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Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences Snapshot

December 2012, Issue 12


Research, clinical work intertwined for psychology alum

When Carolyn Schroeder applied for admission to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, she counted herself lucky to become one of just four women admitted to the University’s up-and-coming clinical psychology program.

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In Focus

Sophomore Ben Clifton focuses on music, and all that jazz

When Ben Clifton wrote a song to honor his father, the title came naturally:


He did not realize it until later, but that single word connected him across the years to Rob Clifton, a University of Pittsburgh philosophy professor who died from colon cancer, leaving behind a son, Ben—who was not quite middle-school aged—and a daughter, Clare.

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Close Up

Sociology professor finds Pittsburgh the ideal laboratory

When Waverly Duck was first offered a job in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, he jumped at the opportunity.

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Wide Angle

New workshop takes a cutting-edge approach to storytelling

Imagine reading a story about migrant workers picking blueberries in a Maine field. In the hands of a skilled writer, the scene comes alive: the sound of workers’ chatter, the wooden boxes slowly filling with fat blue marbles of fruit, the clouds painting the northern New England sky.

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Tia-Lynn Ashman, professor and associate chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, was awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study ecological impacts and diversity of the wild strawberry, research that will provide clues to the genetic diversity of 30-80 percent of all plants worldwide.

“This deeply integrated comparative study of the wild relatives of the cultivated strawberry—a species of world-wide economic importance—will provide foundational knowledge and contribute unparalleled resources that may be harnessed in efforts to ensure the sustainability of the strawberry and related crops such as the cherry, peach, or apple in the face of stress from non-living factors,” said Ashman.

In addition to addressing the unknown mysteries of multi-chromosome plants, the project also facilitates training by broad participation and international collaboration, including middle school science curriculum, involvement of high school teachers, next-generation sequencing workshops, cross-cutting training, and communication of research through academic journals.

Throughout the spring of 2013, the Jewish Studies Program is sponsoring a series of public events on Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill Jewish community.  The events include lectures, roundtable discussions, and walking tours, and explore patterns in Pittsburgh’s urban history and key themes in American Jewish and urban history.  More information and a complete list of events can be found here.

The University of Pittsburgh is a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant winners among research universities, placing eighth among U.S. public research universities and 15th among all U.S. universities, public and private, outperforming its 2011 record when it placed 17th among all U.S. universities. The ranking was announced in November by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Of Pitt’s 54 applicants who applied for student Fulbright grants during the 2011-12 school year, 15 won Fulbrights, the most in Pitt’s history of competing for the award. With its 15 awards, Pitt was tied with Stanford and UCLA, and it scored higher than Princeton, Emory, Wisconsin, Washington University in St. Louis, William and Mary, and Duke. Among the other research institutions in the top 15 spots were Michigan, Northwestern, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, and Harvard.

Among the University’s current 15 Fulbright Awardees, nine are Dietrich School graduates.

This fall, Lindsey Bieda (A&S ’09) and Julie Pagano (A&S ’07), both of whom earned degrees in computer science, founded the Pittsburgh Chapter of Girl Develop It, an international non-profit that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction. Find out more about the Pittsburgh chapter and its upcoming events by joining their Meetup group. For more information about the global organization visit www.girldevelopit.com.

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