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January 7, 2016

People of the Times

The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences has appointed two assistant directors to the Advising Center.

Ed Giles will oversee a new peer advising program in his role as assistant director. Previously, Giles was responsible for Allegheny College’s orientation programming, including managing a peer mentoring program for first-year students.

Giles earned a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from John Carroll University, and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, before working for several years in risk management roles for a national provider of home improvement services. He has also received a second master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University.

Maggie Schneider, an adviser in the center for 20 years, will manage scheduling and orientation for new students in her role as assistant director.

Schneider began her Pitt career 24 years ago as a graduate student adviser. She holds a BS in math education from Slippery Rock University and an MA in mathematics from Pitt.


Michele M. Lagnese has been named director of TRIO Student Support Services (SSS).

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Pitt’s TRIO SSS is one of more than 900 TRIO SSS programs across the country. These programs provide academic, social and cultural support to first generation (defined as parents or guardian not graduating from a four-year institution) and/or low-income college students. Housed in the Academic Resource Center in the Dietrich school, SSS is a program for all undergraduates, regardless of school or major.

Lagnese began working as an academic counselor with SSS at Clarion University in 1997, and served as counseling coordinator for Clarion’s TRIO Upward Bound program until she was named director of that program in 2003.

She holds an MA in student personnel and a BS in education from Slippery Rock University.


Seeking to expand its reach across the University and with regional entities, the Swanson School of Engineering has announced new leadership at its Petersen Institute for NanoScience and Engineering. Esta Abelev, formerly a research associate at Princeton, has been named technical director. David H. Waldeck, faculty member in chemistry, will assume the role of academic director.

Abelev earned her BS in chemical engineering and PhD in materials science and engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology. She worked at Intel Corp. and SRI International as a semiconductor process development engineer. In 2014 she joined a research group at Princeton where she worked on development of new materials related to light energy conversion and generation of solar fuels.

Waldeck earned a BS in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Chicago. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Berkeley. He joined the Pitt chemistry faculty in 1985 and served as chair of the department 2005-14. His research uses spectroscopy, electrochemistry and microscopy to investigate primary processes in the condensed phase, which includes liquids, solids and liquid/solid interfaces.


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