Accolades

Susan Whitney in a black top

Susan Whitney provides health recommendations to Department of State

Susan Whitney, professor of physical therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recently provided recommendations to the U.S. Department of State.  She presented her expertise on vestibular disorders and concussions to the Standing Committee to Advise the U.S. Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and their Families at Overseas Embassies.

Whitney provided guidelines and best practices on treating current patients/government workers and potential patients if this should happen again. This committee will be writing recommendations on how to deal with possible future incidents. The goal is to not have to pull workers from their positions in other countries if there are more episodes. 

Carli Liguori

Carli Liguori named finalist for American Society for Nutrition Translation Award

Carli Liguori, a visiting instructor in the School of Education, has been named a finalist in the American Society for Nutrition Translation Award Program.

The award recognizes “outstanding early-career scientists and clinicians interested in translating their research to a defined audience to improve public health and/or health outcomes.”

Liguori was one of four finalists chosen from a pool of 70 applicants for the award. In particular, Liguori, along with fellow School of Education faculty members in the Department of Health and Human Development, John Jakicic and Renee J. Rogers, were recognized for their study, “Changes in Dietary Intake with Varying Doses of Physical Activity within a Weight Loss Intervention: The Heart Health Study.”

In the study they found that following a calorie-restricted diet resulted in roughly the same amount of weight loss, about 20 pounds, regardless of a person’s level of physical activity. The team also saw that participants’ level of physical activity did not affect their ability to keep their calorie and fat consumption within bounds.

The team was honored at a virtual event held by the American Society for Nutrition in June 2020.

Richard Garland, left, in a gray hat and shirt, and David Harris in a black suit and red tie

Two Pitt professors named to Pittsburgh Task Force on Police Reform

Seeking to make “people-oriented solutions that make Pittsburgh a better place for all,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has convened a Pittsburgh Community Task Force on Police Reform, and two Pitt professors are among its members.

David Harris, professor of Law, and Richard Garland, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, join 15 others on the team. They range from CCAC President Quintin Bullock to various community leaders, foundation heads and neighborhood advocates, some of whom have been organizing recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Their goal is to review current police practices as well as police-community relations and deliver recommendations to the mayor by this fall.

“We need to focus on change that will give all people in Pittsburgh the kind of public safety they want so that everyone will feel safe,” said Harris, a national expert on policing and racial profiling.

Garland said he hopes to bring to the task force his years of experience working in communities that experience violence.

“I’m not going to be someone who rubber stamps something that is put on the shelf to collect dust,” he said. “I will push for immediate change and steps to assure the community is represented.”

Both men said what is needed is a total commitment from the mayor and City Council to make sure the recommended changes actually take place.

Five researchers win Pa. Community and Economic Development grants

Five researchers at the Swanson School of Engineering have received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development through the Manufacturing PA initiative. The department has approved more than $2.8 million in grants to 43 projects that will “spur new technologies and processes in the manufacturing sector,” according to their press release.

“As engineers, we are applied scientists, and our singular goal in performing research is to produce public impact,” said David Vorp, associate dean for research and John A. Swanson Professor of bioengineering. “I am proud that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania saw the potential of these projects by our Swanson School faculty and their industrial partners to have benefit to their citizens.” 

The five researchers to receive funding at the Swanson School are:

  • Kevin Chen, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for Femtosecond Laser Manufacturing of 3D Photonics Components in Nonlinear Optical Substrates for Electro-Optic Applications

  • Markus Chmielus, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Improving 3D Binder Jet Printed Tungsten-Carbide Parts via Strategies to Increase Green Density and Strength

  • Jung-Kun Lee, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Smart Crucible: Monitoring Damage of Crucibles by Embedded Electric Resistance Sensor

  • Albert To, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for A Computational Tool for Simulating the Sintering Behavior in Binder Jet Additive Manufacturing

  • Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for Pushing the Boundaries of Ceramic Additive Manufacturing (CAM) with Visible light initiated Polymerization (ViP)

Giannis “Yanni” Mpourmpakis in a black suit and white shirt

Giannis Mpourmpakis paper published in ACS Catalysis, featured on cover

New research from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Catalysis and Catalytic Processes (Department of Energy) at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, advances the field of computational catalysis by paving the way for the simulation of realistic catalysts under reaction conditions. The paper was published in ACS Catalysis and featured on the cover of the print edition.

Computational catalysis, a field that simulates and accelerates the discovery of catalysts for chemical production, has largely been limited to simulations of idealized catalyst structures that do not necessarily represent structures under realistic reaction conditions. 

The paper was authored by Raffaele Cheula, Ph.D. student in the Maestri group; Matteo Maestri, full professor of chemical engineering at Politecnico di Milano; and Giannis “Yanni” Mpourmpakis (pictured), Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow and associate professor of chemical engineering at Pitt.

Janey Freburger and Sara Piva in black and white shirts, respectively

SHRS professors named fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association

Two professors in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recently earned a prestigious honor in physical therapy.

Janet Freburger, professor, and Sara Piva, associate professor, have been named Catherine Worthingham Fellows of the American Physical Therapy Association, the highest honor among APTA’s membership categories. To be eligible, individuals must have advanced the physical therapy profession through frequent and sustained efforts for a period of no less than 15 years. They also must have demonstrated excellence in one primary domain, such as advocacy, education, practice or research, and made significant contributions, achievements or leadership to at least two other domains.

Freburger and Piva become the 9th and 10th current and former Department of Physical Therapy faculty members, respectively, to receive designations as Catherine Worthingham Fellows.

Frances Mary D'Andrea in a black and red top

D’Andrea provides national guidance on Braille code changes

Frances Mary “FM” D’Andrea, assistant professor of practice in the Vision Studies program in the School of Education, is working to ensure a smooth transition with the Braille standards in the United States by publishing a policy brief “Considerations for States Providing Materials in Braille,” which recently appeared in the National Center for Educational Outcomes.

The country’s Braille community is adjusting to major changes in the Braille code, with the old code, English Braille American Edition being phased out, to Unified English Braille (UEB).

D’Andrea is also the chair of the UEB committee for the Braille Authority of North America and has been a board member for more than 20 years. 

To ensure that future educators stay cutting-edge, the new Braille code standards are being taught in the Vision Studies programs at the School of Education. The school offers certifications in Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Graduates of the programs have a 100% placement rate and are employed all over the country.

Read more about D’Andrea’s policy brief and the Braille changes.

James McKone in a black suit

James McKone selected as a 2020 Beckman Young Investigator

James McKone, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was selected as a Beckman Young Investigator by the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation for his work recycling carbon dioxide into useful fuels and chemicals. 

He received funding from the program to develop new catalysts and chemical reactors that can recycle carbon dioxide and other chemical wastes back into useful fuels and raw materials.

“We ultimately want to build a circular chemical economy — a sustainable approach to chemical manufacturing where every molecule that comes out of a smokestack or a tailpipe is captured and reused hundreds or thousands of times instead of being discarded as waste,”McKone said.

The Beckman Young Investigator program provides research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences. It challenges researchers to pursue innovative and high-risk projects that seek to make significant scientific advancements and open up new avenues of research in science.

Stein in a blue suit, white shirt and green tie

Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence donating printers to Pittsburgh businesses

In an effort to help small businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions, Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence recently coordinated a program to donate office printers to Pittsburgh businesses. Last week, the institute was able to begin distribution to more than 160 small businesses at a curbside pickup event at the Pitt Mailing Services building in Homewood. 

“Right now, it’s important to get these underserved and impacted businesses the help they need to maintain operations and grow during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bob Stein (pictured), executive director of the institute. “These printers will help small business owners work from home or at the office. The IEE is committed to helping Pittsburgh-area businesses during these trying times.”

The effort is being coordinated with Pitt's purchasing department and Pitt Mailing Services. It’s also being coordinated through a partnership with HP and University-wide contracted suppliers Supra Office Solutions and Office Depot.

Jeane Doperak in a light blue shirt

Pitt, UPMC team creates ‘playbook’ for return of youth athletics

A multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers at Pitt and UPMC has developed guidelines to assist coaches, athletic trainers and organizers with creating a safe environment for youth athletes, fans and staff as they consider a return to play.

The UPMC Youth Sports Playbook contains recommendations for establishing a minimal set of standards in several categories for resuming athletic programs, including pre-participation physicals, social distancing, equipment sanitization, personal protective equipment, acclimation phases, practice and competition tactics and illness protocols.

Among the people involved with the creation of the playbook are Jeane Doperak (pictured), assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and program director for the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship; and MaCalus V. Hogan, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and vice chairman of education and residency program director.

Pharmacy associate dean named to AMA advisory committee

School of Pharmacy Associate Dean Melissa A. McGivney has been appointed to the American Medical Association Health Care Professional Advisory Committee as an alternative advisor representing the Pharmacy Health Information Technology Collaborative.

McGivney is only the third pharmacist to serve on the committee, which advises the AMA’s Current Procedural Terminology Editorial Panel. The panel is responsible for revising, updating and modifying codes utilized in medical billing across the United States. McGivney will serve through June 2022.

Physical therapy faculty members to lead LeaRRn program

Physical Therapy Professor Janet Freburger and Assistant Professor Joel Stevans will help create and lead the Learning Health Systems Rehabilitation Research Network (LeaRRn), a national resource network to advance rehabilitation learning health systems research.

LeaRRn, a a collaborative effort of Pitt, Brown University and Boston University, will be funded through a $5.5 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

LeaRRn plans to transform the delivery, quality and outcomes of rehabilitation care by creating a Learning Health System Innovation Hub that partners researchers with health care systems and engages stakeholders, including patients, providers, administrators, payers and policymakers to develop rehabilitation-focused LHS research questions. It also will provide funding and methodological/technical support for LHS scholars and pilot study awardees to transform research ideas into full-scale studies conducted in real-world practice.

Freburger will direct the LHS Innovation Hub and will lead the Collaborative Opportunities Component of LeaRRn jointly with Rosa Baier from Brown University School of Public Health. Stevans, will lead the Techniques Development Component of LeaRRn. 

Rose Constantino receives Nursing Hall of Fame Award

Rose Constantino, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, is one of three people this year to receive the American Nursing Association’s Hall of Fame Award.

The award recognizes individual’s commitment to the nursing field and their impact on the health and social history of the United States.

In announcing the award, the association said, “Dr. Rose Constantino is an outstanding teacher and a powerful role model. She has engaged in local, state, national and international nursing organizations and other health-related organizations through direct patient care, impactful committee service and program development. Dr. Constantino’s distinguished service and exceptional leadership have guided and inspired peers and students.”

She has taught psychiatric mental health nursing at the Pitt School of Nursing since 1971, during which time she completed a Ph.D. (1979) and a law degree (1984).

In addition to psychiatric mental health nursing, her teaching and research focus on family law practice and research studies on health outcomes of women who experience intimate partner violence and women whose spouses committed suicide.

Mostafa Bedewy wins outstanding young investigator award

Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected as winner of the 2020 M&D Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers Manufacturing & Design Division.

The award recognizes outstanding early-career M&D Division members, who have made “high impact scientific contributions to the manufacturing and design field as evidenced by their research endeavors including publications, intellectual property and other funding and dissemination activities.”

Linda Tashbook in a pink top

Pitt Law’s Linda Tashbook honored for book on mental illness

Pitt International Law Librarian Linda Tashbook has received an award from the Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section for her book "Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law." The 2020 ALL-SIS Publication Award recognizes “a significant non-periodical contribution to scholarly legal literature.”

Tashbook says she is  honored to have her book recognized.

“Librarians, in general, are very discerning readers,” she said. “Law librarians in academic settings have especially high standards for quality. They expect to see very interesting writing, clear explanations of law, good organization and a clear purpose for the content.”

Tashbook’s volume does just that. It provides nuts-and-bolts legal information and problem-solving steps for millions of people who have family members battling mental illness. From helping a loved one prepare for a hearing, to ensuring they receive their medication in prison, the problems and possible solutions outlined in the book cover a wide range. The book also provides how-to boxes that assist families in navigating these roads. 

Writing the book was a natural for Tashbook, who began her career as the children’s librarian at the main Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Her outreach work—helping to supply books to homeless shelters that took in families—exposed her to a population with problems. Seeking to be a firmer advocate, she earned a degree from the Pitt School of Law, and has for years spent much of her time providing counsel to those who are struggling, as well as their loved ones.

The University of Pittsburgh campus, featuring the Cathedral of Learning

Climate solutions grant will aid Oakland energy master plan

The University of Pittsburgh has been awarded a $2,600 Second Nature Climate Solutions Acceleration Fund grant that will help support energy modeling at the district level for Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, in partnership with the Green Building Alliance and Oakland institutions, is developing an Oakland Energy Master Plan to help the city and its universities reach their carbon reduction goals. 

The city has committed to a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from 2003 levels. 

Earlier this year, the University committed to become carbon neutral by 2037 — the University’s 250th anniversary — by signing the Second Nature Climate Leadership Statement and Carbon Commitment. Pitt will build on the success of its ambitious Sustainability Plan and existing greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 22 percent between 2008 and 2017.

“Addressing global climate change is a vital issue—one that can’t be reduced to a single issue or a single panacea,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “I am thankful for Second Nature's support, which will advance our quest for carbon neutrality and our role in combating climate change in truly meaningful ways."

“We were positively overwhelmed and impressed with the quantity and quality of submitted proposals,” stated Tim Carter, president of Second Nature, in congratulating awardees. “It emphasized that even in the midst of a global pandemic, the higher education sector not only understands how crucial it is to continue to accelerate climate action, but is committed to doing so.”

Evan Facher in a light purple collared shirt and black suit

Pitt ranks among top recipients of U.S. university patents

The University of Pittsburgh once again ranked among the top recipients of U.S. patents issued worldwide to universities in 2019, according to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

The report ranks the top 100 universities named as first assignee on utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the 2019 calendar year. Pitt is in a three-way tie for the 28th spot with University of Maryland and the University of Massachusetts. 

“Pitt researchers are determined for their work to not only lead to new knowledge, but also make an impact on the world through commercial translation. An important step in that process is to protect the intellectual property inherent in their discoveries.” said Evan Facher, Pitt’s vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and director of the Innovation Institute, which is responsible for the protection and licensing of intellectual property arising from Pitt research.

Charleen Chu in a yellow top

Charleen Chu wins Distinguished Educator Award

Charleen T. Chu, professor of pathology and the A. Julio Martinez Endowed Chair in Neuropathology, received the 2020 Robbins Distinguished Educator Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology. The award recognizes individuals whose exemplary contributions to education in pathology have demonstrated a manifest impact at a national and international level.

Chu’s research focuses on understanding cellular, biochemical and molecular genetic mechanisms that contribute to neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. Her work has been recognized with other honors, including the Carnegie Science Emerging Female Scientist Award, election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation Honor Society and the ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award.

Two people walk on Pitt's campus with the sun shining behind them

School of Pharmacy helps launch collaborative podcast effort

The Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association has partnered with Pharmacy Podcast Network to bring a series of podcasts designed to help community pharmacists implement change and practice transformation.  

The podcasts have been developed in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and their “Flip The Pharmacy” team and paid for through grant funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.  

The series, titled "Beyond the Sig,” will feature pharmacy industry leaders, pharmacy owners, academia, student pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to showcase the transformation of pharmacy. 

Evan Facher in a black suit and light purple collared shirt

LifeX offering wet lab space for Pittsburgh science startups

LifeX Labs, which offers various resources to help new life sciences companies in Pittsburgh thrive, is now offering wet laboratory space to grow Southwestern Pennsylvania’s life sciences ecosystem. LifeX Labs is supported by the University of Pittsburgh, Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

The addition of the lab facilities in the Chocolate Factory of the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, scheduled to open in June, highlights an expanding suite of programs and resources for early stage life sciences startups provided by LifeX Labs.

"Securing affordable, flexible lab space is one of the biggest obstacles to growing a biotech company,” said Evan Facher, interim CEO of LifeX Labs and director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute. “We believe that offering physical space in conjunction with a robust resource network and solid training opportunities will accelerate commercialization timelines for the Pittsburgh region’s growing life science sector.”