Accolades

Kinloch in a pink shirt speaking at a podium

Dean Kinloch releases new co-edited book advocating for social change

Valerie Kinoch, dean of the School of Education, has released a new co-edited book titled, "Race, Justice, and Activism in Literacy Instruction." It advocates for social change by encouraging educators to engage in equity and justice-centered literacy work.

“This book serves as a conversation into how and why we must engage in this work and it contributes to ongoing discussions about how this work could look in schools and communities,” said Kinloch, who is also an American Educational Research Association fellow and the vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English.

The book was co-edited with Tanja Burkhard, postdoctoral associate in the School of Education, and Carlotta Penn, director of community partnerships in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University. Leigh Patel, associate dean for equity and justice for the School of Education, also contributed to the book.

Read more about Kinloch’s new book and a recent book launch event at Pitt.

Center for Governance awarded State Department grant

The Center for Governance and Markets has received a grant from the U.S. Department of State through the American Councils for International Education to build a partnership developing public administration and public policy education. The project, Developing Public Administration Education in Kazakhstan, will support the efforts of the School of Law and Public Policy at Narxoz University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, strengthen its public administration and public policy curriculum. The grant will serve as the for the development of longer-term research collaborations between the University and CGM.

The grant was the result of U.S.-Kazakhstan University Partnerships grants. Funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, the projects aim to enhance teacher preparation for English language teaching and learning, teaching and assessment methods for better-quality student outcomes, faculty research and personnel development, and policies, practices, and administrative structures to support effective and sustainable partnership activity between U.S. and Kazakhstan higher education.

Piervincenzo Rizzo in a red dress shirt underneath a dark sweater.

Pitt-led study leads to method to calculate stress on rails

A study led by Pitt researchers calculating stress on railways was recently published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Nondestructive Evaluation, Diagnostics and Prognostics of Engineering Systems.

The study was led by Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt in the Swanson School of Engineering, and senior author on the paper, and Stanford University researcher Amir Nasrollahi, who was previously a Ph.D. candidate and then post-doctoral researcher in Rizzo’s Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies.

The two developed a nondestructive evaluation method to measure stress in rails, with the eventual aim of calculating when the ambient temperature will be problematic.

Paul Leu

Solar project selected for U.S. Department of Energy prize

A project developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been selected for the American-Made Solar Prize, a U.S. Department of Energy competition designed to incentivize entrepreneurs toward U.S. solar energy innovation and manufacturing.

The project is led by Paul W. Leu (pictured), associate professor of industrial engineering; Sajad Haghanifar, a doctoral candidate in Leu's lab; and Sooraj Sharma, a senior studying materials science and engineering who began developing this project in 2018 through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Undergraduate Summer Research Program. The team is evaluating new methods to improve the top glass sheet in solar panels. 

The project is one of 20 that has made it to this round out of the 120 submissions, chosen for the novelty of the solution and how impactful it would be against the problems facing the solar industry. Each team will receive a $50,000 cash prize and is eligible for the next round of the competition, which rewards a cash prize of $100,000 and up to $75,000 in vouchers. The final phase of the competition will select two final projects to win a $500,000 prize in September 2020. 

Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti in a dark shirt.

Sotomayor-Miletti receives prestigious international literary award

Áurea María Sotomayor-Miletti, professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, received the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize in the essay category. 

Established in 1959, the award is considered the oldest and most coveted prize in literature in Latin America—much like the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S., according to Sotomayor-Miletti.

Sotomayor-Miletti received the literary award for her work titled “Apalabrarse en la desposesión (Ley, arte y Multitud en el Caribe Insular).” She accepted her award earlier this year in Havana, Cuba.

a sign at Pitt-Bradford

Pitt-Bradford building earns campus’ first LEED status

The Pitt–Bradford’s newest residence hall, the 170-bed Livingston Alexander House, has earned silver-level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the first building on the campus to achieve LEED certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification that takes into account sustainability considerations that include green construction practices, water and energy efficiency and more.

“It’s about caring for the environment,” said Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt–Bradford. “Climate change is real. When you build sustainable buildings, it benefits the environment, the health of residents and the health of those constructing and making the materials that go into a LEED-certified building.”

Jaime Booth in a gray shirt in front of a window

Jaime Booth honored for her work with teens

Jaime Booth, an assistant professor of Social Work, was recently awarded the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research at the organization’s national conference in Washington, D.C. She was recognized for using innovative approaches in her research, much of which involves young people in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“I’m engaging with new technology to answer traditional social work questions,” she said of her work. 

Booth and Rosta Farzan, associate professor of computing and information, along with other partners, are spearheading a pilot project called Data Forerunners. Close to 20 high school students from the Hill District and Homewood are using public data to explore issues in their communities, ranging from crime rates to commuting habits to affordable housing. 

Now she is immersed in the SPIN Project, or Spaces and People in Neighborhoods for Positive Youth Development. Nearly 80 Homewood teenagers, carrying mobile devices equipped with a special app, responded to several surveys a day that asked how they felt about where they were. Did they feel respected? Are there people around that could help them if they need it? A survey at day’s end asked how they felt that day and if they had used any substances. The teens themselves are assisting with the data collection and Booth and the teens will present the findings this spring at local community centers. 

“We want to understand how spending time in safe and risky spaces impacts these young people’s levels of stress and substance abuse,” said Booth. “The ultimate goal is to increase their access to safe spaces while addressing those spaces that are stressful.”

Booth and Khirsten Scott, assistant professor of English, also are developing H.Y.P.E. Media, a literacy program in which youth are taught the skills needed to engage new media to rewrite neighborhood narratives for community change. 

Shawn Ellies in his police uniform

Ellies appointed chair of American Society of Industrial Security chapter

The American Society of Industrial Security Pittsburgh chapter has named Shawn Ellies (GSPIA ’08, EDUC ’15), commander of the Pitt Police and director of security, as the chair of the local chapter, leading more 200 members. Additionally, Ellies is a ASIS Certified Protection Professional, having completed a comprehensive certification program recognized as the gold standard for security management professionals worldwide.

Ellies oversees the University’s integrated safety and security needs. He has been a member of the Pitt Police Department for the past 23 years in public safety leadership roles including patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift lieutenant, administrative lieutenant, commander of the special emergency response team and commander of operations.

He served in the U.S. Army for 23 years. He earned a doctorate degree in administration and policy studies from the Pitt School of Education , a masters degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a masters degree in leadership and management from Duquesne University.

Ellies chairs the Veterans Community group on Pitt’s campus.

Matt Sloan

Pitt Logistics and Printing Services recognized with Life'sWork award

Life'sWork has recognized Pitt's Logistics and Printing Services team with a Business Partner of the Year Award for its partnership and collaboration under the leadership of Matt Sloan, director of the team. Life'sWork of Western PA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting individuals with disabilities to strengthen their workplace abilities, build life skills and develop meaningful relationships in compassionate, inclusive and equitable communities. 

Life'sWork clients worked with the Logistics and Printing Services at the Pitt Surplus Property warehouse on electronic waste and technology recycling projects, where they assisted in disassembling hard drives as a last line of defense for data security. According to the Life'sWork announcement, the Business Partner of the Year Award honorees "made a commitment to diversity and inclusion by supporting our clients and our mission in many ways." 

John Oyler smiling

Fellowship established to honor longtime engineering professor Oyler

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the Swanson School of Engineering has established the John F. Oyler Fellowship, honoring the longtime Swanson School professor.

The fellowship will provide full tuition support for a graduate student specializing in structures or solid mechanics, with preference for students entering the Engineering Accelerated Graduate (EAGr) program.

It is funded by a gift from the John Francis Oyler and Nancy Lee Victoria Fleck Oyler Foundation.

John Oyler was a professor at Pitt for 25 years before retiring in 2018. He began his teaching career after 40 years in industry, where he worked for Dravo Corp., Daxus Corp., and his own consulting firm, Oyler Consulting Services. During his time at Pitt, he taught Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials of Construction, and Senior Design Projects.

Read more here.

Michael Bridges to head Teaching Commons

Michael Bridges has joined the University Center for Teaching and Learning as director of the Teaching Commons.

Bridges will assume responsibility for leading efforts in teaching innovation, faculty development, consulting, course design and development, assessment, diversity in the curriculum, and other teaching and learning initiatives.

He previously served as executive director, Online Learning and Strategy at Duquesne University. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of Management and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where he has also held positions at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, the Software Engineering Institute, and the Department of Psychology.

The Cathedral of Learning behind a field with small American flags standing upright

Pitt earns 2020-2021 military-friendly designation across campuses

The University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community.

For the ninth consecutive year, the University’s Pittsburgh campus has been recognized as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School

Also receiving recognition for the 2020-2021 year:

  • Pitt-Greensburg, Military Friendly

  • Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, Bronze status

  • Pitt-Bradford, Bronze status

  • Pitt-Johnstown, Military Friendly

The Military Friendly Schools survey is “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-2021 survey with 695 earning the designation.

Military-affiliated students at Pitt are supported by the Office of Veterans Services, Pitt Vets and other entities across all campuses. 

Clapp Hall

Clapp Hall renovation awarded LEED Silver Certification

The Clapp Hall renovation has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.  

It’s the latest among a dozen Pittsburgh campus projects that have received a LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The $34 million Clapp Hall project brought new infrastructure, interior renovations and exterior upgrades to the building that houses the Department of Biological Sciences. 

Classrooms, laboratories, conference and seminar rooms, support spaces and offices were renovated; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and telecommunication systems were replaced; and a new fire suppression system was installed. The building’s elevator and restrooms were modernized to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Outside, doors, windows and roofing were replaced and the exterior was cleaned and repainted. 

Features contributing to the LEED certification were energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, a demand-control ventilation system and a lab exhaust energy recovery system. More than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 90% of existing building elements were reused and 36% of building materials were regionally manufactured. Clapp Hall also features bike storage and changing rooms for commuters and an indoor air quality system throughout the entire building.

Clapp Hall, part of the Life Sciences Complex, opened in 1956.

Raja Adal in a light dress shirt

Raja Adal receives NEH grant

Raja Adal, assistant professor in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences' Department of History, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH grants support innovative digital projects for the public, humanities initiatives on college campuses and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.

As a Fellow for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, Adal will use this grant to support his project “The Typewriter and the History of Writing Technologies in Japan,” which includes research and writing for a future book. 

Adal is one of only seven scholars Pennsylvania — and the only researcher at Pitt — to receive this award.

Bopaya Bidanda

Bidanda elected president of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

Bopaya Bidanda, chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has been elected president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), the largest professional society dedicated to industrial engineering.

New officers are elected by the institute’s professional members and serve for three years, with terms beginning on April 1. Bidanda's is one of three seats filled in the annual election; he is joined by Ronald Askin (Arizona State University) as senior vice president of publications and Rohan Shirwaiker (North Carolina State University) as senior vice president of operations.

Bidanda has been an IISE Fellow since 2002 and won the IISE’s Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award in 2013.

A statue of a panther

Three Pitt professors named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has named three Pitt faculty as 2019 Sloan Research Fellows:

  • Susan Fullerton Shirley, an assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering was recognized for advancements in the field of chemistry. 

  • Michael Hatridge, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences was recognized for advancements in the field of physics. 

  • Robin E.C. Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in the School of Medicine was recognized for work in the field of computational and evolutionary molecular biology.

The fellowship, awarded annually to 126 scientists in the United States and Canada, is dedicated for scholars studying chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Since the fellowship was founded in 1955, 38 Pitt faculty have received the honor. 

Winners will receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship to support their research. 

Center for Medical Innovation gives grants to three pilot programs

In its eighth year of pilot funding, Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $47,500 to three research groups through its 2019 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals:

“A Structurally and Mechanically Tunable Biocarpet for Peripheral Arterial Disease”: For the development of a material and method of deployment of specialized materials that coat the inner lumen of synthetic vascular grafts. The coating will greatly improve the viability and anti-thrombogenic properties of long stent grafts which overlap flexible joints.

“Ex-Vivo Heart Perfusion System for Human Heart Support, Resuscitation, and Physiologic Testing”: For the development of a system for preservation of explanted donor hearts suitable for transplantation. Includes means to verify the heart’s mechanical and biological viability to improve recipient response.

“In Vivo Efficacy of an Antibacterial and Biocompatible Polymeric Nanofilm on Titanium Implants”: For the development of biocompatible, anti-biofilm coatings for orthopedic use, especially in children.

Find more information on the Swanson School of Engineering website.

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.

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.