Toi Derricotte in a gray jacket

Toi Derricotte wins lifetime achievement award in poetry

Toi Derricotte, professor emerita in the Department of English within the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is the 2020 recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. 

Derricotte’s sixth and most recent collection of poetry, “‘I’: New and Selected Poems,” was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award.

The award, named to honor the late poet Robert Frost, is presented annually by the Poetry Society of America to recognize the lifetime achievements of an American poet.

The Study Lab's wall, decorated with multicolored hexagons

Study Lab wins Silver Award for marketing and communications at CASE

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) announced that Pitt’s Study Lab: Revolutionizing the Story of Academic Success won the 2020 Silver Accolades Award under Institutional Marketing Identity/Branding Programs. 

Study Lab has undergone a rebranding in recent years, resulting in increased student engagement levels. Pittwire wrote about it in November 2019 and the online database company Knack spotlighted the “amazing results” on their blog. The marketing and communications team behind the efforts are being recognized for their work. 

The award recognizes the visibility, support and prestige that marketing and programming bring to their institutions. Criteria for the award included quality, creativity, innovation, adherence to professional standards and success in meeting stated objectives. 

The team included Rebecca Farabaugh, communications manager in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Marygrace Reder, marketing manager,  and Jane Dudley, designer and assistant creative director, both in the Office of University Communications and Marketing.

Anjali Sachdeva

Anjali Sachdeva named NEA Fellow in Literature

Anjali Sachdeva, lecturer in the Department of English in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences,was named a Literature Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The NEA gives fellowships to writers and translators of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction to allow recipients to “set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.” 

Chosen from nearly 1,700 eligible applicants, Sachdeva is one of 36 creative writing fellows who received a grant of $25,000.  

The Cathedral of Learning

Dietrich School Excellence in Advising awardees announced

Frayda Cohen and Barbara "Babs" Mowery have been named recipients this year's Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Ampco-Pittsburgh Prize for Excellence in Advising. 

The Dietrich School's annual award recognizes outstanding faculty and staff academic advising of its undergraduate students.

Cohen is the director of undergraduate studies, senior lecturer, and undergraduate advisor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. Mowrey is an advisor in the Dietrich School's Academic Advising Center.

Recipients are nominated by fellow faculty and staff, and nominations are supported by the experiences of undergraduate students.

Paul Palevsky

Medical researcher Palevsky president-elect of National Kidney Foundation Board

Paul M. Palevsky was recently named president-elect of the National Kidney Foundation’s board

Palevsky is a professor of medicine and clinical and translational science in the renal-electrolyte division at the School of Medicine and is chief of the renal section at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

He is internationally recognized as an expert in acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology and has helped lead multiple clinical trials focused on the management of acute dialysis, prevention of acute kidney injury and slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease. He has published more than 250 original articles, reviews and book chapters and has held multiple editorial positions.

Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold

Bioethics researchers elected Fellows to Hastings Center

Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold were recently elected fellows to the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. They are two of 12 newly elected fellows recognized for their outstanding accomplishments informing scholarship and public understanding of complex ethical issues in health, health care, science and technology.

Parker is the Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote Professor of Bioethics at Pitt, where she directs the Center for Bioethics and Health Law. She is also a professor of human genetics in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health.

Arnold is a distinguished service professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and chief of the section of palliative care and medical ethics at Pitt. He also is a member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law where he coordinates the clinical ethics education programs.

Nicole Mitchell plays the flute in a red jacket

Nicole Mitchell named United States Artists Fellow

Pitt Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell has been named a 2020 United States Artists (USA) Fellow — an honor accompanied by a $50,000 cash award to use as she wishes. She is one of 50 national artists across 10 disciplines to win the award this year. 

“I was driving when I got the phone call and became so flustered I had to pull the car over,” Mitchell said with a laugh, recalling the day she received the news.

In making the announcement, USA President and CEO Deanna Haggag said of this year’s fellows: “Each and every one of them stands out as a visionary influence in their respective field.” 

Mitchell took up the position of Jazz Studies director in July 2019. 

She is a member of the We Have Voice Collective, a national group of musicians, performers and scholars who draw attention to inequity in the music industry. 

As far as the USA award, Mitchell is thinking about helping emerging artists.

“I feel really humbled by this and want to use it to make impact,” she said. “My dream would be to use part of it to create a new grant program for artists who are just at the edge of doing great things.”

Ryan McGarry

Med school alum McGarry produces new Netflix original series

The new Netflix documentary series “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” is earning buzz. Fast Company called it “required viewing,” saying it “couldn’t have come at a more crucial time with the recent coronavirus outbreak.”

Ryan McGarry, an emergency medicine doctor, Pitt School of Medicine alumnus and cinematographer, is behind the series as an executive producer. This summer, he invited Pitt Anthropology Chair Bryan Hanks to play a role in setting the stage for the series: The first episode opens at an unmarked grave site near Pittsburgh where an unknown number of bodies are buried — victims of the 1918 pandemic flu. Hanks and a team of Pitt students use ground-penetrating radar to estimate about how many people were buried there. 

McGarry, now a faculty member at Cornell University, said he wanted an excuse to get back to Pittsburgh and feature Pitt experts in this docuseries. Check out the new show on Netflix and learn more about his first big experiment, "Code Black," in Pitt Med magazine.

Aurora Sharrard

Aurora Sharrard to serve on sustainability advisory board

Pitt Sustainability director Aurora Sharrard has been named to a two-year term on the advisory board of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. 

Established in 2005, AASHE has more than 900 members in 20 countries worldwide. The organization’s mission is to inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation.

Max Schuster

Education’s Schuster selected for Emerging Faculty Leader Academy

Max Schuster, a faculty member in the higher education management program at the School of Education, was recently selected for the 2019-20 NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy.

The academy is a one-year program designed for early-career faculty in student affairs and higher education graduate programs. Highly selective in nature, the academy only admits seven faculty each year from higher education institutions around the country.

“Being selected for this academy is really an honor and an awesome opportunity to learn and grow alongside new colleagues, collaborating on new ideas that move student affairs graduate programs forward, as well as generating synergy around new teaching and research projects,” said Schuster.

NASPA, which supports student affairs administrators in higher education, has 15,000 members from 1,200 institutions around the world.

The Emerging Leadership Academy was created to provide a high-impact mentoring opportunity for faculty members who have demonstrated early promise.

Read more here.

Elaine Mormer

Mormer receives American Academy of Audiology Educator Award

Elaine Mormer, vice chair for Clinical Education and associate professor of Audiology, has received an American Academy of Audiology Educator Award. Mormer, who has been teaching in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences since 1986, will receive her award at the at AAA 2020 + HearTECH Expo in April in New Orleans.

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Law signs accelerated admissions agreement with Bloomsburg University

Pitt’s School of Law is once again offering qualified students from Bloomsburg University an Accelerated Law Admissions Program that will save them a full year of tuition and costs.

Pitt and Bloomsburg signed an agreement Jan. 22 that will allow Bloomsburg students who have earned at least 90 credits and have completed all major and general education requirements by the end of their junior year, to apply for law school admission, as if it was their final year of undergraduate study. Pitt Law will assess those students as if they were ordinary applicants, but it will waive the usual requirement to have completed a bachelor’s degree before admission. The student’s first year of law school will double as their senior year of college.

This allows those students to achieve a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years instead of seven. 

Said Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth: “We have had several excellent Bloomsburg graduates as students at Pitt Law and this program will strengthen the terrific pipeline between our two schools. Most importantly, both Bloomsburg and Pitt are eager to find ways to help students reduce their overall debt. By decreasing the number of years a student spends in school, this program will have a significant and meaningful impact.”

Pitt Law already offers its Accelerated Law Admissions Program to students at the University’s Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and its College of Business Administration. The program is also available for students from Washington & Jefferson College and Carlow University.

Hickton in a dark blue blazer and light blue tie

Pitt Cyber launches task force to prevent bias in county’s decision-making Tools

The Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security announced the creation of the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms on Jan. 22. The task force, convened with support from the Heinz Endowments, is a coalition of researchers, educators, community service providers and public and private sector stakeholders that seeks to establish best practices and practical guidelines for the use of municipal decision-making algorithms. The task force is supported by an advisory panel featuring representatives from Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.

The group will use a combination of community outreach meetings and public comments posted on its website to assess county residents’ major concerns with municipal decision-making algorithms. In summer 2021, it will publish a full report of its research and recommendations for best practices for the technology.

“Increasingly, algorithms are being used to facilitate efficient government. We need to ensure that historical discrimination and existing inequities are not reinforced,” said Pitt Cyber Founding Director and Task Force Chair David Hickton (pictured). “Pittsburgh should lead the way in effective and fair oversight of these systems. We can be a national model, ensuring algorithmic accountability and equity for all residents.”

statue thumbnail

Teaching Center honors four with Advancing Educational Excellence Award

The University Center for Teaching and Learning recognized Charline Rowland, teaching consultant; Mark Vehec, web developer; Robin Albright, senior instructional designer; and Tahirah Walker, manager of teaching support, with its 2019 Advancing Educational Excellence award.

The annual honor is a peer-driven award that recognizes teaching center staff members who exemplify the values of the center, demonstrate a positive attitude and commitment to responsibilities, and make above-and-beyond contributions to the University.

Marc Coutanche

Marc Coutanche named rising star by Association for Psychological Science

Marc Coutanche, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been named an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star.

The Rising Star Award is granted to post-Ph.D. psychological research scientists early in their careers for their innovative work influencing their field of study with encouragement for future contributions. 

Coutanche heads the Learning in Neural Systems LeNs Lab at the LRDC. His research focuses on the cross between neuroscience and psychology, specifically learning, memory consolidation, sleep, perception and computer science. He uses cognitive experiments, brain imaging and sleep studies to examine human cognition and the brain.

Jamie Hanson

Jamie Hanson wins American Psychological Foundation Award

Jamie Hanson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Foundation Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award.

The Fantz Award recognizes young researchers in psychology who have accomplished basic scientific research or scholarly writing in perceptual-cognitive development and the development of selective attention, and have investigated and written about the development of individuality, creativity and free-choice of behavior.

Hanson’s research focuses on how children and adolescents learn about their environments, how early life stressors impact their developing brains, and how brain changes can result in negative outcomes. His program consists of working with families, collecting data, connecting with communities and sharing information about brain and behavioral development.

Allison Shertzer

Allison Shertzer awarded grant to study housing market past for better future

Allison Shertzer, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Economics, recently received a three-year, $607,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine the evolution of real estate values and the standard of living in the U.S. over the period of 1880 to 1990.

Shertzer and her team will combine state-of-the-art methods in housing price index construction with newly digitized newspaper archives, with the goal of making important improvements over existing housing price series.

“We can't really understand what is happening in today's housing economy or make predictions for the future, unless we understand how the price of housing moved during booms and busts of the past,” she said. 

Bayles Receives Award for excellence in teaching chemical engineering

Taryn Bales, vice chair for education and professor of Chemical Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has been awarded the James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching Chemical Engineering.

The Pommersheim Award was established by the chemical engineering department and James M. Pommersheim (’70) to recognize faculty in the areas of lecturing, teaching, research methodology, and research mentorship of students. Pommersheim, formerly professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Pitt.

“Taryn excels in every area of Chemical Engineering education. She is not only a leader in our department but also a leader nationally,” said Steven R. Little, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Our students rave about her in her teaching evaluations, but also rave to me about how she is an exceptional mentor and a friend. We are proud to have Taryn as a colleague.” 

Bayles’ research focuses on engineering education, increasing awareness of the engineering field and understanding how to help students succeed once they choose engineering as a major.

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.


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: