July 20, 2020
CBA’s Pitt Business Backstory wins graphic design award
Each Pitt Business Backstory features a CBA student’s individual journey from the classroom, to the city, to the world at Pitt Business.
CBA staff members RJ Thompson, Erin Noonan, Kenzie Sprague and Derek McDonald contributed to the winning series of student profiles.
To date, 18 students have told their stories in the ongoing feature, with more to come. Read about them online.
July 20, 2020
Engineering researcher Lei Li studying oily wastewater conversion
Lei Li, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, recently received $110,000 from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund for his work developing 3D-printed membranes that will aid in oil-water separation. The development could help convert the oily wastewater into purified, usable water.
Oily wastewater from drilling and processing crude oil is the biggest waste stream in the oil and gas industry, which produces three times as much waste as it does product.
“What’s new about this work is its focus on surface and in-pore topography: The texture of the surface of the material and even the texture inside of the pores of the material have a profound effect on the membrane’s effectiveness,” said Li.
July 17, 2020
New funds awarded for community behavioral health projects
Pitt’s Center for Interventions to Improve Community Health (CiTECH) recently awarded more than $100,000 from the Office of the Provost for projects designed to improve behavior health outcomes in local neighborhoods. Learn about the four projects:
The CHURCH Project — which stands for Congregations as Healers Uniting to Restore Community Health — will develop and pilot an intervention that takes place in the context of African American churches. “Because of issues like stigma, mistrust and absence of insurance, many Black people rely on informal church support for emotional problems, rather than visiting mental health clinics,” said John Wallace, the professor of Social Work and co-investigator. The goal is to increase the mental health awareness, knowledge and skills of the clergy, who then in turn can help parishioners. The project is a partnership between Pitt’s School of Social Work, faculty members in the Department of Psychiatry and leaders from Homewood Community Ministries.
Marlo Perry, assistant research professor in the School of Social Work, will collaborate with Wesley Family Services and the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families to pilot Intensive Family Coaching (IFC) with families of young children involved with the child welfare system. IFC is a home-based intervention that helps young children with emotional and behavioral challenges, as well as their caregivers who may struggle with discipline issues. The project also seeks to increase collaboration between the child welfare and behavioral health systems.
Child maltreatment can lead to mental health issues, trouble in school and other problems. Professionals in Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) work together to investigate abuse and provide resources for victims of child abuse and their families. But CACs in rural areas often have limited resources. Their teams have members from a variety of disciplines—police, advocates and child welfare workers. To help a team like this work more effectively, Elizabeth McGuier, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry, will work with the CAC in McKean County on the use of TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based intervention to improve teamwork
The final project will focus on improving overall community mental health and reducing teen violence in the City of Pittsburgh’s Fineview and Perry Hilltop neighborhoods. Associate Professor of Social Work Mary Ohmer will oversee a training program that focuses on collective efficacy by facilitating trusting relationships between younger and older residents and increasing the residents’ ability to safely intervene to address neighborhood problems. Ohmer will be working with members of the Perry Hilltop Citizens Councils.
July 15, 2020
School of Computing and Information marks third anniversary
The School of Computing and Information (SCI) is marking its third year as Pitt’s newest school. Since launching on July 1, 2017, SCI has committed to teaching and research that focuses on tackling the most pressing, complex challenges of today that require a new level of integrative thinking.
Among SCI’s accomplishments over the past three years:
Becoming a four-year admitting undergraduate program
Launching the Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems (momacs) Institute, aimed at using artificial intelligence and machine learning to model large-scale societal challenges such as food insecurity, national security and the opioid epidemic
Redesigning the Master of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) degree program
Hiring tenure and appointed stream faculty, including nine new faculty members for the fall 2020 term
Launching a Professional Institute, with its first offerings in cybersecurity to fill critical skills gaps in the industry and allow professionals to gain up-to-date competencies in this ever-changing field
As of July 1, founding Dean Paul Cohen has transitioned into the role of director of the momacs Institute, as well as a faculty member of the Department of Computer Science. Bruce Childers has been appointed SCI’s interim dean. Childers has been with Pitt’s Department of Computer Science since 2000, and he has held a leadership role within SCI since its opening. Read Childers’ annual update message to the SCI community.
For more information about SCI’s new faculty, achievements and transitions as the School reflects on its first three years, visit SCI’s website.
July 13, 2020
Three research groups get Center for Medical Innovation grants
Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation has awarded grants totaling $60,000 to three research groups through its 2020 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development.
The latest funding proposals include:
Virus-resistant wear-resistant textile by Paul W. Leu, associate professor of Industrial Engineering, Robert Shanks, associate professor of Ophthalmology; and Eric Romanowski, research director, Charles T. Campbell Laboratory of Ophthalmic Microbiology
A system for removal of cell-free plasma hemoglobin in extracorporeal therapies by Nahmah Kim-Campbell, assistant professor of Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics; William Federspiel, professor of Bioengineering, and Ryan Orizondo, researcher in Bioengineering
A biocontainment unit for reducing viral transmission to health care workers and patients by David M. Turer, Department of Plastic Surgery, UPMC; Heng Ban, professor Mechanical Engineering and Material Science; J. Peter Rubin, chairman, Department of Plastic Surgery, UPMC
The Center for Medical Innovation, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption.
July 13, 2020
Jiang receives grant from PNC for Adaptive Space development
Gemma Jiang, director of the Organizational Innovation Lab at Swanson School of Engineering, has received a $40,000 grant from the PNC Charitable Trust for the Adaptive Space: Building Capacity for Addressing Complex Social Challenges, an enhanced version of the Pitt u.lab hub.
The Adaptive Space will continue to develop capacity for addressing complex social challenges in Pittsburgh. This one-year prototype aims to develop a vigorous process to identify high-potential participants; design and deliver three capacity-building courses; support prototype development through three practice cycles based on the social lab methodology; and explore ways to continue and grow successful prototypes.
The focus this year will be on helping children thriving in the Homewood and Hill District communities, leveraging partnerships with the Pittsburgh Study of UPMC Children’s Hospital and Pitt’s Community Engagement Centers.
By the end of the prototype year, Jiang hopes to launch a Complexity Institute at Pitt that continues the mission of enabling the social change ecosystem in Pittsburgh.
July 8, 2020
Industrial Engineering’s Mostafa Bedewy earns NSF’s EAGER Award
Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt, was recently given a nearly $245,000 EAGER award by the National Science Foundation to study a new scalable laser patterning process for directly growing tailored nanocarbons on flexible polymers.
The research will enable patterning functional nanocarbons needed for a number of emerging flexible-device applications in healthcare, energy and consumer electronics.
“The multi-billion dollar global market for flexible electronics is still in its infancy, and is expected to grow exponentially because of accelerating demand in many applications,” said, Bedewy, who also leads Pitt’s NanoProduct Lab. “Exploring potentially transformative carbon nanomanufacturing processes is critical for realizing cutting-edge technologies.”
July 8, 2020
Julia Santucci named director of the Johnson Institute, Hesselbein Leadership Forum
Julia Santucci, a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been named director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum. Santucci brings more than a decade of national security and foreign policy experience to the role and has held positions with White House National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Department of State. The Johnson Institute aims to produce professionals with the highest standards of ethics and accountability.
The Hesselbein Forum, within the Johnson Institute, provides a variety of opportunities for fostering and growing leadership, including the Leadership Program in International Affairs, which was designed and directed by Santucci.
July 8, 2020
Katz co-authors win best-article award
A paper by Vanitha Swaminathan (pictured), a Katz Graduate School of Business marketing professor, and her then-Ph.D. advisee Christian Hughes has won the American Marketing Association’s 2020 Don Lehmann Award. The award recognizes the best dissertation-based article published in the Journal of Marketing or Journal of Marketing Research in the previous calendar year.
The paper, “Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns,” co-authored by Gillian Brooks of the University of Oxford, was among the top three most-cited articles in the Journal of Marketing and among the journal’s most-downloaded articles in the past six months. Read a summary of the findings.
Swaminathan is director of the Katz Center for Branding. Hughes, now a marketing faculty member at the University of Notre Dame, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics and her Ph.D. in marketing at Pitt.
July 8, 2020
Swanson School receives $1.9 Million in awards From U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Program
Four researchers at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering have received a total of $1.7 million in faculty awards from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program, and two students were awarded a total of $168,500.
The awards are part of more than $65 million in investments the Department of Energy announced on June 16.
The Nuclear Energy University Program “seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities,” according to the DOE.
The awards went to:
Heng Ban, professor of Mechanical Engineering, director of the Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program: $300,000 for High Temperature Thermophysical Property of Nuclear Fuels and Materials
Kevin Chen, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Albert To, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science: $1 million for Fiber Sensor Fused Additive Manufacturing for Smart Component Fabrication for Nuclear Energy
Wei Xiong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science: $400,000 for Multicomponent Thermochemistry of Complex Chloride Salts for Sustainable Fuel Cycle Technologies; along with co-PIs: Elizabeth Sooby Wood (University of Texas at San Antonio), Toni Karlsson (Idaho National Laboratory), and Guy Fredrickson (Idaho National Laboratory)
In addition, Jerry Potts, a senior mechanical engineering student, was one of 42 student students in the nation to receive a $7,500 nuclear energy scholarship. Iza Lantgios (BS ME ‘20), a matriculating mechanical engineering graduate student, was one of 34 students nationwide to be awarded a $161,000 fellowship.
Read more about the individual projects here.
July 8, 2020
Audrey J. Murrell giving keynote at national higher education conference
Audrey J. Murrell, acting dean of the University Honors College, is set serve as a keynote speaker at a national conference on student success, hosted virtually by Suitable on July 23.
The conference, Pathways 2020, will bring together leaders from across higher education to discuss ways to enhance student success initiatives and elevate the student experience.
Murrell’s session is titled, “Speaking From Experience: How To Construct, Launch, and Get Your Student Success Initiatives Funded.”
In addition to her role with Pitt Honors, Murrell is a professor of business administration in the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, and holds secondary appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology.
July 6, 2020
Christopher Kirchhof selected as NACADA mentor for emerging leaders
NACADA, an association of professional advisors, counselors, faculty, administrators and students working to enhance the educational development of students, has named Christopher Kirchhof, coordinator of Transfer Student Services in the Swanson School of Engineering, as a mentor for its 2020-2022 Class of Emerging Leaders. Only 10 mentors are selected internally, and Kirchhof was selected for his commitment to the program and his involvement and leadership within the organization.
July 1, 2020
Carli Liguori named finalist for American Society for Nutrition Translation Award
Carli Liguori, a visiting instructor in the School of Education, has been named a finalist in the American Society for Nutrition Translation Award Program.
The award recognizes “outstanding early-career scientists and clinicians interested in translating their research to a defined audience to improve public health and/or health outcomes.”
Liguori was one of four finalists chosen from a pool of 70 applicants for the award. In particular, Liguori, along with fellow School of Education faculty members in the Department of Health and Human Development, John Jakicic and Renee J. Rogers, were recognized for their study, “Changes in Dietary Intake with Varying Doses of Physical Activity within a Weight Loss Intervention: The Heart Health Study.”
In the study they found that following a calorie-restricted diet resulted in roughly the same amount of weight loss, about 20 pounds, regardless of a person’s level of physical activity. The team also saw that participants’ level of physical activity did not affect their ability to keep their calorie and fat consumption within bounds.
The team was honored at a virtual event held by the American Society for Nutrition in June 2020.
July 1, 2020
Engineering researchers studying efficient data storage
Pitt engineering researchers Feng Xiong and Nathan Youngblood secured a $500,000 award from the National Science Foundation to study how to store data more efficiently using optical and electrical techniques on two-dimensional (2D) materials.
The researchers will examine how certain 2D materials interacts with the light used in optical storage and gain a better understanding of its properties. This will allow researchers to advance technology and improve the use of 2D materials for high-speed, reliable and efficient memory and computation.
Both researchers are assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.
July 1, 2020
Susan Whitney provides health recommendations to Department of State
Susan Whitney, professor of physical therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently provided recommendations to the U.S. Department of State. She presented her expertise on vestibular disorders and concussions to the Standing Committee to Advise the U.S. Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and their Families at Overseas Embassies.
Whitney provided guidelines and best practices on treating current patients/government workers and potential patients if this should happen again. This committee will be writing recommendations on how to deal with possible future incidents. The goal is to not have to pull workers from their positions in other countries if there are more episodes.
June 25, 2020
Two Pitt professors named to Pittsburgh Task Force on Police Reform
Seeking to make “people-oriented solutions that make Pittsburgh a better place for all,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has convened a Pittsburgh Community Task Force on Police Reform, and two Pitt professors are among its members.
David Harris, professor of Law, and Richard Garland, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, join 15 others on the team. They range from CCAC President Quintin Bullock to various community leaders, foundation heads and neighborhood advocates, some of whom have been organizing recent Black Lives Matter protests.
Their goal is to review current police practices as well as police-community relations and deliver recommendations to the mayor by this fall.
“We need to focus on change that will give all people in Pittsburgh the kind of public safety they want so that everyone will feel safe,” said Harris, a national expert on policing and racial profiling.
Garland said he hopes to bring to the task force his years of experience working in communities that experience violence.
“I’m not going to be someone who rubber stamps something that is put on the shelf to collect dust,” he said. “I will push for immediate change and steps to assure the community is represented.”
Both men said what is needed is a total commitment from the mayor and City Council to make sure the recommended changes actually take place.
June 24, 2020
Five researchers win Pa. Community and Economic Development grants
Five researchers at the Swanson School of Engineering have received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development through the Manufacturing PA initiative. The department has approved more than $2.8 million in grants to 43 projects that will “spur new technologies and processes in the manufacturing sector,” according to their press release.
“As engineers, we are applied scientists, and our singular goal in performing research is to produce public impact,” said David Vorp, associate dean for research and John A. Swanson Professor of bioengineering. “I am proud that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania saw the potential of these projects by our Swanson School faculty and their industrial partners to have benefit to their citizens.”
The five researchers to receive funding at the Swanson School are:
Kevin Chen, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Femtosecond Laser Manufacturing of 3D Photonics Components in Nonlinear Optical Substrates for Electro-Optic Applications
Markus Chmielus, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Improving 3D Binder Jet Printed Tungsten-Carbide Parts via Strategies to Increase Green Density and Strength
Jung-Kun Lee, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Smart Crucible: Monitoring Damage of Crucibles by Embedded Electric Resistance Sensor
Albert To, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for A Computational Tool for Simulating the Sintering Behavior in Binder Jet Additive Manufacturing
Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Pushing the Boundaries of Ceramic Additive Manufacturing (CAM) with Visible light initiated Polymerization (ViP)
June 23, 2020
Giannis Mpourmpakis paper published in ACS Catalysis, featured on cover
New research from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Catalysis and Catalytic Processes (Department of Energy) at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, advances the field of computational catalysis by paving the way for the simulation of realistic catalysts under reaction conditions. The paper was published in ACS Catalysis and featured on the cover of the print edition.
Computational catalysis, a field that simulates and accelerates the discovery of catalysts for chemical production, has largely been limited to simulations of idealized catalyst structures that do not necessarily represent structures under realistic reaction conditions.
The paper was authored by Raffaele Cheula, Ph.D. student in the Maestri group; Matteo Maestri, full professor of chemical engineering at Politecnico di Milano; and Giannis “Yanni” Mpourmpakis (pictured), Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow and associate professor of chemical engineering at Pitt.
June 23, 2020
SHRS professors named fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association
Two professors in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recently earned a prestigious honor in physical therapy.
Janet Freburger, professor, and Sara Piva, associate professor, have been named Catherine Worthingham Fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association, the highest honor among APTA’s membership categories. To be eligible, individuals must have advanced the physical therapy profession through frequent and sustained efforts for a period of no less than 15 years. They also must have demonstrated excellence in one primary domain, such as advocacy, education, practice or research, and made significant contributions, achievements or leadership to at least two other domains.
Freburger and Piva become the 9th and 10th current and former Department of Physical Therapy faculty members, respectively, to receive designations as Catherine Worthingham Fellows.
June 22, 2020
D’Andrea provides national guidance on Braille code changes
Frances Mary “FM” D’Andrea, assistant professor of practice in the Vision Studies program in the School of Education, is working to ensure a smooth transition with the Braille standards in the United States by publishing a policy brief “Considerations for States Providing Materials in Braille,” which recently appeared in the National Center for Educational Outcomes.
The country’s Braille community is adjusting to major changes in the Braille code, with the old code, English Braille American Edition being phased out, to Unified English Braille (UEB).
D’Andrea is also the chair of the UEB committee for the Braille Authority of North America and has been a board member for more than 20 years.
To ensure that future educators stay cutting-edge, the new Braille code standards are being taught in the Vision Studies programs at the School of Education. The school offers certifications in Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Graduates of the programs have a 100% placement rate and are employed all over the country.