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Inside Pitt Research
Top Stories  

New Ranking: Pitt 16th in Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey

woman looking into a microscope

“Total research and development (R&D) expenditures at American colleges and universities topped $97 billion in Fiscal Year 2022, according to the latest Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on November 30.”



Undergraduates Learn, Then Publish

fishing boat on the water with mountain skyline in the background

Undergraduate students in the GEO 1312 environmental law and policy course don’t learn only by studying research published in scientific journals – they learn by researching, writing, and submitting their own papers to the journals. Recently one team’s paper was published in the Journal of Science Policy & Governance that proposed methods to improve the implementation of policies about overfishing in the Gulf of Alaska. Other students are writing and submitting papers on fracking policy, organic food labeling, urban agriculture policy, green building ordinances, and reef-safe sunscreen laws.

“It is not a traditional environmental law course,” says Patrick Shirey, assistant professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “The goal is to become better writers and thinkers while making an impact.”


2022-2023 Pitt Momentum Funds team (from left): Shannon Wanless, James Huguley, Elizabeth Vortuba-Drzal
On Campus  

Arts and Humanities Microgrants Awardees

Shelome Gooden speaking with faculty and staff at the 2023 Arts and Humanities Microgrants

The fall cycle for the Arts and Humanities Microgrants awardees have been announced, with 11 faculty members receiving funds to further research discoveries and scholarly endeavors in the arts and humanities. As part of the Pitt Momentum Funds program, microgrants offer faculty in these historically underfunded fields the opportunity to channel resources into a specific need, such as tracking artwork from India to photographing private collections in Europe, and curating bilingual commentaries on colonial treaties with Indigenous peoples of Chile.

"I am excited to see the range of projects that we have been able to fund in this third cycle," says Shelome Gooden, assistant vice chancellor for research, "And I look forward to continuing to support our faculty to advance impactful research and creative activities."



Global Research and Education Network on EU Foreign Policy

yellow sculpture outside of University of Pittsburgh building

The Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the European Studies Center announced a global partnership to better understand EU foreign policy, forge new collaborations, and make new policy recommendations. The multi-institution partnership with the Europa University Viadrina and 18 universities in 17 countries across 5 continents will be funded for two years by a Jean Monnet Network grant from the highly competitive Erasmus+ Program of the European Commission. By bridging non-European and European perspectives across multiple sectors such as academia, public affairs and civil society, scholars and undergraduate students hope to have a significant impact on policy issues of democracy, migration, and global inequality.

Read More >> via Pittwire


Pitt Hosts Roundtable with the Office of the National Cyber Director

Rob A. Rutenbar and David Hickton hosts Office of the National Cyber Director at Pitt

On December 11, 2023, Jake Braun, acting principal deputy national cyber director in the White House Office of the National Cyber Director, joined a roundtable discussion on cybersecurity and workforce development. After initial remarks from Rob A. Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, David Hickton, founding director of Pitt Cyber, led the group in discussing local cybersecurity workforce initiatives, diversifying the industry, and raising overall cyber literacy levels. The Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and Government Relations hosted the event jointly.

Read More >> via Pittwire


Big Proposal Bootcamp Spring 2024 Cohort List

Group of professional men and women, sitting and listening to a presenter

The Big Proposal Bootcamp program enables Pitt faculty to think about research differently, collaborate across disciplines, and pursue multiyear funding in large, complex multi-disciplinary challenges. Each Spring, the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research solicits nominations for promising early to mid-career faculty interested in pursuing collaborative research projects with external or global impacts to the Associate Deans for Research (ADRs) and the Deans of the schools at Pitt. From January to April, bootcamp participants receive focused, expert guidance on research proposals and are eligible to receive seed funding for completing the program.

Learn More >>


GSPIA Faculty Member Named Inaugural Executive Director

Sera Linardi, associate professor of economics in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Sera Linardi, associate professor of economics in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), has accepted a position as the inaugural Executive Director of Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization (EAAMO). Linardi, who is also affiliated with Pitt’s School of Computing and Information and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, will build out funding streams for EAAMO's interdisciplinary, grassroots-led, and practice-focused approach to computing research. The work will be funded by Cornell University as the Siegel PiTech (Public Interest Technology) Faculty Impact Fellow at the Cornell Tech campus in New York City for one year beginning this month. The organization - formerly known as Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) has more than 2,000 volunteers across 130 universities and 50 countries and its associated international ACM Conference.

Learn More >>


Swanson School Engineer to Give 2024 Dryden Lecture in Research

Peyman Givi, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh

For his contributions to the aerospace community, Peyman Givi, Distinguished Professor and James T. MacLeod Chair in Engineering, was selected to present the 2024 Dryden Lecture in Research by the Honors and Awards Committee and the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Givi’s lecture, “The Promise of Quantum Computing for Aerospace Science and Engineering,” was attended by over 700 aerospace scientists and engineers and given during the 2024 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition January 8-12, 2024 in Orlando.



Distinguished Faculty Elected to National Academy of Inventors

2023 National Academy of Inventors Fellows, Prashant N. Kumta (left) and José-Alain Sahel (right)

Since its inaugural class of fellows in 2015, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) fellows program has awarded 12 Pitt faculty for facilitating innovative discoveries and stimulating economic activity. This year, José-Alain Sahel, Distinguished Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology in Pitt’s School of Medicine, has been recognized for breakthroughs in vision restoration. Prashant N. Kumta, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering, is Pitt’s 14th NAI fellow, with 42 patents in areas of efficient energy storage and biomaterials for use in regenerative medicine.


Researchers In The News  
Technical director of Pitt’s Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation in Medical Imaging and associate professor, Shandong Wu

Shandong Wu Highlights Issues with AI in Medicine

Director of Pitt’s Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation in Medical Imaging and associate professor in the Department of Radiology, Shandong Wu incorporates AI for interpreting data in imaging produced for X-rays, mammography, ultrasounds, CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging. Across specialties and diagnoses, Wu’s research is particularly focused on building trustworthy AI systems for analysis and decision support, as well as safeguarding these techniques for patient safety and cybersecurity.

Read More >> via The Joplin Globe

Peter Strick, Thomas Detre Professor and Chair of Neurobiology

Neuroscientist Discovers How Pilates Helps Lower Stress

A few years back, Peter Strick, Dr. Thomas Detre Professor of Neuroscience and chair, Department of Neurobiology, noticed his stress levels were becoming unmanageable. His children recommended he take Pilates or yoga, but he was skeptical. Since then, Strick and his research team have conducted a study that supports the benefits of Pilates on stress.

Read More >> via NPR (starting at 8:13 on the radio recording)

Graham Hatfull

Graham Hatfull Discusses Phages, Superbugs

Graham Hatfull, the Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology, gave CNN's Sanjay Gupta an inside look at the Hatfull lab which stores 23,000 bacteria phages that could potentially be used to treat antibiotic resistant infections. Through his HHMI SEA-PHAGES program, Hatfull encourages students to explore the environment for new phages to isolate and characterize in the laboratory.

Watch the Video >> via CNN (starting at 12:22 on the video recording)

Daniel Bain

Water Collaboratory Report Links Industrial Development and Pollution

Daniel Bain, associate professor of geology and environmental engineering, and a team at the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory, released findings from a study investigating the rivers and tributaries in and around the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. The study to-date shows industrial development and zones with a history of mining, and ultimately past infrastructural decisions, caused high levels of pollutants and metals to leak into drinking water and wastewater processes.

Read More >> via WPXI-TV

Top Stories
hand moving mouse on a laptop  

WORKSHOP: Integrating Generative AI into Teaching and Learning

Tuesday, Jan. 23 | 12:30 to 1:30 PM (Virtual)

This introductory-level workshop is designed for faculty who are interested in exploring the applications of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in teaching and learning. This session will include strategies to describe components of AI, discourage AI misuse, and promote ethical academic conduct, as well as examine examples of AI usage policies adopted by law schools. The Center for Teaching and Learning will share practical ways to incorporate AI tools into classroom activities, assessments, and teaching practices, such as using AI to generate or revise examples, comment banks, grading tools, and different versions of exam questions.

Learn More and Register >>

empty classroom  

SEMINAR: Grappling with AI, Education, and Our Speculative Futures: Hidden Labor & Hidden Costs

Wednesday, Feb. 14 | 10 to 12 PM (In-person)

We are promised and have come to expect technology to ensure our package arrives in two days or that our latest post is seen by our followers, but we are rarely compelled to question the “how” of these operations. What might we uncover if we dared to investigate the mechanisms that make our lives so convenient and efficient? During this session, participants will collectively explore questions about costs, labor and automation, and critically consider the true price of the technological infrastructure that supports the daily activities of modern life.

Learn More and Register >>

Research Resources  

Pitt Research Navigator

The Pitt Research Navigator, a service of the Research Concierge Program, is available to faculty and staff on all Pitt campuses to connect to resources and offices needed to move research projects forward. To use this service, simply ask a research-related question by email or webform, and the Navigator will help you make the right connection within one business day.



On-Ramp Materials

The Center for Research Computing offers a video library of tutorials for accessing and utilizing Pitt’s advanced computing ecosystem. To get started, and in addition to workshops hosted each semester, these five videos give Pitt faculty an overview of the available tools and resources, steps on how to gain access and run jobs on the components, and helpful scripts for troubleshooting to learn and work at your own pace.


Top Stories

Early 1980s

Jessica Lewis holding a baby alligator  

Overcoming Barriers to Transplantation Breakthroughs

Sometimes a scientific advance requires institutional savvy. In the early 1980s, Jessica Lewis, a prominent hemophilia researcher and co-founder of the Hemophilia Center of Western Pennsylvania, was on Pitt’s Institutional Review Board – the University authority that approves research on human subjects. Meanwhile, Thomas Starzl was doing pioneering organ transplant surgeries and testing the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine to prevent organ rejection after transplant. The drug had already been used successfully to reduce rejection, but it had not yet been approved via randomized trials – and denying a potentially life-saving drug to patients in a control group was unethical.

Lewis came up with a compromise to allow the trial to move forward– limit the control group (no cyclosporine) to low-risk kidney transplant recipients. If a patient in that group experienced organ rejection, Starzl’s team could then repeat the transplant surgery with the addition of cyclosporine. In surgical trials, the cyclosporine group saw 90 percent of the new kidneys accepted by patients’ bodies as compared to the control, and the drug rapidly became standard protocol in transplantation.

“Jessica Lewis’ leadership prevented a large-scale tragedy,” Starzl wrote in his 1992 memoir “The Puzzle People.”