September 6, 2018
School of Education names first associate dean of equity and justice
Leigh Patel joined the School of Education on July 2 as the inaugural associate dean of equity and justice.
With a background in sociology, Patel researches and teaches about education as a site of social reproduction and as a potential site for transformation
Patel previously was a professor in the Education, Society, and Culture program at the UC Riverside Graduate School of Education. She previously spent 13 years as a tenured faculty member at Boston College.
“I am greatly looking forward to working across research, policy, and practice to further equity and justice,” Patel said in a news release. “With every action, we are further equity and justice or impeding, and often there is a combination at work. I am excited to take up hard questions of these intricacies with this fantastic group of students, staff, and faculty.
See more details here.
September 6, 2018
Irene Mena to lead Swanson School’s First-Year Engineering Program
Mena will be responsible for implementing first year curriculum content, pedagogy, and improvements; coordinating Swanson School and other faculty teaching in the program; and managing the first year seminar. Mena also will direct the Swanson School’s annual First-Year Conference, in which all engineering first-years develop a professional-level research paper and present it to their peers at the end of the spring semester.
She succeeds Daniel Budny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, who retired from the position after 18 years.
See more details here.
September 6, 2018
Stephen Kilpatrick takes on Academic Affairs job at Pitt-Johnstown
Stephen Kilpatrick, an associate professor of biology, was named interim assistant vice president for Academic Affairs at the Pitt–Johnstown, effective July 1.
Kilpatrick will assist Vice President for Academic Affairs Janet Grady in several initiatives, including improving the retention and graduation rates.
Since coming to Pitt–Johnstown in 1995, he has served as president of the Faculty Senate, along with several other position, and has served as the Biology Department coordinator since 2009.
See more details here.
September 5, 2018
Chemistry’s Kabirul Islam Awarded $650,000 from NSF to Study Cell Lineage
Kabirul Islam, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemistry, recently won a three-year $650,000 grant from the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences area of the National Science Foundation to develop answer a central question in mammalian biology: how is it that identical DNA in an organism can create diverse cell lineages?
The grant funds an integrated chemical biology research and educational program, which will reprogram expression of genes that underlie cell division, differentiation, lineage and ultimately, organismal development.
“The interdisciplinary research setting that brings together organic synthesis, protein engineering and cell biology, will provide a unique training ground for graduate and undergraduate students,” Islam said.
September 5, 2018
Law Alumnus Appointed Staff Judge Advocate to Commandant of Marine Corps
The Department of Defense has announced that Marine Corps Col. Daniel J. Lecce (LAW ’87), has been promoted to major general. He will be the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the senior legal adviser in the Marine Corps. Among Lecce’s personal awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Lecce will join fellow Pitt alum Brigadier General John G. Baker (LAW ’97) as the only active duty Marine Judge Advocate general officers.
August 31, 2018
Interim Executive Director Named at Institute for Learning
There is a new leader at the helm at Pitt’s Institute for Learning (IFL). Rose E. Apodaca, who is nationally recognized with a proven track record in improving equitable outcomes for underserved students, is the new interim executive director of the IFL, which is part of Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Apodaca most recently served as director of outreach and development at the IFL, and prior to that, she was a senior cabinet-level officer in large urban school districts, a teacher and a principal of a foreign language school. She also led bilingual education programs for three major urban districts and served as an expert witness in federal court on the teaching and learning of English language learners.
Said Anthony Petrosky, IFL codirector and associate dean of Pitt’s School of Education: “Under Rosita’s leadership, the IFL will continue its important work in urban schools while growing its national and international presence. She exemplifies the bold thinking and action needed to ensure that every child receives the best educational opportunities.”
August 29, 2018
Swanson School Pair Receives Gilliam Fellowship
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has selected Swanson School of Engineering PhD student Emily Ackerman (pictured, left) and her thesis adviser Jason Shoemaker as one of 45 doctoral student-adviser pairs to receive a 2018 Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study. The Gilliam Fellowships encourage a more diverse and inclusive environment in science and academia. Each pair will receive an annual award totaling $50,000 — which includes a stipend, a training allowance and an institutional allowance — for up to three years. As part of their three-year grant, Ackerman and Shoemaker will organize a symposium at the University that will examine science, technology and diversity. Ackerman is pursuing her doctorate in chemical engineering, and Shoemaker is an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.
August 28, 2018
Pitt Cyber Announces First Awardees of Accelerator Grants Program
Pitt's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security has announced the first 10 awardees of the first cycle of its Accelerator Grants Program. The honorees will receive funding for projects designed to advance Pitt Cyber’s mission to investigate critical questions surrounding technology law, policy and security.
Awards have been granted to: Kevin Ashley, professor of law and intelligent systems; Matthias Grabmair, Carnegie Mellon University Systems Scientist; Julia Santucci, senior lecturer, intelligence studies; Daniel Cole, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Alex K. Jones, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; Bo Zeng, assistant professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Zhi-Hong Mao, associate professor, Swanson School of Engineering; Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor Swanson School of Engineering; Mai Abdelhakim; visiting assistant professor School of Computing and Information; James Joshi, professor School of Computing and Information; Balaji Palanisamy, assistant professor School of Computing and Information.
August 15, 2018
Kirk Holbrook to Lead Pitt’s Hill District Community Engagement Center
Kirk Holbrook has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Hill District Community Engagement Center (CEC).
Holbrook, a resident of the Hill District, most recently was chief of staff in the district office of State Representative Jake Wheatley. He previously was a community organizer for A+ Schools and program director for the Hill House Association.
“Kirk’s deep connections to the Hill District and record of community engagement will ensure the Hill District CEC fulfills its mission,” said Lina Dostilio, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement. “His strength as an organizer and leader will allow him to be a trusted bridge between campus and community.”
Pitt’s CECs, announced in 2016 as an initiative of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s office, aim to strengthen communities by coordinating University activities already underway and building alliances within city neighborhoods that are eager to partner with Pitt. The CECs are guided by an internal advisory council and neighborhood advisory councils.
August 15, 2018
School of Medicine’s Roderick Tan Wins Grant to Research Blood Vessels in Kidney
Roderick Tan, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Renal-Electrolyte at Pitt’s Department of Medicine, has been awarded the 2018 Edith H. Blattner Grant Young Investigator Grant from the National Kidney Foundation for research that will use high-resolution ultrasound to closely examine the human kidney’s vital small blood vessels.
Tan received the grant as part of the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program, which strives to improve the quality of life for those with kidney disease by funding scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, how to prevent its progression and ways to improve treatment for those living with it.
August 8, 2018
Hesselbein Global Academy Celebrates 10 Years of Nurturing the Next Generation of Leaders
The Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement brought students from 15 countries to Pittsburgh for a four-day Student Leadership Summit in July. Delegates participated in workshops, service projects, attended lectures and dined with local Pittsburgh leaders in every sector. Over its history, student leaders from 72 countries have participated.
Tapping an alumni network of nearly 500, the Hesselbein Global Academy also welcomed back speakers and mentors to inspire this year’s cohort. Luis Miranda, a 2012 participant, spoke about his struggles and triumphs in international peace keeping efforts, specifically with the Colombian peace process. Aster Teclay, a 2009 participant and a 2010 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, stressed the importance of self-belief. “If your actions inspire others to learn more, become more, you are a leader,” said Teclay, senior project manager at the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
Major General Randall Fullhart, Commandant of the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, was honored this year for being a Hesselbein Global Academy mentor for all 10 years of the program’s existence.
Pitt launched the Hesselbein Global Academy as a way of honoring the legacy of Frances Hesselbein (pictured), one of the most highly respected experts in the field of leadership development. For more about this year’s event, visit the Student Affairs website or watch a recap.
August 8, 2018
Pharmacy’s Jennifer Pruskowski Receives New Clinical Practitioner Award
Jennifer Pruskowski, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, is the recipient of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s 2018 New Clinical Practitioner Award.
This annual award recognizes a member who has made outstanding contributions to the health of patients and to the practice of clinical pharmacy. The award is given to those who are less than six years past completion of their pharmacy training.
Pruskowski’s research interests include education of effective and safe use of medication for palliative care patients, development of institute-wide, evidence-based pain and symptom management treatment algorithms, management of delirium at the end of life and refractory pain, and the role of pharmacists on the improvement of health-related functions and quality of life for palliative care patients.
August 7, 2018
Joseph Glorioso Awarded $500,000 to Advance Melanoma Vaccine
Glorioso and University of Pennsylvania microbiology professor Gary H. Cohen will share a $500,000, two-year grant to advance a vaccine for melanoma. Their research builds on previously successful results using a tumor-targeted, actively replicating herpes virus to infiltrate cancers and stimulate an immune system assault.
Glorioso calls the methodology a “heat-seeking missile that targets metastatic cancer for destruction.” Once the cancer is eliminated, the vaccine inserts an immunity barrier to protect against recurrence. Melanoma is among the most deadly cancers and this treatment offers new hope.
Glorioso, who founded the Pitt medical school’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1989, is a pioneer in the design and application of herpes simplex virus gene vectors.
August 7, 2018
Mostafa Bedewy Awarded $330,000 National Science Foundation Grant
Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded $330,000 by the National Science Foundation to better understand and control the internal structure of nanotube-based materials for emerging applications.
Carbon nanotubes are hollow, cylindrical nanostructures made of carbon atoms. They are smaller than one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair. These nanotubes are used in a variety of commercial products from baseball bats and bicycle frames to aerospace structures. They also have a tensile strength 20 times higher than steel and an electrical conductivity 10 times that of copper. Read more about his work.
August 1, 2018
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Robert Brandom Named Fellow of the British Academy
Robert Brandom, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy, has been named a Fellow of the British Academy. The British Academy is the United Kingdom’s 116-year old national academy for the humanities and social sciences. Brandom, who was recognized for his research on the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of logic, pragmatism, German idealism, Wilfrid Sellars, Frege and Wittgenstein, is one of 20 Corresponding Academics elected to the Academy from outside of the U.K. In total, 76 academics were added this year. Past fellows include Winston Churchill, C.S. Lewis and Beatrice Webb.
August 1, 2018
Giannis Mpourmpakis Named Emerging Investigator by American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society (ACS) Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data named Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, an “Emerging Investigator” in a special issue of the publication. The issue highlights work from 25 researchers at the forefront of their discipline. Mpourmpakis contributed his paper “Understanding the Gas Phase Chemistry of Alkanes with First-Principles Calculations” to the ACS special issue. Read more about the paper and his work at the Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab.
July 30, 2018
Vanitha Swaminathan to Serve as President of American Marketing Association’s Academic Council
Vanitha Swaminathan, the Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, will serve as President of American Marketing Association’s Academic Council from July 2018 through June 2019.
Swaminathan, who joined Pitt in 2002, is the director of the Katz Center for Branding. Her research focuses on branding strategy and the conditions that foster consumer-brand relationships. Her research investigates how firms can successfully design brand strategies such as co-branding, brand extensions, brand acquisitions, marketing alliances to strengthen customer loyalty as well as firm stock market performance. More recently, her focus is on understanding how brand managers can leverage the power of social media to build stronger relationships with customers.
As president of the council, Swaminathan will lead the 12-member group that represents the diversity of scholarly interests in managerial, behavioral, modeling and public policy perspective with attention to strategic marketing implications.
July 25, 2018
Kar-Hai Chu Awarded NIH Grant to Study Technology and Substance Use
Kar-Hai Chu, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics in the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, was recently awarded a 4-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study technology and substance use patterns. The ultimate goal of his project is to optimize cancer prevention and control.
Although many commercial smartphone applications have been created and marketed as tobacco cessation tools, none are based on scientific evidence. Chu’s work seeks to fill this gap by conducting a trial to test the usability of a smartphone-based app for tobacco cessation in young adults. In the long-term, the results of this study will inform the delivery of evidence-based tobacco cessation tools using affordable and accessible technologies.
July 25, 2018
Alumna Monica Ruiz Lauded for Work in Latino Community
The Thomas Merton Center named Monica Ruiz (SSW ’15 SSW ’17G) its New Person of the Year 2018. The organization lauded Ruiz as “a talented organizer and tireless advocate for immigrant rights and racial and economic justice.”
Ruiz is the civic engagement and community organizer at Casa San José, an organization that advocates for and empowers the Latino community in and around Pittsburgh. She organizes around immigrant rights, housing and legal issues, advocates for policies that support immigrants, and builds coalitions to boost racial and workers justice movements.
“As a community organizer and alumnus, she represents well the social work values of worth and dignity for all and social and economic justice,” said Tracy Soska, chair of the School of Social Work’s concentration, Community, Organization, and Social Action, the first and longest standing community organizing program in any professional school in the country.
“We are proud of her work, tenacity, and commitment to the cause that demonstrates our school’s legacy for community organizing and social change,” Soska added.
July 17, 2018
Waverly Duck Named Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Trustee
University of Pittsburgh faculty member Waverly Duck has been chosen for a three-year term on the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees.
“It is an absolute honor to join the Carnegie Library Board of Trustees. As a child and teenager, the public library was an essential part of my intellectual development. More than just a resource for books, the library is a safe public space for individuals of all ages that operates with embedded rules of civility,” said Duck.
He added, “The Carnegie Library System is a very special institution, with each library designed to meet the respective needs of the communities where branches are housed. Equally, the leadership is absolutely fantastic with a strong commitment to the city of Pittsburgh.”
Duck is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences whose fields of interest include urban ethnography. He is also Pitt’s director of urban studies.