Erica Owen takes on associate dean role at GSPIA

Erica Owen has been named associate dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

Owen, a specialist in international political economy who has been on the faculty at GSPIA since 2018, began her new appointment on July 1. In her new position, she will serve as the chief academic officer of the school, fostering the development of faculty and research while working to implement the diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and initiatives related to curriculum.

In addition to a long track record of published research, Owen has held a range of leadership positions at GSPIA, including service as the director of the doctoral program, an elected member of the Faculty Assembly Committee, Faculty Assembly president and the co-convenor of GSPIA’s Internal Research Seminar. 

As associate dean, Owen will be actively engaged in curriculum initiatives, mentoring new faculty and continuing to grow community engagement initiatives.

Read more about the appointment on GSPIA’s website.

Chance Wideman named Student Affairs’ director of new student programs

Chance Wideman has been named director of new student programs in Student Affairs.

Wideman has worked with the Community College of Allegheny County’s Homewood-Brushton Center, where he served as director from 2018-21. Prior to that role, Wideman served as the student success career coach at the center, delivering comprehensive support services to students in the Pathway to a Technology Career grant program.

He graduated from Robert Morris University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication and a Master of Science in instructional leadership.

Jeremy DeRicco named director of Animal Research Protection

Jeremy DeRicco, a 2005 graduate of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, has been named director of the Office of Research Protections’ Animal Research Protection division, which supports the activities of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).  He replaces Denise Capozzi, who retired earlier this year.

DeRicco has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Pitt. He worked for five years as a research technician in the Cardiovascular Institute while earning an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business. He then joined the IACUC Education and Compliance Office where he served as Pitt’s Education and Compliance Coordinator.

He then spent three years helping establish a research and compliance office at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts, West Indies. Since returning to the U.S. in 2014, DeRicco has directed research compliance programs for Penn State.

Shahfar Shaari named acting assistant vice chancellor, HR Operations

Shahfar Shaari will serve as acting assistant vice chancellor of Human Relations Operations, from Aug. 16 through March 4, 2022.

Shahfar currently works in Pitt IT as the director of organizational transformation. He recently supported the launch of Pitt Worx. In his role, Shahfar will support and oversee Human Resources’ teams in information systems, Shared Services, and Talent Acquisition, as well as collaborate with additional projects and initiatives throughout OHR and the University community.

He is stepping in for Michelle Fullem, who is leaving HR for a position in Pitt IT as senior director of IT Programs. Fullem has worked in HR for the past 13 years, including as director of Talent Acquisition and Pitt Worx project manager.

Richard Schulz wins Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award

Richard Schulz, a Pitt professor of psychiatry and director of the gerontology research program in the University Center for Social and Urban Problems, has received the 2021 Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award, Behavioral and Social Sciences section, from the Gerontology Society of America.

The award recognizes career contributions that have articulated a novel theoretical or methodological perspective or synthesis that addresses a significant problem in the literature.

The award presentations will take place at society’s annual Scientific Meeting from Nov. 10 to 14 in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Audrey Murrell named Onyx Woman of the Year

Audrey Murrell, a professor of Business Administration, Psychology, Public and International Affairs at Pitt, has been named the 2021 Onyx Woman Leadership Awards Woman of the Year.

The Pittsburgh-based OWN: Onyx Woman Network was created by Ola Jackson in 1991 as a career, entrepreneurial and financial platform for women of color. Later, the network expanded into television by producing shows featuring women who shared their experiences and advice about issues that impacted your quality of life.

The leadership awards, which were presented on July 11, are for women who empower other women and are from the state of Pennsylvania.

Murrell, when asked by Onyx about what role other women played have in her success, said: Women are powerful allies as they understand how to balance the mind and the heart in helping others striving toward mutual success. Women are strong collaborators who pour into others and then celebrate their success. Some of my most invaluable and impactful mentors throughout my career have been women. 

Murrell also has served as acting dean of the Honors College, associate dean of the College of Business Administration and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership during her 34 years at Pitt.

Woman in front of greenery

Greensburg professor honored with YWCA Racial Justice Award

Melissa Marks, an associate professor of Education at Pitt–Greensburg, was honored recently with the YWCA Westmoreland County’s 2021 Racial Justice Award because of her work in diversity education.

The Racial Justice Award has been given by the YWCA’s Racial Justice Committee since 1993 to an individual or group who demonstrates commitment to racial equity and inclusiveness.

Marks is the director of the Pitt–Greensburg’s Education Program and teaches a wide variety of courses, including strategies, diversity and social studies methods. Her books include “Teaching About Diversity: Activities to Start the Conversation” (2020) and “How to Talk to Families About Child and Adolescent Mental Illness” (co-authored with Diane Marsh, 2009).

Toren Finkel in a black suit

Toren Finkel receives Scholar-Innovator Award

Professor of Medicine Toren Finkel is one of eight physician-scientists awarded a 2021 Scholar-Innovator Award from the Harrington Discovery Institute. 

Finkel, who is also director of the Aging Institute of UPMC, researches mitochondrial function, cellular metabolism, oxidative stress and aging.

The Harrington Discovery Institute seeks to accelerate the development of new treatments to address major unmet needs in medicine and society. Harrington scholar-innovators are accomplished physician-scientists whose research demonstrates innovation, creativity and potential for clinical impact. 

In addition to grant funding, scholar-innovators receive guidance and oversight in all aspects of drug development.

Statue of a man with a harp

University Library System releases new journal issue on telehealth

If you visited a doctor by video chat during the pandemic, you had an experience with the field known as telehealth or telemedicine. Pitt’s University Library System (ULS) recently published a new edition of the International Journal of Telerehabilitation, which has open access articles about changes in the field during COVID-19, as well as telehealth in school settings. 

ULS has been publishing research and clinical practice articles in this field since the journal’s inception in 2008. 

Student writing on a paper

Study Lab wins award for website excellence

The University of Pittsburgh’s Study Lab won third place in the 2021 National College Learning Center Association/Learning Support Centers in Higher Education Website Excellence Awards. The award recognizes superior technology work.

The Study Lab provides in person and online tools and resources to students in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences to help them study smarter, not harder, and make the most of their time at Pitt. 

Winners will receive their award at the Forging Academic Success conference in Birmingham, Alabama, this fall.

Kingsley Laura in a blue shirt

Laura Kingsley wins Future of the Field Award

Laura Kingsley, senior associate director in the Office of Sponsored Programs, has been awarded the Future of the Field Award from the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI).

Kingsley was also elected to the National Council of University Research Administrators Board of Directors in January 2021 for a two-year term.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by the Society of Research Administrators International and to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Council of University Research Administrators. I am proud to be a part of Pitt Research and highlight the research administration profession,” she said.

Kingsley was selected by a committee of her peers for the SRAI honor. Candidates were evaluated based on their career history, demonstration of exceptional professional growth and significant contributions made to the advancement of research administration. Awardees will be recognized at the SRAI annual meeting in October.

Chris Clifford

Clifford named associate vice president at Pitt-Bradford 

Chris Clifford, who has spent most of his career overseeing auxiliary services at colleges and universities, has been named associate vice president for business affairs and director of auxiliary services at Pitt–Bradford.

Clifford, who began his position June 16, is responsible for the overall administration and leadership of Pitt-Bradford’s auxiliary operations, including Dining Services, housing and auxiliary facilities, laundry and vending, the Panther Shop, Conference Services, and the Mail Center. He also will provide strategic planning and vision for financial, operational, marketing and facility development.   

Before arriving at Pitt-Bradford, Clifford served as vice president for budget and finance at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, a university similar in size to Pitt-Bradford, where he oversaw all of the university’s financial areas as well as dining and bookstore operations.

He also has experience working at large institutions. For eight years, Clifford served as the associate vice president in the Business and Auxiliary Services Division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he supported 21,000 students, 23,000 employees and the UAB Health System, one of the five largest academic medical centers in the United States. At UAB, Clifford oversaw multiple areas, including UAB’s Educational Foundation, real estate, bookstore, parking and transit, physical security, and the school’s 8,600-seat Barstow Arena.

Clifford also served in leadership roles at Ohio University, West Virginia University at Parkersburg, and Mississippi State University and worked for nine years for ExxonMobil, including a three-year assignment in Hong Kong.   

Clifford holds a master of business administration from Dartmouth College and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Mississippi State University.

Rory Cooper in a black suit

Rory Cooper receives Biomedical Engineering Award

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has honored Pitt’s Rory Cooper with its Biomedical Engineering Award for his “extensive contributions to wheelchair technology that have expanded mobility and reduced secondary injuries for millions of people with disabilities.”

Cooper, Pitt’s first-ever assistant vice chancellor for research for STEM-health sciences collaborations and founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, among many other titles, is also an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and several other professional societies.

“This award is shared by my students (past and present), family, friends and colleagues within the Human Engineering Research Laboratories," Cooper said of the IEEE honor.

Andrea Hergenroeder in a black suit

Andrea Hergenroeder to direct Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers

Andrea Hergenroeder, director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in Pitt’s School of School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been appointed as the new director of the Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers (PIC Health Careers), effective July 1.

She succeeds Susan M. Meyer, who steered the center as director since its launch in 2018 and announced earlier this year her intention to retire.

“Andrea’s 25 years of varied experience and expertise spanning work as a physical therapy clinician, manager and educator make her a superb fit as the new director of PIC Health Careers,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. 

Hergenroeder (EDUC ’09) came to Pitt in 2002 and is a board-certified clinical specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy. Her extensive background includes patient care, research and teaching leadership roles with the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. She promotes the use of simulation, educational technology and experiential learning activities to support student learning and has frequently published and presented on these topics throughout her career.

She has been recognized with the Innovation in Teaching Award from the University of Pittsburgh, the APTA Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy Educator Award and the SHRS Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, among other honors.

Valerie Kinloch in a yellow shirt

Valerie Kinloch named trustee of undergraduate alma mater

Valerie Kinloch, dean of the School of Education, has been appointed to the board of trustees of her undergraduate alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, N.C.

Her two-year appointment began on July 1, and can be extended for successive three-year terms.

Kinloch earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with honors from JCSU.

"I am extremely honored and excited to have been appointed to the Board of Trustees of my undergraduate alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University," Kinloch said. "I owe so much of my professional achievements and personal growth to the impactful education and critical mentoring I received at JCSU. Undoubtedly, I will always treasure my time there. As a trustee, I look forward to supporting the future of our university, particularly as we continue to center on student learning, educational equity, innovation and collaboration.”

Read more about the honor.

Birdseye view of Oakland

Nuclear engineering researchers awarded $1.6M from the Department of Energy

Interdisciplinary researchers at the Swanson School of Engineering are recipients of $1.6 million in advanced nuclear energy research and development funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

The investment announced this week is part of more than $61 million in awards for 99 advanced nuclear energy technology projects nationwide, $58 million of which was awarded to U.S. universities. According to DOE, the projects focus on nuclear energy research, cross-discipline technology development and nuclear reactor infrastructure to bolster the resiliency and use of America’s largest domestic source of carbon-free energy.

“Pittsburgh is the global nexus of peacetime nuclear energy history and research, and we are proud to contribute to its continued success,” said Brian Gleeson, the Swanson School’s Harry S. Tack Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “Our faculty and students have a strong foundation in modeling and simulation, materials, sensing technologies and non-destructive evaluation of critical reactor components, and so we are thankful to the DOE for supporting our research.”

Read more about the Pitt projects funded.

Evan Facher in a dark suit and purple shirt

Pitt leaps eight spots in worldwide patent ranking

The University of Pittsburgh made a significant move up the list of the top recipients of U.S. utility patents among worldwide universities in 2020, according to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Pitt ranked No. 20 for the 2020 calendar year with 106 patents. In the previous year, the University ranked No. 28.

“Filing for and receiving patent protection for innovations is an important step in creating research of impact by Pitt researchers,” said Evan Facher (pictured), vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and director of the Innovation Institute, which is responsible for managing and licensing intellectual property at the University. “We are pleased to see Pitt rise in this ranking, especially as it indicates that more Pitt innovators are getting involved in the commercial translation of their work.”

Read more at the Innovation Institute’s website.

Nikhil Bajaj in a dark suit

Engineering’s Nikhil Bajaj receives U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission grant

Assistant Professor Nikhil Bajaj has been awarded $450,000 from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a nationally recognized nuclear research program and grow the overall nuclear program at the University of Pittsburgh.

The grant will support Bajaj in establishing research in advanced sensors and artificial intelligence for reactor applications, specifically high temperature, high-reliability sensor designs using machine learning and advanced communication technology. 

Mary Margaret Kerr

Mary Margaret Kerr receives Education Policy and Leadership Center Alumni Award

Mary Margaret Kerr, a professor in the School of Education, was recently named a winner of the Education Policy and Leadership Center’s (EPLC) 2020 Leadership Program Alumni Award.

The EPLC is a Pennsylvania nonprofit focused on developing and implementing state-level education policies designed to improve PreK-12 student learning, increase the effective operation of schools and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages. Among its various initiatives, it offers an annual education policy fellowship program for policy makers and education leaders.

“I was amazed to receive the alumni award,” said Kerr. “The other alums who have received awards are so well respected. This is an honor I can’t even describe.”

Kerr has devoted her career to promoting mental health, suicide prevention, school safety and compliance with laws protecting students with disabilities. Not only has she worked in policy in Pennsylvania, but she has worked across the nation, including a long court-appointed leadership role in the Los Angeles Unified School District in California.

Read more at the School of Education.

Laura Schmid in a pink shirt

Laura Schmid named director of OHR's shared services

Effective July 12, Laura Schmid will serve as the director of shared services in the Office of Human Resources (OHR). In this role, she will oversee the development and execution of strategic plans within shared services and continue to evolve OHR’s operational performance to cultivate a culture of consistent process improvement and optimization.

Schmid is an experienced administrator with an extensive background in higher education. She specializes in a multitude of disciplines including project management, operational process analysis, efficiency improvement, organizational design and strategic planning. She most recently served as the director of personnel at the Graduate School of Public Health.