June 9, 2020
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.”
June 8, 2020
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.
June 4, 2020
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.
June 4, 2020
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.”
June 3, 2020
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.
June 1, 2020
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.
May 29, 2020
Hayley Germack leads blog on nurse practitioner practice during pandemic
Hayley Germack, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, leads a blog with two other members of the AcademyHealth Interdisciplinary Research Group on Nursing Issues that illustrates the important impact of recent policy changes on the ability of nurse practitioners to deliver care to vulnerable populations most impacted by the coronavirus.
At Pitt, Germack has taught health policy, quantitative methods,and community based participatory research to undergraduate students and nurses. Her research focuses on eliminating the mortality gap for patients with serious mental illness by increasing access to primary care services, as well as examining the role of the interprofessional behavioral health and primary care play in providing holistic care to this vulnerable population.
May 29, 2020
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.”
May 27, 2020
Juan C. Celedón named president of American Thoracic Society
Juan C. Celedón was recently named president of the American Thoracic Society for the 2020-21 term. Celedón is professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at the Pitt School of Medicine.
His research focuses on asthma, COPD and health disparities in airway diseases. Celedón’s scientific contributions have been acknowledged through his election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, as well as through the ATS Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments, among other honors.
May 26, 2020
Engineering researcher Steven Little elected into College of Fellows
Steven Little was recently elected to the Controlled Release Society’s College of Fellows. Little is professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.
He was elected for outstanding and sustained contributions to the field of delivery science and technology over a minimum of 10 years.
Little’s novel drug delivery systems mimic the body’s own mechanisms of healing and resolving inflammation, allowing for dosages millions of times smaller than current treatments. These systems need only be applied once and then are released over a period of days or months, depending on the medication. Little also published research revealing a new immunotherapy system that mimics how cancer cells invade the human immune system to reduce the risk of transplant rejection.
May 26, 2020
Research team receives grant to form AI system to debunk false COVID information
Yu-Ru Lin, associate professor in the School of Computing and Information (SCI), Adriana Kovashka, assistant professor in SCI, and Wen-Ting Chung, research assistant professor in the School of Education, have been awarded a RAPID Grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a debunking system for COVID-19 related misinformation.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RAPID Grants have been awarded to research teams to “mobilize the scientific community to better understand and develop measures to respond to the virus.”
“We rely so much on mass media and social media to get information, even more so during the pandemic,” said Lin, the project’s principal investigator, whose research focuses on using data science to understand collective behavior and social movement. “The mission of this project is to reduce the harmful impact of misinformation.”
Using machine learning and data mining, the team will create an AI system that identifies which false information is most influential, who is most affected by it and how to "debunk" the problematic information automatically in social media. Their debunking system will rely heavily on citizen journalism and crowdsourcing images that counter misinformation on Twitter.
“When people are used to consuming the same media sources or discussing news with people strictly in their social circles, they lose out on the opportunity to see alternative information, or other points of view,” said Chung, whose research interests include group bias and sociocultural factors on learning and motivation. "The system could be a learning device that helps cultivate people with a more critical view in discerning the features of problematic information."
Kovashka, whose expertise is in computer vision and machine learning, added, “What makes this interesting, is how it taps into the work of advertisers. It’s been shown that people will be most likely to click on something is when a post prompts an emotion—in this case it’s fear. Of course, computationally modeling what specific aspect of visual or textual content will evoke an emotion and what kind of behaviors it will prompt is challenging, so part of the goal of this proposal is to advance how we computationally analyze persuasion.”
The team expects to complete their project within the year.
May 14, 2020
Dental Medicine researcher Mary Marazita earns distinguished professor Honor
Mary Marazita from the Pitt School of Dental Medicine was recently awarded the designation of distinguished professor in recognition for her internationally renowned, groundbreaking and widely heralded work in the genetics of craniofacial disorders.
The appointment of a faculty member to a distinguished professorship constitutes the highest honor that the University can accord a member of the professorate. The designation recognizes extraordinary, internationally recognized, scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field. These individuals are expected to make special contributions to the intellectual advancement of their home departments and schools, as well as to the institution as a whole.
Marazita has published over 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 23 book chapters or monographs and over 500 abstracts. Her work has been represented in scientific journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature, among others. She also directs Pitt’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics.
May 14, 2020
University Library System acquires Daniel Kraus papers
There’s a significant new addition to the Horror Studies Collection at Pitt. The University of Pittsburgh Library System has acquired the papers of Daniel Kraus—a prolific writer in the horror genre who currently lives in Chicago. It represents the first addition to the collection from a literary figure and author, thus expanding the scope of the collection beyond filmmaking as established through the inaugural acquisition of the George A. Romero Archival Collection.
Two of Kraus’ novels, “Rotters” and “Scowler,” received the American Library Association Odyssey Award honoring excellence in children’s and young adult audiobooks. He was asked by George A. Romero’s literary agent to finish Romero’s epic zombie novel, “The Living Dead,” which is set to publish in August of this year. Kraus also has collaborated with horror filmmaker and Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, in co-authoring the novels “Trollhunters” and “The Shape of Water.”
“I’m the writer I am today because of George A. Romero,” said Kraus. “So, it makes perfect sense to me that I follow his giant footsteps in placing my past work with the University of Pittsburgh.”
The Daniel Kraus Archive, which will be processed later this year, will document the beginning of his career and includes works he produced as a child and teenager. It will also include manuscripts and drafts of his published works: “The Monster Variations,” “Rotters,” “Scowler,” and “The Life and Death of Zebulon Finch.”
May 13, 2020
Graham Hatfull elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Graham Hatfull, professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been elected a 2020 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Hatfull’s work with SEA-PHAGES, a national program that teaches undergraduates students to discover bacteriophages, led to the creation of a phage cocktail that was used to fight an antibiotic resistant infection in a 15-year old lung transplant patient.
Hatfull joins a class of 276 new members that includes immunologist Yasmine Belkaid, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and singer Joan Baez.
“This is a truly wonderful honor, recognizing the tremendous efforts of the researchers in my lab and our collaborators over many years,” said Hatfull. “It is humbling to join an academy with such wonderful and distinguished artists and scientists.”
AAAS was founded in 1780 and its projects and publications generate ideas and offer recommendations to advance the public good in the arts, citizenship, education, energy, government, the humanities, international relations, science and more. In addition to more than a dozen current Pitt faculty members, AAAS membership includes Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost and Martin Luther King Jr.
May 13, 2020
Jessica Ghilani selected for Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Award
Jessica Ghilani, associate professor of communication at Pitt–Greensburg, was selected by the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum as the 2020 Aviation Space Writers Foundation Award Winner.
The award is offered in even numbered years and carries with it a $5,000 grant to support research on aerospace topics. Additional details are available on the website.
Ghilani's project, "Advertising Military Innovation: Technological Visualizations in American Military Recruitment," will result in a book chapter to be included a manuscript she is writing. She intends to use the funds to conduct research at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex of the National Air and Space Museum.
May 12, 2020
Fritz named vice chancellor for Public Safety and Emergency Management
Ted P. Fritz has been promoted to vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management at the University of Pittsburgh.
In this role within the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, Fritz is responsible for all health and safety-related oversight for the 40,000-member University community across five Pitt campuses and multiple off-campus locations.
In 2013, Fritz became Pitt’s first associate vice chancellor for public safety and emergency management, appointed to bring together Pitt Police, Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management and Integrated Security under one unified business unit.
Fritz joined the University in 1998 as associate general counsel. In that capacity, he represented University officials in litigation and was Pitt’s primary legal advisor for constitutional, law enforcement, student affairs, cyber, copyright and international issues.
A U.S. Army veteran, Fritz is a magna cum laude distinguished military graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and pre-law. He earned his juris doctor degree cum laude at Stetson University College of Law.
May 12, 2020
Joshua Matilla awarded Public Policy Fellowship
Joshua Matilla was recently selected for the 2020-2021 class of Public Policy Fellows at the American Association of Immunologists. Matilla is assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health.
The fellowship program provides early-career researchers, who are within 15 years of receiving their terminal degree and committed to a career in biomedical research, with the opportunity to learn about and participate in the public policy and legislative activities of the association. Up to 10 fellows are selected to participate annually. Fellows serve from May 1 of their selection year to April 30 of the following year.
May 12, 2020
Engineer Jason Shoemaker receives NSF award for virtual infection modeling
Jason Shoemaker, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, has received an NSF CAREER Award for $547,000 for his work modeling the immune system response to viral lung infections.
The predictive computational model will show how the human body will react to a viral lung infection and will flag biomarkers present for people whose immune systems react with excessive inflammation, which is what makes these infections so dangerous. Though it’s modeled on the influenza virus, once completed, it will be applicable to other viral lung infections, like COVID-19.
May 6, 2020
Computational Biology’s Bahar elected to National Academy of Sciences
Bahar was selected “in honor of outstanding contributions to computational biology.” She is co-founder of the Ph.D. program in Computational Biology, jointly offered by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University. She is a pioneer in structural and computational biology, having developed widely used elastic network models for protein dynamics.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars established in 1863, which aims to provide independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. This year’s election of 120 members and 26 international members brings the total number of active academy members to 2,403.
Read more about Bahar here.
May 5, 2020
Sara Kuebbing named Ecological Society of America early career fellow
Sara Kuebbing, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2020 early career fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Kuebbing was chosen for her research on the impacts of invasive plant species on terrestrial plant communities and ecosystems and her efforts to apply research to management of invaded systems. The five-year program will support fellows’ competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions.