Mark Schmeler

Schmeler awarded $2.5 million to study health coverage for custom wheelchairs

A Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project headed by Mark Schmeler, associate professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been awarded $2.5 million over five years from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Schmeler, who is vice chair for Education & Training in the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology, and his team will investigate a new health coverage policy for custom manual and power wheelchairs for people with disabilities to improve their ability to live and participate in their communities.

The project summary says that current health policy for these devices is very restrictive to the point that they are not even covered for people to leave their homes to attend work or school, which conflicts with the spirit of the Rehabilitation Act.

Schmeler and his department are partnering with UPMC and UPMC Health Plan, along with Ohio State University, University of Michigan and key disability, industry and policy stakeholders to evaluate current policies and novel models with stakeholder input. They also plan to develop a standardized assessment and procurement protocol; perform analyses of existing datasets relevant to these devices; and evaluate the feasibility of a new model.

Katz MBA program top five mover in composite rankings

The Katz Graduate School of Business’ MBA program jumped from 64th in 2010 to 39th in 2019, making it one of the top five movers in the composite rankings compiled by Poets & Quants.

The composite MBA ranking is based on a weighted average of rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Forbesthe Financial Times, The Economistand Businessweek.

The Katz MBA program also has been consistently ranked in the Top 20 by Poets & Quants for the last six years — currently at 17th among public programs in the U.S.

In an article titled “10 Years of P&Q MBA Rankings: Who Sits On Top?,” Katz’s rise in the rankings is attributed to its continuous evolution of new experience-based learning opportunities, new courses, and new programs to adapt to the ever-changing business world.

“We have been fortunate in that the quality, enthusiasm and energy of our students coupled with an emphasis on staff, faculty, alumni and community partners mentoring students, broadening their career horizons, has resulted in great employment opportunities,” said Sara B. Moeller, associate dean for Graduate Programs, in an article on the Katz website.

To learn more about where Katz graduate programs stand against the competition, please visit the stats and rankings page.

English professor Meyer receives Fulbright award

Michael Meyer, a professor in the English Department, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Taiwan. Meyer will teach creative nonfiction writing at Taipei’s National Taiwan Normal University.

This project will continue Meyer’s cultural and educational engagement across the Taiwan Strait. In 1995, he was one of the first Peace Corps volunteers sent to China, and is the author of three award-winning books about the region — “The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed”; “In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China”; and “The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up.”

Pitt teams with state health department for first responder training

The state Department of Health is teaming up with Pitt’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit to provide education and training to first responders across the state on substance use disorder, the use of naloxone, and stigma and implicit bias of those fighting the opioid epidemic.

Pitt will receive nearly $2.8 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

In addition, Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia will receive $1.2 million from the health department through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Overdose Data to Action Grant

Training will be provided at no cost to first responders, including local law enforcement, emergency medical services providers, firefighters and related public safety professionals, as well as prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, judges, probation and parole officers and correctional officers.

The department plans to convene an Advisory Council in the fall to oversee and coordinate these trainings. Agencies interested in receiving this education can email

Derek Angus

Med school’s Derek Angus to be senior editor of JAMA

Derek Angus, professor and chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine at Pitt and chief health care innovation officer at UPMC, will become a senior editor at the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christopher Seymour, director of the Translational and Clinical Science Program at the Clinical Research, Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center in Pitt’s School of Medicine and UPMC intensivist, will take Angus’ place as associate editor at JAMA, focused on critical care medicine.

“Derek is among the most prominent ICU physicians in the world and has helped JAMA recruit the best papers in this specialty,” said Howard Bauchner, JAMA’s editor-in-chief. “After consideration of many possible replacements, we have decided that Christopher Seymour — also from UPMC — will become an associate editor … Christopher has been an important contributor to JAMA as an author and reviewer and is a well-known trialist in the field.”

Angus joined UPMC and Pitt in the early 1990s after earning his medical degree and completing residency training in internal medicine at the University of Glasgow, UK. His specialties include epidemiologic, economic and health services research aspects of critical illness, with a particular focus on improving randomized control trials to better serve the sickest of the sick.

Seymour joined UPMC and Pitt nearly a decade ago after earning his medical degree and completing his residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, followed by a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington. His research focuses on the early recognition and treatment of sepsis and critical illness, using machine learning and translational science.

Read more about the appointments on the UPMC website.


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University publications bring home Golden Quill Awards

The people who bring you Pittwire, Pitt Magazine and Pitt Med magazine took home 21 winner or finalist awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania’s Golden Quill Awards on Sept. 3.

Of special note: Associate Editor of Pitt Med magazine Gavin Jenkins took home the Ray Sprigle Memorial Award: Magazines for his story, "Oct. 27, 2018: Pittsburgh's Darkest Day, and the Mass Casualty Response," about the local and Pitt responders to the Tree of Life tragedy. 

See all Pitt’s winners, including audio, photography, writing and video awardees.

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Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses receives NIH funding

The Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses, a national research resource based at the University of Pittsburgh, recently received a five-year, $4.25 million award from the National Institutes of Health to continue its work.

The center provides the neuroscience community at Pitt and throughout the world with access to the highly specialized reagents, training and facilities that are necessary to use neurotropic viruses as transneuronal tracers. This technique is providing fundamental new insights into the functional architecture of sensory, motor, cognitive and affective networks in the central nervous system. For example, Pitt researchers led by center director Peter Strick discovered the mind-body connection between the gut and the brain using this approach. 

"We’ve developed a terrific tool for investigating neural networks in the brain and we are sharing it with investigators all over the world,” said Strick, who is also scientific director of Pitt’s Brain Institute and chair of Pitt’s neurobiology department in the School of Medicine.

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Sharon Alvarez elected to Academy of Management leadership track

Sharon Alvarez, Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurship and professor of business administration in the Katz Graduate School of Business, has been elected to the Academy of Management (AOM) Board of Governors executive track.

Her five-year term begins as vice president-elect and program chair-elect, culminating as AOM president, and a final year as past president.

The Academy of Management is the pre-eminent professional association for management and organization scholars, with nearly 20,000 members across more than 120 countries. Its members are business professors and doctoral students, academics in related social sciences and other fields, and practitioners.

Alvarez recently finished a three-year term as an editor of the organization’s flagship journal, the AOM Review.

Her theoretical research, “Discovery and Creation: Alternative Theories of Entrepreneurial Action,” won the AOM Entrepreneurship Division 2019 Foundational Paper Award and the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal Best Paper Award.

Alvarez earned her doctoral degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and strategic management and her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado and her master’s degree in international management from the University of Denver.

Read more about her appointment in the Katz school’s news feature.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Pitt again ranks Among EPA’s top green power partners

The University of Pittsburgh has again been named among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 30 college and university green power users.

The July 2020 list reflects the top 30 higher education institutions in the EPA’s Green Power Partners who purchase and/or generate large volumes of renewable electricity.

Pitt placed 30th, with annual green power usage of just over 41 million kilowatt hours, representing 19 percent of the University’s annual power usage.

Green Power Partners commit to use green power for all or a portion of their annual electricity consumption. Pitt became a Green Power Partner in 2019 and also made the Top 30 list in July 2019.

Read more about this news on the Pitt Sustainability website.

A panther statue

Pitt Dental research collaboration receives more than $31 million

A multi-institute collaboration including the University of Pittsburgh received more than $31 million from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to study regenerative therapies and to improve patient care by providing solutions for the unmet clinical problems in dental, oral and craniofacial medicine. 

The Michigan-Pittsburgh-Wyss Regenerative Medicine (MPWRM) Resource Center is a multi-institute collaboration between the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine, McGowan Institute for Regenerative MedicinesciVelo and the Harvard University/Wyss Institute.

The funding will be used to support various projects from the center, such as developing a technology focused on disc repair for the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull and developing immunomodulatory strategies to treat periodontal disease.

The center has supported 19 interdisciplinary translational projects since its founding in 2017 to advance their research toward market implementation by offering comprehensive guidance in research and clinical, regulatory, market and business development.

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Dara Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research

The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected Dara Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level.

Mendez is an assistant professor of epidemiology in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, specializing in understanding and addressing racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth and women's health.

The award recognizes her significant work toward improving public health practice through effective use of data, epidemiology and applied research. It will be formally presented in September during the virtual CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference.


The Cathedral of Learning

Katz School's executive MBA program soars in The Economist 2020 ranking

The Katz Graduate School of Business Executive MBA Worldwide program earned its best rankings ever in the biennial Executive MBA Ranking by The Economist.

In the recently released 2020 ranking, the Katz EMBA was rated No. 31 globally, up 18 spots from 2018. The Katz EMBA placed 20th nationally and seventh among public universities.

Ranking metrics are related to personal development, educational experience and career development and are based on a school survey and a survey of current students and alumni from the last three graduating classes.

Read more on the Katz school news page.

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

Pitt researchers receive $3.2 Million grant to uncover genes that build faces

Pitt researchers Seth Weinberg, associate professor of oral biology and co-director of Pitt’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, and John Shaffer, assistant professor of human genetics, recently received a $3.2 million five-year grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue their effort to identify the genes that help determine human facial features.

This latest grant will expand upon earlier gene mapping work by focusing on high-throughput strategies designed to identify the specific variants most likely to drive gene expression during early facial development — a key piece of information needed to understand the molecular mechanisms that build human faces.

An additional component of the project will leverage longitudinal data to identify regions of the genome that impact patterns of facial growth during childhood and adolescence. This may provide unique insights into the genetic pathways that contribute to facial dysmorphology.

The project is a collaborative effort involving additional researchers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Stanford University, Penn State and Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

Lindsey Page receives Early Career Award for education research

Lindsay Page, an associate professor in the School of Education and a research scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center, received the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association. 

The AERA’s Early Career Award is given once a year to a scholar who received his or her doctoral degree within the past 10 years, and honors exemplary research and service in the education research field. The winners were announced on July 22 and will be honored in a virtual ceremony on Sept. 12. 

Page specializes in using quantitative methods to investigate the impact of educational policies and practices. She is motivated to find solutions to improve college access and success, particularly among minoritized, low-income, and first-generation college students. 

Among subjects studied by Page is the phenomenon of summer melt in college admissions. Summer melt occurs when college-bound high school students, for a variety of reasons, do not successfully transition to college. Melt most often among low-income and first-generation college student.

Find more information about Page and award on the School of Education website.

Samantha Utley named coordinator of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at Falk School

Samantha Utley started Aug. 3 as the inaugural coordinator of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at the Falk Laboratory School, a private K-8 school affiliated with Pitt’s School of Education.

Utley will work with students, faculty, staff and parents and caregivers on professional development, student admissions, curriculum development, classroom instruction and more.

A native of Monroeville, Utley is the former dean of students at the Duquesne City School District, where she managed student affairs. Prior to that role, she worked at Duquesne schools as a teacher instructional coach for science, STEM, and technology.

Read more about Utley’s new position on the School of Education website.

Singh helped craft Quantum Information Science Core Concepts

Chandralekha Singh, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and founding director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, was one of 25 members of the working group charged with developing Quantum Information Science Core Concepts for Learners.

The initiative was spearheaded by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation.

During a three-week virtual workshop, participants focused on identifying concepts that could, with additional supporting resources, help prepare secondary school students to engage with Quantum Information Science and provide possible pathways for broader public engagement

More details about the QIS core concepts developed by the working group can be found here and on the National Science Foundation website.


Rory Cooper in a dark suit and white collared shirt

Pitt selected to study improved mobility access in automated vehicles

The University of Pittsburgh was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the U.S. 

The department awarded Pitt $1 million to study the implications of accessible automated vehicles and mobility services for people with disabilities, in consortium with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and The Catholic University of America.

Rory Cooper will lead the project from Pitt’s end. He is director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt and associate dean for inclusion in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Cooper has over two dozen patents related to improved mobility for people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessories and improved prosthetics.

The team has partners and advisors from Toyota Mobility Foundation, Merlin Mobility, Paralyzed Veterans of America, UPMC Health System, and the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Task Force on People with Disabilities.

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Chris F. Kemerer wins Best New Author Award

Pitt Business faculty member Chris F. Kemerer is the recipient of the Best New Author Award in business case publisher Ivey Publishing’s 2019-2020 Best Seller Awards.

Kemerer is the David M. Roderick Professor of Information Systems, professor of business administration and area director for information systems and technology management in the Katz Graduate School of Business.

The award is presented to an author who published their first Ivey Publishing case within the last three years, and who had the highest total case usage across this time period.

Kemerer’s latest cases, Netflix Inc.: The Disruptor Faces Disruption and Apple v. The FBI, have seen interest worldwide, with the Netflix case being the second highest selling case in the world this past academic year.

Kemerer began writing business IT cases for use in his own classes, including in the Katz school’s Executive MBA program, and began submitting them for publication in order to make them widely available to other business school faculty.

Paul Harper in a dark suit and light dress shirt

Pitt Business’ Harper to co-chair Academy of Management Racial Justice Committee

Pitt Business faculty member Paul T. Harper has been named co-chair of a new Racial Justice Committee of the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.

The committee “will work to facilitate the creation of new knowledge, new networks and a new curriculum that benefits business research and education,” said Harper and his co-chair, Robbin Derry of the University of Lethbridge in announcing the formation of the ad-hoc group.

“The establishment of this committee is evidence of our division's responsiveness to the global Black Lives Matter movement and a broader social movement to eradicate systemic racism. Given our division's emphasis on justice, it makes sense that we would seek to provide leadership during this crucial period.”

Harper is a clinical assistant professor of business administration in the Katz Graduate School of Business, where his research and teaching are focused on entrepreneurship, strategy and business ethics. His research interests include racial justice, social entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation.

The Academy of Management (AOM) is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars. Its membership of nearly 20,000 spans more than120 countries. The Academy of Management’s Social Issues in Management Division studies the social issues, institutions, interactions and impacts of management. 

Shannon Reed in a yellow scarf in front of a red background

Shannon Reed’s Work Named ‘Book of the Week’ by People magazine

Shannon Reed, a visiting lecturer in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Program, was recognized by People magazine for her new book, “Why Did I Get a B?: And Other Mysteries We’re Discussing in the Faculty Lounge.” 

Reed’s new work of memoir and humor was named Book of the Week by the magazine for its July 6th issue. The magazine calls the book “funny” and “revealing,” and also encourages readers to “send this book to your favorite teacher.”

The book, which was released on June 30, is composed of essays full of “humor, heart and wit,” and draws upon Reed’s 20 years working with students in ages ranging from preschool to college.

Writer’s Digest also featured Reed’s new book in its July/August 2020 issue. Reed earned a master of fine arts degree from the English department in 2015.