Bradford’s Sosic has 4 paintings displayed in Cȏte d’Ivoire

Four oil paintings by Samila Sosic, director of study abroad and international services at Pitt–Bradford, will soon hang in the home of the U.S. ambassador in Abidjan, Cȏte d’Ivoire, in West Africa.

Sosic, who also teaches in Pitt–Bradford’s art program, submitted the paintings, which depict pastoral barn scenes from the region, to the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program in 2014 while earning her master of fine arts in painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

When senior foreign service officer and Pennsylvania native Richard K. Bell was selected to become the U.S. ambassador to Cȏte d’Ivoire, he wanted to display the work of Pennsylvania artists in the embassy and ambassador’s residence in Abidjan. Sosic has agreed to lend her paintings to the State Department for two years, which is the length of an ambassador’s tour of duty.

The Arts in Embassies program registers artists willing to loan their work to the State Department. The works are entered into a database that officials at the State Department can peruse to bring American artwork abroad as a means of visual diplomacy.

The program contacted Sosic in October to request the loan of her four paintings, “Valente Farm,” “Old Lady,” “Grandpa’s Farm” and “Elliot’s Gate.”

They had been on display in the office and home of Pitt–Bradford’s president, Catherine Koverola. Sosic said she was invited to visit her works in their new home but has no plans at this time to do so.


Panther statue

Pitt Collaboratory releases paper on water issues

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach has released a white paper outlining key challenges to water quality research, monitoring and improvement in the region. The collaboratory, founded by faculty out of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, recommended coordinated regional efforts to test waterways for a broader range of pollutants and increased public awareness surrounding water quality issues. The paper, “Water Quality in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches,” is the second of three examining knowledge gaps surrounding water issues within the region. 

Lina Dostilio

Lina Dostilio leads study on hyperlocal community engagement

Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, published a new study in conjunction with her work as the inaugural fellow with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), with support by the Kresge Foundation.

For the study, Dostilio focused on hyperlocal engagement, or “instances in which post-secondary institutions have strategically organized community engagement efforts to focus on a bounded area within a larger city or metropolitan region in ways that enhance the institution’s ability to form partnerships and advance community development.”

The benchmarking report examined the hyperlocal practices of 22 CUMU institutions with a total of 26 engagements across 33 sites—including Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood

The report also “catalogs the diversity of hyperlocal engagement strategies and investigates which areas of community capacity were of interest to hyperlocal engagements.” Read the full report.

“To me, the benefits of a hyperlocal engagement are the ability to have a sustained institutional platform for partnership, to be able to grow alongside community anchors, and to think together about how we dream and build the future," said Dostilio. "A university’s future is intertwined with the futures of its surrounding communities.” 

Dostilio’s research team included the following Pitt community members:

Peter Strick

Peter Strick honored for brain research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh's 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.

Kenneth Jordan

Kenneth Jordan's paper on hydration, surfactants published in PNAS

Kenneth Jordan, professor of Computational Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, is part of the research team behind the paper “Molecular-Level Origin of the Carboxylate Head Group Response to Divalent Metal Ion Complexation at the Air-Water Interface,” published in the July edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper examines at a microscopic level the hydration of a model surfactant system. Surfactants such as soaps have one end that is attracted toward water, with the other end being attracted to oily substances.

John V. Williams

Pediatrics researcher Williams to be presented award for scientific contributions

John V. Williams was recently announced as the recipient of the 2020 Norman J. Siegel Outstanding Science Award by the American Pediatric Society for “his considerable contributions to pediatric science.”

Williams is the division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology; professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and director of the Institute for Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity in Children (i4Kids). 

Williams is an international leader in the field of respiratory virus biology, particularly human metapneumovirus (HMPV), and a recognized researcher and contributor to leading scientific journals. He will be presented the award on May 3 during the APS Presidential Plenary at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2020 meeting in Philadelphia. 

Read more about Williams and the American Pediatric Society's honor.

Evelyn Rawski

History professor emerita Evelyn Rawski wins lifetime achievement award

Evelyn Rawski, distinguished university professor emerita in the Department of History in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized by the American Historical Association with a lifetime achievement award.

Rawski won the Award for Scholarly Distinction, given to “senior historians for lifetime achievement.”  

Rawski specializes in Chinese historiography, Chinese economic history and borderlands in northeast Asia.

Jim Karpa

Second annual Facilities Management awards honor six

The second annual Facilities Management staff recognition event drew more than 300 people to Alumni Hall earlier this month.

The event honored tradespeople, custodians and staff from across the department.

Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, cited numerous “remarkable achievements,” including work being done at Salk Hall, Forbes Street Market and the new Community Engagement Center in Homewood and the several LED lighting projects that are providing energy savings. 

“Equally, if not more important for the campus operation is our custodial services team,” Scott said, which makes up half of the Facilities staff. “They’ve done a terrific job not only with cleaning, but in their emergency response efforts, and strong support of what is really a never-ending demand for event set ups across the University.”

The awards given out included:

  • Star Award: Jim Karpa (pictured), project engineer

  • Custodian of the Year (new this year): Ruth Mullen, who works in the Cathedral of Learning. 

  • Rookie Award: Kayla Wengerd, Tech Services

  • Team Award: Contract Administration group, including Tawanda Stamps, Cheri Hoffer, and Shannon Pisano. 

Two Nursing faculty named to Pittsburgh Magazine list

Two faculty members from Pitt’s School of Nursing were among seven honored by Pittsburgh Magazine for Excellence in Nursing.

The winners include:

  • Jennifer Lingler, professor and vice chair for Research, Health & Community Systems. 
  • Catherine Grant, assistant professor and family nurse practitioner; owner, Associates in Family Health Care
The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

Katz MBA program rises in Poets & Quants rankings

For the sixth year in a row, Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business MBA program is ranked among the top 20 in U.S. public universities by Poets & Quants.

Katz was number 39 in the U.S. and number 17 among U.S. publics in the Poets & Quants 2019-20 MBA rankings. Pitt saw the largest rise among the top 40 schools, up five spots from last year’s ranking.

Katz is one of only 42 business schools across the country that placed in all major MBA rankings this year, an honor shared by just 5 percent of all Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited schools and less than 0.3 percent of schools worldwide that grant business degrees.

To learn more about Pitt’s highly ranked MBA programs, visit the Katz programs page

Feng Xiong

Feng Xiong receives Career Award for AI energy efficiency project

Feng Xiong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, received a $500,000 Career Award from the National Science Foundation for his work developing the missing element in spiking neural networks (SNN), a dynamic synapse, that will dramatically improve energy efficiency, bandwidth and cognitive capabilities of SNNs.

A human brain — which is still more proficient than CPUs at cognitive tasks like pattern recognition — needs only 20 watts of power to complete a task, while a supercomputer requires more than 50,000 times that amount of energy. The project aims to make computers complete cognitive tasks using less energy.

Jorge Luis Borges

Library system acquires poet Jorge Luis Borges’ papers

Manuscripts by Argentinian writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges have been acquired by the University Library System (ULS). The new items include two poems and two essays — "El otro tigre (The Other Tiger)"; "La nadería de la personalidad (The Nothingness of Personality)"; "Poema conjetural (Conjectural Poem)"; and "Anotación al 23 de agosto de 1944 (Annotation to the 23rd of August of 1944)."

In March 2018, ULS acquired the Cuaderno Avon (Avon notebook) and several loose accompanying pages (Páginas sueltas), which included the story "La espera (The Wait)" and the notes for "El escritor argentine y la tradición (The Argentine Writer and Tradition)."

Borges, considered one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century, was born on Aug. 24, 1899, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and died on June 14, 1986, in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote essays, poems and short stories and was also a translator.

These new materials will contribute to the enrichment of the Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection at the ULS and will be housed in Archives and Special Collections. Other pieces of Borges’ original work are held at the University of Virginia Library, the New York Public Library, Michigan State University, the National Library of Spain, the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.  

Chris Driscoll

Chris Driscoll of Pitt Businss named 2019 Preservationist of the Year

Chris Driscoll, director of IT for Pitt Business, was named 2019 Preservationist of the Year by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

The organization advocates for the preservation of historic sites and structures in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The annual award recognizes significant contribution in the area of historic preservation. 

Driscoll is part owner and founder of the restaurant Revival on Lincoln, which is housed in a historic mansion in Bellevue. The previously dilapidated building required extensive restoration to be recognized as an historic landmark by Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Driscoll was presented the award in November. 

Janice Pringle

Janice Pringle to receive Excellence in Patient Care Award

Janice Pringle, founder and director of the Pitt School of Pharmacy Program Evaluation and Research Unit, received the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation’s Excellence in Patient Care Award.

Pringle was recognized for her work at the 21st annual NACDS Foundation dinner on Dec. 4, 2019, in New York City.

Pringle’s research helped combat opioid abuse and improved individual and population health outcomes in Blair County, Pa.

Pringle is a professor of pharmacy and therapeutics in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy. Her research has helped develop health care policy research and briefs that have been used to inform policy development at both the state and federal levels.

John Williams

New institute will improve pediatric health and research

The Institute of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity in Children — i4Kids for short — is a new strategic research effort focused on improving pediatric health by combating infectious and inflammatory diseases through accelerating new multi-disciplinary collaborations across the health sciences, natural and physical sciences, and computer science. 

The institute is being led by John Williams, Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology and professor of pediatrics at Pitt.

Infection is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years old worldwide, and infectious and inflammatory diseases are the leading causes of child hospitalization in the U.S. The i4Kids project aims to become the epicenter of research, discovery, prevention and treatment of these diseases in children as the foundation of improving the health of future generations. 

The institute will host a launch symposium from 2 to 6 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Rangos Research Auditorium at Children’s Hospital. The institute is working with the Children’s Hospital Foundation to invite leaders of foundations and philanthropists across the nation.

For more information on i4Kids, visit their website

Pitt Pharmacy unit wins ‘Best Professional Abstract’ at expo

An abstract co-created by the Pitt School of Pharmacy Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) won the “Best Professional Abstract” award at the American Public Health Association annual meeting and expo.

The abstract, “Pharmacy Student’s Knowledge and Perceived Competency in Conducting SBIRT for Substance Use Disorders,” was written in collaboration with Heather Santa, senior research specialist at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, and project partners at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The abstract presented results from a training grant with the University of the Sciences with more than 314 student pharmacists trained to proficiency.

The abstract was the highest scoring entry out of 74 submitted.

Rob Rutenbar and William Federspiel

Two Pitt researchers named fellows for National Academy of Inventors

Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for Research, and William Federspiel, professor of Bioengineering, were recently named fellows for the National Academy of Inventors’ 2019 fellowship class.

The fellows program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election as a National Academy Inventors fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.  

Rutenbar and Federspiel have a combined 26 patents to their names, and have more than 300 peer-reviewed journals and papers published.

The complete list of fellows is available on the National Academy of Inventors’ website

John Jakicic

Healthy Lifestyle Institute hosts second annual summit, announces ‘Schools on the Move’ initiative

The Healthy Lifestyle Institute hosted its second annual summit on Dec. 6 on the Pittsburgh campus. The summit consisted of presentations and updates from researchers across campus on their work to transform lifestyle research into health and well being for people in all stages of life.

Housed within the School of Education, the Healthy Lifestyle Institute was founded in 2017 with a mission “to develop, translate and implement health and wellness programs” for the Pitt community and around the Pittsburgh region.

At the summit, the institute’s founding director John Jakicic (EDUC ’95G), introduced the Schools on the Move initiative, which will provide grants to support innovative physical activity programming at 43 K-12 schools in the Pittsburgh area.

“We’re asking teachers to get creative. We’re not just providing schools with basketballs and nets,” said Jakicic, who also serves as chair of the Department of Health, Physical Activity, and Exercise in the School of Education. “We’re really interested in seeing how these projects unfold.”

Falk School teacher and Pitt grad Barnett wins Carol R. Brown award

Cameron Barnett, who teaches language arts and world history to elementary students at Pitt’s Falk Laboratory School, is the recipient of this year’s $15,000 Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award for Emerging Artist.

Barnett, 30, is the author of the 2017 book of poetry “The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water.” He studied poetry at Pitt with Terrance Hayes, Yona Harvey, Lynn Emmanuel and Dawn Lundy Martin.

Receiving the award will allow him to attend a writers’ retreat next year, pay off some student loans and do more in-depth research on his family history, he told the Post-Gazette.

The awards are sponsored by the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. Barnett and Adriana Ramirez, winner of the $15,000 Carol E. Brown Established Artist award, will be honored at a free, open-to-the-public event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse.

Brenda Cassidy, Jennifer Lingler and Patricia Tuite

Pitt Nursing faculty stand out in statewide awards

Three Pitt School of Nursing faculty members were recognized in November at the 30th annual gala and celebration of the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania. Each faculty member who was nominated for her category received the award. 

Brenda Cassidy (NURS ’86G, ’97G, ’11G), assistant professor, won the Doctorate of Nursing Practice award; Jennifer Lingler (NURS ’98G, ’04G; A&S ’03G), professor, won the Nursing Research award; and Patricia Tuite (NURS ’85, ’92G), assistant professor, won the Nursing Education-Academia award.

The Nightingale Awards are a statewide program designed to recognize excellence in nursing. Over the past 30 years, more than 100 nursing professionals who best exemplify compassionate care, clinical expertise, education and leadership have been celebrated at the awards ceremony.