Lori McMaster

McMaster named president of Allegheny County Bar Association

Lori McMaster, executive director of Pitt Law's Professional Development Office and Pitt Law alumna (’86), will serve the 111th president of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

McMaster told the Pittsburgh Business Times that she hopes to create opportunities for the organization to work together with Duquesne University School of Law and University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

“This will include creating a structure that will allow more pro bono opportunities to be extended to law students at both schools as part of a partnership with the ACBA, Duquesne Law and Pitt Law,” she said. “As someone who works in legal education, I also hope to highlight initiatives and issues of importance to law students, legal education, newly admitted attorneys and practitioners who are engaged in succession planning.”

Bill Hillgrove with headset

Hillgrove honored with Voice of College Sports Award

Bill Hillgrove, the longtime radio play-by-play announcer for Pitt football and basketball, was honored in June with the Woody Durham Voice of College Sports Award by a vote of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).

Sponsored by Learfield IMG College and the University of North Carolina athletics department, the award was presented during the 60th NSMA awards banquet in Winston-Salem, N.C.

NSMA member play-by-play announcers, as well as representatives of the two sponsoring organizations vote for the award.

Hillgrove is a Pittsburgh native and Duquesne University graduate, who began his Pitt broadcast duties in 1969, doing only Panther road games. The next season, he became the full-time color commentator, alongside play-by-play announcer Ed Conway. When Conway died in 1974, Hillgrove took over as the play-by-play announcer, a job he has held ever since.

The 2019 season will mark his 46th broadcasting Pitt football. The upcoming Pitt basketball season will be his 51st.

Larry Cunningham Jr. portrait

Cunningham named as chair and associate dean at Pitt Dental

Larry Cunningham Jr. was recently named the next chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery and associate dean for hospital affairs at the School of Dental Medicine and UPMC. He also will serve as interim program director for the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency program.

Cunningham, a native of Texas, comes to Pitt after an 18-year career at the University of Kentucky, where he served as professor and chief of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

“Pitt Dental Medicine is exceptionally fortunate to recruit someone of his caliber, ethics and commitment,” said Dean Bernard J. Costello. “Dr. Cunningham is well known for his loyalty, problem-solving capabilities, passion for education and masterful clinical skills.”

Cunningham received his doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Texas at San Antonio and then obtained his MD and residency certification in oral and maxillofacial surgery from the training program at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas.

For more details, go to @Pitt.

Meyer in a black and white blouse in front of a Pitt seal

Susan Meyer receives Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award

Susan Meyer, associate dean for education and professor in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, recently received the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award. The award recognizes an individual’s excellence in teaching, scholarship and service in pharmacy education.

At Pitt, Meyer is director of the Interprofessional Center for Health Careers and co-director of the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. Her work in the School of Pharmacy focuses on curricular and institutional quality improvement, instructional design and assessment, faculty development and interprofessional health professions education.

two people walking in front of the sun

Three with ties to English department receive Investing in Professional Artists grants

Three affiliates of the Department of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences have been awarded funds from the Investing in Professional Artists Grant, a shared program of the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments.

The foundations recognized 15 local artists and organizations and selected the grantees based on “not only the quality of their work, but also on the potential of their proposals to advance their careers.”

The three Pitt affiliates and their projects are:

Cameron Barnett (A&S, ’16G), faculty of the Falk Laboratory School, received a grant of $8,500 to “support a second full-length book of poetry centered on the historical and racial roots of the artist’s heritage in the U.S. and Canada, and the histories of slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.” Barnett earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in poetry from Pitt in 2016.

Adriana Ramirez (A&S, ’09G) received a grant of $10,000 to “complete research and manuscript for a book on the history of violence in the Americas, from Pittsburgh to Colombia and back, blending family and oral histories with larger national narratives.” Ramirez earned her MFA degree in creative nonfiction writing from Pitt in 2009.

Anjali Sachdeva, lecturer in the Composition Program and Writing Program, received a grant of $10,000 to “support development of a novel set in a near-future world where people are segregated by gender.”

Two professors get NSF grant to study how machines process visual information

Ryad Benosman, professor of ophthalmology at the Pitt School of Medicine who holds appointments in electrical engineering and bioengineering, and Feng Xiong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, received $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to conduct research on better, more efficient way for machines to process visual information..

The Pitt research will develop a neuromorphic vision system that takes a new approach to capturing visual information that is based on the human brain, benefitting everything from self-driving vehicles to neural prosthetics.

“We believe this work will lead to transformative advances in bio-inspired neuromorphic processing architectures, sensing, with major applications in self-driving vehicles, neural prosthetics, robotics and general artificial intelligence,” Benosman said. 

The grant will begin July 1 and is expected to last until June 30, 2022.


Liebschutz to partner on major opioid research in Appalachia

The Pitt Division of General Internal Medicine has received a $5.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to facilitate opioid research in Appalachia, according to a news release from Pitt Health Sciences.  

Jane Liebschutz, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Pitt, in partnership with Judith Feinberg of West Virginia University and Sarah Kawasaki of Penn State, will establish the Appalachian Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network to conduct opioid-related research in the region over the next five years. Emphasis will be placed on reaching rural and other underserved populations. 

“Historical and cultural factors have caused Appalachia to experience the negative consequences of the opioid epidemic at a disproportionally high rate, including overdoses, neonatal abstinence syndrome and death,” Liebschutz said in the news release. “Oftentimes, research does not include data from rural populations, meaning that the findings don’t always apply in the same way they would to an urban population. This grant will help to ensure that we are addressing the opioid epidemic in a way that truly helps those who are most impacted.” 

The team will use its funding to work with individual clinical practices throughout Appalachia to enroll patients in national studies related to opioid use and treatment.


Pitt grad Margliotti named to new UCIS position

Garrett Margliotti, who graduated from the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences in 2017 and earned a graduate degree from the School of Education in 2012, has joined Pitt’s University Center for International Studies as the director of global partnerships and partner engagement.

In the newly created role, Margliotti will work with Ariel C. Armony, vice provost for global affairs, and Belkys Torres, executive director of global engagement, to create and implement a strategic plan for the University’s transformative partnerships around the world. He comes to Pitt from Northeastern University.

The University currently has 235 international research and exchange agreements with institutions in 73 countries. Find more information here.

Hall in a black top in a lab

Martica Hall receives outstanding educator award

Martica Hall, professor of psychiatry, psychology, and clinical and translational science, recently received the Sleep Research Society Mary A. Carskadon Outstanding Educator Award for excellence in education related to sleep and circadian research. The award honors outstanding educational contributions to disseminating the knowledge base, research methods and health and safety significance of the field.

Hall’s research explores the effect of sleep on behavioral and physical health, and she has published more than 175 peer-reviewed articles on topics in this area. Her current research pertains to sleep, circadian rhythms and cardiometabolic risk in retired shift workers.

Hall received the award at SLEEP 2019, the annual meeting of the Sleep Research Society.

Stephen D. Meriney

Stephen Meriney receives grant for neuromuscular disease research

Pitt’s Stephen D. Meriney has received one of 26 Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) grants for rare neuromuscular disease research.

Meriney, a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry, focuses on studying the mechanisms that control peripheral nervous system plasticity, including mechanisms that underlie neuromuscular diseases. The MDA awarded him more than $300,000 in critical funding to support the development of a new therapeutic approach for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  This novel therapy is based on a new small molecule that was developed in a collaboration between the Meriney lab and Professor Peter Wipf from the Department of Chemistry. 

Meriney’s lab focuses on regulating and modulating presynaptic ion channels — essentially looking at how one neuron “talks” to another by releasing neurotransmitters across both healthy and diseased synapses. He will use the grant to address current gaps in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that destroys motor neurons which control essential voluntary muscle movements such as speaking, walking and swallowing.  

Gill-Peterson in a red coat and white sweater

Gill-Peterson wins Lambda Literary Award in transgender nonfiction

Julian Gill-Peterson, an assistant professor in the Department of English, received top honors in the category of Transgender Nonfiction during the 31st Annual Lambda Literacy Awards in June. The awards, known as the “Lammys,” recognize the year’s best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature. Gill-Peterson was nominated for their book, “Histories of the Transgender Child.” Gill-Peterson is also a member of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program steering committee at Pitt.

Oscar E. Swan

Oscar E. Swan receives award from president of Poland

Oscar E. Swan, professor in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and advisor for the Polish minor, was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Republic of Poland.

The award comes after Swan published the translated memoir of a Warsaw ghetto survivor, titled “Rescued from the Ashes.” The award is given to “foreigners and Polish citizens permanently living abroad… [who have made] outstanding contributions to international cooperation and to bonds between the Republic of Poland and other nations and countries.”

The memoir, translated by Swan from Polish to English, recounts Leokadia Schmidt’s traumatic experiences evading the Nazis with her husband and 5-month-old son, and eventually hiding in a tinsmith’s shed in the “Aryan side” of Warsaw.

Swan received the prestigious award, presented by the Polish ambassador to the United States, in May.

Delitto in a light shirt and red tie

SHRS Dean Delitto appointed member of national advisory council

Anthony Delitto, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, was recently appointed as a member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health.

The council is responsible for advising, consulting with and making recommendations to the director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health on matters relating to the research activities and functions of the center.

Delitto treats people with painful musculoskeletal disorders, and his current research is focused on implementing classification and treatment effectiveness studies into quality improvement initiatives. He is also conducting trials in exercise interventions for people with Parkinson's disease.

Kumta in a suit and tie

New Pitt partnership expands research into rechargeable battery systems

The Next-Generation Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies Lab at the Pitt’s Energy Innovation Center recently announced a new energy research partnership with Malvern Panalytical that will enable the lab to see the chemistry of what is happening inside a battery while it is in use.

The lab, headed by Prashant N. Kumta, focuses on energy conversion and storage, including rechargeable battery systems. Malvern Panalytical’s Empyrean X-ray Platform, a multipurpose diffractometer, will be used in the lab to identify solid-state materials by determining their internal structure, composition and phase while they are in use.

Blain smiling

History Professor Keisha N. Blain wins book prize

Keisha N. Blain, associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded the annual Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize for her recent publication “Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom.”

The book, which “[draws] on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs and poetry,” tells the stories of Black women nationalists in the 20th century. The book prize is given annually for “a first book that deals substantially with the history of women, gender and/or sexuality.”

According to a statement, the selection committee said, “Featuring an impressive archive and transnational in scope, every single chapter in this book offers serious interventions, contributions, and reinterpretations of familiar historical narratives.”

Blain also won the 2019 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians for the same publication.

Runyan in a dark blouse with flowery spots

Caroline Runyan named Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Caroline Runyan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has been named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The program provides funding to promising young investigators advancing human health who are in their first few years of their appointment at the assistant professor level.

Runyan, who arrived at Pitt in 2017, was one of 22 early career researchers named to the 2019 class of scholars by leading U.S. academic and research institutions. The award comes with four years of flexible funding to invest in exploratory research.

Her research focus is on the brain’s ability to flexibly control perception and behavior in different situations — specifically, she images and manipulates cells and circuits to learn how the brain is able to shift gears quickly, as well as how it processes different types of sensory information depending on behavioral context.

The Pew funding is helping the lab image activity both within and between brain regions, “so we can start to get a sense of how the brain is able to filter out irrelevant information, or amplify important information. We’re developing methods to study the local circuit mechanisms that control how two brain regions interact to transmit information.”

This will all hopefully enable new, systems-level approaches to understanding brain disorders with altered network communication, such as autism and schizophrenia, Runyan said.

Two from anesthesiology named as top Pa. physicians under 40

Trent D. Emerick (pictured), assistant professor, and Alex M. Dressler, pain medicine fellow, both in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, will be named to the 2019 Pennsylvania Medical Society Top Physicians Under 40. This recognition spotlights talented early career physicians in the state who are performing at a high level. Winners are nominated by colleagues and selected by a committee of physician members.


Sakai to head transplant anesthesia society

Tetsuro Sakai, director of scholarly development in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and faculty member in the Clinical Translational Science Institute and McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, was selected as president-elect for the Society for the Advancement of Transplant Anesthesia for a two-year term (2019-2021). SATA is a professional association serving the needs of anesthesiologists and critical care specialists involved in the practice of transplantation medicine and surgery.

Shear in front of a green chalkboard

Chair of religious studies receives grant from American Academy for Jewish Research

Adam Shear, associate professor of history and associate professor and chair of religious studies, is part of a team of scholars who received a special initiatives grant from the American Academy for Jewish Research. The grant will help fund a training workshop and series of webinars that will teach a growing number of students and early career scholars how to read early modern Hebrew handwriting.

“Most paleography training is for medieval handwriting but we are interested in the handwriting of people who were writing in their printed books after the invention of print,” Shear said.

Shear, who studies medieval and early modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, says the workshop is still in planning phase.

The yearlong training course will begin with a three-day intensive workshop in New York tentatively scheduled for January 2020. Follow up webinars through spring, summer and fall 2020 will reinforce and expand upon lessons. The training is part of the larger Footprints project, a research project and database that tracks the movement of Jewish books since the inception of print. 

Rogers in a red blouse

Renee J. Rogers inducted as fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine

Renee J. Rogers (EDUC ’09G, ’12G), assistant professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity in the School of Education, was inducted as a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) at their conference in May. The fellowship “recognizes individuals who exhibit a deep and ongoing interest and dedication to the goals and long-range activities of the ACSM.”

Rogers’ work includes research on the health benefits of physical activity, with an emphasis on research into practice.

Rogers, who is also the programming director of Pitt’s Healthy Lifestyle Institute, also recently appeared in Good Housekeeping magazine for her expertise on weight loss and exercise physiology.