Accolades

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Law signs accelerated admissions agreement with Bloomsburg University

Pitt’s School of Law is once again offering qualified students from Bloomsburg University an Accelerated Law Admissions Program that will save them a full year of tuition and costs.

Pitt and Bloomsburg signed an agreement Jan. 22 that will allow Bloomsburg students who have earned at least 90 credits and have completed all major and general education requirements by the end of their junior year, to apply for law school admission, as if it was their final year of undergraduate study. Pitt Law will assess those students as if they were ordinary applicants, but it will waive the usual requirement to have completed a bachelor’s degree before admission. The student’s first year of law school will double as their senior year of college.

This allows those students to achieve a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years instead of seven. 

Said Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth: “We have had several excellent Bloomsburg graduates as students at Pitt Law and this program will strengthen the terrific pipeline between our two schools. Most importantly, both Bloomsburg and Pitt are eager to find ways to help students reduce their overall debt. By decreasing the number of years a student spends in school, this program will have a significant and meaningful impact.”

Pitt Law already offers its Accelerated Law Admissions Program to students at the University’s Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and its College of Business Administration. The program is also available for students from Washington & Jefferson College and Carlow University.

Hickton in a dark blue blazer and light blue tie

Pitt Cyber launches task force to prevent bias in county’s decision-making Tools

The Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security announced the creation of the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms on Jan. 22. The task force, convened with support from the Heinz Endowments, is a coalition of researchers, educators, community service providers and public and private sector stakeholders that seeks to establish best practices and practical guidelines for the use of municipal decision-making algorithms. The task force is supported by an advisory panel featuring representatives from Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.

The group will use a combination of community outreach meetings and public comments posted on its website to assess county residents’ major concerns with municipal decision-making algorithms. In summer 2021, it will publish a full report of its research and recommendations for best practices for the technology.

“Increasingly, algorithms are being used to facilitate efficient government. We need to ensure that historical discrimination and existing inequities are not reinforced,” said Pitt Cyber Founding Director and Task Force Chair David Hickton (pictured). “Pittsburgh should lead the way in effective and fair oversight of these systems. We can be a national model, ensuring algorithmic accountability and equity for all residents.”

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Teaching Center honors four with Advancing Educational Excellence Award

The University Center for Teaching and Learning recognized Charline Rowland, teaching consultant; Mark Vehec, web developer; Robin Albright, senior instructional designer; and Tahirah Walker, manager of teaching support, with its 2019 Advancing Educational Excellence award.

The annual honor is a peer-driven award that recognizes teaching center staff members who exemplify the values of the center, demonstrate a positive attitude and commitment to responsibilities, and make above-and-beyond contributions to the University.

Jamie Hanson

Jamie Hanson wins American Psychological Foundation Award

Jamie Hanson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Foundation Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award.

The Fantz Award recognizes young researchers in psychology who have accomplished basic scientific research or scholarly writing in perceptual-cognitive development and the development of selective attention, and have investigated and written about the development of individuality, creativity and free-choice of behavior.

Hanson’s research focuses on how children and adolescents learn about their environments, how early life stressors impact their developing brains, and how brain changes can result in negative outcomes. His program consists of working with families, collecting data, connecting with communities and sharing information about brain and behavioral development.

Marc Coutanche

Marc Coutanche named rising star by Association for Psychological Science

Marc Coutanche, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been named an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star.

The Rising Star Award is granted to post-Ph.D. psychological research scientists early in their careers for their innovative work influencing their field of study with encouragement for future contributions. 

Coutanche heads the Learning in Neural Systems LeNs Lab at the LRDC. His research focuses on the cross between neuroscience and psychology, specifically learning, memory consolidation, sleep, perception and computer science. He uses cognitive experiments, brain imaging and sleep studies to examine human cognition and the brain.

Allison Shertzer

Allison Shertzer awarded grant to study housing market past for better future

Allison Shertzer, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Economics, recently received a three-year, $607,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine the evolution of real estate values and the standard of living in the U.S. over the period of 1880 to 1990.

Shertzer and her team will combine state-of-the-art methods in housing price index construction with newly digitized newspaper archives, with the goal of making important improvements over existing housing price series.

“We can't really understand what is happening in today's housing economy or make predictions for the future, unless we understand how the price of housing moved during booms and busts of the past,” she said. 

Bayles Receives Award for excellence in teaching chemical engineering

Taryn Bales, vice chair for education and professor of Chemical Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has been awarded the James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching Chemical Engineering.

The Pommersheim Award was established by the chemical engineering department and James M. Pommersheim (’70) to recognize faculty in the areas of lecturing, teaching, research methodology, and research mentorship of students. Pommersheim, formerly professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Pitt.

“Taryn excels in every area of Chemical Engineering education. She is not only a leader in our department but also a leader nationally,” said Steven R. Little, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Our students rave about her in her teaching evaluations, but also rave to me about how she is an exceptional mentor and a friend. We are proud to have Taryn as a colleague.” 

Bayles’ research focuses on engineering education, increasing awareness of the engineering field and understanding how to help students succeed once they choose engineering as a major.

Bradford’s Sosic has 4 paintings displayed in Cȏte d’Ivoire

Four oil paintings by Samila Sosic, director of study abroad and international services at Pitt–Bradford, will soon hang in the home of the U.S. ambassador in Abidjan, Cȏte d’Ivoire, in West Africa.

Sosic, who also teaches in Pitt–Bradford’s art program, submitted the paintings, which depict pastoral barn scenes from the region, to the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program in 2014 while earning her master of fine arts in painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

When senior foreign service officer and Pennsylvania native Richard K. Bell was selected to become the U.S. ambassador to Cȏte d’Ivoire, he wanted to display the work of Pennsylvania artists in the embassy and ambassador’s residence in Abidjan. Sosic has agreed to lend her paintings to the State Department for two years, which is the length of an ambassador’s tour of duty.

The Arts in Embassies program registers artists willing to loan their work to the State Department. The works are entered into a database that officials at the State Department can peruse to bring American artwork abroad as a means of visual diplomacy.

The program contacted Sosic in October to request the loan of her four paintings, “Valente Farm,” “Old Lady,” “Grandpa’s Farm” and “Elliot’s Gate.”

They had been on display in the office and home of Pitt–Bradford’s president, Catherine Koverola. Sosic said she was invited to visit her works in their new home but has no plans at this time to do so.

 

Lina Dostilio

Lina Dostilio leads study on hyperlocal community engagement

Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, published a new study in conjunction with her work as the inaugural fellow with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), with support by the Kresge Foundation.

For the study, Dostilio focused on hyperlocal engagement, or “instances in which post-secondary institutions have strategically organized community engagement efforts to focus on a bounded area within a larger city or metropolitan region in ways that enhance the institution’s ability to form partnerships and advance community development.”

The benchmarking report examined the hyperlocal practices of 22 CUMU institutions with a total of 26 engagements across 33 sites—including Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood

The report also “catalogs the diversity of hyperlocal engagement strategies and investigates which areas of community capacity were of interest to hyperlocal engagements.” Read the full report.

“To me, the benefits of a hyperlocal engagement are the ability to have a sustained institutional platform for partnership, to be able to grow alongside community anchors, and to think together about how we dream and build the future," said Dostilio. "A university’s future is intertwined with the futures of its surrounding communities.” 

Dostilio’s research team included the following Pitt community members:

Panther statue

Pitt Collaboratory releases paper on water issues

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach has released a white paper outlining key challenges to water quality research, monitoring and improvement in the region. The collaboratory, founded by faculty out of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, recommended coordinated regional efforts to test waterways for a broader range of pollutants and increased public awareness surrounding water quality issues. The paper, “Water Quality in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches,” is the second of three examining knowledge gaps surrounding water issues within the region. 

Peter Strick

Peter Strick honored for brain research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh's Brain Institute, was selected for a 2019 Krieg Cortical Kudos Discoverer Award in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the cortical circuits involved in motor control.

He was presented the award by the Society for Neuroscience at the Cajal Club in Chicago. Each year, neuroscientists at senior, intermediate and beginning stages in their careers are honored by the society for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex. 

Strick’s research focuses on four major areas: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the motor areas of the cerebral cortex; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.

Evelyn Rawski

History professor emerita Evelyn Rawski wins lifetime achievement award

Evelyn Rawski, distinguished university professor emerita in the Department of History in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized by the American Historical Association with a lifetime achievement award.

Rawski won the Award for Scholarly Distinction, given to “senior historians for lifetime achievement.”  

Rawski specializes in Chinese historiography, Chinese economic history and borderlands in northeast Asia.

John V. Williams

Pediatrics researcher Williams to be presented award for scientific contributions

John V. Williams was recently announced as the recipient of the 2020 Norman J. Siegel Outstanding Science Award by the American Pediatric Society for “his considerable contributions to pediatric science.”

Williams is the division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology; professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and director of the Institute for Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity in Children (i4Kids). 

Williams is an international leader in the field of respiratory virus biology, particularly human metapneumovirus (HMPV), and a recognized researcher and contributor to leading scientific journals. He will be presented the award on May 3 during the APS Presidential Plenary at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2020 meeting in Philadelphia. 

Read more about Williams and the American Pediatric Society's honor.

Kenneth Jordan

Kenneth Jordan's paper on hydration, surfactants published in PNAS

Kenneth Jordan, professor of Computational Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, is part of the research team behind the paper “Molecular-Level Origin of the Carboxylate Head Group Response to Divalent Metal Ion Complexation at the Air-Water Interface,” published in the July edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper examines at a microscopic level the hydration of a model surfactant system. Surfactants such as soaps have one end that is attracted toward water, with the other end being attracted to oily substances.

Jim Karpa

Second annual Facilities Management awards honor six

The second annual Facilities Management staff recognition event drew more than 300 people to Alumni Hall earlier this month.

The event honored tradespeople, custodians and staff from across the department.

Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, cited numerous “remarkable achievements,” including work being done at Salk Hall, Forbes Street Market and the new Community Engagement Center in Homewood and the several LED lighting projects that are providing energy savings. 

“Equally, if not more important for the campus operation is our custodial services team,” Scott said, which makes up half of the Facilities staff. “They’ve done a terrific job not only with cleaning, but in their emergency response efforts, and strong support of what is really a never-ending demand for event set ups across the University.”

The awards given out included:

  • Star Award: Jim Karpa (pictured), project engineer

  • Custodian of the Year (new this year): Ruth Mullen, who works in the Cathedral of Learning. 

  • Rookie Award: Kayla Wengerd, Tech Services

  • Team Award: Contract Administration group, including Tawanda Stamps, Cheri Hoffer, and Shannon Pisano. 

Two Nursing faculty named to Pittsburgh Magazine list

Two faculty members from Pitt’s School of Nursing were among seven honored by Pittsburgh Magazine for Excellence in Nursing.

The winners include:

  • Jennifer Lingler, professor and vice chair for Research, Health & Community Systems. 
  • Catherine Grant, assistant professor and family nurse practitioner; owner, Associates in Family Health Care
The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

Katz MBA program rises in Poets & Quants rankings

For the sixth year in a row, Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business MBA program is ranked among the top 20 in U.S. public universities by Poets & Quants.

Katz was number 39 in the U.S. and number 17 among U.S. publics in the Poets & Quants 2019-20 MBA rankings. Pitt saw the largest rise among the top 40 schools, up five spots from last year’s ranking.

Katz is one of only 42 business schools across the country that placed in all major MBA rankings this year, an honor shared by just 5 percent of all Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited schools and less than 0.3 percent of schools worldwide that grant business degrees.

To learn more about Pitt’s highly ranked MBA programs, visit the Katz programs page

Feng Xiong

Feng Xiong receives Career Award for AI energy efficiency project

Feng Xiong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, received a $500,000 Career Award from the National Science Foundation for his work developing the missing element in spiking neural networks (SNN), a dynamic synapse, that will dramatically improve energy efficiency, bandwidth and cognitive capabilities of SNNs.

A human brain — which is still more proficient than CPUs at cognitive tasks like pattern recognition — needs only 20 watts of power to complete a task, while a supercomputer requires more than 50,000 times that amount of energy. The project aims to make computers complete cognitive tasks using less energy.

Chris Driscoll

Chris Driscoll of Pitt Businss named 2019 Preservationist of the Year

Chris Driscoll, director of IT for Pitt Business, was named 2019 Preservationist of the Year by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

The organization advocates for the preservation of historic sites and structures in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The annual award recognizes significant contribution in the area of historic preservation. 

Driscoll is part owner and founder of the restaurant Revival on Lincoln, which is housed in a historic mansion in Bellevue. The previously dilapidated building required extensive restoration to be recognized as an historic landmark by Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Driscoll was presented the award in November. 

Jorge Luis Borges

Library system acquires poet Jorge Luis Borges’ papers

Manuscripts by Argentinian writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges have been acquired by the University Library System (ULS). The new items include two poems and two essays — "El otro tigre (The Other Tiger)"; "La nadería de la personalidad (The Nothingness of Personality)"; "Poema conjetural (Conjectural Poem)"; and "Anotación al 23 de agosto de 1944 (Annotation to the 23rd of August of 1944)."

In March 2018, ULS acquired the Cuaderno Avon (Avon notebook) and several loose accompanying pages (Páginas sueltas), which included the story "La espera (The Wait)" and the notes for "El escritor argentine y la tradición (The Argentine Writer and Tradition)."

Borges, considered one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century, was born on Aug. 24, 1899, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and died on June 14, 1986, in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote essays, poems and short stories and was also a translator.

These new materials will contribute to the enrichment of the Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection at the ULS and will be housed in Archives and Special Collections. Other pieces of Borges’ original work are held at the University of Virginia Library, the New York Public Library, Michigan State University, the National Library of Spain, the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.