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A. Pitt Golf Umbrella—large-canopy blue and gold umbrella with script Pitt athletic logo, $26 B. Metropolis Insulated Travel Tumbler— keeps beverages hot or cold, blue with gold script Pitt logo, $30 C. Pitt Banner—decorate your home or your tailgate party with this 20” X 30” banner, blue fabric with gold script Pitt, $28 D. Wooly Threads Pullover—a new arrival, the latest cozy fashion must-have for any college coed, navy heather with the script Pitt, in sizes small through extra-large, $65 E. Pitt Beach Towel—for fun in the sun, rugbyinspired beach towel in school colors with script Pitt, $25 F. Pitt Hobo Bag—a stylish Pitt statement, blue coated canvas with leather trim and gold script Pitt patterned design, 10.75” X 5.5” X 12.5” by Dooney & Bourke, $218 G. Pitt Wristlet—blue coated canvas with leather trim, detachable strap, and gold script Pitt patterned design, 4.5” X .75” X 8” by Dooney & Bourke, $88 H. Pitt Continental Clutch—for Pitt fashion on the go, blue coated canvas with leather trim and script Pitt patterned design, 7.2” X 3.75” X .75” by Dooney & Bourke, $128 I. Pitt Key Fob—blue coated canvas with leather accents and gold script Pitt patterned design, by Dooney & Bourke, $28
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12 Master Mind Why would a 21st-century man construct a 17th-century machine? The answer lies in an alchemy of mathematics, philosophy, and two roving minds separated by time. In Pitt’s world-class philosophy program, Nicholas Rescher puts philosophy in play. —By Cristina Rouvalis
17 Pitt Works
29 Our Neighborhoods, Our Cells
In her first U.S. job as a psychiatric nurse, Mijung Park observed that socioeconomic factors were barriers to health care for some people. There were haves and havenots. Now she’s discovered that these ingredients have an even deeper influence—on our DNA. —By Rachel Wilkinson
D E PA R T M E N T S
Many people know the University of Pittsburgh ranks among the leading public research universities in the nation. But most don’t realize that research universities such as Pitt bring tremendous advantages to their regions and states. Take a look at how Pitt benefits Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth.
Our Neighborhoods, Our Cells
ON THE COVER: Pitt Works. Photo by Terry Clark. Story on page 17. S U M M E R
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Excellence in Action
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
e are not becoming a leading university—we already are one, said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in his June remarks to the Board of Trustees. Now, we must put our excellence into action in order to make a difference. With a new strategic plan in place, Pitt’s objectives are clear: advance educational excellence; promote a culture that values diversity; partner for strong, vital communities; strengthen our institutional foundation for success; engage in research of impact; and embrace the world. You’ll be reading stories here—and in future issues—about how these themes animate the lives and accomplishments of Pitt people in ways that improve our classrooms, our communities, and our world. In an age when all of us are in need of upbeat news and positive inspiration, universities like Pitt are powerful engines of good. They educate, innovate, discover, build, serve, and lead. This issue’s cover story, “Pitt Works,” illustrates just some of the beneficial outcomes that the University of Pittsburgh produces in western Pennsylvania—and the numbers are likely to surprise you. The impact extends to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, too.
Recent Magazine Awards
Patrick Gallagher (A&S ’87G, ’91G)
PRSA Pittsburgh Magazine
Vice Chancellor for Communications
Pitt Magazine Cindy Gill (A&S ’74) Editor in Chief
Other stories here reflect the influential work coming out of Pitt’s many top-ranked programs, such as philosophy, where Nicholas Rescher is deeply engaged in the life of the mind, and nursing, where Mijung Park explores the intermingled effects of biology, community, and public policies. Lives of impact. Excellence in action. Read on, and stay tuned.
Gary Kohr-Cravener Art Director
Laura Clark Rohrer (A&S ’14G)
Ervin Dyer (A&S ’11G, ’16G)
Hermes Creative Awards Magazine Publication Design Publication Writing
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Press Club of Western Pennsylvania Magazine Photo Golden Quill Award Feature Writing, Business Finalist Feature Writing, Health and Science Finalist Feature Writing, Profile Finalist Cover Design Finalist Robert L. Vann Media Awards Pittsburgh Black Media Federation Feature Photography
Contributing Feature Writer
Madeline Adamczyk (Class of ’18)
Cindy Gill Editor in Chief
Contact Us Send all correspondence to: Pitt Magazine University of Pittsburgh 200 S. Craig St., 400 Craig Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15260 E-mail: email@example.com Visit us on the web: www.pittmag.pitt.edu Telephone: 412-624-4147 Fax: 412-624-1021
Pitt Magazine is published quarterly by the University of Pittsburgh, Office of University Communications, 400 Craig Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-624-4147. © 2016 by the University of Pittsburgh. Please send change-of-address correspondence to the above address. Pitt Magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited contributions of artwork, photography, or articles. The University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.
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Pitt Magazine 200 S. Craig St., 400 Craig Hall University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 E-mail: email@example.com Fax: 412-624-1021 Comments are subject to editing for length and clarity. Although we don’t have space to include all correspondence, we always appreciate hearing from you.
Awesome? Inspirational? Informative? Enjoyable? Words almost fail me in an attempt to describe the latest edition of Pitt Magazine. Full of content. Full of good news. Full of information. Full of hope for the future. I encourage our University Community, and beyond, to take time to read and enjoy all of the inspirational information contained in our magazine. Douglas Marvin Education ’72 Member, Pitt’s 1787 Society Bethel Park, Pa. Editor’s Note: Mr. Marvin is not a relative. Really! But we love him for sending this feedback.
My childhood was not your usual white-picket-fence family story. Luckily, I was a good student and loved to read. But none of that would give me any hope of a college education. Instead, after high school, I was able to get a job at Mellon Bank (now BNY Mellon). One day, my manager placed a brochure about the University of Pittsburgh on my desk and suggested I take a look. After eight and a half years of evening classes, I graduated from Pitt’s College of General Studies with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. It was a dream come true. My thanks go out to a wonderful employer that paid my tuition and to Pitt for enabling me to continue to take care of my family and work a full-time job while earning a college degree. Christine (Bloom) Lakomy General Studies ’84 Pittsburgh, Pa.
Drumbeat for Shango by Charlotte Ka
Opportunity Fund: “Oh, wow, this cover story is fabulous, and a testament to the importance of [Pitt’s] Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar, the actual installation, and the larger important conversation.”
Janet McCall Executive Director Society for Contemporary Craft Pittsburgh, Pa.
Thank you for the “Voices of Color” feature in the winter issue. I have heard many wonderful responses from a wide variety of readers—at my church, in the foundation community, and from artists and the general public. I used the article to support a grant proposal for a new one-year Emerging Black Arts Leaders Apprenticeship opportunity that we are offering at my nonprofit organization, Society for Contemporary Craft. In addition, I want to share this response that I received from Jake Goodman, Executive Director and Board Member of Pittsburgh’s
PITT PANTHERS VS. GEORGIA TECH
690,000 Each year, Pitt’s Congress of Neighboring Communities advocates for nearly 690,000 local residents.
DURING PITT’S 2016 HOMECOMING, OCT. 3-9
For more ways that Pitt works, see the photo essay beginning on page 17 or visit pittworks.pitt.edu
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Women in Science At a White House summit last fall, Pitt joined the national Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research to promote the success of women and girls of color. The University pledged to conduct $1 million in research aimed at increasing the number of women of color in graduate fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with the related goal of helping women pursue careers as faculty members at Pitt and other institutions. The researchersâ€™ work will be aided significantly by the Hot Metal Bridge Program, a Pitt initiative to help underrepresented populations succeed academically.
Front Page is written by Cara Masset unless otherwise noted. 4
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Jog Your Brain Physical activity doesn’t just benefit the body; it can boost the brain, too—even as we age. Researchers from Pitt and UCLA collaborated to discover that regular exercise—including activities such as gardening and dance—helps to prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. Citing data on people 65 and older, the research revealed that more physical activity (measured in calories burned) correlates with more gray-matter volume in the brain, indicating neural health. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study was led by Cyrus Raji (A&S ’04, MED ’10), a Pitt medical school graduate and now a senior radiology resident at UCLA. “Our current treatments for dementia are limited in their effectiveness, so developing approaches to prevent or slow these disorders is crucial,” said investigator James T. Becker, a professor in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “Our study is one of the largest to examine the relationship between physical activity and cognitive decline, and the results strongly support the notion that staying active maintains brain health.” —Micaela Fox Corn
The winners of the Red Bull Hack the Hits competition from left, Putterman, Gupta, and Jiang
Invent the Future
Susan Rogers is the University of Pittsburgh’s new vice chancellor for communications. She previously served as vice president for university advancement at the University of Texas at Dallas. She now leads communications and marketing efforts here, overseeing Communications Services, News Services, Periodicals, and the University Times in the Office of University Communications. Rogers will work with senior leaders and many others to share Pitt’s story across local, state, national, and global platforms based on strategic priorities and goals. Her past experience includes leadership roles in communications and marketing at the University of Arkansas, Stanford University, and the University of North Texas. She also has extensive experience as a writer, reporter, and editor at publications such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, and the Chicago SunTimes. Her predecessor at Pitt, Ken Service, retired in April.
In April, two Pitt students and a friend from nearby Carnegie Mellon University became one of only five teams invited to compete in the Red Bull Hack the Hits challenge in San Francisco. Hackathons are popular events for idea enthusiasts with entrepreneurial instincts. These events bring together avid computer techies and others to develop software or hardware in an environment of creative freedom. Senior Laurence Putterman and rising junior Ritwik Gupta both major in computer science in Pitt’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Their friend and colleague, Tiffany Jiang, is a Carnegie Mellon student with a double major in design and humancomputer interaction. At the 6,500-square-foot Folsom Street Foundry, the three-person teams gathered for their 24-hour challenge— create a new way to play sound. The
—Micaela Fox Corn
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The University of Pittsburgh’s physical therapy doctoral program tied for first in the nation, based on rankings in the latest edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools.
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other competitors consisted of teams primarily from Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz. Over 24 hours, without much sleep or food, each team used existing tools such as Ableton and Leap Motion to imagine their own sound-players. The resulting inventions were judged based on musicality, innovativeness, and actual usability. The Pitt-CMU team was a standout in all three categories. In a story about the competition in Forbes, writer Matt Hunckler noted of their work: “It looked like something out of a futuristic made-for-TV movie, and the judges were blown away by the demo.” In fact, the judges were so impressed that the Pitt-CMU team won the competition, the national cred, and $1,000. The students’ victory puts a face on key initiatives advanced by Pitt, such as partnership, diversity, and innovation. The win, noted the hackathon judges, underscores that tech innovation is not limited to certain locations or majors and that, with the proper resources and tools, discovery and enterprise can come from both coasts and everyplace in between—and certainly from Pittsburgh. —Ervin Dyer
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Going to the Chapel?
The Heinz Memorial Chapel released new guidelines for booking a wedding at the iconic Pitt venue. Changes include updated reservation policies and a new alumni discount. Visit heinzchapel.pitt.edu for more information.
Star composer Amy Williams has won a fellowship from the preeminent American Academy of Arts and Letters. A performance pianist and Pitt associate professor of music, Williams won the 2016 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, which is awarded to “mid-career composers of exceptional gifts.”
Play Law! The crunch of dirt under cleats, the warmth of the springtime sun—and hundreds of lawyers-in-training, ready to play ball. In April, a group of Pitt law students traveled to Charlottesville, Va., for the 33rd annual University of Virginia Law Softball Invitational. The weekend tournament drew nearly 115 teams from over 50 law schools across the country, including the “Pitt Law Panthers.” Softball and law school might not seem like a natural fit, but it can be a good combination for students, says Scott Scheinberg, team captain, third baseman, and recent law
Scott Scheinberg (left) and Julia Conley
grad who established the team last fall. Heading onto the field offers a break from hitting the books, and playing together helps to strengthen friendships forged in the classroom. Plus, it can be fun to compete in Virginia against potential future colleagues, an experience previous Pitt Law Panther softball teams have also enjoyed. In fact, happy memories of the tournament prompted Pitt Law alumni from five different firms to help fund the 2016 team’s expenses. Once in Charlottesville, the Pitt team of nine swung for the fences. They won their games against Boston College and Boston University, losing only to Georgia State. “Everyone made contributions at the plate and on the field,” says Scheinberg, who notes that the trip was the best way to close out the end of his time at Pitt—surrounded by friends and making lasting memories.
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Pitt is a top producer of student Fulbright grants, ranking fourth among public research universities nationwide for the 2015–16 school year. Fifteen Pitt Fulbright award recipients are currently studying and teaching abroad in countries from Malaysia to Hungary.
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Patrick Moore’s groundbreaking research career focuses on the link between viruses and cancer. This year, he received the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, a top honor that recognizes accomplished cancer researchers. He will use the accompanying $6.4 million grant to further his work in finding viruses that cause human cancers and will investigate the underlying mechanisms behind two viruses linked to Kaposi sar-
coma and Merkel cell carcinoma. Moore holds the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Innovative Cancer Research and serves as Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in Pitt’s School of Medicine.
Two Pitt professors have been named fellows of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science. Patricia Kroboth—dean of the School of Pharmacy and the Dr. Gordon J. Vanscoy Distinguished Service Professor—was honored for “distinguished contributions using pharmacodynamics to explain variability in response to drugs, and for excellence in administrative contributions.” Sandra Mitchell, professor and chair of history and philosophy of science, was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the philosophy of science, particularly the philosophy of evolutionary theory and of the social sciences.”
China Partnership Technology showcases, business-plan competitions, and seminars on commercialization: these and many other activities will support entrepreneurship and innovation through a new agreement between Pitt’s Innovation Institute and Beijing’s Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading universities. “This relationship will build on the strengths of both our universities,” says Marc Malandro, founding director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute. “We look
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The newly named Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences will introduce a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science in fall 2016. Students in the new major will tackle four areas of focus to better understand and improve our world: hydrology, geology, ecology, and climate dynamics.
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So far, in 2016, Pitt students have won top national awards including a Truman Scholarship, three Whitaker Awards, three Goldwater Scholarships, the Josephine de Karman Fellowship, and a Udall Scholarship.
It’s On Us
forward to working with Tsinghua to advance the commercialization of technologies on a global scale that address many of society’s biggest challenges.” This is Pitt’s second significant engagement with Tsinghua. The School of Medicine began a collaborative education and research partnership there in 2011.
Vice President Joe Biden visited Pitt’s Oakland campus in April, addressing an enthusiastic audience of nearly 1,000 in the Petersen Events Center lobby. He spoke on behalf of the White House-led initiative, “It’s On Us,” a nationwide awareness campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. Biden commended the more than 4,000 Pitt students who took the “It’s On Us” pledge, promising “not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.”
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Education for All
Scholarly Achievement How are the seeds of grassroots activism planted, and what determines which activist groups will thrive? Pitt sociologist Kathleen Blee studies social movements and the influences of activism, racism, and poverty. Recently, she won the 2016 John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior from the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame. Blee is a distinguished professor of sociology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Blee
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Pitt is profiled in the 2016 Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck by the Princeton Review, which selected the “best value” schools by measuring data points including academics, graduation rates, alumni salaries, and job satisfaction. Among other things, Pitt was praised as an “academic powerhouse.”
Seeking Solutions Drug-overdose deaths in Pennsylvania increased 14-fold during the past 35 years, and rates are climbing fastest among young white women, according to Pitt public health researchers in findings published in PLOS ONE, a scientific journal. The study is the first to thoroughly examine accidental overdose deaths in Pennsylvania over time, and suggests potential targets for public intervention and law enforcement efforts. Faculty in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy recently took action to address the problem by establishing the Pennsylvania Heroin Overdose Prevention Technical Assistance Center, which will serve as a resource for all counties in the Commonwealth.
Maureen W. McClure’s research focuses on education finance, Internet technology, and education in the context of regional economics and politics. An associate professor of administrative and policy studies in Pitt’s School of Education, she won the 2016 Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow Award from the National Education Finance Conference for her more than 30 years of dedication as a scholar and educator. The award is given annually to 10 higher-education-affiliated professionals who have displayed exemplary research and practice in the field of public education finance. In addition to her Pitt work, McClure is a longtime collaborator with the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, where she serves as a senior vice president on the board of directors of Americans for UNESCO. —Anthony M. Moore
Learning the Lake For generations of Pitt students interested in the natural world, the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology has been an invaluable resource, supporting a wide range of field classes since its establishment in 1926. Now, a new Learning Lake Initiative has been launched, and it envisions the 17,088-acre Pymatuning reservoir in Crawford County, north of Pittsburgh, as “a dynamic intellectual ecosystem of interdisciplinary learning and research,” open to students in disciplines across the University. The effort, a University Honors College initiative in partnership with Pymatuning State Park and the surrounding community, encourages undergraduate students in all disciplines to undertake research projects in fields ranging from architecture to public health. —Adam Reger
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s he fumbles through his blazer pockets, Aakash Sudhakar asks, “Mind if I give you my business card?” “Here, let me give you mine,” suggests Benji Pollock. Yet, searching through his wallet, he, too, comes up empty-handed. Standing in a projector’s glow in the William Pitt Union lower lounge, the two Pitt engineering undergrads might seem unprepared, but the skit is all part of their carefully devised plan. The audience knows the problem: easily forgotten or misplaced business cards. Now, it’s time to present a solution. Sudhakar and Pollock turn to the judges seated before them and outline their idea for an innovative new app, Namesake. The smartphonebased technology will allow users to easily share not just cards, but also résumés, portfolios, and other important documents. They have only five minutes to summarize detailed market research, their business’s projected growth, and its potential competitors. This is Demo Day, the grand culmination of Blast Furnace (tinyurl.com/PittBlastFurnace), an accelerator program created by Pitt’s Innovation Institute to give tools and guidance to student
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATT MANLEY
BY MATT CICHOWICZ
teams with startup company ideas. The Namesake proposal is among the project ideas offered by 16 teams in Blast Furnace’s second cohort. The participants have spent eight weeks developing business plans, meeting with mentors—including Pitt alumni— from the local business community, and attending workshops on running successful enterprises. Demo Day is when all of that hard work goes on display. Teams make presentations to a panel of judges consisting of leaders from Pittsburgh-based business accelerators that specialize in get-
ting new ventures off the ground. The Blast Furnace team that most impresses the judges will be named the day’s winner. One by one, the teams pitch their business proposals. Eventually, the nine judges huddle together, debating their picks for first place. It’s no easy choice. Then, Blast Furnace director Greg Coticchia steps forward to make the announcement: the team that created uTranslated, an Internet-based marketplace to match foreign-language translators with clients, takes the prize.
The company’s chief executive officer, John Frazier, a student from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is thrilled. “We’ve gotten so much momentum from Blast Furnace,” he says. “This is now my full-time job.” But it’s not the end of the road for Blast Furnace’s other teams. For motivated entrepreneurs, the Innovation Institute’s other programs and competitions offer a wealth of support and resources. These Pitt students’ bright ideas now have the fuel to flourish for a long time to come. ■
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BY SARAH POLICE
n this cool, quiet morning, barely a soul appears on Oakland’s usually bustling sidewalks. It’s 8:15 a.m. on a Saturday and much of campus is still asleep. But in the lobby of Posvar Hall, a cluster of Pitt students gathers, some wearing paint-stained jeans and work boots. They chat cheerfully, discussing weekend plans. Soon, the last member of the group hurries in, and everyone sets out together to the vans that will take them to their one-day construction site. Members of Panther Habitat for Humanity, Pitt’s campus chapter of the home-building nonprofit, meet like this nearly every Saturday of the school year. A revolving cast of the club’s more than 120 active members travels all over the Pittsburgh region to lend a hand in fixing up houses and building new ones for those in need. The group also serves communities across the country. During summer and spring breaks, they participate in “Collegiate Challenges,” where they construct a house from the ground up in less than a week. Today’s mission isn’t quite so lofty. The Panther Habitat team is helping to refurbish a house in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. Arts and Sciences senior Lia Brunetti is assigned to the second floor of the house, where she starts right away with cleanup, sorting through scraps of wood and tools. The house itself is in disarray, with machinery, paint chips, and dust layering the floor. The windows are not yet installed, but Brunetti isn’t bothered by the empty panes and cool air. She moves quickly, diligently, and soon the room is clear of debris. She’s ready for the next task.
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The psychology major, who recently graduated, says she volunteers to help others because she knows how lucky she is. “I had a home growing up,” says Brunetti. “Some people don’t have stable homes, and knowing that is enough to get me to wake up early on a Saturday.” Kahley Stiffler, the club’s president, is similarly motivated. She first got involved with Panther Habitat on a spring break trip to Columbus, Ga., where she helped build a housing community for homeless families. More than anything, says Stiffler— a graduating senior with a major in rehabilitation science—she wants to do her part to create a world in which “everyone has equal opportunities for a good life.” After hours of work, Brunetti, Stiffler, and their fellow Pitt volunteers put down their hammers, drills, paint brushes, and brooms,
and trek back to the vans headed toward campus. Their Saturday is nearly over, but the group’s members are more energized by the day’s work than if they had spent the morning sleeping in. They’re building a better world, and it feels good. ■
BY LAURA CLARK ROHRER
he darkened room buzzes with excitement as a crumpled brown hat is slowly lowered onto the Pitt student’s head. The young man is wearing all black, except for a green-and-whitestriped tie that shines in the light of the spotlight beaming down on the stage. The hat, peaked like a witch’s, settles over his forehead. The crowd quiets.
“Slytherin!” booms a voice over the sound system. The audience erupts in cheers. The student throws his hands into the air in triumph; he’s been named to the house he had hoped for. The scene is like a page from a Harry Potter book come to life. In author J.K. Rowling’s famous fantasy series, new students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are assigned to one of four dormitory “houses” (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin) with the help of the enchanted “Sorting Hat.” There’s no hocus-pocus in the O’Hara Student Center ballroom tonight, but these undergrads aren’t just play-acting scenes from the beloved books of their childhoods. They are being officially welcomed into one of Pitt’s most imaginative student clubs. Pitt Project Potter is an organization dedicated to community service—and a whole lot of fun. During the light-hearted “Sorting Ceremony,” new group members are assigned to one of four teams named after Hogwarts houses. The teams will spend the year competing with each other for the highest number of points, which are earned by attending events and doing good deeds, like volunteering to pick up litter on Oakland streets or collecting canned goods for a local food pantry. “We wanted to create a Harry Potter group, but we didn’t want to make it a fan club,” says Alaa Mohamed, a Pitt senior and one of the group’s co-presidents. She came up with Project Potter with her friends, Lola Adebiyi and Amy Tavares. The three met as freshmen and bonded over their mutual love of the sorcery series. For Mohamed, who moved with her family to the U.S. from Egypt when she was age 5, the connection with the books is personal: She learned English from reading the seven lengthy volumes.
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The women found they weren’t alone in their special Harry Potter affinity or their drive to help others. Now, at the end of its second year, Pitt Project Potter has nearly 170 members who turn out for their club-sponsored service and social events, which often relate to elements of the fictional wizarding world. A scavenger hunt around Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was billed as an “Herbology Lesson”; and in February, group members sold Harry Potter-themed Valentines and candy (“Love potions sold separately”). The house-points system keeps members motivated—but not as much as their goal to give back. Proceeds from every Project Potter fundraiser go to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. During the past two academic years, the group raised more than $4,000 for the hospital. All that effort is powered by the club’s magical motto, which adorns the t-shirts worn by members at the Sorting Ceremony: “We solemnly swear we are up to some good!” ■
Rooms to Know
BY NICK KEPPLER
dozen retired schoolteachers shuffle into the Italian Nationality Room on the Cathedral of Learning’s first floor. They take in the warm tones of the walnut wood paneling, the ceiling’s delicately gilded rosettes, the bronze bust of the poet Dante peering down from his place over the classroom’s blackboard. As the group looks around, a petite Pitt graduate student with curly hair and a smile explains the historical shift that inspired the room’s features.
“In the Renaissance,” says Caryn Polanski, “there was a focus on the arts and sciences and a shift away from the church. This room reflects that transition. It looks like a church but on the backs of the students’ seats you will see the names of universities and the dates of their founding.” She points out that the Italian Room was dedicated to the University of Pittsburgh in 1949 and is made to look like a chamber in a Tuscan monastery. Polanski is a member of Quo Vadis, the student group that leads curious visitors on tours of Pitt’s Nationality and Heritage Rooms. Each of her bite-sized lessons helps illuminate these meticulously designed spaces, which highlight the cultures of the ethnic groups that settled in the Pittsburgh region. The rooms are seen by more than 30,000 tourists a year. Members of Quo Vadis (Latin for “Where are you going?”) become human encryption keys to the rooms’ myriad symbols. Before they lead a tour, they train extensively, studying each room, role-playing, and passing a 30-page exam administered by Michael Walter, the Nationality Rooms tour coordinator. Quo Vadis is almost as old as the rooms themselves. Helen Pool Rush, then-dean of women, organized the guide program in 1944, six years after the dedication of the four inaugural rooms. Today there are 30 Nationality Rooms, with details well known by the 25 or so student guides. Some major in art history, foreign languages, or museum sciences— subjects that come in handy sharing the rooms’ exquisite elements with the public. But any qualified Pitt student can be a guide. Polanski, who is earning a master’s degree in accounting in the Katz Graduate School of Business, initially joined Quo
Vadis as a freshman to conquer a fear of public speaking. “Being a guide helped build the confidence I needed to realize I have something to say,” she explains. “I’ve learned to speak up and be confident in what I know.” Next, she leads the tour down the hall to the German Room, where she identifies the Brothers Grimm fairy tales brightly illus-
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trated across the stained-glass windows—“Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White,” “Tom Thumb,” and others. In the Irish Room, she relays the Celtic significance of the Irish Wolfhound heads carved into the chair backs. The group of former teachers listens closely, worlds of beauty and culture revealed to them with each door Polanski opens. ■
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WHY WOULD A 21ST-CENTURY MAN CONSTRUCT A 17TH-CENTURY MACHINE? THE ANSWER LIES IN AN ALCHEMY OF MATHEMATICS, PHILOSOPHY, AND TWO ROVING MINDS SEPARATED BY TIME.
IN PITT’S WORLD-CLASS PHILOSOPHY PROGRAM, NICHOLAS RESCHER PUTS PHILOSOPHY IN PLAY.
MASTER MIND WRITTEN BY CRISTINA ROUVALIS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RIC AND LUKE EVANS
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he 16-year-old was already a standout in math when he discovered Will Durant’s book, The Story of Philosophy. It was an engaging read, and it would influence the rest of his life. The teen had spent his childhood in Hagen, Germany, in the Rhine-Ruhr region, but eventually immigrated with his family to New York, after his father’s law practice declined as the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s. He entered New York’s public school system not understanding a word of spoken English, but he quickly learned to read it. Books became a way to catch up and then excel. “I was a bookworm,” recalls Nicholas Rescher about his boyhood. “When I grew up, the term ‘nerd’ didn’t exist.” As an undergraduate at Queens College (now part of the City University of New York), Rescher couldn’t decide whether to study philosophy or math, so he majored in both. Then, the summer before entering Princeton for graduate school, he began reading about 17th-century mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who had wide-ranging interests, including mathematics, philosophy, ethics, theology, and even statesmanship. Rescher became so intrigued that he decided to focus his PhD dissertation on the Leibniz German philosopher. Even now, he views Leibniz as the ideal philosopher and scholar. “Leibniz had remarkable creativity across a broad frontier, yet he had a kind of integrated vision of what the life of the mind should be,” says Rescher, now a Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at Pitt. “I like the idea that there has to be some concern for the big picture and how things fit together.” Rescher says that modern philosophy has become nearly unreadable because it amounts to fellow specialists talking to one another in their own specialized language. Instead, he says, “The idea of having a philosophical system, which died out a long time ago—and which seeks to give a comprehensive overview of philosophical issues in a way that clarifies their connections and interrelationships—is still something that is alive in my thought and work.” It’s not surprising, then, that the Pitt philosopher has a longtime fascination with Leibniz. Not long ago, Rescher did something remarkable, reaching back across time to enter the mind of the 17th-century philosopher and resurrect one of his groundbreaking inventions. 14
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IN AN AGE OF SPECIALIZATION, WHEN SCHOLARS TEND TO CARVE OUT ORIGINAL IDEAS BY EXPLORING MORE NARROW AND REMOTE REALMS OF THOUGHT, IT’S UNUSUAL TO FIND A PHILOSOPHER WHO EMBRACES THE ROLE OF “GENERALIST.” BUT RESCHER RELISHES THE FREEDOM TO DELVE INTO SUBJECT AFTER SUBJECT. HE TACKLES EVERYTHING FROM HISTORICAL TO MODERN PHILOSOPHY, FROM THEORETICAL TO APPLIED TOPICS, FROM CHILDREN’S FABLES TO UNDERGRADUATE TEXTBOOKS. In 2010, during his habitual reading, Rescher discovered a memorandum that Leibniz had written to Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1688. It touted secret inventions that could “bring about a revolutionary change in military affairs, should they be known and used by one single power before being discovered by others.” Leibniz was describing his machina deciphratoria, a coding and decoding apparatus, which Rescher has since characterized as “the world’s first cryptographic machine.” The 1688 memorandum included detailed notes on the proposed device, because Leibniz was seeking to convince the emperor to fund the project. But the emperor wasn’t interested, and the philosopher’s machine wasn’t built—until Rescher did so in 2012. He enlisted the help of Richard Kotler, a retired Pittsburgh engineer, as well as Klaus Badur and Wolfgang Rottstedt, German machinists specializing in historical recreations. They also drew upon their knowledge of Leibniz’s calculating machine, which Rescher describes as “an arithmetical machine that was—and still is—one of the wonders of the world of geared engineering.” Central to the calculator’s operation is a stepped-drum mechanism known as the “Leibniz Wheel,” which is also a key feature in his cipher machine. For the inaugural exhibition of the machina deciphratoria, Rescher wrote Leibniz and Cryptography, An Account . . . of the Reconstruction of Leibniz’s Cipher Machine, in which he includes Leibniz’s description of the machine: “It is a smallish device that is easy to transport. With it a great ruler can concurrently use many virtually unsolvable ciphers and correspond with many ministers . . . enabling one to get at the requisite ciphers or alphabetic-letters as easily as though one were playing on a clavichord or
other [keyboard] instrument.” Rescher’s physical reconstruction, now at Hillman Library, consists of piano keys, alphabet-scrambling slats, and several rotating drums, including the classic Leibniz steppeddrum, which enables drum rotations based on mathematical principles that determine key strokes. Alphabetic letters are readily encoded and decoded if the user knows the correct rotational pattern to select from multiple possibilities. “The operator did not have to fiddle with wheels or slats: the apparatus worked in a fully automatic way that combined convenience of operation with reasonable cryptographic security,” Rescher revealed in his account. Remarkably, no comparable cryptographic device appeared until the era of World War I, and some of those that emerged used principles first devised by Leibniz. “In the cleverness of its conceptualization and sophistication of its operation . . . [it] was some 250 years ahead of its time,” wrote Rescher. In an age of specialization, when scholars tend to carve out original ideas by exploring more narrow and remote realms of thought, it’s unusual to find a philosopher who embraces the role of “generalist.” But Rescher relishes the freedom to delve into subject after subject. He tackles everything from historical to modern philosophy, from theoretical to applied topics, from children’s fables to undergraduate textbooks. Likewise, says Rescher, “Leibniz was a remarkable generalist. I think philosophy exists, in part, to put things together and to give a connected view of how the creative effort of understanding is supposed to work itself out. And it’s supposed to provide some sort of counterweight to the specialization and division of labor that separates us from our colleagues.” One way that Rescher exemplifies this broad creative approach is through his own wideranging curiosity. His book titles reference the nature of truth, unselfishness, technological progress, religion, autobiography, philosophical anthropology, social issues, fairness, free will, and common sense. And, the breadth of his knowledge isn’t limited to philosophy. In 1994, Rescher authored a children’s book of fables called Animal Conversations, a project he undertook when his now-grown children were young. He writes about historical issues, including a booklet on Confederate refugees in Canada after the Civil War. The University of Pittsburgh Press is publishing his book on the theory of reports and reporting as it relates to World War II espionage.
Rescher with the machina deciphratoria, in Hillman Library
n June of 2016, Rescher received the prestigious Helmholtz Medal, which is bestowed by the German Academy of Sciences for outstanding lifetime contributions to scholarship. The award presentation noted that Rescher “unquestionably ranks among the most prominent philosophers of our time,” and praised him as “a bridge builder who systemically connects various philosophical traditions.” Those accolades are a tribute to Rescher’s deep devotion to philosophy. After earning his doctoral degree at age 22, becoming the youngest PhD graduate on record at Princeton, Rescher served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Returning home, he was ready to give his mind a rigorous workout. He joined the Rand Corporation’s mathematics division and later became a philosophy professor at Lehigh University. In 1961 he joined the Pitt faculty and helped to transform its philosophy program into one of the best anywhere. This spring, the University of Pittsburgh was pegged as the world’s top university for philosophy, according to the 2016 QS World University Rankings. During his Pitt career, Rescher rose through the faculty ranks and served as chair of the Department of
Philosophy and as director and, later, chair of the Center for Philosophy of Science, a position he has held since 1988. He has also directed nearly 20 graduate students as they acquired PhDs. And, if being a generalist harkens back to another era, so does Rescher’s habit of writing everything by hand. Each day, he fills a page or more with his expansive thoughts in his squiggly cursive, a habit that has produced 100 books over six decades, as well as hundreds of scholarly journal articles. His assistant, Estelle Burris, decodes what she fondly calls his “chicken scrawl” and then transcribes it into one typed document after another. His thoughts are jotted down in hotel rooms, on airplanes, at home—whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. “I don’t feel I’ve got something straight until I’ve put it on paper,” notes Rescher. “So, that explains a lot of books.” He says it matter-of-factly, as though it were no big feat to write enough books to fill an entire bookshelf, not to mention the 14 books, translated into five languages, that have been written about his work by other authors. In fact, many of his books have been issued by the University of Pittsburgh Press, a publisher he characterizes as “admirably competent and professional.”
His colleague Robert Brandom, another world-leading Pitt philosopher, admires Rescher’s enduring enthusiasm for his work. “He has been in Pittsburgh for 55 years. One would think it would be a chore after all these years. But whatever he works on is like a playground for him. It’s like ‘What would it be like to go down that slide?’ There is joy and playfulness.” Play actually has an active role in Rescher’s life. He is a contract bridge enthusiast who savors the card game in various competitions. He also enjoys a lively family life, and describes his wife, Dorothy, as “the mainstay of my psychic and physical well-being.” Play, it seems, also leads to mastery. Rescher’s accolades include eight honorary degrees from universities on three continents; fellowships from the Ford, Guggenheim, and National Science Foundations; and awards including the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Humanistic Scholarship, the Belgian Prix Mercier, and the Medal of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He also served as founding editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly for 30 years. Flashing his boyish smile, Rescher explains his stellar career quite simply: “In a sense, I never decided what I would be when I grow up.” He’s still exploring the possibilities. ■ S U M M E R
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ons ago, in a distant galaxy more than a billion light years away, two massive black holes violently collided, sending ripples of the resulting distortions of space speeding out into the universe. Last September, they finally reached Earth. These undulations or curvatures of space are called gravitational waves, and their existence was first proposed by the famous physicist Albert Einstein. Yet, after nearly a century of trying, humans have never been able to detect gravitational waves to prove they exist. Until now. Last fall, the gravitational waves caused by that far-flung, colossal collision were observed for the first time in history, using a sophisticated measurement system, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), involving a worldwide collaboration of more than a thousand researchers. Among the many scientists jubilant about this news is Ezra “Ted” Newman. The Pitt professor emeritus of physics was awarded the prestigious 2011 Einstein Prize by the American Physical Society, which described Newman as a “grandson of Einstein” for his trailblazing work in the study of gravity and black holes. He developed a simplification of the notoriously difficult calculations for Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and discovered a black hole that now bears his name. What are gravitational waves? They are ripples in space itself that carry gravitational energy. They result from accelerating masses, particularly from catastrophic events. An illustration of the wave is: Take a large, stretched rubber sheet to represent space. Tap the sheet and you’ll have a wave or distortion propagating from where you hit it. This is the analog of gravitational waves. Why did it take so long to observe them? Gravitational waves are very weak. We cannot feel them. If you want to find one, you need an unbelievably sophisticated apparatus to detect the smallest change in distance from the bending and stretching of space from the wave. Why is LIGO’s detection of gravitational waves significant? It proves the existence of what we’ve known theoretically for years. The achievement gives physical proof to Einstein’s 1915 General Theory of Relativity, which predicted gravitational waves, among other phenomena such as the
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bending of light rays by gravity and the expansion of the universe at the speed of light. The interferometer took 30 years to make and is probably the most accurate scientific measurement there is. What was your reaction to LIGO’s big news? Absolute excitement. We in the physics community had heard about it for months. If LIGO directors had prematurely announced their finding in September, there would have been a great deal of skepticism. They kept it secret, checking and re-checking for accuracy. What proved it best was that they set up the experiment twice, with two interferometers far apart, in Louisiana and Washington. Both recorded the exact same thing. What might be some practical applications of the discovery? None that I can imagine now, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be. No one thought there would be applications of special relativity either, but it led to atomic energy. And a practical application of general relativity that no one had dreamt of is Global Positioning Systems (GPS). On the other hand, the discovery will open a new window into space for astronomers. Why do you love physics? I’m retired and could go to the beach, but it’s more fun to come into my office almost every day and play with my calculations and discover things. The exciting part about physics is probing the mystery of why things are so. Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead...”
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Many people know the University of Pittsburgh ranks among the leading public research universities in the nation. But most donâ€™t realize that research universities such as Pitt bring tremendous advantages to their regions and states. Take a look at how Pitt benefits Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth.
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123,000 REGIONAL RESIDENTS EDUCATED
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Christopher Murawski (A&S ’12) An orthopaedics researcher Murawski, who at age 25 had already published 55 peer-reviewed studies and presented at more than 60 academic conferences, was selected as a Forbes 2016 “30 Under 30” star in the healthcare sector, recognizing him as one of the world’s “breakout talents and change agents.” He’s currently enrolled in Pitt’s School of Medicine with plans to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He’s also one of more than 123,000 Pitt-educated people who live in and contribute to the success of Pittsburgh and its surrounding counties. 18
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Nancy Davidson A professor and director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Centers
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A physician-scientist, Davidson is a worldrenowned breast cancer researcher who has guided important national clinical trials of potential new cancer therapies and continues to empower others in the battle against cancer. In 2016, she was elected president of the American Association for Cancer Research. She is among the scores of University of Pittsburgh faculty whose work attracts, collectively, more than $700 million annually in outside research funding into the region.
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$700 MILLION BROUGHT INTO THE REGION BY RESEARCH S U M M E R
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Christi Saunders (ENGR ’12G) A virtual construction engineer with Pittsburgh-based Mascaro Construction
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Saunders’ work ranges from using specialized software to visualize and model an entire construction project to managing multiple sub-contractors and navigating complex production schedules with onsite workers. At Pitt, she focused on sustainability and green design while earning a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. About 900 engineering students earn undergraduate or graduate degrees from Pitt every year. Beyond that, over the last five years the University of Pittsburgh has generated 15,500 jobs regionally through its campus construction needs, infrastructure upgrades, and property development activities.
15,500 JOBS CREATED BY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
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$6 MILLION CONTRIBUTED IN SOCIAL WORK SERVICES
Marcus Poindexter (SOC WK â€™10G) A Pitt graduate student in the School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Public Health Poindexterâ€™s research interests include finding solutions to health care disparities that affect African Americans with chronic diseases. All Pitt graduate and undergraduate social work students contribute community service hours before they go into the world as full-fledged professionals. As he pursues a PhD, Poindexter is among the hundreds of Pitt social work students who annually log the collective equivalent of $6 million in services to the Pittsburgh area, helping to strengthen communities and address significant societal challenges.
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Noah Snyder (ENGR â€™15G) President and CEO of Interphase Materials
117 STARTUP COMPANIES LAUNCHED
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Interphase Materials is a startup company that develops specialized, environmentally friendly additives and coatings. The products have applications ranging from improved medical implants to barnacle-deterring ship hulls. In 2015, Snyder completed a PhD in bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. During his studies, he took advantage of every resource offered by Pittâ€™s Innovation Institute, which gave him the tools to imagine and launch his business. Today, Interphase Materials is one of more than 117 startup companies launched through the University of Pittsburgh since 1996.
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467,000 HOURS OF VOLUNTEER SERVICE
PITT LEADS PHOTO BY HARRY GIGLIO
$3.9 BILLION in regional economic impact annually $187 MILLION generated in local and state tax revenue annually
Senthil Natarajan A Pitt staff member in Computing Services and Systems Development With family ties in southern India, Natarajan comes from a cultural background that encourages respect and care for others. For the past eight years, he has been volunteering every second Thursday of the month with Produce to Peopleâ€“a direct distribution program of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank that ensures healthy, fresh produce goes to households in need. Natarajan is among the thousands of Pitt faculty, staff, and students who last year donated more than 467,000 hours of volunteer service within the city and surrounding communities.
$2.9 MILLION contributed to community dental care 30,000 JOBS supported and sustained in Pennsylvania $1.7 BILLION purchased by Pitt in local goods and services in one year
secured for regional small businesses since 1996
742 PATENTS for new discoveries by Pitt faculty and students
Statistics from the June 2016 Economic Impact Study Update; and the Office of Community and Governmental Relations.
FOR MORE WAYS THAT PITT WORKS, VISIT: PITTWORKS.PITT.EDU S U M M E R
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S K E TCHBOOK
avid de la Cruz steps out of the vinyl tent at a field hospital in Liberia, West Africa. He and his team have just lost a patient to the Ebola virus. As he waits outside, the body is carried away, under the strictest precautions. Ebola is most contagious at the time of death. Here, near the edge of a hot, mountainous jungle, de la Cruz is among the volunteers fighting the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The dead man’s brother approaches. He wants to thank de la Cruz and his colleagues. To tell them how proud he is of his brother, who had worked in a distant village treating other Ebola patients. It was a death sentence. But he knows it was his brother’s calling to help his country’s people—just as the volunteers continue to do. This would be the right moment for an embrace. Yet, de la Cruz must keep a distance of at least six feet. Everyone must be treated as if they are infected. It is hard keeping physical distance from life among so much death. It will be even harder three days later when the man shows up again, infected with Ebola—harder still when his sister and mother arrive, also infected. de la Cruz (GSPH ’91) is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). In fall 2014, President Barack Obama activated the USPHS Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of public health officers. He called on the Corps volunteers to be “hope multipliers” in Liberia, where the country was being ravaged by the West African Ebola outbreak. More than 10,000 people became infected in Liberia alone. Assigned as the deputy officer in charge and executive officer of a team of 76 officers who arrived at the height of the outbreak, de la Cruz helped orchestrate the unit’s daily operations, a job that Pitt had prepared him to do well. During his graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, he says, he realized public health is a holistic discipline touching all aspects of a society, from infrastructure to information. After earning a Pitt master’s degree in public health, he completed a PhD at the University of South Carolina. He now works in Washington, D.C., as a deputy director in a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, where he oversees perinatal health initiatives in 100 communities around the nation. He remains active, too, in the USPHS Commissioned Corps, which has deployed him to fight health crises all over the nation—and in Liberia when Ebola raged. de la Cruz’s team saw a total of 42 Liberian patients who all became infected while risking their lives treating others. Each loss was heartbreaking. Outside the hospital, the volunteers erected a blue wall to honor their patients. Each survivor dipped their hands in yellow paint, then pressed them on the wall. Inside, patients still hoping for recovery asked each other: “Can you smell the yellow paint yet?” Sadly, the two brothers that de la Cruz encountered and treated would not dip their hands into the yellow paint. Both lost their lives. But he got yellow handprints from their mother and sister, and that’s something to embrace and hold. ■
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David de la Cruz (GSPH â€™91) was among the volunteers in Liberia fighting the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
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I N N OVATION
Heirloom Science When DNA breaks, life may change
BY MICAELA FOX CORN
magine a necklace strung with multicolored pearls. Lustrous beads alternate in different hues, forming an intricate pattern. The priceless relic was passed down through generations. Then, one day, the strand snaps. Pearls scatter to the floor. Some get lost; others chip. Is it possible to mend the break, to string the pearls back in place, exactly the way they were before? Scientist Kara Bernstein considers this conundrum often, but not out of love for antique jewelry. An assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in Pitt’s School of Medicine, Bernstein studies a different sort of family heirloom: DNA. In her lab, she examines how strands of DNA break, how damaged DNA gets repaired, and how understanding those repair mechanisms could lead to new forms of cancer therapies. To explain her nuanced work, Bernstein often uses the necklace analogy, in which the strand represents a DNA chain, the pearls its components. No strand of fine jewelry is immune to daily wear and tear, and neither is genetic information. DNA gets altered naturally over the course of a lifetime—an estimated 10,000 to one million lesions per day, per cell, in the human body. In normally functioning cells, there’s order in the chaos that ensues. DNA-repair proteins assess the damage and replicate the portions of genetic code that have been compromised. But trouble arises when these proteins don’t function properly. Mutated repair proteins can allow faulty genes to proliferate into faulty proteins, which may result in tumor develop-
ment. “Losing genetic information and rearranging genetic information are both hallmarks of cancer,” says Bernstein, who is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. She focuses her work on these pitfalls of repair. Last summer, Bernstein’s lab published a landmark paper in Nature Communications. The study revealed for the first time how a critical class of repair proteins, called Rad51 paralogues, plays a role in the assembly line of restoring DNA. The performance standard for this microbiological cleanup crew is high; where Rad51 paralogues are mutated, breast and ovarian cancers have been known to appear. Now, thanks to Bernstein’s breakthrough, scientists can use this new knowledge of typical Rad51 paralogue function to develop novel ways of treating patients with genetic predispositions to cancer.
It’s an impressive chapter in an enterprising career that blossomed when Bernstein was a PhD candidate at Yale University, conducting research in molecular biogenetics. The New Jersey native, who was drawn to science by a love of discovery, went on to do postdoctoral research at Columbia University’s Department of Genetics and Development, where she later became an associate research scientist. In 2011, she established her lab at Pitt, where she has fashioned a reputation not only as a gifted scientist, but as a valued teacher and mentor, too. With its diversity of contributors and collaborators, Bernstein’s lab reflects a culture of teamwork that is essential to a new era of cancer research. PhD candidates, undergrads, and even high school scholars rub shoulders with
medical students and postdoctoral researchers, who teach and practice cutting-edge molecular science techniques. It’s a perfect fit with the larger collegial network of Pitt researchers, which has fostered exciting career developments for Bernstein. Everyone is grouped together by research interest rather than department, she says, which “creates a wonderful environment where we really talk. We have seminars together, we read papers together—so the progress of my work has greatly benefited from the collaborative atmosphere.” Now, she is teaming up with other investigators to test new ideas for tailored cancer therapies. Also, in April, Bernstein received a Stand Up to Cancer Innovative Research Grant to develop new therapeutic strategies for women with Rad51 paralogue mutaBernstein
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tions who may be susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers. And, last year, Bernstein was one of six early-career investigators nationwide to be named an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist by the National Institutes of Health. She is using the funded award to study whether cancer incidence for at-risk individuals may be predicted by looking at differences in exposure to certain environmental carcinogens, like radiation or chemicals found in tobacco smoke. At Pitt, Bernstein’s young lab is forging ahead. “I think that most people’s lives have been touched by cancer in some way,” she says. So, pearl by pearl, she and her team are stringing together the clues to help solve one of the greatest human-disease mysteries of all time. ■
Cutting the amount of nicotine in cigarettes may help smokers reduce the smoking habit, says a multisite study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Principal author Eric Donny, professor of psychology in Pitt’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, along with collaborators, showed that daily smokers randomized to a sixweek trial of reduced-nicotine cigarettes smoked less per day than participants randomized to six weeks of normal-nicotine smokes. The findings are important for the Food and Drug Administration, which now has the authority to regulate nicotine content in cigarettes.
Easy-to-understand nutritional information can lead to healthier food choices, according to a recent study coauthored by J. Jeffrey Inman, Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing in the Katz Graduate School of Business. The research focused on grocery stores selling products with the simplified NuVal scale—a system that scores food’s nutritional value from 1 to 100, with the most nutritious foods scoring highest—visible on its packaging. After observing more than 535,000 shoppers, Inman and coauthor Hristina Nikolova found that simpler nutritional packaging influences people to purchase the healthier options, regardless of price. Nikolova (BUS ‘14G) is an assistant professor of marketing at Boston College.
As electric utilities shift toward renewable resources, harnessing solar energy requires ensuring that the abundance of incoming power does not overwhelm the system. An assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School, Tom McDermott is part of a multipronged, federally funded, threeyear effort to explore tools that simulate, measure, and monitor the impact of environmental variables on solar power—and the resulting impact on the electrical grid. Creating faster and more accurate simulations can prevent grid damage, ultimately helping solar power become safer power.
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BOOKSHELF Fires of Spring
BY KAYLEN SANDERS
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Clues of Chaos
In the fantastical world of Archaeus, crime-fighting wizard Leozanthicus is in search of a murderer when he uncovers a devious plot that threatens the safety of his country. After teaming up with a knight and a shaman, can he prevent catastrophe before it unfolds? With a kaleidoscopic plot, Clues of Chaos (CreateSpace) combines elements of fantasy and mystery genres to create an intricate universe populated by a vibrant cast of characters. It’s the fifth novel published by practicing physician Gary Caplan (A&S ’86). —Kaylen Sanders
On Generation & Corruption
To create his poetry, Terrence Chiusano (A&S ’96) says he blends “a healthy amount of innocent exploration” with “a need to push myself.” His debut collection of poems, On Generation & Corruption: Poems (Fordham University Press), includes experimental wordplay, unconventional textual design, and playful patterns of both language and numbers. Chiusano’s lyricism shifts between the ephemeral and the concrete, between repetition and rebellion, creating a volume of explorative poetry that forms an interwoven whole. The book won the national 2014 Poetry Out Loud Editor’s Prize. —KS
TOM ALTANY/PITT CIDDE
ver the hypnotic push and pull of the ocean’s tide, the sounds of voices rise. It’s before sunrise on a beach in Santa Monica. Shelly Culbertson walks the shore, sleepless from jetlag, during a business trip to California. When she passes a group of people debating and hears the words “Tahrir Square,” her attention is sharply pulled away from the surf. A Middle East analyst, she’s keenly aware of the recent protests, oceans away, in Cairo’s downtown public square. That beach walk happened in 2011 as the Egyptian Revolution unfolded—one of a series of democratic uprisings, collectively known as the Arab Spring. At that moment Culbertson understood that if people were arguing about events in Egypt on a U.S. beach at dawn, then Americans were keenly interested in the profound changes under way in the Middle East. It planted a seed for the idea of writing a book. A policy analyst for the RAND Corporation specializing in the Middle East, Culbertson was particularly captivated by the events. RAND is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges worldwide. Years earlier, Culbertson studied math, political science, and philosophy at Pitt, culminating in two bachelor’s degrees. Then, she earned a Master of Public Affairs in international relations and development studies from Princeton University and turned her attention to Middle Eastern countries, spending nearly a decade living in Qatar, with frequent travel to Iraq, Jordan, and elsewhere in the region. She found her niche researching and formulating education and innovation policies to help Middle East governments create programs to better serve their citizens. By 2014 she had moved back to Pittsburgh, where RAND has a principal office. Removed from the region she knew so well at a time of dramatic revolutionary protests, Culbertson’s head buzzed with questions. “It was really hopeful at the beginning. It looked like the people of a region throwing off these shackles of bad governments that had been around for decades,” she says. “And then it seemed to collapse. So, what happened?” To find answers, Culbertson (A&S ’99) set out to write a book. The analyst embarked on journeys through Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, and Egypt. She interviewed protesters, movement leaders, political players, government officials, poets, bloggers, and cab drivers, and sought out key historical and contemporary sites. She journaled heavily during her time abroad, capturing moments and monuments. All of this groundwork culminated in The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East (St. Martin’s Press). In an immersive yet panoramic style of travel writing, Culbertson crafts a narrative that depicts her travels, using the expedition as a way to invoke politics, history, and indepth analysis. From Tahrir Square to the Tunisian constitution, she portrays the Middle East as a complex sociopolitical landscape, but also as “a human place with aspirations.” The lingering question: Will those aspirations be fulfilled? “You can’t have a movement that big and not have any change,” she says. “The response I heard over and over was that the changes reflect human change.” ■
Salvatore and Maria
In 1902, 13-year-old Salvatore Ciccone left his native Italy to forge a new life in the United States. The adventure led him to Colorado’s mines, to Pennsylvania’s steel mills—and to Maria Grosso, the woman he would marry. In Salvatore and Maria: Finding Paradise (Bottom Dog Press), author Paul Gentile details the life of Ciccone, his grandfather. Through indepth research and translated firsthand accounts, Gentile (EDUC ’82G) offers a tale of family and perseverance amid early 20th-century hardship. —KS
Physical therapist and performance specialist Z. Altug (SHRS ’89) had not considered writing a guide to health until a number of his patients encouraged him to do so. In the informationpacked Sustainable Fitness: A Practical Guide to Health, Healing, and Wellness (CreateSpace), Altug draws upon more than 25 years of professional experience, offering easy-to-follow suggestions for achieving physical and emotional wellbeing. With topics ranging from nutrition and exercise to stress management, this book serves as a resource for individuals and health care professionals alike. —Sarah Police
O U R N E I G H B O R H O O D S, O U R C E L L S In her first U.S. job as a psychiatric nurse, Mijung Park observed that socioeconomic factors were barriers to health care for some people. There were haves and have-nots. Now, she’s discovered that these ingredients have an even deeper influence—on our DNA. WRITTEN BY RACHEL WILKINSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RIC AND LUKE EVANS
ILLUSTRATION BY SCIENCE SOURCE
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ijung Park, a professor and nurse, lives in downtown Pittsburgh near the city’s Hill District. She often drives through that neighborhood, usually on her way to work. During the short trip, she notices broken windows, graffiti, abandoned homes, and shuttered businesses along some Hill District streets, in an area that is struggling to recover from urban distress. Fewer than two miles ahead, she enters an affluent neighborhood in a historic district situated just above the University of Pittsburgh’s bustling Oakland campus. There, she drives past well-preserved homes and manicured lawns. The difference in physical environments, she says, is apparent. As a Pitt researcher interested in population health, Park wonders whether the stark socioeconomic differences in the two neighborhoods might have other striking consequences as well. What she later discovers when pursuing that question surprises her—and makes international news. This wouldn’t be the first time Park’s instincts created an unexpected outcome. As a young woman enrolled in Ewha Womans University in her hometown of Seoul, South Korea, she hopped on a crowded subway to drop off paperwork declaring her intention to major in theoretical astrophysics. “Like Einstein,” she clarifies. Entering the subway car, she encountered a man with a disability. “The entire row was empty, because nobody wanted to sit next to him,” Park recalls. “So I sat right next to him, and we talked for some time.” On the spot, she realized she wanted to find a way to help those who are marginalized by mainstream society. She changed her major from physics to nursing before the ride was over. Since then, Park has devoted herself to improving the health of others, especially those who are “the most vulnerable people.” After completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing science in 1994, she worked as a psychiatric nurse at the Samsung Medical Center in 30
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Seoul. She frequently interacted with family caregivers and saw the impact of illness not only on the patient but also their loved ones. The experience shaped the content of her master’s thesis in nursing, also completed at Ewha Womans University, where she studied how patients and their family caregivers together cope with severe mental illness. Then, she had the opportunity to participate in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the University of California, San Francisco, where she earned a PhD in 2007. It was there she first encountered health disparities in the U.S., which would become the cornerstone of her research. While earning her degree, she worked as a psychiatric nurse at San Francisco General Hospital, where she often served the poor and uninsured, including the homeless and immigrants. Among her duties, she evaluated patients to see whether the hospital could admit them for immediate psychiatric treatment. “That’s when I first learned about insurance issues,” Park says. Insurance coverage was something she had never considered in South Korea, where universal healthcare was in place. “Essentially, I wit-
nessed the detrimental impact of not having insurance on people's ability to manage their health. Until then, I never thought that one factor could make or break a person’s health or quality of life.” Seeing the hardships individuals faced fueled Park’s interest in how social structure and policy issues—like access, cost, and quality of care—impact health. During postdoctoral training at the University of Washington, she conducted research to explore whether contextual factors influence an individual’s health. In the health disciplines, she says, “contextual factors” refers to any external circumstance that might affect care—socioeconomics, cultural background, the organization of health care systems, the quality of support networks, and so on. “It has a trickle-down impact,” says Park about what she discovered. Contextual factors affect mental health, which, in turn, affect physical health. For Park, who was thinking at the community systems level, it was an important realization: Don’t discount how the complexity of individuals’ lives can influence their health. That lesson may be what prompted Park’s research curiosity on her regular drives through
The stark socioeconomic contrasts she observed as she drove between two neighborhoods on the way to her campus office made her wonder—could “contextual factors” in a neighborhood affect an individual’s health?
Pittsburgh’s Hill District. She joined Pitt’s faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor of health and community systems in the School of Nursing, which is ranked 5th in the nation for the quality of its graduate programs. She was drawn here, she says, because of the University's robust research on older adults and their caregivers, along with a vigorous health care services network. The stark socioeconomic contrasts she observed as she drove between two neighborhoods on the way to her campus office made her wonder—could “contextual factors” in a neighborhood affect an individual’s health? She decided to approach that question in a truly new way.
ark was aware that prior research by others had established that people who experience disenfranchisement— the lack of political power to determine one's own life and destiny—have higher levels of stress hormones. And, the heavy toll that crime and poverty take on health is well documented in medical literature. But Park chose an even bigger research challenge—what effect might these circumstances have on a biological marker: DNA. She focused her study on telomeres, stretches of DNA that are often compared to the plastic or metal tips at the ends of shoelaces. Telomeres serve as the “caps” at the end of chromosomes, protecting them from damage during replication. Each time cells divide,
telomeres shorten, as they are not copied fully by enzymes. The process is associated with aging, illness, and death, a discovery that was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Stress—including physical and mental illness and lifestyle factors—is known to accelerate telomere shortening. Park hypothesized that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood could, too.
Though Park suspected a correlation, just how significant it turned out to be surprised her. Collaborating with Dutch investigators of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA), Park and colleagues
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at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Aging Institute analyzed the data from 2,981 Dutch individuals aged 18 to 65. The research team controlled for individual characteristics, including age, gender, income, and educational attainment, allowing the researchers to focus on the link between the participants’ perceptions of their neighborhoods’ quality and the length of telomeres. Participants answered questions about their fear of crime, noise, and vandalism in their neighborhoods and gave blood samples so their telomere lengths could be measured. The team found that, compared with those who reported living in high quality neighborhoods, those who perceived themselves as living in low quality neighborhoods had shortened telomere lengths equivalent to 12 years of biological age. In other words, residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods were 12 years older at the cellular level than their more advantaged counterparts, despite their actual ages being the same. The study, “Where You Live May Make You Old,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2015. Park is careful to emphasize that the link between a neighborhood and telomere length found in the study is correlative, not predictive. Researchers cannot deduce, for example, that moving from an affluent neighborhood to a disadvantaged one would produce accelerated cellular aging (shortened telomere length). Also, an individual’s cells being 12 years older does not necessarily mean that the person will die 12 years sooner. However, science’s understanding about telomeres is rapidly evolving. Numerous studies have found that accelerated telomere shortening is associated with a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and other medical conditions. “All those outside factors that make us unhappy can actually have a cellular impact,” Park says about the study’s conclusions. “Those are interesting findings.” Park’s work received international attention, covered by media 32
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outlets including The New York Times, CBS News, and the UK’s Telegraph. Ultimately, she attributes the study’s success to the public’s “growing awareness” of wealth gaps, which are increasingly visible at the neighborhood level. A recent Century Foundation study found that, in the United States, the number of people living in concentrated poverty doubled in the last 13 years, increasing from 7.2 million to 13.8 million—the highest number ever recorded. At a time when inequality looms large in the national conversation, having scientific evidence of its impact on health resonates. Park believes it’s easy for people to see the study’s relevance in their own lives. “Feeling safe and being able to walk around safely in your own neighborhood are fundamental rights of all residents," says Park. Beyond her contribution to telomere science, Park—who also holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Washington—hopes her research can be used to shape public policy including, perhaps, urban housing and planning.
or Park, progress requires getting past traditional constraints in the health sciences to create a more dynamic picture of health that accepts the reality of multiple influences far beyond the physical. “In medicine and health research, we tend to focus on the relationship between one cause and one health outcome. It’s actually considered good science: if your formula is simpler, that’s better,” Park says. “But human life is not that simple.” There are multiple layers of factors that affect health, including politics and policies, notes Park. If a neighborhood feels unsafe, she explains, then those residents may avoid walking for exercise, which is an easy, cost-free way to improve health. “Creating healthy neighborhoods needs political will to allocate resources,” says Park.
“In medicine and health research, we tend to focus on the relationship between one cause and one health outcome. It’s actually considered good science: if your formula is simpler, that’s better,” Park says. “But human life is not that simple.”
“Researchers should pay close attention to such factors.” And that’s why she’s drawn to work that has the potential to shape health policy, affecting large populations of people. Park’s current research project is exploring ways to help family members care for older adults who have depression combined with multiple other medical conditions. Such coexisting health issues in the elderly amount to a serious public health problem, says Park. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression risk increases for those suffering from an illness; about 80 percent of older adults in the United States have at least one chronic health condition, and 50 percent have two or more. Because they often have multiple doctors, coordinating health care gets more complicated.
“But this population is very exciting,” Park says, “because I can help them.” Her new research is also looking for ways to better integrate the caregiving provided by family members with the larger medical system. Her current study—focusing on family-centered care of older adults with multiple chronic conditions—recently received a prestigious grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research. Park believes science should embrace a more holistic view to achieve a broader social impact. Contact with policymakers and community members—stakeholders at all levels—will become increasingly essential, she says, if research is to improve health and quality of life. It’s complex, but it’s possible; and Mijung Park is driving forward. ■
BY KRISTINA MARUSIC
ithin sight of the towering bleachers of Heinz Field stadium, Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood is a district of historic redbrick row houses, with some tree-lined streets, on the city’s North Side. Last year, Pitt student Marcus Robinson explored those streets and got to know the neighborhood’s people, along with the struggles they face. In recent years, Manchester has been plagued with crime and urban blight. To help effect change, Robinson collaborated with local community leaders to create a publicsafety network for residents. The work completed by the Pitt student in Manchester was an exercise in social work. But Robinson isn’t in the School of Social Work. Rather, he’s a neuroscience and anthropology doublemajor in the Dietrich School of Arts and
Sciences—and he was selected to participate in a unique leadership program. In 2015, Robinson was one of nine fellows chosen for the James J. and Noel W. Browne Leadership Program in Social Work, which provides freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from non-social work disciplines the opportunity to work directly with—and learn from—struggling Pittsburgh communities. Browne Fellows study the basic tenets of social work and demographic research before being matched with a neighborhood, where they then work alongside community members to identify needs and develop and implement interventions. “We learned a new way to approach issues, while also combining that with our prior knowledge and experiences,” says Robinson. Other Browne Fellows have undertaken tasks like assessing local watersheds
In 2015, Robinson was one of nine fellows chosen for the James J. and Noel W. Browne Leadership Program in Social Work, which provides freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from non-social work disciplines the opportunity to work directly with—and learn from—struggling Pittsburgh communities. and creating sustainable food and water initiatives, establishing libraries, orchestrating community-building festivals, and producing documentaries aimed at challenging negative perceptions about some of the city’s neglected neighborhoods. Since the program’s founding in 2013,
38 Browne Fellows from an impressively wide range of Pitt majors—from film studies and French language to engineering and economics—have completed the program. Jim and Noel Browne, the program’s founders, both graduated from Pitt’s School of Social Work. Ultimately, Jim (SOC WK ’73G) focused on the field of finance, and Noel (SOC WK ’74G) on family and volunteer work. Yet, the compassionate problem-solving values they learned during their social work education stayed with them. They designed the fellowship to offer exceptional students the tools
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to develop pragmatic, achievable solutions for issues affecting disadvantaged communities—lessons the Brownes hope students carry with them into their varied careers. “There are just so many bright, young, and energetic men and women who are very socially conscious even before they enter the program,” says Jim Browne. “Noel and I have no question that these students will be leaders in many different walks of life and that this work will have an impact on how they handle that leadership.” For Robinson, who volunteered at hospitals and community centers in high school, his fellowship experience gave him an opportunity that his previous community service did not. The Browne Leadership Program enabled him to develop and implement solutions alongside community leaders. “I learned what it was like to do community organizing, the daily struggles involved as well as the real and moving struggles that longtime residents face,” Robinson says. “I discovered how rewarding it can be to invest in a community and work for them, and how great it can be to finally feel like a part of the community.” Robinson’s fellowship has sparked in him a desire for more social advocacy in his future career. He’s now planning to pursue advanced degrees in both medicine and public health, intending to continue improving communities in need. ■
BY MAT T CICHOWICZ
BY K AYLEN SANDERS
very year, more than 4,000 Pitt students spend evenings, weekends, and days off giving back to their community. Through clubs, organized days of service, and just plain personal drive, they pitch in, repairing local homes, assisting senior citizens, stocking food pantries—even sewing quilts for the homeless. A passion for service has long been a part of Panther pride. Now, Pitt’s recently graduated senior class is encouraging a “new” tradition of altruism—in the form of a senior class gift. Project Paw Print is a student resource fund created and supported by the class of 2016 that will provide financial assistance to a service-minded rising sophomore, junior, or senior. The project gave the class of 2016 an opportunity to reward a future Pitt undergraduate who aims to make a positive impact not only on the Pitt community but also on the world. Awardees will be selected based on a personal essay detailing his or her service record and plans for using the funds. “It’s us coming together to give back to something that’s greater,” says Megan Schlegelmilch, co-chair of the Senior Class Giving Committee. She and fellow co-chair Ben Schultz worked with Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement on the project, reaching out to seniors through social media and campus organizations. Project Paw Print hopes to set a precedent for giving that will inspire subsequent senior classes to carry the torch of this new tradition. ■
new partnership between Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Pittsburgh-area energy provider Duquesne Light will fuel exploration into making America’s electrical grid more efficient and effective. Supported by a $500,000 investment from Duquesne Light, the research will focus on modernizing our century-old power infrastructure and exploring new ways to put energy sustainability into everyday practice. “This is a great opportunity to help advance grid infrastructure and support the community,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “This initiative creates an environment for faculty and students to advance research and develop new technology that will help reimagine the grid for an economical and sustainable future.” The research collaboration’s key component is the installation of an urban microgrid at Duquesne Light’s Woods Run Facility on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. The miniaturized version of the larger electrical grid will serve as a real-world laboratory for Pitt students and faculty to experiment with new and existing technologies, including the integration of direct current (DC) power and renewable energy sources—particularly wind and solar. It will operate independently from the main grid and
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Has your dollar ever doubled in value overnight? If your employer has a matching gift program, your donation to Pitt will do just that. For more information, visit www.giveto.pitt.edu/ways-give/matching-gifts
INSPIRE SMART WIN
“This is a great opportunity to help advance grid infrastructure and support the community. This initiative creates an environment for faculty and students to advance research and develop new technology that will help reimagine the grid for an economical and sustainable future.” —Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
At Benedum Hall, Greg Reed, director of Pitt’s Center for Energy in the Swanson School of Engineering, gathers with students, (from left) Stephanie Cortes, Alvaro Cardoza, Andrew Bulman, and Pat Lewis.
will provide back-up power in the event of an outage. Other collaborative plans include designing and installing smart meters and smart grids that use artificial intelligence to improve sustainable energy use; maximizing local power supplies; and developing apps on mobile devices that allow users to regulate their home’s energy use remotely.
“We’re looking forward to interacting with the students and tapping into the outside perspective of the generation that’s in college today,” said Rich Riazzi, president and CEO of Duquesne Light. “The exciting part about working with the University of Pittsburgh is that we are only limited by our creativity.” Creativity that may alter how the United States generates and uses energy in the 21st century. ■
BY KRISTIN BUNDY
oised in place under the studio’s bright lights, Sarah Dubnik waits for the show to start. On the outside, she appears cool and collected; inside, she’s aflutter. A mixture of nerves and excitement makes her heart pound under her blue and gold Pitt sweatshirt. Suddenly, a voice booms over the sound system: “This…is… Jeopardy!” The quiz show’s famous host, Alex Trebek, appears from the wings. Dubnik takes a deep breath, feeling her adrenaline-fueled cloud lift. Everything else fades away as she narrows her focus to the game. The Pitt undergrad always hoped to be a contestant on Jeopardy! She enjoyed watching the trivia program as a youngster. While in high school, she tried out for Jeopardy!’s Teen Tournament but didn’t make the cut. Then, at the start of her Pitt senior year this past fall, Dubnik—who majored in chemistry and computer science and minored in physics— tried again, this time for the Jeopardy! College Tournament. She nailed the test and in-person audition, earning a spot in the annual two-week tournament, televised nationwide. Dubnik made it all the way to the tournament’s finals, placing third overall and winning $25,000. Along the way, a wide network of Pitt students, faculty, and alumni cheered her on. “I’ve been really blown away by all the support I’ve been getting from people and how excited they’ve been for me,” she says. “It means a lot.” At Pitt, Dubnik’s smarts earned her more than Jeopardy! prize money. In addition to other scholarships, Dubnik received the Rita R. and David A. Rossi Scholarship for academic excellence and involvement in chemistry, and the Richard F. Zarilla Award for educational needs in chemistry. These investments will carry Dubnik far, as she prepares for graduate school this fall, where she’ll tackle more questions with difficult answers—just the way she likes it. ■
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INSPIRE Treasured Rooms To create the Korean Heritage Room, the University of Pittsburgh— led by E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs— worked together with Korean communities in Pennsylvania and abroad for more than eight years. It was truly a group effort: hundreds of individuals and several large Korean organizations generously donated funds to reach the $850,000 needed to build the beautiful space. Today, it is the Cathedral of Learning’s 30th Nationality Room.
n March, a group of Pitt-Greensburg students ventured on an “alternative” spring break to Birmingham, Ala., where they built affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity. This marks the 12th year the campus has participated in the nonprofit’s Annual Collegiate Challenge, which encourages students to spend their spring vacation helping communities. Their charitable work was supported by the generosity of others—the students raised more than $3,000 through EngagePitt (engage.pitt.edu) to help cover expenses for travel and supplies.
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Gifts: Boxed The Eberly Foundation, led by President Robert Eberly Jr. (LAW ’69) of Uniontown, Pa., recently distributed the first of two $50,000 payments to fund the purchase of specialized fluorescent microscopes, cameras, computers, and imaging software for Pitt-Greensburg’s new Microscopy and Digital Imaging Lab. The new lab equipment will give faculty the opportunity to incorporate emerging visual technologies in biology into their curricula, further accommodating the growing number of Pitt students pursuing STEM careers. With an initial pledge of $60,000, the K&L Gates Diversity Fellowship was recently established to provide an annual full-tuition scholarship to an entering Pitt law student. Recipients, who will be selected based on academic merit, will also be considered for paid summer-associate positions at K&L Gates LLP, an international law firm. When the editors of Hot Metal Bridge—Pitt’s graduate student run literary magazine—started an EngagePitt™ crowdfunding campaign to raise $2,000 to redesign the publication’s website (hotmetalbridge.org), they met their goal in just a few days. So the staff set a second goal of $3,000—and exceeded it, thanks to donors’ generosity and enthusiasm for great writing.
339 The number of Pitt Student Resource Funds that provide financial support to select students for educational expenses including books, lab fees, and travel. Many of these funds were established through alumni donations.
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Seymour A. Herron DEN ’40, who was a part of the 10-piece trumpet group that introduced Pitt’s marching band from 1934 through 1936, celebrated his 100th birthday in April.
(Xlibris) about her experiences serving as a civilian with the U.S. Office of Military Government in Germany directly following the end of World War II. She currently lives in Richmond, Va.
It’s Midnight in Berlin: A True Story of an American Girl in War Torn Berlin 1946-47
was ranked 16th in a list of the “100 Most Influential Serbs” in the world in the March
Pat McMann Gilchrist A&S ’45 ✪ wrote
Milana Karlo Bizic EDUC ’62, ’67G ✪
issue of Serbian magazine BLIC. She is the chief learning officer of Bizic Education in Pittsburgh. Lois Gerber NURS ’62 has written a novel, Runaway Girl: A Nurse’s Story (Taylor & Seale Publishing), which is set in Pittsburgh in the 1920s. Gerber has previously published three books of short stories and has over 40 years of experience in community health. She lives in Port Orange, Fla.
Faith Beckerman Goldman SHRS ’66 published an article, “A Journey of a Thousand Miles,” in the 17th issue of Asian Jewish Life magazine. She lives in Torrance, Calif.
John R. Jenchura A&S ’71 recently released a revised and updated second edition of his book, Golf: A Good Walk and Then Some, A Quintessential History of the Game (Mountain Lion, Inc.).
his 30th book, Hoe, Heaven, and Hell: My Boyhood in Rural New Mexico (University of New Mexico Press). It was named “Best Book on New Mexico” and the year’s top biography by the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. It also received the 2016 Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico.
BY LIBERT Y FERDA
n a Pittsburgh backyard in 1933, two cousins imagine themselves in the White House. While her boy cousin gives himself the part of the president, the eight-year-old girl plays secretary. But when she’s ready for a role reversal, her cousin says no: “Girls are never president!” Though it frustrated her then, Ann Moliver Ruben ✪ now remembers this childhood exchange as one of the catalysts of her lifelong goal: to ensure that girls everywhere believe they have the capability to lead. There was never much doubt about Ruben’s own leadership ability. Over more than a decade, while raising three boys, she earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in education at Pitt before embarking on a career as an educator and psychologist. Along the way, she advocated for female empowerment. Then, in the mid-90’s, a leisurely read reignited Ruben’s zeal. She was enjoying the iconic cartoon strip, Dennis the Menace, in her local newspaper. In this particular scene, Margaret—a spirited, freckled girl—was shown with her arms up, boldly declaring, “Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!” The image struck a chord with Ruben, who thought many girls would benefit from the message. She secured permission to have the image printed on t-shirts—and Wal-Mart agreed to sell them. But they were surprisingly yanked from the shelves after the store received complaints that the shirts were offensive. Hmmm. Ruben fought back, gaining international headlines and starting a dialogue about women as leaders. Before long, Wal-Mart agreed to restock the shirt—and increased their order to 55,000. Since then, Ruben (EDUC ’61, ’66G, ’69G) hasn’t stopped spreading Margaret’s message far and wide. She even sent a t-shirt to every woman representative in Congress—including, at the time, Hillary Clinton. According to Ruben, it all comes down to reminding young women of the bright possibilities available to them. “We must plant a seed in our girls to believe in themselves,” she says.
Nasario García A&S ’72G ✪ published
Joyce Kettren NURS ’73 ✪ is the director of contracts and risk management with Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty, located in the San Francisco Bay area.
Joel Nachlas ENGR ’74G, ’76G, formerly an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., has been named associate professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Michael Willig A&S ’74, ’82G, received a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professorship at the University of Connecticut based on his research, education, and service contributions in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. He and colleagues also received a grant
Legend G = Graduate Degree H = Honorary Degree ✪ = Alumni Association Life Member
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from the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research Program to continue multidisciplinary, collaborative environmental research in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo Mountains.
Robert DeLuca BUS ’75G ✪ has written The Pact with the Devil (Archway Publishing), a novel about a real estate mogul who strikes an ill-fated deal with a drug kingpin. DeLuca resides in Friendswood, Tex. Marilyn H. Oermann NURS ’75G, EDUC ’80G ✪ coauthored the third edition of Writing for Publication in Nursing (Springer Publishing). She is editor-in-chief of Nurse Educator and the Journal of Nursing Care Quality, as well as the Thelma M. Ingles professor of nursing and director of evaluation and educational research at Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C.
Rita (Bolek) Trofino NURS ’76, ’81G has been elected vice president of Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association, and was also appointed to the membership committee for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She is associate dean at the School of Health Sciences and the Nursing Department chair at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa.
Richard Infante A&S ’78, ’82G recenty published Last Priest Standing and Other Stories (Lambing Press), a book of seven short stories. He is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Michael Parenti A&S ’80, DEN ’83 ✪ closed his private dentistry practice of 32 years in May 2015 to teach dentistry at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic
SCENE iN AUSTRALiA
Barbara (Joyce) Franklin CAS ’70 ✪ gets some refreshment from Pitt Magazine at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.
Ron Barber A&S ’83, LAW ’88 served as co-presenter of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Continuing Legal Education course, “Internet Defamation.” Barber is a shareholder in Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, working out of the law firm’s Pittsburgh office. 38
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BY KRISTIN BUNDY
n a sunny afternoon in a school gymnasium in central Florida, retired educator and business consultant Charles Logue weaves through rows of tables at a science fair. He examines trifold poster boards, hand-drawn pictures, and intricate 3D structures. Behind each display stands a middle- or high-school student eager to know what he thinks. That’s because, today, Logue is one of the judges who will determine who wins top prize. A display of farming equipment catches his attention. The teenager explains how the machinery works and tells Logue about the time he had to take over the farm when his dad got sick. Logue remembers him: “The farm was his love. He owned that project. It was extremely personal, and I rewarded him accordingly.” Logue (EDUC ’74G) has always had a knack for seeing people’s potential. He’s traveled to Northern Africa and around the United States, standing in front of classrooms and conference rooms, state education boards, labor unions, and a hospital education department with one common goal—to help people envision a better way forward. That same commitment was the impetus for his second and latest book, Science Experiments for Beginners. Logue saw the opportunity to help schools improve their science and math scores (and become more competitive with other developed nations) by creating a hands-on, how-to book that teachers could use in the classroom. Besides instructions and tips, Logue also inscribed inspirational quotes into each chapter, urging students and teachers alike to do their best and enjoy the progress. He says his favorite line is: “It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all”—a sentiment that Logue used throughout his career and an acknowledgement that those who dare to expand their understanding of the world deserve an honorable mention.
Gregg Feinberg A&S ’80, LAW ’83 ✪ has been elected chair of the ArtsQuest Board of Trustees. He is the principal in the Allentown, Pa.-based Feinberg Law Office and Feinberg Real Estate Advisors, LLC.
CLASS NOTES Medicine in Erie, Pa. An article about his career switch was published in LECOM Connection magazine. Gail Simmons A&S ’80 ✪ has been appointed provost of Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y. She is the first woman to hold the position at the university.
John Kostic CGS ’81 recently retired. He spent half of his career as an engineering technician, and the rest as a chemistry technician. Reid Roberts A&S ’81, LAW ’84 ✪ has been reelected to the executive committee of the law firm Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Gefsky, where he is a shareholder working out of the Pittsburgh office and head of the firm’s divorce and domestic relations practice.
Margaret A. Farabaugh A&S ’83 has been named chairperson of ASTM International Committee A05 on Metallic-Coated Iron and Steel Products. She is a technical services engineer for The Techs, a Division of Steel Dynamics, in Turtle Creek, Pa.
Grace Campbell SOC WK ’85G, NURS ’94, ’13G recently received a Research Career Development Award from the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation. She will use the grant to explore gait and mobility changes during and after neurotoxic chemotherapy. She is an assistant professor with Pitt’s School of Nursing. Harry F. Kunselman A&S ’85, LAW ’89 ✪ has been reelected to the executive committee of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, where he is a shareholder working out of the Pittsburgh and Beaver County, Pa., offices in the areas of civil and commercial litigation.
Margaret Rosenzweig NURS ’86, ’01G has been promoted to full professor with tenure at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also an affiliate faculty member in Pitt’s Center for Bioethics and Health Law, in addition to maintaining a clinical practice as a nurse practitioner at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
Dennis Lasker ENGR ’64, and his wife, Carol, made new friends when they brought out their Pitt Magazine. “They were good on ice, but they didn't know anything about hockey,” he noted.
BY B. DENISE HAWKINS
aul Shrivastava was already an accomplished academic in business management when, in 1984, disaster struck his hometown, transforming his life and career. In Bhopal, India, toxic gas leaked from an insecticide plant, killing more than 15,000 people and injuring 500,000 more. The devastation shocked the world and deeply affected Shrivastava, who was then an assistant professor of business at New York University, having recently earned a PhD in strategic planning and policy from Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business. He soon redirected his research to center on crisis management and founded a nonprofit in Bhopal to assist in mediation between government and industry. “That disaster flipped an emotional switch in me that stayed on,” Shrivastava says. “It’s what got me working on finding solutions to global crises.” Today, from his office in Montreal, Canada, he remains dedicated to solving some of the world’s biggest problems. As the executive director of Future Earth—a global research platform sponsored by several United Nations agencies and science-funding organizations—Shrivastava coordinates a force of more than 50,000 scientists and researchers from across the globe working on realworld solutions for global sustainability. The position, which he took in 2015, is a great fit for a man used to wearing many hats; in addition to an accomplished career as a professor at places like Concordia and Bucknell Universities and the ICN Business School in France, he is also an entrepreneur and prolific author. Through Future Earth, Shrivastava (BUS ’81G) wants to accelerate change in how businesses manage sustainability crises across the globe. One of his core tactics, he says, is something he learned at Pitt and put to work in Bhopal: “Managing crisis in business can only be solved by a multidisciplinary approach and with the input of stakeholders,” he says. With collaboration, big solutions can be created for big problems—in businesses and throughout the world. John Demming A&S ’92 has been promoted to vice president of corporate and financial communications of Comcast Corporation in Philadelphia, Pa.
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Paul Hawthorne A&S ’88 has been named the senior vice president of Eisai Inc.’s U.S. commercial neurology business group. He is responsible for leading the U.S. neurology sales and marketing teams in bringing Eisai’s neurology portfolio products to patients. Marian Kent A&S ’88, LAW ’93 recently joined American International College in Springfield, Mass., as director of grants for institutional advancement. Victoria Soltis-Jarrett NURS ’88G was awarded the Carol Morde Ross distinguished professorship in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.
Sheila A. Alexander NURS ’89, ’04G was honored at the American College of Critical Care Medicine Convocation in February, when she was accepted as a fellow of the
organization. She is an associate professor in Pitt’s School of Nursing. Tricina Cash A&S ’89, BUS ’09G ✪ is an entrepreneur and the Pitt Black MBA Network vice president of operations. Her company, IBEX IT Business Experts, located in Sandy Springs, Ga., was given the 2015 On the Rise Government Contractor of the Year Award by American Express OPEN.
Lynn George NURS ’90G ✪ has been named the inaugural dean of the College of Health and Wellness at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Mildred Jones NURS ’90G, NURS ’00G has been named professor emerita at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. She also serves as president of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, District 6.
SCENE iN CUBA
Nancy Kukulinsky A&S '71, EDU '87 takes a break from sightseeing in Havana, near the Fuente de los Leones in the Plaza de San Francisco, to pose with her favorite magazine.
Robert Matejczyk UPJ ’84 has joined the Morgantown, W.Va., office of Larson Design Group as a project manager.
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BY LISA K AY DAVIS
he captivated tourists lean toward Kamau Ware’s voice as it rumbles over the noise of New York City’s traffic. Though the group stands on a sidewalk in modern Manhattan, the history Ware describes transports them to another time. Through his walking tours, Ware illuminates the often-neglected stories of the Black people who helped build one of the world’s largest cities and made it their home as far back as the 1600s. His tours—which he calls "an experiment in visual storytelling"—focus on real historical figures, like Catalina d’Angola, one of the city’s earliest Black landowners. An artist as well as a historian, Ware illustrates the history with maps, sketches, and a pocket-sized projector that casts images and videos onto walls along the tour routes. Ware’s combined love of art and history began in Pittsburgh, where he grew up experimenting with drawing and photography. At Pitt, his interests expanded to include American history, thanks to professors who shared new perspectives on his familiar hometown. “I didn’t know that Pittsburgh has such rich Black history,” he recalls. Later, Ware pursued his two passions in the Big Apple. As he honed his photography skills, he worked as a guide for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which highlights the history of the city’s immigrant populations. That’s where he got the idea for a series of tours dedicated to the impact of the African diaspora on New York City. After years spent immersed in research, Ware (A&S ’98) launched his company, Kamau Studios and, in 2010, began performing his series of walking tours collectively named The Black Gotham Experience. Now, with help from collaborators, he’s expanding his tours’ reach by transforming them into a series of graphic novels. Soon, the history Ware shares with tourists will be illustrated through his story-style photography and available to readers the world over. His goal is to “bring New York’s Black heritage into public consciousness” so that these essential pieces of the past are remembered.
CLASS NOTES 1991
Nicholas Bizic A&S ’91, GSPIA ’93 ✪ has been appointed chief human resources officer for Golder Associates, a civil engineering organization. He is based in Houston, Tex.
Tracey Grace A&S ’92, BUS ’93G is the president and CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts in Sandy Springs, Ga., which was given the 2015 On the Rise Government Contractor of the Year Award by American Express OPEN. Patrick Skelley A&S ’92 has been appointed county attorney for Bedford County, Va.
Yvette Conley GSPH ’93G, ’99G earned the 2015 ISONG Founders Award for Research from the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. Conley, professor and vice chair for research in Pitt’s Department of Health Promotion and Development, has received significant federal funding for her genomic and epigenomic studies of patient outcomes after traumatic brain injury.
Stephen Toadvine GSPH ’95 has been named president of Baptist Health Medical Group in Louisville, Ky.
Brian Vertz BUS ’91G, LAW ’91 has been elected to second vice president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He will ascend to the position of chapter president over the next three years. Vertz is a partner in family law at the Pittsburgh firm Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC.
John Saras A&S ’97, EDUC ’99G has been named one of “Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest” by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for 2016. He is the assistant principal at Baldwin High School in the city’s South Hills neighborhood.
was promoted to partnership at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC. She practices law in environmental counseling and litigation out of the firm’s Pittsburgh office.
poetry collection, Swallows and Waves (Sarabande Books). It is comprised of 60 poems, each based on a different Japanese Edo-period artwork.
Tammy M. Haley NURS ’02G, ’12G, GSPH ’13 has been named director of Pitt-Bradford’s nursing and radiological science programs. She also conducts research focusing on women’s health issues, particularly those affecting rural, adolescent women and children.
been appointed the city lead for MakeOffices, where she is responsible for creating partnerships between the business and technology communities in Philadelphia, Pa. Gabe Wonderling A&S ’12, LAW ’15 joined the Pittsburgh law firm Frank, Gale, Bails, Murcko & Pocrass, P.C. as an associate attorney. His areas of practice include family law and media law.
Paula Bohince A&S ’98 published a new
Robin Lane NURS ’05 is a senior manager of value analysis for UPMC. She currently serves as the Northeast regional director and board member for the Association of Healthcare Value Analysis Professionals. Marci Nilsen NURS ’05, ’08G, ’13G received a Research Career Development Award from the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation. She will use the grant for research identifying long-term survivorship needs between cancer patients and their family caregivers. She is a Claire M. Fagin Fellow in Pitt’s School of Nursing.
Andrea Cober UPJ ’06 is a marketing specialist at Godfrey, a nationally ranked business-to-business marketing communications agency in Lancaster, Pa. Jessica Sharrow Thompson LAW ’06
Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin SIS ’93G recently earned the 2016 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. She works as the library director and media specialist at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Fla.
SCENE iN TEXAS
Ray Voith ENGR ’70G ✪ scores an issue of Pitt Magazine during his trip to the annual "Legends of Soccer" game in Austin.
Danika Ervin A&S ’12 has
Kelsey Moss PHARM ’14, ’16G was recently named the 2016 Outstanding Pharmacy Student by the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association. She is completing a PGY1
Clinton Amey CGS ’02 has been hired by Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, as a senior project engineer in the firm’s Pittsburgh and Carlisle, Pa., offices. Michelle Singer A&S ’97 has been promoted to vice president of corporate administration and political engagement at Comcast Corporation in Philadelphia, Pa.
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Pharmacy Practice residency with Allegheny General Hospital, with a focus in ambulatory care/community practice, while working parttime for Rite Aid.
Wasi Mohamed A&S ’16 was honored with the Male Rising Star Award at the Get Involved! Inc. Service Summit. He is the executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Sean P. Ritchie ENGR ’06, LAW ’10, ENGR ’11G has joined the Nashville, Tenn., office of Stites & Harbison, PLLC as a patent attorney in their Intellectual Property & Technology Service Group.
Micaela Fox Corn A&S ’15 created a podcast, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” for Pitt Med, the magazine for Pitt’s School of Medicine. She’s also writing about science and other topics for Pitt Magazine.
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Arthur G. Bahl EDUC ’98G, February 2016, age 64, of Hudson, Mass. He worked for IBM in North Carolina for many years and later taught high school math and science in Maryland, Texas, and his hometown of Pittsburgh. Besides his family, education, and teaching, he cherished his role as Santa Claus every Christmas season.
William Johnson A&S ’66, April 2016,
James Provenzano Jr. ENGR ’61, April
age 81, of Mesquite, Nev. He served in the U.S. Army before working as a senior research geophysicist with Sinclair Oil, ARCO Oil, and British Petroleum in Plano, Texas, until he retired in 1986. He was a ward clerk for several years in Dallas and a home teacher in the LDS church.
2016, age 76, of Hartford, Conn. As an engineer, he worked in various divisions of United Technologies, and then as an independent consultant at Quality Consulting Services. He was an accomplished trumpet player, performing with groups including the Pitt marching band, local jazz bands, and community bands in Connecticut and California.
January 2016, age 78, of Richland Township, Pa. In the 1980s, she was a substitute teacher who worked to recruit Black teachers for Allegheny County’s largely White school districts. In 1983, she was honored with a community service award by the North Hills chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Aimison Jonnard ENGR ’49G, September 2015, age 99, of McLean, Va. During World War II, he joined DuPont to work on the production of nylon and plastic nose cones for warplanes. He later worked for companies including Shell and Esso/Exxon, and served as chief of the division of energy at the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., for 29 years.
Bernard Dlutowski A&S ’56, March
Joe Mastrucci ENGR ’34, October
2014, age 79, of Philadelphia, Pa. Raised in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, he declined a Yale scholarship to attend Pitt. He served in the Navy as head medical officer for the U.S.S. Bushnell in Key West, Fla., during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and was later a family physician in Torresdale, Pa., for more than 40 years.
2014, age 101, of Odenton, Md. He worked for the Standard Oil Company of Ohio until the attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched a 30-plus-year career in the army, during which he was awarded a Bronze Star. Later, he worked for Westinghouse and Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Sylvia Wofford Burnett EDUC ’69,
William Laskin Fairman ENGR ’71G, ’72G, December 2015, age 67, of Columbia, Mo. He was a faculty member at the University of Missouri in the 1970s, and later founded international software development company, FairCom Corporation. He was a founder and board member of the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, and a longtime board member of the University of Missouri Hillel.
Henry J. Meyer BUS ’50G, February 2016, age 97, of Appleton, Wisc. He served in the U.S. Army’s 80th Division in World War II, earning the Bronze Star. He worked as operating manager of the H. C. Prange Co., in Sheboygan, Wisc., for 32 years. His retirement was spent in Arizona and Wisc., enjoying woodworking and completing 15 marathons.
William Rosendahl SOC WK ’69G, March 2016, age 70, of Los Angeles, Calif. He worked as an executive at several cable TV companies and hosted a public affairs show that featured interviews with local and national politicians. Following his television career, he became the first openly gay man to serve on the Los Angeles City Council.
Thomas S. Taylor A&S ’50, EDUC ’53G, December 2015, age 91, of Mt. Lebanon, Pa. He served in World War II and the Korean War, and taught chemistry at Mt. Lebanon High School for 36 years. He was a Panther Club member, a 55-year member of the Franklin St. John’s Trinity Lodge #221, and a Pitt football fan.
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Travel, Learn ... Repeat
BY LIBERT Y FERDA
couple from rural Pennsylvania hikes up Italian hillsides to villages perched over the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea. They learn from guides that these fascinating settlements were built in hard-to-reach places to protect inhabitants from pirates—though today, it is hard to imagine danger in such serene settings. Dale and Barbara Deist are on a nine-day cruise booked through the Pitt Alumni Association (PAA) Travel Program. As they visit Pompeii, Rome, Florence, and Monte Carlo, they discover more than the average tourist. That’s because Pitt’s program promotes travel packages with a unique educational bent—travelers learn about locales through lectures and unique sightseeing experiences. Vacationers on a Pitt-affiliated cruise up the Rhine River enjoyed a piano concert in Bonn, Germany, where Beethoven was born. And on a Baltic Sea cruise last
summer, the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, gave a presentation on cultural change in the Baltic States. The PAA Travel Program, open to Pitt staff, faculty, alumni, and family and friends, offers nearly 20 trips each year, ranging from tours of national parks to treks in Northern India. “The tour companies we use provide packages for other universities, too, so our travelers are with people of similar backgrounds as well as Pitt alumni,” says Laraine Hlatky, who coordinates the travel program. “They make acquaintances and strike up friendships.” When a Pitt brochure for an excursion to the Panama Canal showed up in the mail in 2010, the Deists thought, Why not? They were nearing retirement and had always wanted to see the Central American country. It was a fortuitous
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For the globetrotting Deists, the PAA Travel Program is another way that their alma mater continues to enhance their lives. move. The couple has taken five more PAA recommended trips since, among them a visit to the Kentucky Derby and an Alaskan cruise. One of their favorite memories is learning about and enjoying a favorite regional custom in Maine while on a journey through New England: a traditional lobster bake, where the crustaceans are layered in seaweed and cooked in big washtubs over an open fire.
“Once people try it, they often want to do more,” says Hlatky. “I’ve had people book 10 trips with the same company.” For the globetrotting Deists, the PAA Travel Program is another way that their alma mater continues to enhance their lives. “We have a better life because of the University,” says Dale (ENGR ’69, BUS ’88G), and Barbara (A&S ’70, SIS ’71G) agrees. With the world at their doorstep, they will be on the go again in no time. Visit www.alumni.pitt.edu/alumni/ resources/pitt-travel/ for more information. ■
What the symbol means: To see more photos, visit alumni.pitt.edu The Deists at the Kentucky Derby
Pop of Color
Alumni: Data On the Road with Panthers Football
Big tents, food, drinks, and fun: Pitt knows how to tailgate. Celebrate with the Pitt Alumni Association as we travel with the Panthers for away games this football season. For more information or to register, visit www.alumni.pitt.edu. Clemson:
Nov. 12 Clemson, SC Oklahoma State:
Sept. 17 Stillwater. OK
Oct. 15 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina:
Sept. 24 Chapel Hill, NC Miami:
Nov. 5 Miami Gardens, FL
BY ADAM REGER
obody’s perfect—not even fathers. That’s the idea behind The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood (Motivational Press), a book assembled by Pitt alumnus Dominick Domasky that shares stories from nine fathers about their joys and sorrows, pride and humility. “We’re just imperfect dads doing our best,” says Domasky (UPG ’00), who contributed one of the stories. He came up with the book idea during a telephone conversation with another father with whom Domasky was sharing some of the challenges he faced as the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, a disease requiring up to six insulin shots each day. “When you start to go through those struggles, everything changes,” Domasky says. “But because of that, I saw that I had a unique take on fatherhood to share with other dads.” So, he collected stories from other fathers’ personal experiences, gathering perspectives on fatherhood that others might find useful. Among the contributors is fellow Pitt alumnus Douglas Lauffer (SIS Lauffer (left) and Domasky ’94G), whom Domasky met at a Pitt-sponsored networking event. A professor at Community College of Beaver County, Lauffer founded a successful technology company and is also a minister. He, too, is the parent of a child with a serious illness. He was enthusiastic when Domasky asked him to write about what he had learned from parenting his four children. “A key to fatherhood,” says Lauffer, “is always improving. When you fail, admit it and apologize. Learn, and become a better dad.” ■
BY KRISTINA MARUSIC
utside the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s South Side branch, winter’s gray was undone by a vibrant pop of color. Hundreds of flowers, each individually crafted out of plastic, metal, wool, and other materials were attached to the 80-foot railing leading to the library’s front door. The brilliant hues hinted at a spring still months away. This synthetic garden was part of “Pop des Fleurs,” a citywide public art installation originally conceived by a member of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. This past winter, the blooms appeared at all 16 local branches of the Carnegie Library thanks, in part, to Pitt grad Suzy Waldo. She first heard about the idea to brighten the Pittsburgh winter with handmade flowers in 2015. The library services manager at Carnegie Library’s South Side branch, Waldo offered her library as an installation test site for the art. Then she successfully convinced her counterparts at branches throughout Pittsburgh not only to host the installations in February and March of 2016, but also to incorporate artificial flower-making classes into their events programming. At the South Side library, the community enthusiastically worked together to create the art exhibit at their neighborhood library, says Waldo, with dozens contributing handcrafted blossoms. The creative collaboration was a
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memorable occasion, she says, in the “dream job” Pitt helped to prepare her for. “It was just amazing to see all the creativity and energy that went into this,” says Waldo (A&S ’03, SIS ’08G). “Countless people have told me the installations were a real bright spot in our bleak winter. It was everything I’d hoped for.”
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Above and below: Graduation Central. In April, more than 3,700 graduating students stopped by Alumni Hall’s Connolly Ballroom to prepare for commencement and beyond by purchasing regalia, getting ceremony information, and learning how to stay connected to Pitt through the PAA. Congratulations to the Class of 2016, including below, from left: Alexandria Martinez, Jordan Branch, Lindsay Hill; Anna Valliant, Emily Lukasavage, Lauren Hoyt; and Joseph Gansallo and Sonia Uzoh. At right: Dinner with 12 Panthers. Each spring semester, students and alumni come together over dinner and conversation. Students practice their networking skills, and alumni pass along professional advice—all during what is now an annual event called Dinner with 12 Panthers. Members of the Student Alumni Association who participated this year include, from top left, Frances Akwuole; Marissa Lutz; Sid Dash; Susie He; and Casey Koodray.
ENGAGE Pitt is It!
As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Pitt Alumni Association,
BY KRISTIN BUNDY
or one week in D.C. this spring, “Pitt Is It,” swept the capital, engaging and inspiring the Panther network. An opening reception, with Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, was one of the many highlights of a weeklong, firstof-its-kind series of events celebrating all things Pitt. The ACC basketball tournament and a research showcase with Pitt faculty were among the happenings, giving graduates, fans, and supporters in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region an opportunity to mingle and enjoy a diverse mix of Pitt-related activities and programs. “This was a great opportunity to showcase some of the terrific things we are doing at Pitt in education, research, innovation, and other areas,” says Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for community and governmental relations.
Alumni: Info Biggest Fans Sports bars around the country are becoming “Panther Certified Game Watch Venues,” where fans of the blue and gold can gather for all televised Pitt athletics games. Encourage your favorite watering hole to participate, and check out the directory of certified venues at www.alumni. pitt.edu/news-events/panther-game-watches.
Above: Chancellor Gallagher and Pitt grads share a laugh at the Young Alumni Reception held at the W Hotel; left: The Chancellor’s Reception at the Hotel Monaco with 350 alumni in attendance; and senior Chris Jones scores during the Panthers win over Syracuse in the ACC Tournament.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
we want to connect with as many alumni as possible. To do so, I’m pleased to let you know that we’ve eliminated our membership dues program as of July 1, 2016. As always, we encourage all graduates to participate in our programs, and we are excited about this new opportunity to engage with all Panthers. Please be assured that our valued Life Members will always be recognized as such by the association. They will continue to receive the same benefits and services going forward. And current Annual Members will enjoy the benefits of their membership through their expiration dates, with the option to upgrade to Life Member status by applying previous dues payments toward the cost. These funds will continue to support student and alumni programming. Welcome, all alumni, into the Pitt Alumni Association and Happy 150th Anniversary! —Jeff Gleim
Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations and Executive Director, Pitt Alumni Association
In May, more than 6,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees were granted across the University’s five campuses. Congrats to the newest Pitt alumni!
Chancellor Gallagher, left, with Gleim S U M M E R
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Another benchmark in Pitt athletics happened in June: Pitcher T.J. Zeuch was drafted in the first round by Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, the 21st overall pick. The righty is the highest drafted player in Panthers baseball history. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF PITT ATHLETICS
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SAVE THE DATES!
October 3â€“9 Homecoming 2016
Welcome Back Reception in the Cathedral of Learning, October 7, and the ACC football matchup between the Panthers and Georgia Tech on Saturday, October 8. For more details, visit www.alumni.pitt.edu
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