn in as the 170th president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

The society is a physician-led organization representing all physicians and medical students throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

John also was elected by the society’s statewide House of Delegates in 2017 to serve one-year terms as vice president (2017-18) and president-elect (2018-19) before assuming the role of president for the 2019-20 term. He is also a family medicine physician affiliated with UPMC St. Margaret.

Rachel Ann Brickner

Writing Program Alum Recognized by The Missouri Review for Audio Essay

Rachel Ann Brickner (A&S ’09, ’18G) was recognized by The Missouri Review for its 12th annual Miller Audio Prize for her audio essay, “How to Survive a Fire.”

The Miller Audio Prize recognizes work in four genres: poetry, prose, humor and audio documentaries. 

Brickner, who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018, is also a part-time instructor in the Department of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.

Murat Akcakaya

Engineering Team Receives NSF Funding to Study Brain in Rehabilitation Research

A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Northeastern University received a combined $1,181,757 from the National Science Foundation to develop a brain-computer interface (BCI) system that will be implemented in augmented reality, allowing for better detection, assessment and rehabilitation of unilateral spatial neglect. Unilateral spatial neglect is a deficit in attention that can occur in individuals who experienced a stroke.

The Pitt side of the team is led by Murat Akcakaya, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering.

The researchers plan to focus on visual neglect and address the shortcomings of current rehabilitation by reaching beyond the clinical setting and taking activities of daily living into account. They will develop a noninvasive, portable and cost-effective tool that can be used to help guide rehabilitation programs in real-time.

a statue on Pitt's campus

Pitt Law Boasts Highest First-time Passing Rate for Pennsylvania Bar Exam

The rate of first-time takers who passed the Pennsylvania bar exam from Pitt’s School of Law is 91.36%—the highest in the state. Eighty-one Pitt Law graduates sat for the test for the first time this past July, and 74 of them passed. Pitt Law was followed in the rankings by Dickinson, with a rate of 88.46%, Penn with 88.24% and Duquesne with 87.88%. The overall state average was 80.6%.

The rigorous two-day test, which includes six hours of written essay questions and 200 multiple choice questions, was given at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on July 30 and 31. Pitt Law offers bar exam prep courses and provided therapy dogs on site for its local test-takers, as well as boxed lunches with notes of encouragement signed by Pitt Law staff and faculty.

“We congratulate the Class of 2019 on their incredible achievement, which reflects their collective hard work, perseverance and support of one another,” said Pitt Law Dean Amy J. Wildermuth. She also credited Rob Wible, Pitt Law’s director of academic success and bar exam services.

“He is our cheerleader-in-chief,” she said. “His day-in and day-out support of our students made all the difference.”

The Cathedral on a blue sky day with American flags planted in the foreground yard

Pitt Celebrates Veterans Week 2019 With Films, Photos and Food

Beginning Nov. 1, the Office of Veterans Services will host Veterans Week 2019 with a series of events aimed at building bridges, promoting understanding and encouraging dialogue. 

Community members are invited to events such as an annual drive for toys, coats and gloves (running through Dec. 6, email pittvets@gmail.com for information); a screening of the film “The Weight of Honor” and a Pitt Military Community Appreciation Brunch. The week will end with the 100th Annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh. For more details and to RSVP for the events, please visit this form.

Additionally, the School of Social Work will hold a continuing education workshop titled “Working with Veterans and their Families,” on Nov. 15. The workshop aims to better prepare social workers to be a more effective helping professional in relating to and intervening with veterans and their families, and will cover topics including Veterans Administration scope and resources, suicide prevalence and intervention with veterans, working with post-traumatic stress and understanding and working with military sexual trauma.

two people walking on campus with the bright sun behind them, obscuring their faces and bodies

Pitt Ranked a Top 50 Best Global University

The University of Pittsburgh was again named among the world’s top 50 universities in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings. Pitt landed at No. 47, tied with University of Minnesota.

In the latest ranking, the magazine evaluated a list of the world’s top 1,500 universities — which includes institutions from the U.S. and more than 80 other countries. The universities were rated based on 13 different indicators measuring their academic research performance and their global and regional reputations.

Several Pitt programs ranked in the top 50 by subject, including Surgery at No. 3, Clinical Medicine at No. 18 and Psychiatry/Psychology at No. 19.

Other programs in the top 50 are:

  • No. 23: Neuroscience and Behavior
  • No. 23: Oncology
  • No. 34: Pharmacology and Toxicology (tied with University of Pennsylvania)
  • No. 36: Arts and Humanities
  • No. 39: Immunology
  • No. 42: Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • No. 49: Microbiology (tied with University of Toronto)

Pitt students come from 108 countries and all 50 states, in addition to the U.S. Territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Internationally, most students come from China, India and Korea. The Pitt Study Abroad program sends more than 1,800 students per year across its five campuses to over 350 programs in more than 75 countries on six continents. The university has also ranked among the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Students.

Willa Doswell headshot

Willa Doswell Named 2019 Woman of Excellence by New Pittsburgh Courier

Willa Doswell, associate professor in the School of Nursing, has been named a 2019 Woman of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The awards are given annually to 50 African American women who have made significant contributions to the community.

Doswell will be recognized at a luncheon in downtown Pittsburgh on December 12, 2019. She is also a member of the Internal Advisory Council for Pitt’s Community Engagement Centers.

Headshot of Lauren O. Wallace

Lauren O. Wallace Recognized on 40 Under 40 List

Lauren O. Wallace (BUS ’12, EDUC ’12G), director of recruitment in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, has been named an honoree to the 40 Under 40 List by Pittsburgh Magazine and Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project.

The award annually recognizes 40 “outstanding” individuals who meet the age requirement whose “creativity, vision and passion” enrich the Pittsburgh region. Since 1998, artists, entrepreneurs, doctors, educators, nonprofit executives and public figures have been among the recipients of this honor.

Wallace is also currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education Program in the School of Education.

Holger Hoock headshot

Dietrich School Awarded $1.5 Million Grant to Transform Doctoral Education in the Humanities

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh has been awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a transformation of doctoral education in the humanities.

The four-year, $1.5 million grant will fund Humanities Engage, a comprehensive plan to prepare doctoral students to become scholar-leaders ready to pursue high-impact careers within and beyond a changing academy. The grant will foster an ongoing culture change as programs, faculty and graduate students embrace the full spectrum of postdoctoral humanistic careers.

“The support from the Mellon Foundation will help us prepare our graduate students to face challenges in an interconnected yet divided world,” said Kathleen Blee, Bettye J. and Ralph E. Bailey Dean of the Dietrich School. “Validating these diverse career outcomes is a vital part of transforming the culture of humanistic doctoral education.”

The grant will support significant curricular change and the creation of an immersive fellowship program, including funded summer fellowships across the non-profit, public and corporate sectors.

The initiative will also support a new position of director of graduate advising and engagement to modernize cultures of mentoring.

“I’m very excited about the immense potential of this novel position to help us model the benefits of expansively team-based mentoring,” said Holger Hoock, associate dean for graduate studies and research and J. Carroll Amundson Chair of British History in the Dietrich School.

Hoock, who is also principal investigator of the initiative, added, “The director will help advise PhD students on their professional development, support their evolving career aspirations and connect them with opportunities across the campus, city and region as well with our alums. They will serve, too, as a resource to the graduate faculty as we reimagine the broader importance of humanities PhDs and the societal impacts of humanistic training.

Humanities Engage builds on the Mellon-supported Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh project (2015-19) and Humanities Careers, which was funded by a Next Generation Humanities PhD planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The initiative also benefits from the Public Humanities Fellows Program piloted by the Humanities Center, which created opportunities for graduate students in local arts and cultural institutions.