Accolades

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.

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.

School of Medicine’s David Binion wins 2018 Sherman Prize

David Binion, professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine and co-director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, was recently named a recipient of the 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 Engineering, 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.

Find more details about the project at PittWire.

allias

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.

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.

headshot of Ann Thompson

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 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.

Badylak in a gray/brown suit

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

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.

Valerie Kinloch Receives NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, received the 2018 Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This award recognizes a person of color who has made a significant contribution to NCTE and to the development of their professional community. It is bestowed only when the selection committee decides a nomination warrants presentation of the award.

Kinloch, who joined Pitt in 2017, has published many books and articles about race, place, literacy and equity, as well as the literacies and community engagements of youth and adults inside and outside schools. Among other awards, Kinloch is also a recipient of the 2018 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education.

Aman Mahajan Appointed Chair of Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Aman Mahajan was recently appointed chair of Pitt’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, part of the School of Medicine.

Mahajan joins the University from UCLA, where he was chairperson of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and director of Perioperative Services at UCLA Health. His research focuses on spinal neural modulation of cardiac electrophysiology and the assessment of cardiac function in heart failure.

He is also a member of professional associations and national scientific societies in his fields of clinical and research interests, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Heart Association, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the American Physiological Society.

Pitt-Bradford Recognized as College of Distinction

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been named a College of Distinction for the fourth time by the Colleges of Distinction website and e-guidebook. Pitt-Bradford received further program-specific recognition in education, nursing and business.

Colleges of Distinction highlighted Pitt-Bradford’s real-world learning opportunities, such as monitoring stream health in the Allegheny National Forest. Groundbreaking facilities, including the Crime Scene Investigation House, were also cited, as were opportunities that offer students leadership experience through campus activities.

In program-specific recognitions, Colleges of Distinction recognized Pitt-Bradford’s education program for its use of an enriching liberal arts perspective, as well as its nursing programs for hands-on learning opportunities. Pitt-Bradford was also recognized for cultural activities including author events, student and faculty theater productions and career-networking opportunities.

Following nominations from high school counselors and educators, Colleges of Distinction evaluates schools based on engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges must demonstrate results in four key areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.

Swanson School to share in $8.8 million DOE funding

The Swanson School of Engineering is leading a research collaboration that will share in nearly $8.8 million in Department of Energy funding to develop technologies that enhance fossil energy power systems.

The team — Wei Xiong, assistant professor, and Albert To, associate professor, both in the mechanical engineering department, along with Michael Klecka at the United Technologies Research Center in East Hartford, Conn. — received $750,000 in DOE funding. They will focus on using 3D printing to create graded alloys in a shorter time and at a lower cost for fossil energy power plants.

The program is being managed locally by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh’s South Hills.

Leigh Patel

School of Education names first associate dean of equity and justice

Leigh Patel joined the School of Education on July 2 as the inaugural associate dean of equity and justice.

With a background in sociology, Patel researches and teaches about education as a site of social reproduction and as a potential site for transformation

Patel previously was a professor in the Education, Society, and Culture program at the UC Riverside Graduate School of Education. She previously spent 13 years as a tenured faculty member at Boston College.

“I am greatly looking forward to working across research, policy, and practice to further equity and justice,” Patel said in a news release. “With every action, we are further equity and justice or impeding, and often there is a combination at work. I am excited to take up hard questions of these intricacies with this fantastic group of students, staff, and faculty.

See more details here.

Irene Mena

Irene Mena to lead Swanson School’s First-Year Engineering Program

Irene B. Mena, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials, has been named director of the Swanson School’s First-Year Engineering Program

Mena will be responsible for implementing first year curriculum content, pedagogy, and improvements; coordinating Swanson School and other faculty teaching in the program; and managing the first year seminar. Mena also will direct the Swanson School’s annual First-Year Conference, in which all engineering first-years develop a professional-level research paper and present it to their peers at the end of the spring semester.

She succeeds Daniel Budny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, who retired from the position after 18 years. 

See more details here.

Stephen Kilpatrick takes on Academic Affairs job at Pitt-Johnstown

Stephen Kilpatrick, an associate professor of biology, was named interim assistant vice president for Academic Affairs at the Pitt–Johnstown, effective July 1.

Kilpatrick will assist Vice President for Academic Affairs Janet Grady in several initiatives, including improving the retention and graduation rates.  

Since coming to Pitt­–Johnstown in 1995, he has served as president of the Faculty Senate, along with several other position, and has served as the Biology Department coordinator since 2009.

See more details here.

Law Alumnus Appointed Staff Judge Advocate to Commandant of Marine Corps

The Department of Defense has announced that Marine Corps Col. Daniel J. Lecce (LAW ’87), has been promoted to major general. He will be the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the senior legal adviser in the Marine Corps. Among Lecce’s personal awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

Lecce will join fellow Pitt alum Brigadier General John G. Baker (LAW ’97) as the only active duty Marine Judge Advocate general officers. 

Chemistry’s Kabirul Islam Awarded $650,000 from NSF to Study Cell Lineage

Kabirul Islam, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemistry, recently won a three-year $650,000 grant from the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences area of the National Science Foundation to develop answer a central question in mammalian biology: how is it that identical DNA in an organism can create diverse cell lineages?

The grant funds an integrated chemical biology research and educational program, which will reprogram expression of genes that underlie cell division, differentiation, lineage and ultimately, organismal development.

“The interdisciplinary research setting that brings together organic synthesis, protein engineering and cell biology, will provide a unique training ground for graduate and undergraduate students,” Islam said.