2023 Swanson School of Engineering Annual Report

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Cover image: An conceptual design of metamaterials designed by Amir Alavi. See page 5.

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2023 Annual Report Message from the Dean Dear colleagues, alumni, and friends, With 2024 underway, I am excited to share this report of the past academic year and some of the noteworthy accomplishments of our Swanson School of Engineering community. Our faculty, staff, and students continue to exhibit an uplifting commitment to academic and research excellence, even stronger than before the Covid-19 pandemic upended society. Indeed, the University in general and the Swanson School in particular have become a top choice for new students. First-year enrollment within the Swanson School was 618 – with Pitt receiving the most applications in its history. The caliber of students continues to impress, from GPA and advanced courses to diversity and an excitement for engineering. Enrollment at the master’s level is stable but still lower than it should be. To some extent, these degrees are an indicator of the nation’s economy – when employment and wages are strong as they are now, individual workers tend to consider as unnecessary the investment of time and money for an advanced degree. We

therefore are working with employers to develop focused graduate degree and certificate programs to address their needs to improve retention and remain competitive. The PhD program, a bellwether of our research success, continues its growth as our faculty continue on an impressive trajectory of success in securing extramural research grants. At the end of AY23, we realized $61.38 million in research expenditures for primary faculty and $125.67 million for primary and engaged secondary faculty – a new record for the Swanson School. You’ll see some of those results on our research fast fact page and read about the impactful research projects, such as: • A revolutionary “Smart Cuff” that could change how healthcare providers monitor cardiovascular health. • The better understanding of “forever chemicals” in our environment and how to better monitor their impact. • Finding new ways to fight climate change, from novel carbon sequestration techniques to exploring new power technologies.

Since my appointment as Interim Dean in August 2022, my focus has been to invest in educational excellence, innovative research, and enhancing the student experience – especially to encourage students to take the wheel in their own educational journey. This strategy should not only help students better adapt to a university environment but also address lingering deficiencies from pandemic isolation. We’ve included a sample of some of those stories in this report:

I hope you will enjoy reading these engaging stories and I encourage you to visit news.engineering.pitt.edu for the latest from the Swanson School of Engineering. My best wishes for the new year ahead and as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments at ssoedean@pitt.edu and encourage you to visit my office whenever you are in Benedum Hall. Hail to Pitt! Sincerely,

• An undergraduate student who isas phenomenal in the research lab as he is on Pitt’s hockey team. • A newly funded DOE program with the David C. Frederick Honors College and University Office of Research to help students develop ways to transform and protect the nation’s power grid.

Sanjeev G. Shroff Interim US Steel Dean, Swanson School of Engineering Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering Professor of Medicine

• Introspective programs by students, especially underrepresented minorities, who are looking to themselves and each other to address the challenges of being an engineering student in the 21st century.


Table of Contents

By the Numbers........................................................3 Research....................................................................4 Interdisciplinary........................................................6 Sustainability............................................................7 Diversity....................................................................8 Bioengineering..........................................................10 Chemical and Petroleum..........................................12 Executive Editor

Paul Kovach

Civil and Environmental...........................................16

Director, Marketing and Communications

Electrical and Computer...........................................20



Leslie Karon-Oswalt Senior Graphic Designer

Mechanical and Materials Science..........................26

Contributing Writers

Distinguished Alumni...............................................29

Kara Henderson Anna Ligorio Maggie Lindenberg Kat Procyk Principal Photography

John Altdorfer

Awards and Honors: Faculty....................................30 Awards and Honors: Students.................................32


Undergraduate Enrollment 3000








Graduate Enrollment – Masters (FT & PT)


500 1000 400




















Graduate Enrollment – PhD 600




















RE SEARCH REPO RT Research Expenditures


1% ACS 5% AHA

(in $millions)

1% PennDOT

6% DOE


38% NSF

50 8% DOD

40 30







Funding Proposals by Agency

16% Other

10 0





FY23 25% NIH

Annual spending from sponsored research funding in the last five fiscal years for primary faculty. Research spending data finalized in October 2023.

Research Activity FY23

$1M+ Awards (FY23)


for Research to Enhance Soldier Protection & Performance (Pi: Ban)


Proposals Submitted



Grants Awarded



Research Expenditures (primary faculty)

Industry-Sponsored Research




Research Expenditures (primary + (engaged) secondary faculty)


for Research on Hydrogen Activation and Transfer (Pi: Mckone)


to Fund Memory in Motor Cortex Research (Pi: Batista)


to Fund Ai-Enabled Pulmonary Function Test Systems (Pi: Gao)


to Fund Sustainable Data/Model Integration Frameworks (Pi: Liang, X)


to Study Photovoltaics in the Circular Economy (Pi: Leu)





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CHEERS! to Interdisciplinary Collaborations at Pitt One of the keys to new interdisciplinary collaborations in research is access to a funding jumpstart. Two University of Pittsburgh units launched a new mechanism to help further collaborations between the Swanson School of Engineering and the Schools of the Health Sciences (SHS). CHEERS – “Collaboration in HEalth Sciences and EngineeRing Startup” – is a grant program co-developed and co-sponsored by Pitt’s Swanson School and its Clinical and Translational Science Institute and is designed to enhance collaboration between faculty members in engineering and those in SHS – the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Nursing. The intent of the financial support is to establish or expand trans-disciplinary collaborations that lead to the submission of larger collaborative external grant applications in the areas of human health and medicine. A total of $212,498 was awarded for five awards. “Faculty in the Swanson School and Health Sciences have long enjoyed collaborative research partnerships, and we felt it was time to create a seed program to encourage more partnerships,” explained David Vorp, senior associate dean for research and facilities at the Swanson School. “I’m excited that both Interim Dean Sanjeev Shroff and CTSI Executive Director Steven Reis not only understand the need for and importance of faculty teams bridging disciplines but put their resources into supporting them and their innovative ideas.” There were 35 letters of intent submitted in response to the CHEERS call for applications, of which 16 full proposals were invited. The five awards made were: Toward a Comprehensive Hemodynamic Monitoring Device in Pregnant and Postpartum Individuals Alisse Hauspurg/Ramakrishna Mukkamala Development of a Testbed for Foot and Ankle Orthopaedic Research Patrick Smolinski/MaCalus Hogan Development of Cortical Visual Neuroprosthesis in a Non-human Primate Model Neeraj Ghandi/Avniel Ghuman Immobilized Neuroglobin for Treatment of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Jesus Tejero Bravo/William Federspiel Data Driven Allocation of Scarce Nursing Resources to Improve Patient Outcomes Andrew Dierkes/Oliver Hinder

Awarding a New CAREER

Metamaterials, nanocarbons, and photopolymers are the winning themes for the 2023 recipients of National Science CAREER Awards at the Swanson School of Engineering. “Thanks to a dedicated focus on mentorship, grant writing, and research development, 22 of our young faculty have received CAREER awards since 2016,” noted David Vorp, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Facilities. The CAREER award validates a young faculty member’s potential early in their research career and provides the necessary funding to develop education programs that benefit the community.

Paving the Way for Truly Intelligent Materials Amir Alavi, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been working to engineer a new class of intelligent materials that can create the foundation for mechanical computing systems. His $535,120 NSF CAREER Award will further his research in self-powered mechanical “metamaterials” that can think for themselves without the need for delicate processors or batteries – materials that will be useful for everything from medical implants to space computing.

Engineering a “LINC” Between Graphene and Polymers Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, will utilize his $596,734 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to develop LINC – laser-induced nanocarbon – to expedite and revolutionize flexible device manufacturing processes by creating graphene and related nanomaterials directly on polymers.

Thinking on Different Wavelengths to Improve Photopolymer-Based 3D Printing Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, received a $657,610 CAREER award to further her research in photopolymer additive manufacturing (PAM). This technology utilizes two lights to cure photosensitive materials and curb the associated overcuring, respectively, allowing for the fabrication of components with higher resolution and greater precision than existing PAM technologies.


Sowing New Seeds of Collaboration

Addressing global issues – especially related to the environment, human health, and climate – requires breaking down silos and jumpstarting interdisciplinary research. Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) and School of Public Health (SPH) launched the Trans-Disciplinary Collaboration Pilot Awards this year to establish and strengthen collaborations between faculty members of both schools in the areas of climate change and health, global health, and environmental justice. The program aims to enhance the university’s expertise in these priority areas and ultimately help faculty better compete

for large-scale external funding, and recently announced its first awardees. “Engineers solve problems from nearly every facet of life, so it only makes sense to work together across disciplines to ensure those solutions are deeply considerate of human health, the environment, and society at large,” said Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Sanjeev Shroff, PhD. “The health of the environment is inextricably linked to that of humans,” said Pitt Public Health Dean Maureen Lichtveld, MD, MPH. “The program’s anticipated impact is three-pronged: competitive positioning for external

funding in climate and health, career advancement of participating faculty, and an exemplar for future university-wide investment in research collaboration.” Funded projects will focus on underserved communities at the local, regional, and global levels and will feature collaboration between at least one faculty member from each school. This year’s chosen projects all feature faculty from the SSoE Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and SPH’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH).

Inaugural Recipients of the Trans-Disciplinary Collaboration Pilot Awards

Environmental PFAS pollution, heat stress and kidney disease: a pharmacokinetic approach integrating persistent chemical exposures and climate change Alison P. Sanders, PhD, assistant professor of EOH, SPH Carla Ng, PhD, associate professor of CEE, SSoE


Revealing environmental contamination and potential exposure pathways by PFAS in Suriname and Ghana Firoz Abdoel Wahid, MD, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of EOH, SPH Nesta Bortey-Sam, PhD, assistant professor of EOH, SPH

Simultaneous Removal of Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollutant from Waste Gases by Co-immobilized Enzymes Peng Gao, PhD, assistant professor of EOH, SPH Meng Wang, PhD, assistant professor of CEE, SSoE

Carla Ng, PhD, associate professor of CEE, SSoE




Exploring the Feasibility, Governance, and Public Communication of Biomining to Advance Inclusivity and Environmental Justice Tina Ndoh, PhD, associate professor of EOH, SPH Meng Wang, PhD, assistant professor of CEE, SSoE Elizabeth Pitts, PhD, assistant professor of English, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences

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A Tale of Two Sustainable Cities

While the circular economy – a model where products and materials are by design kept in continual use – is being discussed and debated at the highest levels of government and global organizations, cities and communities are the front line of implementation. Getting a circular economy (CE) to work in practice requires collaboration between government, businesses, local stakeholders and everyone in between. To that end, a research team from the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Swanson School of Engineering and the University of Georgia College of Engineering are leading a project to collect and analyze data in Pittsburgh and Georgia to build a more circular economy. The project, “A Tale of Two Cities: Optimizing Circularity from Molecules to the Built Environment,” received $749,997 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Convergence Accelerator, which is supporting 16 multidisciplinary teams advancing the circular economy.

“We’re connecting and converging a path forward toward a circular economy across multiple materials and scales, and we’re doing it in two large metropolitan areas in geographically different regions,” said Melissa Bilec, co-director of Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pitt. “If we are successful, this model could be translated to other locations through the U.S. and globally, and maybe eventually scaling to thousands of cities.” The team is led by University of Georgia’s professor of environmental engineering Jenna Jambeck. Seven industry, government and NGO partners will also participate. The team is examining all levels of circularity, from the molecular level (How can polymers, coatings, and fiber be optimized for recycling?) all the way to the built environment (How can construction account for end-of-life deconstruction so the components can be reused?).

From the Ground Up Over the next year, the researchers will use the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) developed by Jambeck’s Circularity Informatics Lab to collect community-level data on material usage and management – looking at things like local product design and the built environment, waste collection and infrastructure, and what kinds of materials could contaminate the environment. For one part of the project, the data will be publicly available through the Debris Tracker open access tool developed by Jambeck’s lab. The tracker allows users to log litter and plastic pollution in their communities, and so far it has tracked over six million items around the world. An important part of the project is listening to the community’s needs and opinions concerning pollution, environmental justice, and more. “A circular economy is a model that requires input from disciplines as diverse as chemistry, biology, engineering, business, economics, social sciences, and behavioral sciences,” said

Bilec. “But most importantly, it requires input from the community.” In Pittsburgh, key partners include the Green Building Alliance, Construction Junction, and Covestro – which is also partnering with Pitt to launch the Covestro Circular Economy Program. Atlanta-based partners include the City of Atlanta and the Lifecycle Building Center.

A Confluence of Circularity The team is building on momentum and findings from the NSF Convergence Accelerator Workshop that Bilec led in 2020: Design for a Circular Economy from Molecules to the Built Environment. The NSF Convergence Accelerator program uses a convergence approach, bringing together teams from various fields to transition their basic research to high-impact solutions for societal challenges. The first phase of this funding includes a curriculum for researchers that will help the team strengthen its collaboration and accelerate their initial idea toward real-world solutions.



Engineering the Legends of Tomorrow Sean Gibson won’t allow his family’s legacy to disappear

Gibson serves as the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, named after his great grandfather, a legendary baseball player for the Homestead Grays whose accomplishments in the Negro Leagues were unprecedented but mostly undocumented. The foundation focuses on creating access to education to Pittsburgh students – the type of access Gibson’s great grandfather never had as a Black man growing up in the early 20th century.

He hopes students on each side can see a little of themselves in each other.

The foundation has been building partnerships throughout Pittsburgh to expand that access. Sean and the foundation have been working with the University of Pittsburgh’s National Society of Black Engineers to build the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Program for eighth grade boys at Pittsburgh Classical Academy, a magnet school that’s part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools District.

A Shared Goal

Gibson said the goal of the foundation is to carry on the legacy of greatness and accomplishment embodied by Josh by developing and supporting programs for children to reach their full potential and ability.





“We want the kids to be engaged and learn about engineering, but we also want these kids to get some life skills,” Gibson said. “Some of these kids come from a single parent household or live in low-income communities. Some of the Pitt NSBE students did, too, and we want them to see a Black engineering student from a similar background and reflect on that.”

Jared Coffelt, a recent graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering, met Sean Gibson while participating in Pitt’s Alternative Break program his first year at Pitt. They found a common goal for their organizations: helping students. Coffelt acted as a liaison for Pitt NSBE and the foundation. He said he wanted to help further the relationship of Pitt NSBE and its surrounding community, noting that he always had a passion for working in schools. Coffelt was the first student to fully engage in the program. The STEAM Program runs from October to May; it was online for two years because of COVID-19 restrictions and

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lockdowns but resumed in-person for the 2022-2023 school year. Pitt NSBE members introduce students to engineering concepts and assign projects and homework. Pittsburgh Classical Academy students are also expected to create their own assignments throughout the year. Coffelt said one of his favorite lessons he designed for students was building a catapult; however, it was his oneon-one interactions with students that solidified his passion for the program. “I’ve always wanted to help people when I was growing up,” Coffelt said. “The need to help others ended up translating into teaching and mentoring, so I started visiting classrooms and meeting with students. I’ve been able to empathize with others in a better, more organic way.”

The Josh Gibsons of Tomorrow Anthony Evans, an eighth grader at Pittsburgh Classical Academy, didn’t know what engineering was until he joined the STEAM Program. He saw an opportunity to learn something different outside the classroom.

“I decided to join so I could be more successful, whether that’s in engineering, building stuff or just life,” Evans said. Evans rocked excitedly in his seat and sorted through the provided materials for the class, ranging from colored pencils to an iPad. Materials for the STEAM Program are all provided by the foundation through a Department of Education grant. Dollar Bank is also a financial partner and occasionally visits the class to teach about fiscal responsibility. “The boys really connect to Sean,” Valerie Merlo, principal of Pittsburgh Classical Academy said. “They continue to come because he is a friend and mentor to them, especially the students who struggle in regular classroom environments.” Peter Dadson is the Pitt NSBE member leading this year’s class. Dadson, a junior majoring in chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School, joins remotely from Zoom every Monday. Dadson chose the program because he wanted to give back to the Black community in some way.

“There’s so many negative influences that can come upon the world and toward people in minority communities, so I want to be able to have the skills to not just uplift myself but people around me,” Dadson said. He also wants students to think about how engineering impacts the larger world. “I think these students are our future,” Dadson said. “It’s important to implement these ideas into these children now, so that when they grow and go into higher academia or industry, they have these concepts ingrained in them, and they’re working to build a better tomorrow for their children and their grandchildren.” Dadson didn’t know who Josh Gibson was before joining the class. Evans, on the other hand, learned who he was seeing after seeing a play about Gibson’s life in elementary school. After learning about Gibson’s lack of formal education, Evans said he’s “relieved” to be able to do things like the STEAM Program as a modern Black student.

There’s so many negative influences that can come upon the world and toward people in minority communities, so I want to be able to have the skills to not just uplift myself but people around me. – Peter Dadson

“I just want to make the Black community proud that we can do this stuff now,” Evans said.



A Smarter Way to Monitor Critical Care Patients

Surgical and intensive care patients face a higher risk of death and longer hospital stays because they are susceptible to both hypotension and hemodynamic instability – or unstable blood flow. These potential complications require round-the-clock monitoring of several cardiac functions by nurses and physicians, but there’s currently no singular, convenient device that can measure the most vital aspects of a patient’s cardiovascular health. Ramakrishna Mukkamala, professor of bioengineering, and Aman Mahajan, Safar Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine with a secondary appointment in bioengineering at Pitt, received $2,707,906 from the National


Institutes of Health to develop “Smart Cuff” – a multifunction device that can reliably monitor blood pressure, cardiac output, and ventricular ejection fraction. “Several hemodynamic monitoring devices are currently available, but they are invasive, manual or nonstandard,” Mukkamala said. “None have been widely adopted. Smart Cuff, which is worn on a patient’s arm just like a typical blood pressure cuff in critical care, can eliminate all these hurdles and allow for more efficient patient care.”

One Device Smart Enough for Three When blood pressure is measured, a cuff is placed around the patient’s arm and then is inflated until no blood can flow through the brachial artery. Air



is then slowly released from the cuff, creating a waveform – a key aspect of the Smart Cuff.

and simplify evaluation tools for medical professionals.”

Only blood pressure is calculated from the waveform. Physiology-inspired machine learning and innovative cuff inflation-deflation patterns can enable Smart Cuff to compute cardiac output and other important variables like pulse pressure variations and left ventricular ejection fraction, or how well oxygenrich blood is being pumped out of the heart throughout the body.

• Kathirvel Subramanian, professor of anesthesiology and perioperative at Pitt and director of perioperative echocardiology at UPMC

“Blood pressure is vital for monitoring hypotension and other potential risks to patients, but cardiac output and left ventricular ejection fraction are needed to determine treatment,” Mukkamala said. “Our goal here is to improve a patient’s cardiovascular outcomes


Joining Mukkamala and Mahajan:

• Sanjeev Shroff, professor bioengineering and interim dean of engineering at Pitt • Michael Pinksy, professor of critical care medicine and bioengineering at Pitt • Jin-Oh Hahn, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland • Tanya Kenkre, senior statistician at Pitt’s Epidemiology Data Center

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CampBioE Brings Bioengineering to the Hill District Not many summer camps have chicken leg dissections on the program schedule – but not many summer camps are like the Department of Bioengineering’s CampBioE. CampBioE introduces campers who mostly come from underrepresented communities, referred to as CampBioE “scholars,” to STEM concepts in a unique way that will hopefully engage them well after the week-long camp ends. It explores bioengineering and regenerative medicine through new technologies, experimental strategies and ethical considerations. The camp enrolls elementary, middle, and high school students, but intentionally started the 2023 summer with Jumpstart CampBioE, an elementary-level program. Including students at this age is a novel initiative of Assistant Professor Katrina Knight, who aims to intrigue children with STEM at a young age. CampBioE is led by both Knight and founding director Steven Abramowitch, Associate Chair for Culture and Community and W.K. Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering. “When I became faculty I wanted to extend the camp – traditionally it was [for] high school students, some middle schoolers, but I wanted to extend it to elementary school, so I created Jumpstart CampBioE,” Knight said. “The vision is to get them interested early in STEM with the hope that they will go on to college or into some STEM-based career.” Offered since 2007, this past summer it was held free of cost at Pitt’s Hill District Community Engagement Center (CEC). Marlo Hall, Outreach Coordinator for the CEC, coordinated the CEC’s summer camp programming and emphasized the center’s focus on long-term engagement. “Our programming is across a lifespan – youth is an entry point, and as they get through to high school we have programs that are more directly involved with campus,” Hall said. “We really want to provide a way for students to excel, and I believe CampBioE is a great asset in providing students an opportunity to explore their interests and potentially take them further.”

Hockey Led Ben Leslie to Study Heart Valves Benjamin Leslie is a star on and off the ice The formidable forward on Pitt’s Division 1 men’s ice hockey team has scored 112 points over his 91-game career. As the 2023 year ended, the team won the season’s Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League tournament and received its highest ranking in program history, coming in at No. 9. In between practice and traveling for games, Leslie also manages 18-credit semesters and research on congenital heart defects (CHD). In the Wagner/D’Amore Cardiovascular Engineering Lab in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Leslie researches CHD valve malformations that can result in heart or valve infections, irregular heartbeats, blot clots, heart failure and strokes. He’s especially concerned about the littlest patients experiencing these symptoms. “For these kids, childhood often means a lot of time in the hospital undergoing major cardiac procedures,” he said. “When I was a kid, I wanted to have fun and run around with my friends. To not to be able to enjoy any high-intensity activity or sport, let alone hockey, I can’t imagine how awful that must be.” Leslie wants to find a way to fix these faulty valves once and for all.

Valves made from patients’ own tissues, like those Leslie studied in the Wagner/ D’Amore lab, can grow as the patient does, thus decreasing the number of surgeries patients need. “Additionally, by being made from the patient’s own cells, the need for blood thinners would not be required,” said Leslie. “Therefore, children would be able to partake in sports like every other kid, without the risk of bleeding. This could give every kid a chance.” In his sophomore year, Leslie focused on researching the ways these types of valves could decrease the likelihood of problems like calcification and improve heart function. Drake Pedersen, a doctoral bioengineering student, supervised Leslie in the lab. By Leslie’s junior year, Pedersen was entrusting him to run experiments and recommending him for co-ops. Leslie says medical school is on his radar, but for now, he’s focusing his final year of school – and on kids and coaching. “My coaches have impacted who I am as a person and decisions I’ve made for hockey and off the ice. That’s something I would love to do for other kids,” Leslie said.



An Alliance of Innovation

Lubrizol CEO Dr. Rebecca Liebert (center) discusses research processes with ChemE graduate student Remsha Rafiq (left).

When the partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and The Lubrizol Corporation was first formed in 2013, a $1.2 million agreement planted the seed for what would become a commitment to fostering a new future of chemistry and engineering science. Flash forward a decade when Lubrizol executives including President and CEO Dr. Rebecca Liebert visited Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and School of Medicine to learn about the fruits of that initial alliance, and what future opportunities may appear as the Wickliffe, Ohio-headquartered company continues to expand its industry footprint.


“When we began this partnership, our faculty saw it as an opportunity to apply their expertise to industry and find solutions for projects that were relatively small but impactful,” explains Steven R. Little, Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Additionally, it presented an opportunity to engage students in industry research and ideation. As our alliance strengthened, however, this synergy and excitement expanded to where we were able to help Lubrizol create game-changing industry processes and innovations.” “We greatly value our university partnerships at Lubrizol,” said



Liebert. “Our University of Pittsburgh relationship provides us with a healthy pipeline of talent, as well as. valuable research and insights that help us progress forward in the markets we serve. It also gives future chemical engineers real-world experience and challenges to solve.” “Over the past decade our relationship with the School of Engineering has become a shining example of University-Industrial partnership,” said Glenn Cormack, Lubrizol Process Innovation Manager and Technical Fellow. “Our partnership has been instrumental in helping Lubrizol reshape


the way we innovate processes, provide more sustainable product solutions and think about how we decarbonize our manufacturing footprint.”

Getting Started One of the first investigators to join the Pitt side of the alliance was Götz Veser, the Nicholas DeCecco Professor of Chemical Engineering. H e targeted Lubrizol’s production of additives and dispersants for industry. Like most chemical companies in the U.S., Lubrizol manufactured these products in very large batches because of ease, cost, and an industry reluctance to change.

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Veser, however, knew European competitors were focused on “process intensification” – making more diversified products with a smaller manufacturing footprint. Veser and his graduate students developed a methodological pathway for process intensification, including a prototype reactor that would later become the genesis of new production skids at Lubrizol. One of the graduate students who worked on this project, Nasser Al Azri, would not only earn his master’s and PhD from Pitt but would begin a new career as a Lubrizol Process Innovation Engineer. Today, Veser and his students are investigating decarbonization, emissions mitigation and creating an efficient process for circular re-use of polyurethane materials by separating them into their constituent components post-use. “The idea of a circular economy is at last gaining momentum in the United States and is encouraging companies like Lubrizol to create a more sustainable approach to manufacturing, one that streamlines processes, reduces waste, and enables a product to find a new life after its initial use,” Veser says. “This is no longer optional for industry because clients and the public at large are demanding that companies find solutions that have a positive impact on the planet. It’s

Robert Enick (right), Professor and Assistant Chair of Research for Chemical Engineering, discusses his CO2 viscosification research with Lubrizol CEO Rebecca Liebert.

exciting to work with a company like Lubrizol to bring these ideas to life.” Meanwhile, Robert Enick, professor and assistant chair of research, utilizes a unique cell which allows him to test working fluid conditions at temperatures as extreme as 200˚C and pressures up to 10,000 psi. What’s distinctive about this equipment is that its large window and transparent polymer testing tubes allow for real-time visualization of the phase behavior. Enick’s system for example can be used to determine if polymers dissolve in CO2, or the stability of foams composed of CO2 bubbles separated by films of surfactant-brine. “When you test a fluid for undissolved solids in a typical metal container, you might get positive results over time, but they might be impacted by undissolved solids impeding the flow that you can’t see between the surfaces,” Enick explains. “Being able to see viscosity is an incredible benefit when testing fluids in extreme environments.” Another long-time Pitt researcher involved in the Lubrizol Alliance is Professor Lei Li, an expert in coatings who is studying liquid separation

techniques utilizing 3-D printed membranes to separate liquid mixtures such as oily wastewater. Recently Li received a $542,751 award from the National Science Foundation to develop a more efficient lubricant to coat the latest devices in HDD technology. “My students and I are proud of our research with Lubrizol because we are engaging in a holistic approach to sustainable applications,” Li said. “Greater efficiency and waste reduction are sometimes at odds in traditional manufacturing settings, but Lubrizol is committed to improving the entire production process and advancing U.S. industry.”

From Lab to the Classroom and Back


National Science Foundation Award to develop a more efficient lubricant to coat devices in HDD technology.

Cormack noted that the faculty lab research is only one critical part of the alliance. The other is translating what is learned in the lab to teach the next generation of chemical engineers. “Industries often evolve through innovation or attrition, and at Lubrizol we believe innovation is most successful when fostering the future of chemistry and science and creating healthy talent pathways,” he said. “By using the continued on next page > > > 13

An Alliance of Innovation...continued from page 13 knowledge gained in labs and creating new courses that give students new paths into research, we help to develop a more holistic chemical engineer.” One of the cornerstones of the alliance has been the healthy pipeline of co-op and interns students from Pitt who have gone on to participate in multi-semester rotational assignments throughout Lubrizol. Lubrizol’s co-op program is a critical part of the hiring process of Chemical Engineering talent within the company. Furthermore, many students who end up in Lubrizol’s co-op program end up also performing fundamental research on Lubrizol projects when they return to school for subsequent semesters. Two courses were developed through the alliance: “Introduction to Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0214) is open to sophomores who learn how to design products specific to a customer’s needs. Traditionally, most engineering students don’t work on design projects until senior year. The follow-up course, “Taking Products to Market: The Next Step in Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0314), focuses on entrepreneurship and the skills necessary to successfully turn student ideas into products or companies.

From Quality of Chemistry to Quality of Life

algae blooms and other dangers that threaten aquatic life.

Steve Little, the chemical engineering department chair, is nationally recognized for his research in drug delivery systems and particle design. What excites him even more about the alliance with Lubrizol is the company’s research and growth in medical polymers, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals.

The potential for novel life science applications between Lubrizol and Pitt extends beyond the Swanson School of Engineering. The university is one of the country’s research powerhouses and attracts more than $1 billion in external research funding, much of which is from the National Institutes of Health. The Lubrizol tour enabled Scott Morley, director of Pitt’s Office of Industry and Economy Partnerships, and Brian Vidic, director of industry partnerships, to provide a look at how the Schools of the Health Sciences could further extend the alliance in pharmaceutical sciences as well as dental medicine, plastic surgery, and regenerative medicine.

“Today, we have a greater understanding of particle design and function as well as microfluidic systems,” Little said. “For example, rather than treating conditions from tooth decay to eye diseases and cancer by flooding the body with medication, we can design particles that are stimulus responsive and go into the body and treat one area or organ.” Little’s research is now expanding into agriculture, where similar systems could be designed for more efficient delivery of fertilizers that are often washed into water systems, creating

Strategic Alliance 2.0 Lubrizol President and CEO Dr. Rebecca Liebert had the opportunity to see how the Lubrizol/Pitt Alliance transformed over the past decade and what potential may lie ahead. Her visit

also included a meeting with Pitt’s new Chancellor, Joan Gabel, who began her tenure this past July and is also engaged in understanding Pitt’s potential with collaborations such as Lubrizol. What comes next between the two entities is more ideation and discussion. For now, however, the Swanson School continues to focus on how this strategic alliance can both advance research and open new pathways for students. “One of the greatest attributes that has grown out of this alliance is the excitement between our faculty and Lubrizol scientists when they discover that solving a relatively small problem results in a greater innovation,” noted Sanjeev Shroff, Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “The other benefit is that it has provided the template for the Swanson School and Pitt to develop similar partnerships in other departments which are also bearing fruit. I look forward to seeing what the next decade may bring.”

And to create a bridge between undergraduate and graduate programs, the “Physical Property Internship” is a nine-month program for chemical engineering students who graduate in December and are intending to go to graduate school in the fall.

Veser Lab undergraduate students (from left) Hannah Zucco and Stacey H Ngo; Lubrizol CEO Rebecca Liebert; and PhD student Remsha Rafiq. 14




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The Teacher Who Learns Joaquin Rodriguez, assistant professor of chemical engineering, emigrated to the United States in 2017 with the intention to teach but didn’t realize how much he’d learn. Originally from Venezuela, Rodriguez faced various communication and cultural boundaries that he would need to cross – for both himself and his students at the Swanson School. He incorporated these challenges into his teaching which eventually led to his recognition with the Department’s 2022 James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching in Chemical Engineering, and the 2022 Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum. Both awards celebrate educators who dedicate a portion of the classroom experience to diversity and inclusion.

“I appreciate the recognition very much, but honestly, these awards should go to my students,” Rodriguez said. “They do the work; I just create the opportunity. I celebrate the commitment of our university to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. It is not only the right thing to do, but also the best thing to do.” Other than teaching, Rodriguez researches engineering education focusing on diversity, teamwork and leadership, global and community outreach, and alumni relationships. His work has led to the creation of the ChemE Global Projects Day, a program where students design solutions to regional problems. Students then present their work to stakeholders from each country represented.

Rodriguez wants his students to be knowledgeable about issues that are happening elsewhere – outside of the news and social media. ChemE Global Projects Day is an avenue to foster the development of global awareness. “For a couple of hours, the world is at hand, from Brazil to the Philippines, from South Africa to Bangladesh.” Rodriguez said. “The main concerns of the world are approached with a positive attitude of potential solutions and with an inspired commitment to do something about it, all together.” Through training and education, Rodriguez has become more sensitive to barriers students may face like a disability or mental health. He tries his best to connect with each student personally, but

also acknowledges a standard of privacy. He’s learned something new from each student he’s interacted with. In a lot of ways, he feels inspired by them. “I have learned from students’ interests, aspirations, and dreams,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve helped me get an idea of how their future leadership will move this country forward.”

An Outstanding Legacy in Engineering Education After 25 years of teaching, mentoring, nurturing and leading engineering students of all ages, Taryn Bayles, vice chair for undergraduate education and professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, received the Swanson School of Engineering’s 2023 Outstanding Educator Award. “I am overwhelmed by this recognition, because I am incredibly blessed to have a position that I love,” said Bayles. “The very best part of this position is working with our incredible students. For me, the greatest reward is their success.” Bayles’ commitment to excellence in teaching and research has earned her the respect and admiration of colleagues and students alike – and numerous prestigious awards, including the ASEE Pre-College Engineering Education Lifetime Achievement Award, the James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching Chemical Engineering, the ASEE Donald R. Woods Lectureship for Lifetime Achievement in Chemical Engineering Pedagogy, and the AIChE Philanthropist of the Year Award. A profile of her work was featured recently on the cover of Chemical Engineering Education. Bayles’s impressive teaching career is defined by her dedication to her students and their individual needs and goals. She begins each semester by taking a photo of each student and asking them to list their name pronunciation, goals and biography

so that she can make flashcards and learn about her students in the first weeks of class. She also uses that information to tailor her coursework so it’s both interesting and useful to the students in her class that semester. Bayles is well-known for her contributions to K-12 engineering education. She incorporates an outreach component in her undergraduate courses, and the efforts of over 1,250 undergraduate engineering students have benefited more than 12,000 K-12 students. She has led middle school and high school teacher professional development for Project Lead the Way, and co-authored the INSPIRES (INcreasing Student Participation, Interest and Recruitment in Engineering & Science) curriculum, which introduces high school students to engineering design through handson experiences and inquiry-based learning with real world engineering design challenges.



Come Health or High Water

Historically oppressed communities are faced with compounded health, economic and social injustices – with climate change making them worse. Pitt engineers joined an interdisciplinary team and received $1.35 million from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to study the impact of climate change on behavioral and respiratory effects of fungal and bacterial pathogens on Black Americans living in the Homewood and Hill District neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Sarah Haig, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-investigator on the project, and her lab will collect dust samples from 110 Pittsburgh households to determine what’s possibly lurking in their basements. “Interactions between changing precipitation patterns and indoor air quality in urban-built environments are still poorly understood and have little research behind them,” said Haig. “By studying the presence and abundance of pathogenic respiratory fungi and bacteria found in basement dust we can begin to understand how climate change impacts home dampness and in turn how this impacts the air we breathe whilst indoors.”

$1.35M received from the EPA




Rainfall, especially in the northeast United States, is increasing in frequency and intensity. These shifts in precipitation patterns are linked to flash flooding and even wetter basements.


A wet basement creates weakened infrastructure, putting households at risk of exposure to environmental contaminants through leaks, breaks and sewer backups. “Our hope, together as a team, is to document conditions that simply have not been systematically documented, and to understand the impact of changing weather events (specifically extreme rainfall) on households in the Hill District and Homewood – two neighborhoods that have been historically oppressed,” said Tamara Dubowitiz, principal investigator of the project and senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “This is where the environmental justice component comes into play – we recognize the importance of gathering data in order to advocate for change and improvement of conditions in the neighborhoods that all too often are forgotten.” These environmental contaminants put residents at risk for asthma, rhinitis, and respiratory conditions, often leading to stress and depression. Alyssa Lyon, director of the Black Environment Collective at the UrbanKind Institute and co-investigator, said the environment directly impacts health – especially in marginalized communities. “Some of the people I’ve worked with in these areas have recounted their relationship with the environment,” Lyon said. “From having to quit their job

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$735,872 received from the NSF The Potential of Digital Twins

because their child has severe asthma and as a result their child not being able to attend school. Due to lack of education, despair, and even confusion – all those collateral consequences – that child could eventually even turn to addiction. I think there’s a direct link between mental health and a healthy space.” Lyon explained that because of the vulnerability of the communities in large-scale research projects, it’s important to include Black-led environmentalist groups to ensure accountability and transparency from the researchers for the residents. “It’s important for these institutions to know that we have our eye on you,” she said. “We’re going to make sure this money is going to be used for what you said it was going to be used for: to help these residents.” Haig and other researchers on the project are also concerned about radon: an invisible, radioactive and odorless gas that can be present in soil and groundwater. Radon enters a home through its foundation – especially a weakened one. Exposure can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing, a bad cough, a hoarse speaking voice and tightness in the chest. Haig and her team will need a little over two years to complete their research. The results will be used to study the link between basement pathogens, basement moisture, daily rainfall extremes, housing and neighborhood conditions, and cumulative health impacts for residents

across the adult lifespan. The team is planning on working with local government agencies to develop and disseminate community-based solutions to solve the cumulative health impacts that are caused by these compounding issues. Walter Lewis, president and CEO of the Homewood Children’s Village and another principal investigator, said it’s critical that the project prioritizes community-based solutions that build on the research. He added that the project’s focus on community and using research to drive actual change was what led him to become a part of the project team. “All researchers are in agreement that this is not just another study that just gets published and sits on a shelf,” Lewis said. “It needs to be a study that turns into action, and there are people in the community also talking about it – using that power to ensure change happens.” The project, “Health and High Water: Health Impacts of Increased Rainfall of Families Living in Racially Isolated Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh PA,” also includes: • The University of Pittsburgh: Daniel Bain and Emily Elliott

Digital twins – a model that serves as a real-time computational counterpart – can be used to help simulate the effects of multiple types of conditions, such as weather, traffic, and even climate change. Still, life-cycle assessments (LCAs) of climate change’s effects on infrastructure are still a work-in-progress, leaving a need for a comprehensive view on how this can impact a building’s daily function. A team from the Swanson School of Engineering received $735,872 from the National Science Foundation to develop a digital twin of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI), a university-wide sustainability center attached to Pitt’s engineering school in Benedum Hall, to help forecast and mitigate future climate change consequences on infrastructure. “Understanding this complex relationship between environmental demand and performance of vertical infrastructure will help us develop response strategies and unlock advanced climate adaptation with the ultimate goal of minimizing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” said assistant professor Alessandro Fascetti, lead principal investigator on the project. By developing a digital twin, Fascetti, along with Melissa Bilec, co-principal investigator, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and director of MCSI; and John Brigham, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, can develop, implement and validate a framework for real-time monitoring of and predictions for the MCSI building. “Because of the diverse streams of data we can obtain in real-time from the MCSI, we’ll be able to focus on developing a novel digital twin framework for the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operation of vertical infrastructure to minimize its environmental footprint by designing and deploying environmentally responsive building envelopes,” Fascetti said.

• RAND Corporation: Linnea Warren May and Pierrce Holmes • Homewood’s Children’s Village: Raymond Robinson, Rebecca McDonough • Black Environmental Collective/ UrbanKind Institute: Jamil Bey


Rolling with the Punches Growing up with three older brothers, Mary Casamassa, a senior majoring in civil and environmental engineering, could always take a punch.

mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Ronda Rousey, Casamassa was able to enter the ring with the full support of her family.

She can throw a pretty good one, too. Casamassa, a professional boxer, is undefeated this current season – with one match ending in a technical knockout (which is when the referee calls that an opponent can’t continue the fight).

“My dad is now my biggest fan,” she said.

“I got into boxing in high school because I got fed up with the drama,” Casamassa joked. “I wanted to hit something.” She also grew up around the sport; her brothers boxed before her. Casamassa’s dad was hesitant to let her try, but after seeing the rise and success of American professional


When Casamassa isn’t on campus, she’s usually training at Jack’s Boxing Gym in the North Hills – sometimes twice a day. On Saturdays, she spars with her gym mates. At Casamassa’s level, headgear isn’t required, but that hasn’t impacted her performance at the Swanson School. She’s maintained a 3.55 cumulative GPA, despite having to take extra credits as a transfer student, developing her boxing career, and working a part time job. She’s left quite the impact on her professors.



“She’s a brilliant, motivated student,” noted Professor Piervincenzo Rizzo.

for a fight. This, that and another thing – I ended up in a car accident.”

Despite her proven commitment as a student, Casamassa said boxing is her true passion; however, both require an intense amount of discipline and time. As she’s moved forward in her career, she’s learned the importance of self care – sleep above all. Her coach also doubles down on Casamassa taking care of herself.

She walked away with no injuries, but a greater appreciation for how boxing could be a positive influence in her engineering career.

She learned that lesson the hard way. In the fall semester, she was in a minor car accident after drifting into sleep behind the wheel. “I was not getting enough rest,” Casamassa said. “I was trying to stay up and do all this homework and train


Boxing is what kept Casamassa “sane” throughout her time at the Swanson School. She plans on continuing to compete when she graduates – hopefully adding some belts to her prestige. She thinks all students could benefit from an outlet like she did. “It really built my confidence, just knowing I could take a hit and get back up.”

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Did you know that Sarah Haig’s INHALE Lab has three bathroom cubicles to study the microbiome living in the average shower head?

Learn more at www.haiglab.net



Working to Protect the Electric Power Grid

Isabella Hsia, a rising sophomore in bioengineering, wanted to try something new. Maybe something a little more research heavy, she thought. Definitely something to diversify my skill set. But what about my talents as a future engineer? As her first year in engineering ended, she couldn’t find the perfect program or internship to scratch her inquisitive itch. “I really had no real-world experience up until this point,” Hsia said. “How do you know what you want to do after leaving Pitt if you haven’t tried anything apart from your classes?” Then, an email from Brett Say, Pitt’s Director of Honors Research Programs, landed in her inbox, invited


students to participate in a pilot interdisciplinary program, Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Experience in Electric Grid, or SHUREGrid, supported by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). As a collaboration between Pitt’s Swanson School, David C. Frederick Honors College and Office of Research, . Hsia didn’t know anything about the electric grid, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something so unique. So, she, along with seven other Pitt students from various disciplines, signed up.

Preventing a Total Blackout The program’s first objective is to define the power grid and why it’s so critical to the country.



The energy grid represents the infrastructure to generate, transmit and distribute electricity from the utility to the consumer across the U.S. The grid makes modern human life possible, but it is getting older and buffeted by the effects of climate change. New-end technologies like EVs and smart devices need more energy; at the same time, the inexorable shift from fossil fuels to renewables requires new technologies to both meet demand and ensure national security. SHURE-Grid faculty advisors Brandon Grainger and Paul Ohodnicki, who established the Energy GRID Institute at Pitt, are well-versed in the possible weaknesses of the electric grid.


“As the grid is being transformed with more intelligence through digital means, it is becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks,” said Grainger. “If hackers are able to get into these digital platforms, disruption to electricity flow can occur, including the worst-case scenario – a total blackout.” Grainger, who is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and Eaton Faculty Fellow, and Ohodnicki, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, develop new grid technologies at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District. They bring their expertise to developing the SHURE-Grid program to train the next generation in how to prevent a coming crisis.

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Bridging Information Technology and Engineering There’s currently a debate in government, industry and utilities on how to best – and who can best – protect the electric grid. That’s where Pitt students come in. Daniel Cole, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the Swanson School and classroom professor with Grainger for the SHURE-Grid program, explained that students were divided into two teams and given a real-life problem rooted in cyber-informed engineering (CIE) from INL to solve. CIE, developed by the Department of Energy in June 2022, is a framework that bridges the gap between engineers and information technicians to protect the grid from cyberattacks. Cole said the risks of cybersecurity to critical infrastructure like the grid are causing the engineering and information technology worlds to collide. But these two fields are totally different in methodologies and solutions. That’s where CIE comes in. “CIE is intended to get engineers to think about things more cyber-related early in the process of designing,” Cole

said. “Are there ways we can engineer the system to be more safe, secure and reliable?” INL has been working with Pitt on CIE measures for more than a year. Ginger Wright, energy cybersecurity portfolio manager for INL’s cybercore division, proposed asking students to investigate and solve this growing divide between engineers and information technology. She said it’s not just a beneficial program for the students, but an important opportunity for INL. “When I learned about the potential of the SHURE-Grid program, it became clear students were capable of creating new methods for existing work at INL,” Wright said. “We wanted to leverage this program to teach students about CIE, but grant them the ability to interview stakeholders and make recommendations we may not have thought about.”

Two Teams. One Problem. The two teams, called Team GPT and Cyber Informed Engineering Enthusiasts, are positioned to learn how companies are implementing and using CIE, whether it’s working and how to improve it.

“It’s not a class I would normally take,” said Kameren Jouhal, a rising sophomore from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who’s studying computer science. “It’s been really helpful for me, from networking to presenting.” The method of solving these problems is simple: ask as many stakeholders as many questions as possible. The answers, however, aren’t quite as straightforward. Students need to continuously adapt their hypotheses and solutions to the problems at hand. Every week, students present their findings to Cole and Grainger, who are intentionally highly critical of their presentations. This is part of the program’s learning process: The students have become more composed during these sometimes-intense moments and quicker to respond with well-researched answers. There is occasionally well-meaning tension among students as they work through their projects, which they treat as a full-time job that requires multiple meetings and constant communication with each other. Say, the director of Honors Research Programs, was also able to secure apartments for some students in Bouquet Gardens for more convenient campus housing.

SHURE-Grid provides students with experience solving real-world problems while engaging with one of the 17 national U.S. Department of Energy labs

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Working to Protect the Electric Power Grid... continued from page 21 Bioengineering sophomore Hsia said working with her team, made up of students from schools across campus, is one of the best learning experiences she’s had at Pitt. “One of my teammates studies finance, so anytime I develop a solution, she has a million different questions for me that I didn’t even think of,” Hsia said. “It’s just part of the process.” Rob Cunningham, vice chancellor for research infrastructure at Pitt, said

SHURE-Grid is intentionally designed for students to interact with real industry professionals and a diverse group. “Important results come from brilliant people with a wide range of backgrounds,” Cunningham explained. “Part of my job is working with multiple experts outside of mine and others’ realms, but all of them are working together to solve problems they find interesting and important.

We wanted to have a program where Pitt undergraduates learned and experienced how true science is done, regardless of their degree and career path.”

developed, these conversations will move the laboratory forward and, hopefully, be the start of many more student-led workshops and summer camps in the future.

Say also helped facilitate meetings and professional workshops between the SHURE-Grid program and the much larger Brackenridge Summer Research Fellowship Program.

“These solutions will be at least in our conversations,” Wright said. “They’ve built awareness for those in our industry and put these ideas out for us to consider.”

Wright said although INL may not implement the solutions the students

Turning a Dumb Dryer into a Smart One Noah Lichstein, a rising senior in electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, is in a bad mood – and out of breath. The reliably unreliable dryer at his Oakland apartment is located down six flights of stairs. He’s already restarted the cycle twice, and his clothes still aren’t dry. He then sent a group text to his classmates, electrical and computer engineering senior Raheel Farouk and recent graduate Stephanie da Costa, in his ECE Undergraduate Industry Project class, held in the Design Education Laboratory, to vent his frustrations. “I kept having to go down to the laundry area and was just super frustrated,” Lichstein said. “We all had been dealing with bad dryers, so I knew everyone could relate. I just kept thinking that it would be so


much easier to be able to see if my clothes were done on my phone.” At the time, the group was still deciding on a central project to develop and build for their class. A lightbulb went off – and Lichstein’s clothes finally dried, thanks to an untypical class – the ECE Undergraduate Industry Project. Junior-level students are expected to develop projects for a partnering company. This year, Microsoft signed on to explore innovative capabilities with the Azure Sphere, a small, hardware, software and cloud service platform. To be enrolled in the class, Sam Dickerson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, vets resumes and applications before forwarding them to the company, which then selects the best candidates.



“The class works more like an internship than a traditional class,” Dickerson said. “The biggest difference is that students are getting class credit rather than getting paid. Some students have even received full-time job offers after completing it.”


For their project, Lichstein and his classmates met with Justin McCann, their Microsoft mentor and principal software engineer at Microsoft, once a week. Students are expected to manage their own deadlines and serve as their own project managers.

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Making a Quantum Leap Forward

The group worked through a number of ideas to create a device which uses the Azure Sphere’s hardware to make drying clothes easier and faster. The resulting device can attach to any dryer and track how the dryer’s acceleration changes over time through an accelerometer attached to the Azure Sphere’s software development kit and the students’ own machine-learning model. Students were able to understand that wet laundry has a different mass and tumbles to a vibration that’s a distinctly different signature compared to dry laundry. When the acceleration change matches the profile of dry clothes, the user is then notified their laundry is done on their smart device. “What the students essentially did was turn a dumb dryer into a smart one,” Dickerson explained.

An interdisciplinary collaboration at Pitt blends physics with computer engineering to accelerate quantum computing capabilities received a $300,000 New Initiative Grant from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation. “One of the challenges of quantum computers is that the interactions tend to be noisy – there isn’t 100 percent fidelity,” said Alex K. Jones, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who is leading this project. “The state changes create noise over time, so from input to output, it’s a race against decoherence, the loss of information. We’re working to create better gates so that the time for each operation is shorter, resulting in better error correction and higher fidelity.” Qubits are the basic unit of information in quantum computing. Where binary code in computer science uses bits, either 1s or 0s, qubits function together in a system, like atoms, and can be entangled with other qubits. That means anything done to one qubit happens to the entangled ones, as well.

To push quantum computing toward its full potential, Jones is partnering with Michael Hatridge, associate professor of physics at Pitt. They realized that in order to optimize the way these qubits talk to one another, the classic lattice structures used in IBM and Google’s quantum computers were limiting. Instead, they are arranging the qubits in the shape of a tree, a methodology from classical parallel computer networks. Jones and Hatridge are using a device called a SNAIL that allows them to create interactions between qubits as if they form elements, like “leaves,” on a tree, building a rich interaction space. In order for leaves on different “branches” to communicate, they must connect through the “trunk” of the tree, reaching out to their destination. With this SNAIL device, five or six qubits can interact with each other at the same time, opening the door for researchers to scale up this tree or other flexible approaches.

These properties make them much more powerful than bits – and much more complicated to work with.



In Safe Hands

After working with more than 80 authors over the last five years, Joel M. Haight, professor of industrial engineering, has edited and published the latest edition of the Safety Professionals Handbook.

sections covering global sustainability, management systems, and leadership, and expanded on former topics like ergonomics, fire protection engineering, engineering management, and risk management.

The handbook is a reference for practicing occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals and students learning foundational safety, occupational health and environmental concepts, methods and objectives.

“We created this to be a guide for those working in OSH,” Haight said. “But by doing that, we have to continually keep it relevant to the field.”

Haight has edited and co-authored all three editions dating to the book’s launch in 2003. For its third and newest edition, Haight added three new


To work with each author, Haight usually juggles different time zones and area codes; however, one writer was in the office next door to Haight’s at Pitt. Karen Bursic, professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate



program director at Pitt, co-authored the engineering management section alongside Haight. Together, they expanded on the economics of engineering and people management, including managing conflict and situation leadership. “Professor Haight is extremely knowledgeable in safety engineering and was the ideal expert to edit the Safety Professionals Handbook,” Bursic said. “I enjoyed working with him on our chapter to identify and describe how safety professionals can apply engineering management tools and concepts.”


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Ones to Watch Anaya Joynes’ tools for mastering the complex are math – a “beautiful language because there exist right and wrong answers” – and repetition. At 11 years old, those tools afforded her the ability to disassemble and rebuild computers. For Joynes, a fifth-year industrial engineering student, that learning strategy means allocating two to three hours outside of homework to complete practice problems.

Identifying Access to Care Challenges Through Data Science Insightin Health, a provider of data-driven decision-making technology for health insurance plans, partnered for the third year to provide a group of students from the Swanson School of Engineering an opportunity to complete a capstone project alongside their data science team. This year, the students built machine learning/statistical models using Medicare Advantage (MA) member survey data to predict members’ likelihood of having problems getting needed care. The results would then be used to determine the next best actions that plans could take to help members gain better access to care. Serving as the seniors’ capstone course, the recently concluded project found that social determinants of health (SDOH) like poverty, inadequate housing, and financial insecurity as well as poor provider experiences, rising medication costs, and chronic conditions created obstacles to care for MA members. The study concluded that members were two times more likely to struggle to get the care they needed if they had more than four chronic conditions and 50 percent more likely to have difficulty getting care if they are financially insecure. Student researchers recommended several actions that plans could take, including implementing programs to remove SDOH barriers and working with healthcare providers to simplify and remove bottlenecks in their processes. “The opportunity with Insightin Health allowed students to not only solve a realworld problem using real data but learn valuable skills from their data science team in model building, machine learning, and advanced analytics,” said Scott Streiner, assistant professor in industrial engineering. “This project with the University of Pittsburgh was not just an academic exercise – it produced real insights that Medicare Advantage plans can use to implement strategies to increase engagement and satisfaction among their members,” said Dr. Shufang Ci, Chief Data Scientist of Insightin Health. “For more than three years, we’ve been studying obstacles of care, and our models have been trained on over eight million MA lives. We believe that data can unlock solutions for improving access to care, and with our inGAGE™ platform, we are able to identify and predict members facing similar barriers efficiently and accurately to deliver next best action solutions. We appreciate the additional perspective generated by this project.”

“I have to do a lot of repetition to understand processes,” Joynes said. “I can’t accept ‘this is how we do it’ or ‘just because.’ I need to understand how we got to this part, all the steps in between and the outcome.” There was at least one moment in her life when the solution was simple: In 2016, when she determined Pitt was her place. Her parents, Alan J. Joynes (A&S ’92) and Bridget Major-Joynes (NURS ’92), and uncle Marcellus Major Jr. (ENGR ’89) only partly influenced the Claymont, Delaware, native’s decision to attend. The determining factor, she said, was Pitt EXCEL, a comprehensive undergraduate diversity program within the Swanson School of Engineering committed to the success of historically underrepresented engineering scholars. After meeting Pitt EXCEL’s director, Yvette Moore, and realizing other schools didn’t offer the same level of commitment to students of color who are pursuing the rigorous major at a predominantly white institution, Joynes told her family: “I have to get into Pitt, and I have to get into Swanson.” And she did. Pitt EXCEL provides participants with mentoring, advising, access to an extensive alumni network and, according to Joynes, an extended family. This hands-on approach, along with meeting program alumni, instilled excitement, pride and confidence in Joynes: “I can do this because they made it through,” she said. But Moore said Joynes has done more than just make it through: She’s epitomized the idea of the “holistic scholar,” evidenced by her many accomplishments, including an extended co-op with FedEx that lasted two years – double the typical rotation. “A great industrial engineer [is] keyed in on how you optimize situations, industries systems – and [that’s] Anaya,” says Moore. “She’s an intellect extraordinaire with great charm, a caring leader who doesn’t have a problem pushing the envelope. The tone of Pitt is [set by] looking at her; this is where we should be going as engineers, as women, as Black women. She is the standard of what we want a scholar to be.”



Using Our Oceans to Fight Climate Change

The ocean isn’t just impacted by climate change – it may also be part of the solution to reversing it. Direct ocean carbon capture (DOC) is an emerging form of negative emissions technology that has advantages over its on-land counterpart, direct air capture, because of its ability to avoid land use. DOC can also conveniently be paired with offshore wind and offshore carbon dioxide storage. Katherine Hornbostel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is wellversed in the field of carbon capture technologies. She and her collaborators published two sister papers, “Demonstration of direct ocean carbon capture using encapsulated solvents” (DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2023.144140) and “Demonstration of direct ocean carbon capture using hollow fiber membrane contactors” (DOI: 10.1016/j. cej.2023.143868), in the Chemical Engineering Journal. These two papers demonstrate experimentally and computationally how two types of membrane contactors – encapsulated solvents and hollow fiber membrane contactors – can remove carbon dioxide from the ocean.





“Membrane contactors are just what they sound like,” Hornbostel said. “They’re membranes that bring two fluids into contact with each other. In this case, we’re bringing together ocean water on one side and a solvent on the other.” The team tested two types of membrane contactors: hollow fiber and encapsulated solvents. The biggest difference between the two technologies is their shape. While hollow fiber membrane contactors look like straws, encapsulated solvents look like caviar. Otherwise, they work the same. “The idea with both is to get a really high surface area of contact between seawater and solvent,” Hornbostel explained. “The more surface area you have, the better the carbon dioxide removal rate.”

Swinging the Seawater Carbon dioxide will want to travel across the membrane towards the solvent, made from a sodium solution that reacts with carbon dioxide. When seawater comes into contact with the solvent, the carbon dioxide will react and separate from the seawater. The

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Advancing Nuclear Energy Research

solution then has to be re-circulated to make the process more cost effective – something the team is still working to improve. “Theoretically, we could significantly lower the price if we could swing the pH of the seawater side,” Hornbostel said. “Carbon dioxide is not typically available in seawater at its baseline level of pH, so you have to swing the pH lower in the seawater to make it more acidic and then more carbon dioxide bubbles off.” Hornbostel’s team is currently pursuing methods for swinging seawater pH with membrane surface treatments and investigating coupling direct ocean capture with desalination to lower system costs.

Though it may not be the first clean energy source to come to mind, nuclear energy – responsible for 8 percent of all U.S. energy consumption – is a zero-emission clean energy source that can produce more electricity on less land than other sources and produces minimal waste. The U.S. is the largest producer of nuclear power, contributing nearly 20 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. Pitt researchers are among the 43 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which provided $41.2 million in funding in 2023. The DOE aims to maintain the nation’s leadership in nuclear energy research by supporting innovative technologies and solutions through its Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP).   Jung-Kun Lee, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is leading a project that received $999,886 from the DOE to develop new materials for nuclear reactor cores. SiC/SiC ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) can tolerate multiple levels of damage well and have predictable failure behavior, which make them a good material for claddings of nuclear fuels. However, they are expensive, since a manufacturing process is time-consuming and energy-intensive. Lee’s research aims to apply aerodynamic fiber deposition (AFD) and metal assisted polymer impregnation and pyrolysis (MAPIP) to the manufacturing process. He also partners with Assistant Professor Quihan Liu and Associate Professor Ian Nettleship, both in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Material Science at

Pitt, and Edward Lohoda, consulting engineer at Westinghouse, on the project. Kevin P. Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt, received $1 million from the DOE to develop optical sensors to monitor molten salt reactors (MSR). MSRs are reactors that use fluoride salts as coolants when producing nuclear energy. Chen will work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry partner Kairos Power Inc. to develop highly affordable sensors that can function well in extreme environments and to explore potential sensor deployment in large-scale engineering test units. “Through their research, Professors Lee and Chen provide stunning examples of the ways that engineering finds solutions that positively impact our world,” said Heng Ban, Richard K. Mellon professor, associate dean for strategic initiatives, and director of the nuclear engineering program at Pitt. Ban also joins a NEUP-funded project led by Brigham Young University Professor Troy Munro, along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry partner X-energy. The $1 million award, with $275,000 allocated to Pitt, will fund research into new models that can better predict the thermal conductivity of the fuel used in nuclear reactors. Ban’s lab will measure the microscopic and bulk thermal conductivity of TRISO and graphite composites that are frequently used in advanced reactor systems such as micro-reactors and integrate the data into thermal models.


Adding Fuel to the MEMS FIRE Program A group of mechanical engineering and materials science students at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering wanted to see a change in engineering education – so they did it themselves. After the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked a global movement to end racial inequality and police brutality, these students wrote their concerns in a letter regarding inequity to Swanson School stakeholders. The MEMS Student Advisory Board (SAB) was established shortly after. “As a Black woman in STEM, I’ve noticed and experienced many disparities for underrepresented students,” said Halima Morafa, a recent Pitt graduate and one of the founding members of SAB. “We wanted to create a space for Black and Brown students to improve the climate of both the Swanson School and the engineering field itself.” Brian Gleeson, department chair of the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department at the Swanson School, was one of the first to read the letter. He said an initial meeting with


students who wrote the letter prompted efforts to establish the SAB as quickly as possible. “Their concerns offered a really important perspective for our department,” Gleeson said. “It was going to be a welcome influence on how we planned going forward, including in our classrooms.” SAB focuses on amplifying the voices of all underrepresented voices in the MEMS Department to create a more unified and proactive community. Its leaders, an elected board of undergraduate and graduate students and four faculty members, ranked creating a research program for underrepresented undergraduates as one of its top early priorities. The organization soon began piloting their Facilitating Inclusive Research Experiences (FIRE) Program after a donation from alumnus Jim Grubbs (BSME ‘68) made it possible. Grubbs expressed his enthusiasm for the introduction of the FIRE program at the Swanson School and recalled that during his undergraduate days at Pitt there existed very few minority students and almost no women.



Designed to fix the “leaky pipeline,” a metaphor used to describe how members of certain groups fail to continue the progression toward particular careers – which leads to further underrepresentation – the program’s flame started to quickly catch. The FIRE Program recently received a $410,216 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site Award from the National Science Foundation to expand outside Pitt MEMS. “We want to highlight and encourage all mechanical engineering and materials science students – not just at Pitt – who are interested in research,” said John Whitefoot, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the Swanson School and one of the co-principal investigators. “Not only are they getting the opportunity to participate in research early in their careers, but they’re receiving the unique opportunity to engage with faculty members they may not have otherwise.”



Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site Award from the NSF

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N.C. Joseph Lai

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering feted its 2023 class of Distinguished Alumni on Friday, March 3 at the University Club. Recognized as this year’s top honoree was N.C. Joseph Lai ChemE PhD ‘73. “On behalf of the Swanson School, I am humbled to honor a Pitt Engineer who has leveraged his interdisciplinary expertise to not only advance his career but also improve human health through engineering, said Sanjeev G. Shroff, Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. ”Following an impressive undergraduate career at Cornell, Joseph entered Pitt for his PhD under the direction of the remarkable Chung-Chiun Liu and would engage in pioneering research in blood gas sensors. Following Pitt, Joseph led the teams that developed the first portable pulse oximeter, the first infra-red based anesthetic gases monitor, and non-invasive blood pressure monitor. Thanks to this life-saving innovation and his passion for translational research, Joseph now uses his expertise to invest in the next generation of healthcare innovations. We are proud to honor his legacy and contributions to improving human health.” Lai received his PhD in 1973 from the University of Pittsburgh and his BS from Cornell University in 1966, both in Chemical Engineering. Upon graduation, Lai continued biosensor development for real-time and bed-side monitoring at General Electric Medical System Group in Milwaukee, Wis., and then at other companies. He co-founded several companies: Biochem Inc. and Criticare Systems, both vitalsign monitors manufacturing companies; Immtech (biotechnology); Gaztec & Telaire Systems Inc. (both made environmental gas monitors); and Fastgen (TB screening test). Biochem, Criticare, and Immtech went public on Nasdaq in 1981, 1986, and 1996. He was also founder, chairman and later director (2000-2010) of BioForm Medical Inc. with product in aesthetics treatment (wrinkles). It went public in 2007 and was acquired in 2011 by Merz Pharma GmbH. At Criticare, Lai led the team to develop the first portable pulse oximeter, the first infra-red based anesthetic gases monitor, and non-invasive blood pressure monitor (NIBP) which are now the standard of care in hospitals and clinics around the world. Lai is currently General Partner & Co-Founder of Puck Ventures, L.P. and continues to invest in early startups in pioneer technologies and health care industries.



Faculty Bioengineering Tracy Cui Inducted into National Academy of Inventors Richard Debski Elected Fellow of the Orthopaedic Research Society Prashant Kumta Appointed Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering Joseph Samosky Recognized as the Higher Educator of the Year by the Engineers’ Society of Western PA. William Wagner Received the University Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award for leadership of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and work as an inventor.

Chemical & Petroleum Taryn Bayles Received the Swanson School of Engineering 2023 Outstanding Educator Award. Joaquin Rodriguez Awarded the Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum and James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching in Chemical Engineering

Civil & Environmental Melissa Bilec Most downloaded paper of 2022 award from Resources, Conservation and Recovery “The Green Print: Agenda


for the Advancement of Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare.” Resources, Conservation and Recovery, Volume 161, October 2020, 104882. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. resconrec.2020.104882 Appointed Special Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability, University of Pittsburgh (October 2022 to September 2023) John Brigham Elected Fellow of the Engineering Mechanics Institute. Andrew Bunger Elected President of the American Rock Mechanics Association. Alessandro Fascetti Elected Member of the Machine Learning in Mechanics Committee of the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute Kent Harries 2023 PCI Robert J. Lyman Award for the paper Bolduc et al. (2023) Experimental Background Behind New AASHTO Requirements for Debonded Strands”, PCI Journal. March/April 2023, 51-67. https:// doi.org/10.15554/pcij68.2-01 Lev Khazanovich Keynote presentation at the 13th International Conference on Road and Airfield Pavement Technology (ICPT 2023), Beijing, China, July 6-8, 2023. “Mechanistic-Empirical Design of Jointed Concrete Pavements in the US: From Westergaard to AASHTOWare Pavement ME 3.0 “



Appointment as a Lady Davis Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion, Israel, during the 2023/2024 Elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Pavement Science and Engineering (APSE) Carla Ng Elected to Board of Directors of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (term to begin November 2023 Received Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellowship Piervince nzo Rizzo Awarded the Research Recognition for Innovation which honors highly distinguished individual breakthroughs in research in the field of NDE/ NDT within the past five years from the ASNT (American Society for Nondestructive Testing). One award per year is granted. Selected Conference Co-Chair for the 2024 -2026 SPIE Smart Structures + NDE Conference: Health Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems XVIII (Conference SSN 08). Invited to become member of the International Scientific Board of the 10th International Operational Modal Analysis Conference (IOMAC), 22-24 May 2024, Naples, Italy. Associate Editor: Journal of Vibration and Control


David Sanchez ASEE National – Environmental Engineering Service Award Julie Vandenbossche 2023 SSoE Board of Visitors Award for outstanding productivity Meng Wang 2023 Scialog Fellow for the Negative Emissions Science (NES) program. Scialog: NES is a program for early career faculty interested in collaborating on high-risk discovery research that focuses on removing and sequestering greenhouse gases, and it invites approximately 50 early career faculty to participate as fellows. This program is jointly sponsored by Alfred. P. Sloan Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), with additional support from the Climate Pathfinders Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, and Thistledown Foundation.

Electrical & Computer Mai Abdelhakim & Inhee Lee Recipients of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation in Education Award. Abdelhakim’s project will provide hands-on cybersecurity education to undergraduate students in the Swanson School, leading to a certificate that launched in fall 2023. Lee plans to enhance the circuit design courses by creating new lab tutorials and team projects which provide students with hands-on experience in designing semiconductor circuits using commercial design tools.

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Brandon Grainger Named Associate Editor of AIP Advances.

Industrial Bopaya Bidanda Received the prestigious 202324 Fulbright-Nehru Academic & Professional Excellence Award. This is Bidanda’s second Fulbright Award after his role as a 2005 Fulbright Senior Specialist in Uruguay in 2005. Delivered the opening keynote at the International Joint Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IJCIEOM) in Lisbon, Portugal. Karen Bursic Elected Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education. Bursic is a senior member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) and ASEE and has held leadership positions at the division level in both organizations. Since 1994, Bursic’s work has focused on improving engineering education, and most recently, she developed an engineering economy concept inventory to provide a neutral assessment to determine students’ learning in engineering economy courses.

Mechanical & Materials Science Peyman Givi Elected Fellow of The Combustion Institute. Awarded 2024 AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Research. Named in honor of Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, a renowned aerospace leader and a director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the first deputy administrator of NASA, the award emphasizes the importance of basic research in advancing aeronautics and astronautics.

Anne Robertson Delivered the Elsevier Distinguished Lecture at the University of California Berkeley. Wei Xiong Appointed Associate Editor of the Journal of Phase Equilibria and Diffusion Selected to co-chair 50th International Calphad Conference (Computer Coupling of Phase Diagrams and Thermochemistry)

Paul Ohodnicki With National Energy Technology Laboratory, awarded a 2023 R&D 100 Award for the Transformer Watchman, an integrated fiber optic-based sensor system that monitors large power transformers and distribution transformers and reports on the health of these critical components. The R&D 100 is the only science and technology award that recognizes new commercial products, technologies and materials for technological significance that are available for sale or license.



Students NIH Graduate Research Fellowship Program Recipients Graduate Jazlyn Gallego, bioengineering Amanda Pellegrino, bioengineering Brittany Rodriguez, bioengineering Rebecca Segel, chemical and petroleum engineering Barbaro Zulueta, chemical and petroleum engineering Undergraduate Eli Brock, electrical and computer engineering (ENGR ’22) Asher Hancock, mechanical engineering (ENGR ’22)

Bioengineering Marissa Behun (PhD student) was named the Department’s Wesley C. Pickard Fellow Shanae Butler (PhD student) was awarded the McGinnis Fellowship for her work in using microspheres to heal skin wounds and minimize scars. Reyhaneh Gholami and Gabby Lorenz (PhD students) received the Leonard H. Berenfield Graduate Fellowship in Cardiovascular Bioengineering.

Chemical & Petroleum Helena Baer (undergraduate) received the Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship from the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.


Ryan MacElroy (undergraduate) received the Swanson School of Engineering George Washington Prize at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania annual awards banquet. Vidhya Thiyagarajan elected Collegiate Director of the Society of Women Engineers (national).

Civil & Environmental ASCE Student Chapter has been selected by the Committee on Student Members to receive a Letter of Honorable Mention for its outstanding activities as recorded in the 2022 Student Chapter annual report. Alireza Enshaiean (advised by Dr. Rizzo) received 2023 Fellowship Research Award of the ASNT. Cain Pfoutz (undergraduate) received 2022 Award from ASCE Student Award Foundation. Isaiah Spencer-Williams (advised by Dr. Haig) awarded a Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellowship for Historically Underrepresented Doctoral Students for the 2023-2024 academic year. Lisa Stabryla (advised by Dr. Gilbertson) appointed Assistant Professor in the Civil, Materials, and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago starting in Jan 2024. Arundhati Tewari (advised by Dr. Ng) received 2nd Prize at the Best Poster Competition at the 19th Annual



Workshop on Emerging HRMS & LCMS/MS Applications in Environmental Analysis and Food Safety at SUNY Buffalo on Sep. 25, 2023. Evan Trump (former undergraduate member in the Haig group) was awarded outstanding Environmental Engineering Senior in Fall 2022 and will be starting a masters in Biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Public Health in Fall 2023. Jiménez Vizcarra, M. J. (advised by Dr. Wang) received a 2023 AEESP Research and Education Conference Travel Award.

Electrical & Computer IEEE PES Scholarship Recipients (undergraduate) Benjamin Carnovale, Jack Carnovale, Carter Leatherman, Daniel Rodgers and Kamden Sarkey Yuqi Li (advised by Dr. Chen) received third place in the Design Automation Conference University Demo Competition for “FPGA HLS acceleration on real-time fiber-optical-based pattern recognition system.” The project is designed to address the conflict between society’s demand for security monitoring and individuals’ insistence on preserving personal privacy. Yue Tang (advised by Dr. Hu) received the ACM TODAES Rookie Author of the Year (RAY) from the ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems (TODAES) journal. Her paper, “EF-Train: Enable Efficient On-Device


CNN Training on FPGA through Data Reshaping for Online Adaptation or Personalization,” discusses on-device learning on resource-limited field programmable gate arrays (FPGA).

Industrial Nikki Konley elected President of the National Association of Engineering Student Councils. Alison Linares (undergraduate) participated in a Young Eagles Internship at Dauer in France. The program identifies and engages promising future leaders of the general aviation sector. Tony Robol (undergraduate) received the Dwight D. Gardner Scholarship from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers.

Mechanical & Materials Science Cara Rosetti (undergraduate) was named to the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which supports undergraduates receiving Pell Grants as they study abroad.

Staff Kaitlin Washko 2023 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

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Swanson School of Engineering 104 Benedum Hall 3700 O’Hara Street Pittsburgh, PA 15261


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