Accolades

Kenney in a blue suit

Michael Kenney to contribute to report on countering extremism

Michael Kenney, an associate professor and program director of international affairs at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been commissioned by the British government’s Commission for Countering Extremism to contribute an academic paper to a comprehensive report on extremism.

Kenney’s contribution will explore the links between extremism and terrorism through a deep dive into the first UK-based proscribed Islamist group, Al-Muhajiroun. This is an extension of Kenney’s research into this organization, which is the subject of his recent book, “The Islamic State in Britain: Radicalization in an Activist Network.” Kenney’s paper will draw on dozens of interviews with activists and former activists, and hundreds of hours of direct observation of their activities over a period to several years.

His research focuses on Islamist extremism, terrorism and transnational organization crime. He serves on the editorial board of Terrorism and Political Violence, the leading academic journal in terrorism studies.

Sweet wearing a bright red collared shirt

Robert Sweet honored by American College of Psychiatrists

Robert Sweet, a UPMC endowed professor in psychiatric neuroscience and professor of neurology and clinical and translational science at Pitt, was recently given the Award for Research in Geriatric Psychiatry by the American College of Psychiatrists.

Sweet is recognized internationally for his investigation of the mechanisms which lead to the generation of psychotic symptoms that are core features of schizophrenia, but also occur in about 50 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

His research suggests there are common genetic risk factors and vulnerable brain circuits that act together to cause positive symptoms across these disorders. 

Larkins-Pettigrew with her hand on her chin

Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew receives lifetime achievement award

Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, an adjunct professor at the School of Medicine, will be honored with the Gateway Medical Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Larkins-Pettigrew, who is a former president of the society, is a Pitt alum. She received her doctor of medicine degree, a baccalaureate degree in nursing, and a master’s in public policy and international affairs from the University. She is currently the Edgar B. Jackson Chair for Clinical Excellence and Diversity, heads the Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and is an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Case Western University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. She is also an assistant dean in the Office of Student Affairs at Case Western Reserve University and heads global health programs in her discipline. 

She is the founder of W.O.N.D.O.O.R. (one door), Women and Newborns, Diversity, Outreach, Opportunity and Research, an innovative program that educates global physicians, students, residents and junior faculty through local and international health care collaborations.

The Gateway Medical Society is a component of the National Medical Association, whose objectives are to promote the science and art of medicine and the betterment of public health.

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University’s retirement savings plan wins 2019 Plan Sponsor of the Year Award

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Human Resources is the recipient of the 2019 Plan Sponsor of the Year Award in the Public Defined Contribution category for the University's retirement savings plan. Pitt was recognized for its Write Your Own Financial Story communications campaign, education initiative and overall updates made to the retirement savings plan.

The Plan Sponsor of the Year Award program recognizes retirement plan sponsors that show a commitment to their participants’ financial health and retirement success. Finalists are judged on a variety of factors including richness of program offerings, commitment to the program, leadership and innovation.

“We are thrilled for the University to again be recognized for our distinguishable efforts and commitment to developing customized educational programs to increase financial literacy, as well as help our generationally diverse workforce address their personalized needs and goals,” said Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Cheryl Johnson.

The Plan Sponsor of the Year Award program is sponsored by PLANSPONSOR, a magazine and website that provides news and research for retirement benefits decision makers, and it recognizes retirement plan sponsors that show a commitment to their participants' financial health and retirement success. Pitt was among 38 finalists in 10 categories.

Read more about the University’s award-winning plan and the 2019 Plan Sponsor of the Year Award program.

South-Paul in a dark jacket and blue scarf

Jeannette South-Paul honored by Pennsylvania governor

Jeannette South-Paul, the Andrew W. Mathieson professor and department chair in the Pitt Department of Family Medicine, was recently honored by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, first lady Frances Wolf and Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli at the fourth annual Female Veterans Day Ceremony in celebration of Women’s History Month.

South-Paul served in the U.S. Army for 21 years beginning with ROTC and retiring as a colonel. During her time of military service, she worked as an Army physician, her last duty station being at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.

Her research focuses on maternal-child health, particularly teen pregnancy.

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WISER celebrates 25 years in 2019

The Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation, Education, and Research, or WISER for short, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019.

WISER is an internationally renowned simulation center at the University of Pittsburgh that focuses on health care education, improving patient safety, and the professional development of simulation educators and technicians around the world.

The institute currently supports more than 60,000 hours of simulation and more than 2,000 classes, which impacts 5,000 health care professionals and trainees each year.

Quigley with dark brown hair in front of trees

School of Education’s Cassie Quigley named PA STEM Ambassador

Cassie Quigley has been named a 2019 Pennsylvania STEM Ambassador.

The PA STEM Ambassador Program aims to “shape the future of STEM education in the commonwealth targeting vital policy conversations to legislative leadership in the areas of STEM Learning ecosystems, computer science, state and federal policy for formal and informal education, and workforce needs.”

Quigley, an associate professor of science education in the School of Education, received this honor along with 31 other leaders across Pennsylvania.

“Because of my commitment to improve STEM experiences for our youth, being able to sit at the table with the decision-makers allows me to help influence the type of experiences students will have,” said Quigley. “My hope is that students will be positioned to be change-makers in their schools and society, and STEM education is one way to do that.”

Added Quigley, “For the past five years, I have been working with my colleague Dr. Dani Herro to help teachers shift their practices, and I have seen the results in the students.  Students are engaged, excited and informed about how to solve some of the most pressing problems in our world. Between this research, and the opportunity to work with Pennsylvania lawmakers, I am excited about the potential for our students.”

Quigley also has a new publication, “An Educator’s Guide to STEAM,” which was released in March.

Greg Scott, John Kozar, Nichole Dwyer, Cheryl Johnson

University retirement savings plan receives award

The Pitt Office of Human Resources, in partnership with TIAA, is the first place winner of the 2019 Eddy Awards in the Plan Transitions category. Pitt was recognized for its implementation and communication efforts in updating the 2017-2018 University’s Retirement Savings Plan.

The University of Pittsburgh and TIAA, a leading financial services provider in the academic field, received this honor at Pensions & Investment’s annual East Coast Defined Contribution Conference on March 10-12, 2019, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Pitt joins 66 defined contribution communication campaigns that were honored for their efforts to motivate and educate participants. 

“We are honored to receive first place in the Plan Transitions category at the Eddy Awards,” said Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Cheryl Johnson. “Our team is proud to be recognized for the efforts taken to make improvements to the University’s retirement savings plan and to communicate them to the Pitt community in a way that honors our generationally diverse staff and faculty; recognizes that people are on individual journeys and need to be empowered; and, is accessible, motivational and educational.”

Read more about the award-winning plan and the Eddy Award.

Badylak in front of shelves in a lab

Stephen Badylak named 2018 Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator

For his dedication to achieving impact through commercialization, Stephen Badylak has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award from the Innovation Institute. He is a professor of surgery at Pitt and deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

In his prolific 15 years at Pitt he ranks among the University’s all-time leaders in terms of invention disclosures filed, patents issued and technologies licensed. Earlier this year, Badylak became chief scientific officer of ECM Therapeutics, a new Pittsburgh-based startup company that has licensed a patent portfolio from Badylak’s lab and is seeking to commercialize those discoveries across a broad range of therapeutic targets.

More information can be found at the Innovation Institute’s website.

Datta in a red plaid shirt in front of a blue background

Moni Datta receives $300K award to develop quicker diagnoses technology for cardiomyopathy

Moni K. Datta, assistant professor of bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, received a $300,000 award from the Department of Defense to develop a quicker, simpler and more reliable diagnostic technology related to cardiomyopathy so that the signs of disease can be spotted and treated earlier. Conditions for cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease leading to heart failure, are clinically silent until serious complications arise, and current diagnostic tools are unreliable, time consuming and expensive.

Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein chair and distinguished Professor of bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, and professor of oral biology in the School of Dental Medicine, is co-investigator on the project with Robert L. Kormos, the Brack G. Hattler professor of cardiothoracic surgery.

Read more at the Swanson School’s website.

Maseru in a gray suit

Health Equity director co-authors March of Dimes consensus statement on birth equity

Women of color are 50 percent more likely than white women to give birth prematurely, and three times as likely to die from pregnancy complications. Noble Maseru, director of Pitt’s Center for Health Equity is working to change that.

Maseru, who’s also professor of behavior and community health sciences at Pitt, recently co-authored the March of Dimes "Birth Equity For Moms and Babies Consensus Statement" to advance social determinants pathways for research, policy and practice.

Among the recommendations: Improve maternal death surveillance, expand research, engage in health system reform, empower communities through inclusion and change social and economic conditions.

Read the Consensus Statement on the March of Dimes website.

Nachega in a dark brown suit

Public Health's Nachega recognized by African Science Institutions

Jean Nachega, associate professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases and microbiology in the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health, recently received recognition from two Africa-based science organizations.

The African Academy of Sciences elected him fellow in recognition of his efforts to develop patient care, teaching and research around epidemiology and infectious diseases in Africa. In addition, the Academy of Sciences of South Africa — which aims to provide evidence-based scientific advice on issues of public interest — named him a member-elect.

Kohanbash

T-Cell project awarded $3 million by Brain Tumor Funders’ Collaborative

Gary Kohanbash, assistant professor of neurological surgery and director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery ImmunoOncology Laboratory at Pitt, was one of four researchers awarded a total of $3 million by the Brain Tumor Funders’ Collaborative to help fund primary brain tumor immunotherapy research. Kohanbash’s project involves interrogating anti-tumor T-cells to develop adoptive cell transfer immunotherapy for pediatric high-grade gliomas.

Kohanbash and an interdisciplinary team of investigators at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Children’s National and the University of California, San Francisco have developed a new method for identifying the most tumoricidal T-cell within a patient’s tumor. Using this approach, the team will isolate these T-cells from pediatric glioma and DIPG tumors, validate the safety and tumor-killing ability of these cells and develop a strategy for expanding these cells for re-infusion into patients.

If the project is successful, it could become a cutting edge, off-the-shelf approach in which a T-cell identified in one patient could be used to create T-cells that could kill tumors in a majority of patients with the similar disease. Long-term the approach could be used to develop a highly personalized strategy in which the most effective cytotoxic T-cells within each patient would be identified and used to creating millions of these as a therapy for that patient. Read more at neurosurgery’s website.

Rediker in a black coat

Distinguished history professor examines historical context of Spielberg film

Marcus Rediker, distinguished professor in the Department of History, recently published an essay in “Writing History with Lightning: Cinematic Representations of Nineteenth-Century America.”

In his essay, Rediker critically examines Steven Spielberg’s film “Amistad,” and compares it to his own extensive historical research. Rediker says he found that Spielberg “distorted and omitted a great many important things about the ‘Amistad’ story, and that we must not leave the teaching of history to Hollywood.”

“My approach is called ‘history from below,’ which emphasizes the history-making power of ordinary people who are normally left out of the history text books,” said Rediker. “My account of the Amistad revolt stresses the power of enslaved people to emancipate themselves and challenge the institution of slavery.”

The essay also serves as a spin-off of Rediker’s 2012 book, The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom.

Wallace in a Navy suit

John Wallace named fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare

John Wallace, Dave E. Epperson Chair and Professor of Social Work, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The academy is a society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in social work and social welfare through work that advances social good.

Wallace does this in a number of ways, particularly in Homewood, the neighborhood in which he was born and raised. He is a co-founder of the Homewood Children’s Village and board president of Operation Better Block, both of which use community-based research to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable city residents. His Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools (PACS) program enriches the education of Westinghouse High School students. Through PACS, members of a group of teenaged Justice Scholars are taking Pitt courses, visiting Pitt for college-prep workshops and engaging in community service.

Wallace, also the pastor of Bible Center Church in Homewood, helped launch the Everyday Cafe coffee shop in Homewood two years ago, partners with colleagues in business and engineering to lead the Direct Curent HEaRT (Direct Current Humanity, Energy, and Regional Transformation) initiative and plays a key role with programming at Pitt’s Community Engagement Center.

“I am humbled to have been inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare,” said Wallace. “Having my work recognized by such an accomplished group of scholars is truly an honor.”

Jakicic in a suit, spliced with Rogers in a red shirt

Healthy Lifestyle Institute leaders to give keynote at professional summit

John Jakicic (EDUC ’95G), chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity (HPA) in the School of Education, and Renee Rogers (EDUC ’09G, ’12G), assistant professor in HPA, will give a keynote presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) International Health and Fitness Summit in March.

Jakicic, who is also the founding director of Pitt’s new Healthy Lifestyle Institute (HLI), and Rogers, who serves as HLI’s programming director, will jointly present on the scientific evidence regarding the health benefits of physical activity.

Particularly, Jakicic and Rogers will focus on “novel science that contributed to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Jakicic served on the advisory committee that revised the guidelines.

“It is an honor to be asked by the American College of Sports Medicine to give a featured presentation at the International Health and Fitness Summit. As leaders at the Healthy Lifestyle Institute at PITT, we are passionate about translating research into practice,” said Jakicic.

Rogers added, “The opportunity to do this on a broader scale not only highlights the innovative work being done at Pitt, but allows for us to engage and inspire health, wellness and fitness professionals from all over the country.”

two people walking with a brilliant sun ray behind them

Pitt sets record for low employee injury rate

Pitt has set a record-low employee injury rate for the third year in a row.

The University’s 2018 employee injury rate fell to 0.94, calculated in incidents per 100 full-time workers, down from 1.04 in 2017 and 1.15 in 2016.

Pitt’s employee injury rate consistently has been below the national average for colleges and universities since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began its current industry classification system in 2003. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors workplace injuries and illnesses.

The OSHA recordable injury rate for colleges and universities held steady at 1.7 in 2016 and 2017. National figures for 2018 have yet to be posted.

Gregory A. Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, credited a campuswide dedication to safety for Pitt’s positive trend.

“This achievement is the result of a conscious effort — by supervisors, faculty and staff — to create a culture of safety at Pitt by consistently considering safety in all activities,” he said. “Their commitment is making a measurable difference.” 

Woon in front of a blue screen

Jonathan Woon named associate editor of the American Journal of Political Science

Professor Jonathan Woon, chair of the Department of Political Science, has joined a team of associate editors of the American Journal of Political Science, a leading political science journal and the flagship publication of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Woon also has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Political Science. His research focuses on political behavior, American politics, game theory and political economy.

Mark Magalotti wins award from Engineers’ Society of W.Pa.

Mark Magalotti, professor of practice in civil and environmental engineering and assistant co-director of the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure, recently received the William Metcalf Award at its 135th annual Engineering Awards Banquet for the  Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP).

The William Metcalf Award, named in honor of ESWP’s first president, recognizes an outstanding engineer who is a resident of the United States and whose field of engineering accomplishment relates to those normally associated with Western Pennsylvania, such as steel, aluminum, power, coal, electrical equipment, chemical, glass, construction, etc. Thirteen faculty or alumni of the University of Pittsburgh have received the Metcalf Award since its inception in 1963, representing more than a quarter of all awardees. 

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Iris Marion Young Award winners announced

The Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program honored four from the Pitt community with the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement for outstanding efforts in social justice in the University, at the local or national level, or across the globe

The following honorees were recognized during a ceremony in January:

Crystal McCormik Ware, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University Library System, received the 2019 staff award. Ware directed the Welfare to Work program in the School of Social Work, which trained lifelong welfare recipients with job skills and job placement at Pitt and UPMC, and serves as a founding member of the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium.

Kari Kokka, assistant professor of mathematics education in the School of Education, received the 2019 faculty award. Kokka researches student and teacher perspectives of social justice mathematics and the longevity of STEM teachers of color in urban schools. In her teaching, Kokka incorporates social justice issues into course readings and assignments.

Dighan Kelly, a junior who received the 2019 undergraduate award, has been active with Pitt student organizations that register voters and research sexual assaults on campus. Kelly has served on the local International Women’s Strike chapter’s steering committee and as president of Pitt’s Planned Parenthood Club.

Medha Kadri is pursuing a degree in the School of Social Work and received the 2019 graduate award. Kadri has a master’s in health psychology and worked for a child-rights focused, nongovernmental organization in India that primarily rescued bonded child laborers and mainstreamed them back into school education.