Accolades

Kane-Gill awarded two grants to study acute kidney injury

Pitt Pharmacy professor Sandra Kane-Gill was recently awarded two grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The first grant is for a project entitled, “Multi-hospital Implementation of an Electronic Decision Support System for Drug-associated AKI,” in which she is a co-principal investigator along with Pitt Pharmacy faculty members Colleen CulleyPamela Smithburger and Alexis Gaggini.

The project will assess the effectiveness of a clinical surveillance alert system augmented with real-time EMR predictive analytics to support a pharmacist-led intervention to reduce the progression and complications of drug-associated acute kidney injury. This work advances Kane-Gill’s research program theme of medication safety and nephrotoxin stewardship.

The second grant focuses on processes of care after acute kidney injury hospitalization, which have been found to be suboptimal — with lack of continuity of care, delayed follow-up, and suboptimal medication management exacerbating the risks of adverse outcomes.

American Physical Society recognizes Mugler and Paolone

Two Pitt physics and astronomy faculty members — Andrew Mugler and Vittorio Paolone — were honored by the American Physical Society for outstanding achievements in research, education, and public service.

Mugler, an assistant professor, received the APS 2022 Irwin Oppenheim Award for his work “Multicellular sensing at a feedback-induced critical point’ in Physical Review.

Professor Paolone was awarded the 2022 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics for "the first direct observation of the tau neutrino through its charged-current interactions in an emulsion detector."

Pitt researchers awarded NIH High Risk, High Reward grants

Projects by five Pitt researchers in the School of Medicine were among the 106 grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health to support highly innovative and impactful biomedical, behavioral and social sciences research.

These grants — part of the High Risk, High Reward Research program — grants support transformative work that pushes the boundaries of knowledge.

“To have five of our faculty members recognized in a single year is, indeed, cause for celebration,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine. “These well-deserved awards recognize the outstanding potential of our early career investigators and highlight the academic environment at the University of Pittsburgh that fosters excellence in basic and clinical biomedical research.”

Among this year’s awardees were:

Jishnu Das, Department of Immunology

Christopher Donnelly, Department of Neurobiology

Yi-Nan Gong, Department of Immunology

Dwi Utami Kemaladewi, Department of Pediatrics

Guang Li, Department of Developmental Biology

Read more about their research on Pittwire.

GSPIA’s Kearns wins national teaching award

Kevin Kearns, a faculty member in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs since 1987, has received the Leslie A. Whittington Excellence in Teaching Award from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

This award recognizes excellence in teaching public policy, public affairs or public administration over an extended time period, demonstrating outstanding contributions and sustained excellence through course content, course preparation, quality of advising impact, teaching innovation, mentoring and receipt of teaching awards.

Kearns is known for his expertise in strategic planning, nonprofit management and leadership. He has presented more than 100 executive seminars nationally and internationally promoting ethical leadership. Along with a Fulbright Fellowship to teach nonprofit management in the Czech Republic, he has lectured in Taiwan, Indonesia, Macedonia and Brazil.

He was nominated for the award by GSPIA Dean Carissa Slotterback in recognition of his many contributions to designing and teaching in the school’s curriculum in nonprofit organizations and management, his numerous GSPIA teaching awards and the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching, and his leadership of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and Hesselbein Leadership Forum.

Kearns will be recognized at the NASPAA Annual Conference virtual plenary meeting on Oct. 29.

Visit the GSPIA website to learn more.

Education’s P.R.I.D.E. expands to Philadelphia area

The Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education (P.R.I.D.E.) program of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education will extend its work to the Philadelphia region. 

The program there will feature “train the trainer sessions.” Educators will learn to talk to children about race and how to better understand and embrace racial differences. 

A division in Pitt Education's Office of Child Development, P.R.I.D.E. helps Black children, from birth to age 8, develop a positive racial identity.

“We think P.R.I.D.E is needed everywhere Children of Color are located in the country,” program director Aisha White said. “Having a presence in Philadelphia, which has a Black population that exceeds the total Pittsburgh population, will give our growing project an important start in reaching a much larger audience.”

The expansion is funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, whose vision is for “all children from low-income families in Philadelphia to have high-quality educational opportunities that lead to improved life outcomes.”

Visit the School of Education to learn more.

Piotr Hajłasz

Math’s Hajłasz wins Poland’s Sierpiński Medal

Piotr Hajłasz, a professor and graduate director of the Department of Mathematics, is the 2021 recipient of Poland’s Sierpiński Medal.

The award is given to outstanding mathematicians with Polish associations. Hajłasz, who received his doctorate from the University of Warsaw, received this honor from his alma mater and the Polish Mathematical Society. The international award is the highest honor presented by the two institutions and has recognized outstanding mathematics contributors since 1974.

Hajłasz’s research focuses on analysis and partial differential equations, topology and differential geometry. His work has been published by the American Mathematical Society, the Cornell University-owned arXiv, an open-access repository of electronic preprints and post-prints, the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Applied Mathematics and more.

The award is in memory of Polish mathematician Wacław Sierpiński (1862-1962), renowned for his work in set theory, the theory of irrational numbers and the theory of numbers.

Paul Supowitz

Supowitz named chancellor’s deputy chief of staff for special projects

Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations, will transition into a new role in the Office of the Chancellor. As deputy chief of staff for special projects, he will focus on University priorities that sit at the intersection of economic and community development, civic partnerships and other external initiatives.

Supowitz joined Pitt in 2002 and has worked with lawmakers, leaders and neighbors in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and beyond to advance the University’s mission. He will continue serving as vice chancellor until a replacement is named.

Martin Weiss

Pitt professors part of $25 million grant-funded project on radio waves

A new $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation will fund researchers from 29 organizations — including two from Pitt — developing new approaches and techniques for divvying up the valuable and highly contested real estate of radio waves that connect many of our devices.

Martin Weiss (pictured), a professor in the School of Computing and Information, leads the program’s economics and policy working group, which will study social and economic factors like how telecommunications companies share spectrum space and the regulations that govern the technology. The group’s other goal is training the next generation of spectrum experts with a focus on underrepresented groups in the industry.

He and Ilia Murtazashvili, associate professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs also will pursue specific research projects, including one focusing on enforcing regulations, which Weiss says could open the door to more cooperation.

“The economic stakes are very high,” Weiss said. “We’re not going to get to a world where people are sharing spectrum more freely until there are good enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure that people can protect what they want, what they need and what’s important to them.”

Randi Congleton

Chatham VP named Pitt’s AVC for equity and inclusion

Randi Congleton, vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Chatham University, has been named assistant vice chancellor for equity and inclusion in Pitt’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

She will join the University in November 2021 to provide oversight to advance strategic diversity and inclusion initiatives and provide guidance on matters as they pertain to equity, diversity and inclusion.

In her scholarship and career, Congleton focuses on the ways in which institutional policies and practices inhibit thriving, full equity, inclusion and justice for underserved communities. Her work also brings people together to unpack challenging social justice conversations and asks individuals and teams to think through systems challenges to improve equity outcomes.

Congleton earned her Ph.D. in education and organizational leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in Community Services from Michigan State University and a B.S. in agricultural and extension education from Penn State University.

In 2019, Congleton was named a Woman of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier. She is also a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and an alumna of its Standards of Professional Practice Institute. Congleton serves on the Black Girl Equity Alliance Advisory Board, the research arm of Gwen’s Girls and the GED Testing Service Transformation Team.

Darris Means selected for Rockefeller Fellowship to study rural education

Darris Means, an associate professor in the School of Education, has been selected as a 2021 Richard P. Nathan Policy Fellow of the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Through the one-year fellowship, Means will conduct state policy-focused research related to rural education and equity. Based on this work, he will create a report and deliver a public presentation.

"Rural communities are sometimes an afterthought with some of the policies that do exist," he said. Means seeks to change that.

"I will review state policy related to higher education retention, attainment and graduation to better understand how inclusive state policy is of rural education, rural communities and rural students. And, based on state policies, how might they support and/or hinder educational equity for rural college students."

In addition to the Rockefeller fellowship, Means was recently named as a 2021 Dean's Scholar in Equity, Justice and Rural Education at Pitt Education.

Read more about Means.

Pitt Libraries a contributor to Google Arts & Culture site

Content from Pitt’s Archives and Special Collections have been featured in a digital exposition hosted by Google Arts & Culture. Pittsburgh joins just four other American cities in being featured on the prestigious platform, which is free to the public.

“Pittsburgh embodies the American work ethic: Grit, know-how and a can-do attitude,” the site says.

Contributions from the University Library System (ULS) include exhibits focusing on the Cathedral of Learning, the evolution of artistic representation of the Point and photos from a peace march in the city following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. ULS joins several other local organizations include the Carnegie Museum of Art and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center to proudly display Pittsburgh on such a prominent global platform.

Read more in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rory Cooper

Rory Cooper receives Science and Society Award

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society, has honored Pitt’s Rory Cooper with the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award. Recipients of this award represent individuals who have supported research, the communication of science and the impact of science on society.

Presentation of the award will take place at the virtual Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference on Nov. 4 to 7. Cooper will present talk, "Participatory Action Design and Engineering: Forging a New Freedom!" that will suggest pathways to expand the talent pool of scientists and engineers. Cooper will also speak about the work that he and his colleagues are doing to create technologies and systems for older adults and people with disabilities.

Cooper is the founding director and VA senior research career scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Pitt. He is also an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and has authored or co-authored more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications.

Keisha Blain

Keisha Blain named to New American National Fellows class

Keisha N. Blain, associate professor of history in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, has joined the New America National Fellows Class of 2022. New America is an organization committed to investing in thinkers who generate ideas that impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

Blain is currently a fellow for the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry, whose previous members and faculty include Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Her 2018 book "Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Woman and the Global Struggle for Freedom" won several awards, and in 2021, she and Ibram X. Kendi edited the collection, "Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619 -2019.” She has a new book due out this month — “Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America” (Beacon Press), about the early civil rights leader.

Blain is also an opinion columnist for MSNBC.

Ariel Armony in front of books

Armony named fellow of Hispanic colleges leadership academy

Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the University Center for International Studies Ariel C. Armony is one of 25 fellows named to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo.

The one-year program seeks to increase the number of talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions at Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and emerging HSIs. Fellows participate in an array of leadership development activities to prepare them for leadership roles in the full spectrum of institutions of higher learning with an emphasis on HSIs and emerging HSIs.

At Pitt, Armony leads University-wide initiatives to expand international partnerships and global impact, among many other duties. He also holds faculty appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and Department of Political Science in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.

Waverly Duck wins Charles Horton Cooley Book Award

Waverly Duck, an associate professor of sociology in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, has won the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction’s Charles Horton Cooley Book Award for “Tacit Racism.”

The book, co-authored with Ann Warfield Rawls, was published by University of Chicago Press. It lays out the many ways in which racism is coded into the everyday social interactions of Americans.

The award is given annually by the society — an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice and language — for a book that represents an important contribution to the perspective of symbolic interaction.

Duck’s fields of interest include urban ethnography.

Shelome Gooden named Research Leader Fellow

Shelome Gooden, Pitt’s inaugural assistant vice chancellor for research in the humanities, arts, social sciences and related fields, is one of eight new Research Leader Fellows, named by the Council on Research, which is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The one-year fellowship helps rising research leaders develop expertise in areas outside of their current responsibilities.

Researchers get $100K grant to track aneurysms and predict rupture

The Swanson School of Engineering’s David Vorp and Timothy Chung are working in collaboration with the School of Medicine’s Nathan Liang to develop a new model to better predict patients at-risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm, the 15th leading cause of death in the U.S.

They received a $100,000 award from Precision Medicine Initiative for Commercialization for this effort.

The team is using tools to perform shape analysis and biomechanical simulations and will use these data to train a machine learning algorithm to classify different types of aneurysm outcomes. This classifier will be used to develop a predictive model that can help guide clinicians and determine the need for surgical intervention.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta weakens and begins to irreversibly dilate, like a slowly inflating balloon. If left untreated, the risk of rupture increases and has a 90 percent rate of mortality. 

Greensburg’s Ghilani receives PA GOAL award

Jessica Ghilani, associate professor of communication at Pitt–Greensburg, is among the inaugural recipients of a PA Grants for Open and Affordable Learning (GOAL) award.

GOAL provides grants and stipends to “encourage and support faculty in creating, adapting and adopting open educational resources and other zero-cost learning materials for students in institutions of postsecondary and higher education across the commonwealth.” Thirty projects across 23 Pennsylvania institutions were funded. Ghilani is the only recipient of a PA GOAL award in the Pitt system.

She will use the funding to support the creation of materials for her Public Speaking course, a general education requirement for all students on the campus. Ghilani also was selected to present on her project at the 2021 Affordable Learning PA Summit taking place Aug. 17 to 19.

Erica Owen takes on associate dean role at GSPIA

Erica Owen has been named associate dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

Owen, a specialist in international political economy who has been on the faculty at GSPIA since 2018, began her new appointment on July 1. In her new position, she will serve as the chief academic officer of the school, fostering the development of faculty and research while working to implement the diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and initiatives related to curriculum.

In addition to a long track record of published research, Owen has held a range of leadership positions at GSPIA, including service as the director of the doctoral program, an elected member of the Faculty Assembly Committee, Faculty Assembly president and the co-convenor of GSPIA’s Internal Research Seminar. 

As associate dean, Owen will be actively engaged in curriculum initiatives, mentoring new faculty and continuing to grow community engagement initiatives.

Read more about the appointment on GSPIA’s website.

Chance Wideman named Student Affairs’ director of new student programs

Chance Wideman has been named director of new student programs in Student Affairs.

Wideman has worked with the Community College of Allegheny County’s Homewood-Brushton Center, where he served as director from 2018-21. Prior to that role, Wideman served as the student success career coach at the center, delivering comprehensive support services to students in the Pathway to a Technology Career grant program.

He graduated from Robert Morris University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication and a Master of Science in instructional leadership.