Accolades

A student in a blue shirt writing

Princeton Review names Pitt among best schools for making an impact

University of Pittsburgh once again made the Princeton Review’s top 200 list of Best Value Colleges. Pitt ranked #17 on the Top 20 Best Schools for Making an Impact list. 

The Princeton Review chose these schools based on data collected from fall 2019 through fall 2020 via their institutional and student surveys, and on alumni and salary statistics from PayScale.com. They created a return-on-investment rating by weighing more than 40 data points covering academics, costs, financial aid, debt, graduation rates and career/salary data. The 50 schools that received the highest rating were included on the Top 50 Best Value Colleges list.

In conjunction with Best Value Colleges, the Princeton Review also lists the top 20 public schools and top 20 private schools in: Best Value Colleges for Students With No Demonstrated Need, Best Alumni Networks, Best Schools for Internships, Best Career Placement, Best Schools for Financial Aid, and Best Schools for Making an Impact.

Further information can be found on the Princeton Review’s website.

Max Laun in a black suit and tie

Max Laun named director of new online graduate law program

Max Laun (LAW ’88) has been named director of the new International Business Law and Dispute Resolute Online Graduate Certificate Program  in Pitt’s School of Law.  

Laun serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc., the organization that oversees 16 organizations the provide civil legal services to the indigent in Pennsylvania and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, the nationwide organization committed to improving legal access in both criminal and civil matters.

He was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve on the PA Continuing Legal Education Board and serves on the Advisory Council to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Center for International Legal Education. 

Laun retired in April 2020 as vice president, general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer of Arconic Inc., following the split of Fortune 150 integrated aluminum company Alcoa Inc., into Arconic and Alcoa Corp. He was vice president and general counsel for Alcoa from 2012-16, following 25 years in roles of increasing responsibility in Alcoa’s legal department. 

His major area of legal practice was international mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, and over the course of his Alcoa career, he led transactions on six continents, including major greenfield investments by the company in Saudi Arabia and Iceland, state privatizations in Hungary, Italy, Spain, Russia, China and Venezuela, and other private transactions in more than 15 countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Hands on a laptop

Pitt Cyber announces new affiliates

Ahmed Ibrahim is joining the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security as an affiliate scholar, and Lt. Col. James J. Straub Jr. is joining the institute as an affiliate practice scholar.

Ibrahim is an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems in the School of Computing and Information. His research is primarily focused on improving cybersecurity education.

Straub is commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 730 at the University of Pittsburgh and also serves as department chair and professor of aerospace studies. He is a cyber operations officer and a joint cyberspace and communications subject matter expert.

Pitt Cyber affiliate scholars are drawn from faculty across the University of Pittsburgh and are selected for their excellence in cyber-themed research and teaching. 

Adam Slivka in a white lab coat and light blue dress shirt

Adam Slivka honored by Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Society

In May 2021, Adam Slivka will receive a top honor from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the Master Endoscopist Award. 

This award recognized clinicians who spend the majority of their time in patient care and are recognized regionally or nationally for their expertise and contributions to the practice of GI endoscopy. 

Slivka is professor of medicine, associate chief of clinical affairs in the division of GI, hepatology and nutrition, and medical director of the GI service line for the UPMC health system. 

Helen Cochrane in a black top

Helen Cochrane recognized by Women Who Advance Associations

Helen Cochrane, the program director of the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics program in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, is one of the 21 Women Who Advance Associations across the international association community. 

Women Who Advance Associations is honoring 21 female association leaders in 2021. According to the organization, "As representatives of civil society, association leaders act as role models and engines for transformation."

Cochrane was recognized during Women's History Month this March.

Jonathan Rubin in a striped dress shirt against a blue background

Jonathan Rubin elected fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Jonathan Rubin, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, was recently elected a fellows of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Rubin, one of 28 new fellows, was recognized for his contributions to mathematical neuroscience, mathematical biology and dynamical systems theory.

Rubin majored in mathematics as an undergraduate at The College of William and Mary and received his PhD in applied mathematics from Brown University in 1996. He was a Zassenhaus Assistant Professor and then a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics at The Ohio State University before joining the Pitt mathematics faculty in 2000. 

In addition to his mathematics position, he is a Center for Neuroscience at University of Pittsburgh Graduate Training faculty member, a member of the Center for the Basis of Neural Cognition, an affiliate of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a visiting professor in computational biology. Fourteen students have completed their Ph.D.s at Pitt under Rubin’s supervision or co-supervision. He has also mentored eight postdoctoral fellows.

A panther statue

Pitt professors join effort to examine how COVID-19 measures impacted opioid users care

The University of Pittsburgh, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Arizona will assess the impact of COVID-19 measures on providers and at-risk opioid use disorder populations in Pennsylvania, New York and Arizona.

Antoine Douaihy, professor of psychiatry and medicine, and Janice Pringle, professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, are leading Pitt’s efforts.

In 2017, Pennsylvania designated 45 primary care providers, hospitals, community health centers and substance use disorder treatment providers as Centers of Excellence for Opioid Use Disorder. The University of Pittsburgh will examine how providers at these whole person, integrated care centers implemented COVID-19 policies related to providing medications for opioid use disorder and telehealth services. The project will look at the impact of temporary COVID-19 policies on opioid use disorder treatment, workforce morale and patient outcomes.

Pitt's researchers received $100,000 as a part of a larger project by the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts to assess the impact of COVID-19 on opioid use disorder treatment and equity.

A gold circle that says "Stars" in the middle

Pitt Sustainability efforts recognized with Gold rating

Three years after achieving its first ever Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS) rating of silver, Pitt has been recognized for its sustainability accomplishments over the last three years with an AASHE STARS gold rating, valid through 2024.

AASHE’s STARS is a transparent framework for colleges and universities to measure and benchmark their sustainability performance across all aspects of higher education. Pitt’s gold rating is based on strong achievements from 2018 to 2021 in five areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

Among Pitt’s many sustainability initiatives, three points of distinction celebrate the lowest total energy use per square foot in fiscal year 2020, the new anti-Black racism course for all first year students and Pitt's Cool Food Pledge to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2030.

“While the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan provides the strategic framework and goals for creating a culture of sustainability at Pitt and in Pittsburgh,” said Aurora Sharrard, director of sustainability, “our AASHE STARS gold designation is a demonstration to the Pitt community, University partners and our higher education peers that we are making serious progress balancing equity, environment and economics so that current and future generations can thrive.”

a black and white illustration of the particle

Jeremy Levy leads research to create one-dimensional lattice for electrons

A recently published paper in Nature Physics by a research group led by Jeremy Levy, distinguished professor of condensed matter physics at the University of Pittsburgh and founding director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, describes how the Kronig-Penney model is reproduced within a programmable oxide material. 

The Kronig-Penney model, introduced in 1931 by Ralph Kronig and William Penney, shaped the understanding of semiconductors, metals and insulators—the materials that are used to create computers and many other technologies.

The lead author, Megan Briggeman, used an atomic force microscope in a manner they describe as analogous to an Etch-A-Sketch toy, and created an artificial one-dimensional lattice of buckets for electrons that repeats every 10 nanometers. In real materials, the buckets are formed from individual atoms spaced from one another by a fraction of a nanometer. 

Briggeman found that electrons placed into this artificial lattice interact in unexpected ways, and in some sense behave as though the charge carriers were fractions of an electron. The experimentally observed behavior, partly explained by theory, extends far beyond the simple model of Kronig and Penney.  In contrast to the Kronig-Penney model, the real system contains hundreds of electrons, which interact in complex ways that give rise to the observed behavior. 

The research is part of a larger effort to produce, through quantum simulation, new electronic states of matter which could be helpful in developing future quantum technologies like quantum computers.

Other researchers involved in the research are Hyungwoo Lee, Jung-Woo Lee and Ki-Tae Eom at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, François Damanet, Elliott Mansfield, and Andrew Daley at the University of Strathclyde, and Jianan Li, Mengchen Huang, and Patrick Irvin at the University of Pittsburgh.  The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Air Force of Office of Scientific Research and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK).

A panther fountain

Kinloch and Feingold selected for American Council on Education Fellowship

Dean of the School of Education Valerie Kinloch and Executive Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health Eleanor Feingold were both named fellows in the American Council on Education’s (ACE) 2021-22 class.

The ACE Fellows Program is the longest-running, cohort-based higher education leadership development program in the United States. Many of its alumni are now university presidents and provosts.

Acceptance into the ACE Fellows Program is extremely competitive at the national level. The 2021-22 cohort has 52 college and university leaders.

The ACE Fellowship Program is distinctive for its mentorship model. The fellowship combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations and a placement experience at another higher education institution. It is designed to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

During the placement experience, ACE fellows will select a university president to serve as their mentor. The fellows will observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest.

Doris Rubio in a black top

Doris Rubio receives diversity and inclusion award

Doris Rubio, received the 2021 Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) Award for Contributing to the Diversity and Inclusiveness of the Translational Workforce. ACTS presents its annual Translational Science Awards to recognize investigators for their outstanding contributions to the clinical research and translational science field.

Rubio has been committed to the mentorship and development of faculty of color and women in science in her role as assistant vice chancellor for clinical research education and training for the health sciences and director of the Institute for Clinical Research Education. With the goal of addressing the limited number of people who are underrepresented in science, she started the LEADS (Leading Emerging and Diverse Scientists to Success) program at Pitt. Additionally, she has a U01 funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Diversity Program Consortium to test an intervention for underrepresented biomedical researchers to help launch their research careers. Among other honors, she recently received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award given her work on diversifying the workforce.

“These awards reflect the outstanding contributions of our community of clinical and translational scientists, and their enduring commitment to healing and to the health of the world,” said ACTS President Christopher Lindsell.

Lisa Garland in a scarf and light blue jacket

Lisa Garland recognized by National Association of African Americans in Human Resources

The Office of Human Resources’ Lisa Garland was recently recognized for her efforts as a person of color breaking glass ceilings in the modern workplace by the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, Pittsburgh chapter.

As Human Resources' director of talent acquisition, Garland oversees hiring and onboarding for more than 8,000 staff positions across the University.

She was previously recognized as a 2012 New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Excellence.

Kay Brummond in a black top

Kay Brummond wins award for encouraging women into chemical sciences

Kay Brummond, associate dean for faculty in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Chemistry, is the recipient of the 2021 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.

In particular, ACS recognized Brummond “for serving as a pathfinder, an agent of change and mentor to women at all stages of their careers in the chemical sciences.”

In articulating to the ACS leadership her goals for the next decade, Brummond said, “I hope to prepare the next generation of chemists with practical skills in synthetic, organic and computational chemistries to thrive in highly collaborative and team-oriented environments. As an active researcher and academic leader, I hope to close diversity, equality and inclusion gaps in the sciences.”

Brummond’s scholarly endeavors have been honored with awards including the 2015 ACS Pittsburgh Award, the 2003 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, the 2007 ACS Akron Section Award, the 2007 Carnegie Science Center Emerging Female Scientist Award and the 2005 Johnson & Johnson Focused Giving Award. She was named the 2016 Diversity Catalyst Lecturer by the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity in recognition of her efforts to enhance their departmental climate for diversity and inclusion through inclusive policies, procedures and actions. She has been recognized in Chemical & Engineering News for her efforts to increase the representation of women among chemistry faculty at Ph.D.-granting universities. Brummond became associate dean of faculty of the Dietrich School in 2017. 

Ming-Te Wang in a red sweater and white dress shirt

Ming-Te Wang garners two research excellence awards

Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor of psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and professor of education and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, has been awarded the Distinguished Research Award for Human Development and Learning from the American Educational Research Association. The award recognizes scholars who strive to improve the educational process through scholarly inquiry and dissemination of research results. Wang received the award for a series of three meta-analytic articles on parental ethnic-racial socialization and youth of color’s developmental outcomes.  

Wang is also the recipient of the 2021 Society for Social Work and Research Excellence in Research Award. The award recognizes social work research that advances knowledge with direct applications to practice, policy and the resolution of social problems. The award was granted for Wang’s publication “Parental Ethnic-Racial Socialization Practices and the Construction of Children of Color’s Ethnic-Racial Identity: A Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis.”

Wang’s research on racialized experiences of children of color has also been recently recognized by a Heinz Endowment grant. In this work, Wang, with co-principal investigator James Huguley, interim director of the Center on Race and Social Problems and assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received a $500,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments. The Heinz grant will support continued work on a school discipline program Wang and Huguley have implemented in the Woodland Hills Intermediate School, the Just Discipline project. Just Discipline builds on research on racialized experiences in school contexts and is designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions. This is the third consecutive grant that Wang and Huguley have received from the Heinz Endowments, totaling $1 million. Wang and Huguley will work in collaboration with the Center on Race and Social Problems, the School of Education’s Motivation Center and the Woodland Hills School District in this research-to-practice partnership.  

Maximilian Schuster in a black suit and tie

Maximilian Schuster receives award for research on campus climate

Maximilian Schuster, assistant professor of practice in the School of Education, was selected for the 2021 Excellence in Research Award by the NASPA Orientation, Retention and Transition Knowledge Community.

Schuster received the award for his article “‘An Experience Unlike Any Other’: The Experiences of First-Year Students with Minoritized Identities with Campus Climate During the 2016 Presidential Election,” which appeared in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education in June 2020.

NASPA’s research award recognizes exemplary research that practitioners can use to improve student services in the areas of orientation, transition and retention within higher education institutions.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with this distinction from NASPA, the leading professional association for student affairs,” says Schuster.

Schuster will be honored during the 2021 virtual NASPA Annual Conference, which is scheduled from March 17-21.

His award-winning paper examined a tumultuous time on college campuses across America: the 2016 presidential election.

Using a campus climate framework, the qualitative study reported on the experiences of 17 first-year students with minoritized identities amid this divisive political context. The students, who included people of color and LGBTQ+ students, were from an urban university within a battleground state.

The study found that students with minoritized identities experienced increased hostilities within this political context. To contend with this negativity, the students engaged in forms of activism. Their activism allowed them to rebuff the hostilities they were experiencing, raise awareness of their own identity and foster stronger peer connections. 

Schuster was previously selected for the 2019-20 NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy. The one-year program is for early-career faculty in student affairs and higher education graduate programs. 

Adriana Kovashka in front of trees

Adriana Kovashka’s research aims to 'teach' computers object detection

Adriana Kovashka, assistant professor of computer science in Pitt's School of Computing and Information, recently received an National Science Foundation CAREER Award to develop a framework to train computer vision models for the detection of objects from weak, naturally occurring supervision in the form of text or speech language and additional multimodal signals.

The framework considers dynamic settings, where humans interact with their visual environment and refer to the encountered objects, such as: “Carefully put the tomato plants in the ground,” and “Please put the phone down and come set the table,” as well as captions written for a human audience to complement an image, like news article captions.

The project will benefit society by exploring novel avenues for overcoming this challenge and reducing the need for expensive and potentially unnatural crowdsourced labels for training.

Cynthia Kenyon in a blue scarf

School of Medicine awards Cynthia Kenyon highest honor

The Pitt School of Medicine recently presented its highest honor, the Dickson Prize in Medicine, to Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist whose research has redefined society's understanding of aging.

The Dickson Prize is awarded annually to an American biomedical researcher who has made significant, progressive contributions to medicine. The award consists of a specially commissioned medal, a $50,000 honorarium and an invitation to present the Dickson Prize Lecture on Pitt's campus. Kenyon is a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the date of Kenyon’s lecture has not yet been determined.

“It is our honor to present Dr. Kenyon with the School of Medicine’s most prestigious award,” said Anantha Shekhar, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine. “Undoubtedly, Dr. Kenyon has fundamentally shaped our understanding of aging biology. Her work to overturn long-held assumptions about the aging process and her discovery of molecular mechanisms that modulate aging demonstrate the exceptional and influential research that the Dickson Prize recognizes.”

Karen Bursic in a blue top with a dark jacket

Karen Bursic wins Grant Award for best paper in the Engineering Economist

The Engineering Economist recently published an article by Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate program director at the Swanson School of Engineering, that evaluates a concept inventory to determine students’ learning in engineering economy courses. The article, “An Engineering Economy Concept Inventory,” was recently awarded the Grant Award, an award given annually by the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

“With all the changes in engineering education, like flipped classrooms or problem-based learning, it’s especially important to have an unbiased, targeted assessment tool to make sure students are learning important core concepts,” said Bursic. “The Engineering Economy Concept Inventory I have developed can help instructors understand whether the pedagogical changes they make to their course have been effective.”

Papers considered for the Grant Award are evaluated on originality, importance of the problem they address, logic and clarity, and adequacy of the proposed solution. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000.

Bursic will receive the award at the ASEE conference in Long Beach, California, on July 28, 2021.

Chad Jurica

Disability specialist Jurica receives IUP Impact award

Chad Jurica, disability specialist in the Office of Disability Resources and Services, recently received the Indiana University of Pennsylvania College of Education and Communications Impact Award.

The awards recognize College of Education and Communications alumni for their outstanding achievement in their profession, their engagement with IUP, and/or their leadership in their discipline or community.

Jurica was a member of the second graduating class from the IUP Disability Services program and was invited to be the commencement student speaker for his graduating class. Following graduation, he continued his education at IUP, focusing on Student Affairs in Higher Education. He has worked the past 11 years in a role of advising and disability support services.

In addition to his disability services responsibilities at the University of Pittsburgh, Jurica is very involved with Staff Council. He also sits on the board of Academic Success Advocates, a nonprofit organization supporting parents of children with special needs.

 

Wolfe and Gaskew named associate deans at Bradford

Angie Wolfe, who has spent much of her career working with and advocating for college students, has been promoted to new associate dean of student affairs and experiential learning at Pitt–Bradford. Tony Gaskew, professor of criminal justice, has been named the associate dean of academic affairs at Bradford.

Wolfe’s previous work at Pitt-Bradford includes serving as the director of leadership learning, service and advocacy and as the director of community engagement and the Harriett B. Wick Chapel. She also coordinated the Pitt-Bradford Academic Coaching and Tutoring Center.

She will continue as an active instructor in the Pitt-Bradford Freshmen Seminar Program, an instructor of yoga, and a weekly campus mindfulness meditation facilitator. She holds Master of Science in Education in community counseling from St. Bonaventure University and a Bachelor of Science in German and acting performance from Augustana College and Universität Passau.

In his role as associate dean, Gaskew will provide senior leadership in all matters related to the course curricula, which includes the scheduling of classes and instructor assignments, curriculum compliance, course evaluations, division and program reviews, and the development of new degree programs.

Gaskew has served as a faculty member at Pitt-Bradford since 2006. He is a Fulbright Hays Scholar, and has conducted critical ethnographic research in Africa and the Palestinian Territories.