Barcic elected officer of the American Society for Engineering Education board

Maureen Barcic, director of the Cooperative Education Program at the Swanson School of Engineering, is one of eight officers elected to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Board of Directors. She will serve a three-year term which begins at the end of the ASEE annual meeting June 15 to 19 in Tampa, Fla.

Barcic will chair the Professional Interest Council V, which consists of three ASEE divisions: Continuing Professional Development, College and Industry Partnership, and Cooperative and Experiential Education. 

Barcic has been a member of ASEE since 1991 and was elected as a fellow in 2013. Her main involvement is with the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division of ASEE, which focuses on the improvement and promotion of experiential learning through cooperative education, internships, and other quality work integrated learning programs.

See more details here.

Falk staff honored at Medical Library Association meeting

Several Falk Library of the Health Science staff were honored at the Medical Library Association meeting last month.

  • Michele Klein-Fedyshin, research and clinical instruction librarian, was named a fellow of the Medical Library Association. Fellows are elected by the board of directors in recognition of sustained and outstanding contributions to health sciences librarianship and to the advancement of the purposes of MLA.

  • Barbara Epstein, director of the Falk Library, and Melissa Ratajeski, coordinator of data services, were recognized for completing their term as immediate past president and Chapter Council chair, respectively.

  • Elaina Vitale, academic and data services coordinator, was selected for the 2019-20 cohort of the MLA Rising Star program, which gives members the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge needed to become a leader in MLA.

  • Carrie Iwema, coordinator of basic science services, was recognized for serving on the MLA Educational Steering Committee, which received the 2019 President’s Award.

Mpourmpakis selected for Young Scientists Award

Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected to receive the Bodossaki Foundation Distinguished Young Scientists Award in Chemistry.

The Distinguished Young Scientists Award honors the most outstanding scientists of Greek descent under the age of 40 and is given once every two years. The award will be presented at a ceremony on June 19 in Athens, Greece, where Mpourmpakis will be honored by the Greek president. It also includes a prize of 20,000 euros ($22.447). 

Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (CANELa) uses theory and computation to investigate the physiochemical properties of nanomaterials with potential applications in diverse nanotechnology areas, ranging from green energy generation and storage to materials engineering and catalysis.


Kinloch in a yellow top

Valerie Kinloch elected vice president of National Council of Teachers of English

Valerie Kinloch, dean of the School of Education, has been elected vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

According to its website, the NCTE “amplifies the voice of educators through personal connection, collaboration and a shared mission to improve the teaching and learning of English and language arts at all levels.”

“It is my honor to have been elected as NCTE’s next vice president,” said Kinloch. “Being a member of NCTE for more than 20 years has allowed me to partner with, learn from and be inspired by dedicated educators from around the world who have an unwavering commitment to language and literacy teaching, learning, practice and research.”

Kinloch will take office during NCTE’s annual convention in Baltimore this November.

Michael Pinsky

Critical care medicine professor Michael Pinsky becomes society fellow

Michael Pinsky, professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, has been elevated to the rank of APS Fellow by the American Physiological Society

The fellowship is an honor bestowed on senior scientists who have “demonstrated excellence in science, have made significant contributions to the physiological sciences and served the society.”

Pinsky has been a society member since 1984. During his professional career, he has edited 27 medical textbooks, authored over 350 peer-reviewed publications and over 250 chapters and supported over 400 abstract presentations. He is also the editor-in-chief of Medscape’s critical care medicine section.

head shots of each woman

Researchers to study effects of anti-corrosion treatments on lead pipes

Two Pitt researchers recently received a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research grant for $175,000 to study the environmental effects of new anti-corrosion treatments currently being used on Pittsburgh’s lead pipes.

Sarah Haig, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering with a secondary appointment in environmental and occupational health at the Graduate School of Public Health, and Emily Elliott, associate professor of geology and environmental science in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory, will evaluate water samples provided by the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority.

They will assess and monitor changes in the microbial ecology, water chemistry and nutrient availability in the water collected from pipes and urban streams connected to the system.

Jakicic in a suit and tie

John Jakicic wins Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine

John Jakicic, chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity in the School of Education received the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Citation Award — one of the most prestigious honors given by the organization.

The award recognizes individuals who have made “significant and important contributions to the fields of sports medicine and/or exercise science.” According to its website, ACSM is made up of more than 50,000 members and certified professionals, and “is the authority for sports medicine and exercise science.”

Jakicic, who is also the founding director of Pitt’s new Healthy Lifestyle Institute, accepted his award at an Orlando conference in late May.

Rutenbar in a blue coat, blue and white striped shirt and red tie

Rob Rutenbar serves on White House Academic Roundtable

Rob Rutenbar, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for research, was recently in Washington, D.C., as part of the White House Academic Roundtable on Innovation in Quantum Information Science.

Rutenbar, along with other U.S. academic leaders and scientists, discussed ideas with federal agency representatives and government officials on ways research institutions can encourage and integrate innovation ecosystems. The goal is to promote quantum information sciences for researchers and students — a field that involves both computational and physics research. 

“Pitt has been aggressively working on quantum science and technology for several years,” Rutenbar said. “Our Pittsburgh Quantum Institute includes nearly 100 quantum faculty from universities across the region, working on topics ranging from fundamental physics to computer science, all focused on advancing the field to practical applications in computing, communication and sensing.”

Rosenstock named interim associate dean for Medical Education

Dr. Jason Rosenstock, associate professor of Psychiatry, has been named interim associate dean for Medical Education at the Pitt School of Medicine.

Rosenstock currently is director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Psychiatry and chair of the Curriculum Committee at the School of Medicine.

In his new role, Rosenstock will oversee the quality of teaching in courses and clerkships for each year of medical school. This includes overseeing instructional support, academic development, facilities management, evaluation/feedback, student assessment, educational technology, faculty development and program evaluation.

Hornyak in a pink top

Victoria Hornyak recognized as 2019 Geriatrics Teacher of the Year

Victoria Hornyak, assistant professor of physical therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently received the 2019 Geriatrics Teacher of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Geriatrics Society — Western Division.

Hornyak is recognized for her work at Pitt, which includes coordinating and serving as the primary instructor for courses related to patient management and geriatrics in Pitt’s Department of Physical Therapy program. She also serves as the faculty mentor for the students’ Geriatrics Special Interest Group and is an SHRS representative for Pitt’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

Her research addresses advancing dementia care competency and preparedness across disciplines through a grant as part of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program. The project’s goal is to adapt existing communication skills programs to better interact with patients who have dementia.

Chrysanthis in a suit and tie in front of a red curtain

Panos Chrysanthis of SCI receives alumni honor from alma mater

Panos Chrysanthis, a professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Information, has been recognized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Science for Outstanding Achievements in Education. He and seven other alumni of the school were honored in April for achievements in education, entrepreneurship, research and management as well as computing for the common good and outstanding achievements by a young alumnus.

At Pitt, Chrysanthis is founding director of the Advanced Data Management Technologies Lab. He has received seven teaching awards and, in 2015, was given the Pitt Provost Award for Excellence in Mentoring for doctoral students.

Bradford, Titusville nursing programs get high ranking

The nursing programs at Pitt–Bradford and Pitt–Titusville have been ranked fifth and seventh in the state among associate degree programs by the RN Careers website.

For its fourth annual rankings, RN Careers looked at 1,949 nursing programs nationwide and ranked them on metrics such as first-time NCLEX-RN passing rates, accreditation and more. The NCLEX-RN is the certifying exam for registered nurses. In Pennsylvania, it ranked the 24 colleges that offer an associate degree program.

Rankings also were based on the three-year average of NCLEX-RN pass rates. Pitt–Bradford had the highest average pass rate at 92.37 percent, while Titusville’s was 91.9 percent. The state average was 85.2 percent. 

In addition to examining information from the institutions, programs and testing data, RN Careers surveyed more than 9,000 nurses and gathered data from the state nursing board, U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The site also included information on the net cost of programs (after financial aid has been awarded) loan default rates, borrowing and loan payments.

For full rankings, visit


John Kozar

John Kozar named Workplace Wellness Champion

John Kozar, assistant vice chancellor of University Benefits, was recently named a Pittsburgh Business Times Workplace Wellness Champion.

The new award honors Pittsburgh leaders who are working to advance the physical, mental and fiscal health of their employees and their families. Kozar and other wellness champions will be honored at a luncheon at the Westin Convention Center Hotel on Thursday, May 23.

Kozar told the Pittsburgh Business Times that when he began his career at Pitt more than 15 years ago, he set out to develop health and wellness programs, with a goal of changing the culture around wellness at the University.

“It’s about doing the right thing, creating awareness, trying to reach faculty, staff and students in as many ways as we can,” said Kozar. 

In his role in the Office of Human Resources, Kozar oversees the benefits department and negotiates all contracts and agreements, as well as develops costs and any changes in plan designs. He provides oversight of the on-site MyHealth@Work Center health and wellness center for faculty and staff. Additionally, he serves as a liaison for the University Senate’s benefits and welfare committee.

Banerjee in a black top

Ipsita Banerjee wins Swanson School Faculty Diversity Award

Ipsita Banerjee, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, is the recipient of the school’s 2019 Faculty Diversity Award. 

“It would be an understatement to say that Ipsita earnestly strives each year to improve the academic environment fostering the success of under-represented minority students at the graduate, undergraduate and high school levels,” says Steven Little, department chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School.

The award committee citedBanerjee’s accomplishments as:

  • Commitment to community engagement through active participation in INVESTING NOW program, as well as collaboration the Carnegie Science Center and REU programs.

  • Leadership and mentorship for women in STEM, through participation in the Women in STEM Conferences and AlChE Women’s Initiative Committee.

  • Recognized excellence in mentorship, including the 2016 Summer Research Internship Faculty Mentor Award by PITT EXCEL program.

  • Service to the Swanson School in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students through various internal and external programs.

Read more at the Swanson School’s website.

Gaskew in front of a brick wall

Pitt–Bradford’s Tony Gaskew appointed to NCAA committee

Tony Gaskew, professor of criminal justice at the Pitt–Bradford, has been appointed to a three-year term on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, effective September 2019.

The 18-member committee is responsible for reviewing issues and promoting NCAA programs and policies related to student athletes, coaches and administrators who are ethnic minorities, LGBTQ or who have disabilities. It was established in 1991 to foster racial equality and diversity in collegiate athletics.

Gaskew also is director of the criminal justice program and founding director of the Prison Education Program at Pitt–Bradford. He is the senior faculty advisor to the Pitt–Bradford Office of the President in the area of athletics.

He is a graduate of the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Fellows Institute, and since 2016, Gaskew has served as the campus’ faculty athletics representative to the NCAA. As such, he oversees its institutional responsibilities in the NCAA’s three broad areas of academic integrity — academic reform initiatives, institutional control and student-athlete well-being.

students sitting on a gazebo railing

Two Pitt campuses recognized as military friendly schools

Pitt’s Oakland campus has been honored as a 2019-2020 Military Friendly Top 10 School, as recognized by Viqtory Media. This the eighth year in a row that the Oakland campus has received this honor.

Military-affiliated students at Pitt are supported by the Office of Veterans Services, PITT VETS and other entities across campus. Viqtory Media’s “Military Friendly” designation aims to measure and assess and organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.

Pitt-Bradford was also recognized as a Military Friendly School by Viqtory Media this year, for the 10th time.

Dickerson in a blue Pitt fleece

Sam Dickerson named 2019 Outstanding Educator in engineering

The Swanson School of Engineering has presented Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the computer engineering undergraduate program, with this year’s Outstanding Educator Award. This competitive award recognizes his excellence in teaching and innovative work in developing and improving the department’s undergraduate program.

The award includes a $2,000 grant to further enhance the recipient’s teaching.

Dickerson joined the Swanson School as assistant professor in 2015 after completing his Ph.D., masters and bachelors degrees in electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. In addition to teaching, Dickerson plays an influential role in the development and improvement of curricula in the school. Read more at the Swanson School’s website.

Tenecia Ross

Human Resources’ Tenecia Ross named to New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40

Tenecia Ross, director of employee and labor relations in the Office of Human Resources, has been named one of New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 Class of 2019 honorees.

Fab 40 recognizes African-Americans under the age of 40 who make a positive difference in the Pittsburgh area through their fields of expertise. Ross’ responsibilities include interpreting and applying provisions of collective bargaining agreements regarding leaves, discipline, job postings, wage and benefits changes and other employee relations matters. She also counsels managers and represented employees regarding contract issues, benefits and policies and procedures.

“I am proud of my accomplishments at the University of Pittsburgh and I’m thankful to be recognized by the New Pittsburgh Courier. It is an honor to be named with such an impressive list of co-recipients,” said Ross.

In addition to this honor, Ross joined the board of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), Pittsburgh chapter, in January, and serves as vice president of programming and professional development. NAAAHR-Pittsburgh aims to transform and expand the Pittsburgh HR community of minorities through innovation and HR strategy.

Runyan in a black speckled blouse

Neuroscience’s Caroline Runyan wins Searle Scholar award

Caroline Runyan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has been named a 2019 Searle Scholar. She is one of 15 young scientists selected for recognition this year.

The Searle Scholars Program awards grants to support the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences or chemistry who are in their first tenure-track position. An advisory board of eminent scientists chooses the scholars based on rigorous standards designed to find the most creative talent pursuing academic research careers. The recognition comes with an award of $300,000 in flexible funding to support work over the next three years.

Runyan’s research at Pitt focuses on sensation and how the meaning of sensory stimuli can change in different contexts to enable survival. The goal of her research is “to understand the circuit mechanisms that control the flow of information between brain regions. How do networks filter out irrelevant information? How does incoming sensory information interact with the animal’s internal brain state?” she said.

panther statue on a sunny day

Lab safety program wins national recognition

The Department of Chemistry and Department of Environmental Health and Safety have won the American Chemical Society 2019 SafetyStratus College and University Health and Safety Award for Pitt’s “outstanding comprehensive laboratory safety program in higher education (undergraduate study).”

Environmental Health and Safety director Jay Frerotte credited chemistry faculty member Ericka Huston’s successful Safety in the Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM1010) course, developed with input from EHS staff led by environmental manager Keith Duval, as key to the award.

Awards committee chair Kimi Brown, a senior lab safety specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, called Pitt’s approach to chemical safety education a model for other institutions.  

“Dr. Huston is passionate about ensuring that all Pitt chemistry students are educated in the philosophy of risk assessment and control, regardless of whether they participate in her CHEM1010 course,” Brown said. “To that end, she has added more engaging and informative safety content to both the undergraduate teaching lab curriculum and to the graduate student research-safety training. Furthermore, those students who do enroll in CHEM1010 are given a unique opportunity to develop important leadership skills and deepen their understanding of how safety integrates with science.” 

In addition to a plaque, the award includes $1,000 for expenses to present at the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Diego in August.