Pitt | Swanson Engineering
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Oct

Oct
16
2017

Cool Your Airfoils

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (October 16, 2017) … Gas turbines serve a variety of power generation purposes ranging from jet engine propulsion to electricity production. Their impressive energy output also results in high-temperatures capable of causing extreme damage and limiting their lifespan. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are developing advanced strategies to reduce the adverse effects of extremely high-temperatures on turbines.“A gas turbine is a type of internal combustion engine that mixes air, fuel, and combustion to rapidly spin fan-shaped blades—or airfoils—and create mechanical energy. While generating enormous amounts of energy, gas turbines also generate enormous amounts of heat and are at risk of being damaged by these high-temperatures,” explained Minking Chyu, Distinguished Service Professor and the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Chyu received $777,192 for the study “Integrated Transpiration and Lattice Cooling Systems Developed by Additive Manufacturing with Oxide-Dispersion-Strengthened Alloy.” The DOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE), which funds research and development projects to improve advanced fossil energy technologies and to encourage a sustainable approach to fossil resources, awarded $600,000, and $177,192 cost-share from the University of Pittsburgh.Dr. Chyu and his research team will explore applications for an anti-oxidation coating that can help cool airfoils and other hot-section components in gas turbines. They are working with new materials called Oxide Dispersion-Strengthened (ODS) Alloys to protect turbine blades by making them more resistant to high temperatures. Combining these alloys with 3D-printed lattice and transpiration cooling systems, the turbines not only are much less likely to suffer heat damage but also can be operated with a higher temperature for better efficiency.“The alloys we’re developing increase the melting point of the turbine’s components, and therefore, improve their heat resistance. Additive manufacturing enables us to create complex lattice structures that allow cool air to enter the turbines and reduce temperature even further,” said Dr. Chyu.The University of Pittsburgh study is one of nine projects the DOE FE selected to receive $5.4 million in federal funding for turbine research as part of its University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) program. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) manages the UTSR program and focuses on developing advance turbine technologies to increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve performance. About Dr. ChyuDr. Chyu received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. He is the Associate Dean for International Initiatives at the Swanson School and Dean of the Sichuan University – Pittsburgh Institute in Chengdu, China. His primary research interests are in thermal and material issues relating to energy, power, and aero propulsion systems. Dr. Chyu is a recipient of four NASA Certificates of Recognition for his contributions on the US space shuttle main engineer program. He has served as an Air Force Summer Research Fellow, Department of Energy Oak Ridge Research Fellow, and DOE Advanced-Turbine-System Faculty Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA). Dr. Chyu has published more than 300 technical papers in archived journals, books, and conference proceedings. ### Image above: Dr. Chyu (right) examining an investment casting airfoil with former PhD student Sean Siw, who now works at Siemens Energy in Orlando on blade cooling tasks. By using the additive manufacturing process instead of investment casting, Dr. Chyu hopes to coat the airfoils with a protective, cooling structure built inside the ODS layer.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
13
2017

Ervin Sejdic Named Associate Editor of IEEE Biomedical Journal

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (October 13, 2017) … The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has named Ervin Sejdić an Associate Editor of its journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (TBME). Dr. Sejdić is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering with appointments in the departments of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering.“My goal as associate editor is to help take TBME to the next level and make it the premier journal in the field of biomedical engineering,” said Dr. Sejdić. “In addition to emphasizing quality research with the potential to make major impacts on the field, I would like to guide TBME toward a general readership, with articles that are relevant to the entire biomedical engineering community, not specific areas of focus.”Dr. Sejdić will oversee the review of new article submissions. He will work to encourage researchers to publish their work in TBME and evaluate the significance of research efforts based on their likeliness to advance the field of biomedical engineering.  About Dr. SejdićDr. Sejdić holds a B.E. Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario, both in electrical engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Dr. Sejdić specialized in wireless communications, while his PhD project focused on signal processing. From 2008 until 2010, Dr. Sejdić was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, with a cross-appointment at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation teaching hospital. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Sejdić focused on rehabilitation engineering and biomedical instrumentation. He was also a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School cross-appointed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (July 2010-June 2011), where he focused on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular monitoring of older, diabetic adults. In addition to his role of associate professor at Pitt, Dr. Sejdić is the associate director of the RFID Center for Excellence, which works within academia and industry to advance the understanding and application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.About TBME IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering is a leading general journal in the field of biomedical engineering with more than 2000 submissions per year. The current acceptance rate of TBME is about 20 percent. TBME is ranked in the top three among all biomedical technology journals on the h5 index and top seven among more than 170 biomedical engineering journals on the h-index. The Impact Factor of TBME in 2016 was 3.577. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
12
2017

“Cellular” Biology

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (October 12, 2017) … White blood cells are like the “assassins” of systems biology. Some destroy viruses by swallowing them whole, others lie ready to sound the alarm with inflammation, while “natural killer” white blood cells hose down infected cells with a toxin that causes immediate cell death. The human immune system is an intense, fast-paced game of cat and mouse on a cellular level, and thanks to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, now the game can take place on a cell phone.Jason Shoemaker, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, and Robert Gregg, a PhD candidate studying intercellular immunity in Dr. Shoemaker’s group, created the game “Vir-ed”—a virtual reality (VR) education game designed to teach new biology and biochemistry students about the human immune system. “Systems biology is something you can’t really see, and it’s not a hands-on subject, but it is a holistic tool that can help young minds understand how biological systems function,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “We decided to design the game to create a way for students to be able to visualize what they were studying.”In Vir-ed (which rhymes with “wired”), players follow a storyline and a series of mini-games while learning how viruses invade host cells, the basic biological mechanisms associated with infection, and how human cells detect viruses. As the game begins, the immersive technology casts the player in the role of the virus, determined to avoid the predatory white blood cells and find a juicy red blood cell to infect. “The first story shows you how a virus invades a cell, and the second shows you how a cell stops a virus,” explains Gregg. “Players unlock mini-games by playing through the story mode, and the mini-games require certain achievements to unlock trophies. Each trophy comes with a description and more information about a subject like “DNA” to help educate the player.”One of the Vir-ed mini-games follows a similar format to the memory game Simon. Players must remember the sequence of a ribonucleic acid (RNA) nucleotide, which consists of the nitrogenous bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil (AGCU). To complete the mini-game, the player must remember a random assembly of three to six nitrogenous bases with the ultimate goal of getting the order right for a total of 21 cumulative nucleotides. To develop the software for the game, the Pitt team worked with a nonprofit called Cacti Council—an educational organization that uses computer science to promote critical and creative thinking. A total of 17 people from the Cacti Council team worked on Vir-ed, including graphic designers, programmers, recording artists, and user experience (UX) designers.“Educational games are tricky,” says Jeremiah Blanchard, a Cacti Council founder. “They’re really an attempt to thread the needle of meeting the requirements for both a game and an educational tool. You have to find the points of overlap. If you do, it can really impact a student’s life in a positive way.”Vir-ed is already available on the Google Play Store and can be downloaded and viewed on an Android phone and any VR headset. Dr. Shoemaker and Gregg have almost finished adapting the game for Apple devices, and they are considering adding new features like augmented reality in the future.“The immediate next step will be to work with the school’s Engineering Education Resource Center to introduce the game to middle and high school students and get feedback on how it performs as an educational tool,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we expect positive response,” adds Blanchard.About the Immunosystems LabDr. Shoemaker leads the Shoemaker Immunosystems Lab at Pitt. He and his team of researchers use mathematical models and simulations to better understand immunity and health. By applying the engineering knowledge of the immune system gathered from these models, the team can develop new therapies to promote improved patient outcomes, patient-specific treatment, and immune optimization. ### Image above: Gameplay point of view of a player moving through a blood vessel as a virus. The wispy orbs are white blood cells, and the player loses life by running into one. Side image: A shooter game within Vir-ed in which the player has to combine the correct molecules to activate cGAMP--a molecule essential to detecting DNA in the cell.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
11
2017

An Engineer’s Guide to the Embryo

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (October 11, 2017) … In roughly 48 hours, the single cell of the fertilized frog egg will undergo dramatic change to develop vital body parts like muscles, a skeleton, eyes, a heart, and a tadpole tail. Scientists have been studying this process to better understand human development, birth defects, and cancer and to advance technologies like organoid generation and cell replacement therapy. Scientists can disrupt embryo development, pause it, and accelerate it; however, they can’t exactly explain how development works. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bioengineers at the University of Pittsburgh are taking a crack at understanding what is going on inside the egg.The NIH Department of Health and Human Services awarded Lance Davidson, professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, $1,327,207 for his study “Biomechanics of Morphogenesis.” Dr. Davidson, who directs the MechMorpho Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, aims to take a structural engineer’s approach to the biomechanics of developing embryos. The Pitt researchers are reverse-engineering the mechanical processes that shape the basic body plan and organ development in embryos using tests, techniques, and tools more likely to be found in a mechanical engineering lab than a molecular genetics lab.“If you saw a bridge for the first time, how would you figure out it worked?” Dr. Davidson asks. “A geneticist might blast it into pieces and analyze how each piece works, but an engineer would look at the ensemble, taking measurements of force and movement. They would put more weight on it and see when it breaks. We are applying these structural analysis principals to understanding embryos.”In the surrounding labs, researchers work with mice, fruit flies, zebrafish, and rats. In Dr. Davidson’s lab, there is Xenopus—a frog native to sub-Saharan Africa. Frogs are ideally suited for Dr. Davidson’s research because their embryos and tissues are incredibly tolerant of lab conditions and resilient to an engineer’s 'touch.' Even after removing them from their protective shells, inducing genetic defects, or injecting fluorescent protein tracers, these frogs won’t croak.“We use frogs because you can extract tissues very easily, and they will continue to grow correctly,” Dr. Davidson says. “A frog’s eye or brain can be isolated and will continue to grow in a petri dish. That won’t happen with a mouse or fish. When the outer layer of a non-amphibian embryo is cut, the embryo won’t maintain its structure. Frog embryos are more like Play-doh, you can cut and paste tissues and reshape them, although Play-doh is still much stiffer than these embryos.”The frog eggs start out about the size of a pencil tip. In a field of study that’s used to accommodating steel beams or reinforced concrete measurements, Dr. Davidson’s group has to get creative with the tools they use. “To perform microsurgery on the frog embryos, we use a scalpel made of human eyebrow hair and a hair loop made from baby hair,” says Dr. Davidson. “The embryos are tiny, wet, and soft; however, they still obey the same shape principles of steel or wood.”“A civil or mechanical engineer might regularly perform tests applying ten million pascals of stress,” he continues. Ten million pascals is about the amount of water pressure coming out of a pressure washer, and one pascal is about how much pressure a single piece of paper exerts on a tabletop. “We have to design special tools that can both apply and measure stress between five to 20 pascals. You can’t just order something like from Amazon, so we improvise in our lab to design and fabricate custom equipment for our needs.” Cells from the prospective brain of the frog are large and active and easily viewed with advanced microscopy. Credit: MechMorpho Lab/Lance Davidson By studying the mechanics of morphogenesis—the process of an embryo changing shape—Dr. Davidson hopes to develop a tool that will provide bioengineers with a much greater understanding of and control over tissue self-assembly.  “Many engineering fields have some kind of software or simulation tool that can take the guess work out their designs before they actually start building. We are developing something similar for tissue engineers so they don’t have to rely on trial and error all the time,” explains Dr. Davidson. Creep tests, strain maps, and micro-aspiration are all engineering techniques employed by Dr. Davidson’s team to understand the underlying mechanics of morphogenesis. These frogs might not be turning into princes any time soon, but from a tiny ball of cells, the embryo can shape itself into a structurally complex tadpole with working organs.“In the course of one study, quite by accident, we observed two sets of eggs, one set starting about twice the size of the other. We watched the embryos develop side-by-side. Because of the initial size difference, we expected to see lots of structural deformities or at least for the tadpoles to come out twice as big. To our surprise many of the 'big egg' embryos survived and their tadpoles grew to the same size as the 'little egg' tadpoles, somehow managing to self-correct while they developed,” Dr. Davidson says.At a time when tissue engineering is becoming increasingly useful in regenerative medicine therapies, Dr. Davidson estimates there are only about five or six other groups in the world making material property measurements in the living tissue of vertebrates like frogs. Building on his research and combining it with results from a 2016 NIH-funded study “Mechanical Control of Mesenchymal-to-Epithelial Transition,” he will continue to flesh out the mechanics of growing tissue. ### Image above: Xenopus tadpoles are excellent test subjects because their transparent bodies allow for unobstructed views into their internal anatomy. Credit: MechMorpho Lab/Lance Davidson
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
10
2017

Bioengineering's BodyExplorer research to be featured at first annual ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival

Bioengineering

University of Pittsburgh Release Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History present the first annual ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival on October 13-15, 2017. The festival, programmed by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, is a three-day celebration of creative exploration and research at the nexus of science, engineering, arts, and design (SEAD). Visitors to the festival will interact with innovators and experience new interdisciplinary technologies developed to address global challenges. The event is free and open to the public. The ACCelerate festival will be an opportunity for all ACC schools in partnership with the Lemelson Center to showcase their work to the public, each other, students, alumni, companies, legislators, and invited guests from the nation’s capital. Learn more about the University of Pittsburgh projects that will be on display: BODYEXPLORER: A NEXT-GENERATION SIMULATOR FOR HEALTHCARE TRAINING, PROVIDING HANDS-ON LEARNING AND PRACTICE VIA AUGMENTED REALITY VISUALIZATION BodyExplorer is a next-generation medical simulator designed to enhance the ability of healthcare trainees to learn anatomy and physiology and practice treating patients though naturalistic interaction with an augmented reality-enhanced, full-body simulated patient. Simulation has been recognized as the most prominent innovation in healthcare education in the past two decades, but current systems require substantial resources, including technicians to run the simulator and instructors to lead scenarios, assess student performance, and provide guided feedback. Learning how to operate current simulators requires advanced training, so students typically cannot use them on their own for self-learning. BodyExplorer was designed to enable 24/7 on-demand training and self-learning for students by providing an intuitive interface, autonomous operation, and automated instruction using a highly sensorized physical body, projected augmented reality (AR), and an integrated virtual instructor. AR enables x-ray vision views inside the body, so trainees can see the internal effects of administering simulated medications or performing procedures, such as inserting a breathing tube. BodyExplorer is designed to expand access to the benefits of simulation-based learning for medical and nursing students, first responders, combat medics, and other healthcare practitioners, enabling them to practice skills and receive quantitative feedback on their performance before treating actual patients. Researchers: Joseph Samosky, Douglas Nelson, and John O'Donnell MOBILITY ENHANCEMENT ROBOTIC WHEELCHAIR The Mobility Enhancement Robotic Wheelchair (MEBot) will tackle both curbs and challenging terrains. The large center driving wheels can reposition themselves to simulate front-, mid-, or rear-wheel driving. The four smaller caster wheels are controlled with compressed air and move up and down freely and independently. For climbing curbs, the front caster wheels lift up onto the curb, then the driving wheels lift themselves up and forward onto the curb, which lifts the chair onto the curb. This is done automatically whenever MEBot senses a curb or step. The ultimate goal is for MEBot to climb a set of stairs. The same general function is used to operate on icy or slippery surfaces. A traditional power wheelchair can get stuck on this kind of terrain. MEBot, however, uses its front and rear caster wheels to inch forward on the slick surface by extending its front casters, moving the seat forward, bringing the rear casters forward, and then repeating the process. Meanwhile, the seat stabilization system keeps the driver safely upright. Researchers: Rory A. Cooper, Brandon Daveler, Ben Gebrosky, Garrett Grindle, Andrea Sundaram, Hongwu Wang, and Jorge Candiotti OUR TIME IS UP: AN IMMERSIVE AUDIO DRAMA This multichannel sound installation tells the story of Jake and Helen McCleary, an elderly couple struggling to save their troubled marriage. The story unfolds across a series of weekly therapy sessions in which Jake and Helen sort through the messy details of their relationship. Unlike a conventional audio drama, the characters’ voices are constructed from fragments of oral history recordings of two people who have died—and who never met. Using a manual process of concatenated speech synthesis, the archival voices have been digitally disarticulated and recombined to create a new, fictional story and an uncanny encounter between living and dead, human and machine. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of writers, designers, historians, and engineers and invites the audience to enter a mock therapist’s office and inhabit the experience of the absent characters, with each character’s voice emitted from a directional speaker. A screencast of the multi-track audio session reveals the secret behind the drama’s construction, and individual headsets provide access to the original oral histories. This immersive experience offers a reflection on the precarious temporality of human lives and relationships and the paradoxical potential for reinvention that sound recording affords. Researchers: Erin Anderson and Brandon Barber ###

Oct
6
2017

Human Movement & Balance Lab Post-Doctoral Associate

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Human Movement & Balance Lab within the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh is seeking a post-doctoral associate. The position is funded through an active grant from the NIH to develop technology for reducing slips and falls by assessing slip potential of the shoe/floor interface and conducting relevant locomotion biomechanical validation experiments. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop a new robotic device for measuring shoe-floor traction in collaboration with a growing startup company. Other opportunities to participate in human movement laboratory research and write research proposals may also be available. A background in mechanical design or robotics is essential. Applicants with a background in occupational safety, biomechanics, tribology, and open-source design process is desirable although not necessary. Applicants should hold a PhD in mechanical engineering, bioengineering, biomedical engineering or another similar department. The appointment is intended to be 2 years and may be renewable depending on availability of funds. Review of applications will begin immediately and we intend to complete the hire as soon as possible.The mission for the Human Movement and Balance Lab (HMBL) is fall and musculoskeletal injury prevention in healthy and clinical young/elderly adult populations. The HMBL is a multiple PI lab with four full time research faculty members, two staff members and over 20 students (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/hmbl/). The HMBL includes more than 5,000 square feet of brand new laboratory space with motion capture; ergonomics and human factors; tribology; and machine shop facilities. The lab is located in the heart of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. More can be learned about the city of Pittsburgh at http://pittsburghpa.gov/.To apply, please send a cover letter and curriculum vitae (CV) as a single pdf document to Kurt Beschorner (beschorn@pitt.edu).The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates.  We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position.The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

beschorn@pitt.edu
Oct
4
2017

A Sticky Situation

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (October 4, 2017) … The smaller the object, especially at the atomic or subatomic level, the stranger it behaves. For example, as technological devices become smaller and smaller, the even smaller parts are more prone to adhesion or “stickiness.” When small-size parts come into contact, they spontaneously stick together and cannot easily be pulled apart. However, recent research at the University of Pittsburgh may “unstick” the problem and improve the next generation of microdevices increasingly used in everyday life.“Surfaces tend to attract each other via electronic or chemical interactions,” says Tevis Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and material science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “This is particularly problematic as things become small. You can see this when you grind coffee. The whole beans don’t stick to the side of the grinder, but a fine grind will stick to everything, especially on a dry day.”Dr. Jacobs is the principal investigator for the study “Understanding and Leveraging the Effect of Nanoscale Roughness on Macroscale Adhesion,” which received $305,123 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to measure surface roughness and characterize the fundamental relationship between adhesion and roughness at small sizes. Dr. Jacobs and his team will determine when tiny objects prefer to stick together.“One reason that small parts stick more readily than large parts is the surface-to-volume ratio,” says Dr. Jacobs. “For large parts, there is a lot of volume relative to surface, so the adhesion is relatively weak compared to body forces, like gravity. When the parts become small, the surface forces become larger relative to the body forces and the parts will spontaneously stick.”For many engineering materials, increasing an object’s surface roughness will make it less likely for the small parts to stick together. The general reason why roughness reduces adhesion is well known. “Picture a cube with one-inch sides sitting on a table. If the surfaces are perfectly flat, then it will make contact with the table over an area of one square inch,” Dr. Jacobs explains. “If you grind the surface with sandpaper and put it back on the table, the roughness will prevent close contact in some areas. In fact, the cube might be supported by only a small number of contact points. The "true contact area" may be 1000 times smaller than one square inch.”The Pitt research team is developing and testing analytical and numerical models to be able to make quantitative predictions of adhesion between rough surfaces. This work will also guide engineers in intentionally modifying roughness to achieve a desired level of adhesion.A better understanding of how to reduce stickiness in small sizes will likely have the biggest impact on microdevices, which are commonly used in consumer electronics, biomedical devices, the semiconductor industry, and defense applications. The research is also applicable to the new manufacturing techniques being pioneered to create these microdevices, allowing manufacturers to avoid adhesion-related problems.“A classic example of adhesion causing a problem is the Digital Micromirror Device from Texas Instruments,” Dr. Jacobs says. “This projector, like the one used in auditoriums, involves a series of microelectronic devices that move tiny mirrors to make the projector function. The product was almost completely undone by adhesion in the microelectronic devices. They would get stuck in a specific position and be unable to move, resulting in a ‘stuck pixel’ on the display.”The Pitt researchers are not only understanding surface roughness and its effect on surface adhesion, they are also developing methods to modify the microdevices to achieve a desired level of adhesion.“There are many different models describing roughness and adhesion, but none are well verified experimentally,” says Dr. Jacobs. “We are using brand new techniques to measure the roughness, to experiment with different types of roughness, and to measure the resulting adhesion. Our goal is to test the existing models of adhesion and roughness and to establish new models that are more quantitative and predictive.”In 2015, Dr. Jacobs received an NSF grant to observe and measure the atomic surface structure of nanomaterials using electron microscopy. This new study is building on his past research and will employ a combination of transmission electron microscopy to characterize previously unmeasured surface scales and a custom micromechanical tester to measure surface adhesion.About Dr. JacobsThe work in Dr. Jacobs’ research group combines electron microscopy, multi-scale mechanical testing, and scanning probe microscopy to interrogate the mechanical and functional properties of contacts. On the small scale, they use ultra-high-resolution imaging and force measurement to interrogate atomic-scale processes. On the large-scale, they use micro- and macro-scale testing of larger contacts that contain multi-scale surface roughness. This enables them to scale-up the nanoscale insights to describe functional properties of large-scale objects. The overall goal is to develop quantitative, fundamental, and predictive understanding of contact behavior at all scales, which will enable tailored properties for advanced technologies.Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Jacobs served as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Robert Carpick's Nanotribology Group at the University of Pennsylvania, which studies the fundamental origins and applications of friction, adhesion, wear, and lubrication at the nanometer length scale. He earned his bachelor of science in both mechanical engineering (ME) and materials science & engineering (MSE) from Penn, then received a master of philosophy in computer modeling of materials from Cambridge University and a master of science in MSE from Stanford University (thesis: "Adhesion and Reliability of Ultra-Thin Films of Novel Front End Materials"). He received a PhD in MSE from Penn in 2013 (thesis: "Imaging and Understanding Atomic-Scale Adhesion and Wear: Quantitative Investigations Using In situ TEM"). Dr. Jacobs also spent two years as a mechanical and materials engineer at Animas Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson Company in West Chester, Pa. that manufactures insulin pumps for people with diabetes. ### Top image (from left to right): Undergraduate Katerina Kimes (sitting), Prof. Tevis Jacobs, Undergraduate Cameron Kisailus, and PhD Candidate Abhijeet Gujrati looking at a map of surface topography. Second image (from left to right): Gujrati, Prof. Jacobs, Kimes, and Kisailus.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
4
2017

Pitt researchers developed a VR game about viruses, but it wasn't easy to get onto the app store

Chemical & Petroleum

It's an arduous task to understand how the herpes virus spreads throughout the body. That's true whether you're a 10-year-old student or an engineer with a degree or two. "You don't ever get to visualize and actually see how the molecules interact with the cells," said Jason Shoemaker, an assistant professor in chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's hard to visualize, even for engineers ... we design systems and sometimes have a hard time picturing how things exist in a biological system." In February, Mr. Shoemaker and the students in his research group called the Shoemaker Immonsystems Lab, began a nearly six-month journey to make these biological mechanisms easier to understand through gamification. Read the full story at the Post-Gazette.
Courtney Linder, Post-Gazette
Oct
2
2017

Blast Off!

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (October 2, 2017) … The National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 18 with a ribbon cutting and tours of the facility at the Schenley Place building on the University of Pittsburgh Oakland campus.“Pittsburgh provides an ideal setting to foster and support high-tech research collaboration between industry, academia, and government,” said Alan George, the Mickle Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Pitt and founder of SHREC. Dr. George became chair of the Swanson School of Engineering’s ECE Department in January. The main research focus of SHREC is “mission-critical computing,” which includes space computing; high-performance computing and data analytics; and resilient computing to ensure computer dependability in harsh environments like space or the ocean floor.SHREC expects to bring about $1 million in external research funding to Pitt each year and is funded by the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers Program. The University of Pittsburgh is the lead institution of the national research center, and partners include Brigham Young University and University of Florida.“We plan to grow to four or five universities in the next few years and more than 30 industry and government partners,” said Dr. George.The SHREC team currently operates two experimental space processors deployed on the NASA International Space Station (ISS) and will add six more in late 2018 or early 2019. NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense deployed the first two processors as part of the Space Test Program – Houston 5 (STP-H5) payload in February.During the grand opening, students offered demonstrations of the SHREC facilities. In the Spacecraft Assembly Room, they showed attendees how they communicate with the ISS and direct space missions from the Pitt campus.“Our focus is student-centered, and the students get to work directly with the computers in space,” said Dr. George. “Space technology applies to most of the engineering disciplines, and I would encourage anyone interested in our work to get in touch with us.”SHREC will replace the NSF Center for High-performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC), which moved to Pitt in January under the direction of Dr. George. CHREC will sunset in December after 11 years of operation. ### Image above (from left to right): Gerald Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering; Dr. George; and Dr. Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, at the SHREC ribbon-cutting.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
2
2017

Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue Engineering

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Open Positions

Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue EngineeringSoft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Vascular Medicine Institute University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA Available Positions: The Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh currently has openings for a Postdoctoral Associate in Vascular Tissue Engineering. Applicant Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the positions are filled. Openings are immediate and could start as early as November 1, 2017. Qualifications: Candidates for both positions should have excellent organizational skills, an outstanding work ethic, and a strong publication record for their career stage. Highly competitive applicants will have experience in one or more of the following: cell/tissue culture, bioreactor utilization, synthetic chemistry, biofabrication methods, nonlinear optical microscopy, or molecular biology techniques (e.g., flow cytometry, RT-PCR). The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity. Research Description: This NIH-funded project will utilize state-of-the-art tools in tissue engineering to develop a novel biopolymer compliance matched small diameter vascular graft and assess its in-vitro and in-vivo functional performance. Applicants selected for these positions will collaborate with internal collaborators in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Vascular Medicine Institute, as well as with external collaborators from several participating institutions. How to Apply: Interested candidates should submit the following as a single PDF file via email to Prof. Jonathan Vande Geest using ‘STBL Postdoctoral Fellowship 2017 Application’ in the subject line: A 1-2 page cover letter that includes: a concise summary of the applicant’s prior research experience a brief description of the applicant’s future research interests and long term goals CV including degree(s) with GPA, and a list of three personal references up to 3 representative publications Contact: Jonathan P. Vande Geest Professor, Department of Bioengineering McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Vascular Medicine Institute 409 Center for Biotechnology 300 Technology Drive University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone: 412-624-6496 Email: jpv20@pitt.edu The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates.  We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

jpv20@pitt.edu

Sep

Sep
27
2017

Technology developed by Bioengineering's Dr. William Federspiel set for pivotal clinical trials

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (September 27, 2017) - ALung Technologies, Inc., today announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) to conduct a pivotal clinical trial of the Hemolung® Respiratory Assist System for the treatment of adults with severe acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The FDA’s approval of the IDE makes ALung’s VENT-AVOID Trial the first pivotal trial of extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) for treating patients with COPD exacerbations. “The achievement of FDA approval for initiation of the VENT-AVOID Trial is an important milestone towards making the Hemolung RAS and ECCO2R therapy available to US patients and their physicians,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “We believe that there is great potential for the Hemolung technology to facilitate ventilator avoidance, resulting in improved clinical outcomes and a lower cost of care through a reduction in length of stay in the intensive care unit.” The VENT-AVOID Trial is a prospective, multi-center, randomized, controlled, pivotal trial to validate the safety and efficacy of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System for COPD patients experiencing an acute exacerbation requiring ventilatory support. Forty hospitals will enroll up to 800 patients in the trial. The study protocol is built around a state of the art adaptive statistical plan which will allow for PMA submission when early success criteria are reached, potentially with as few as 300 patients enrolled. COPD patients suffering severe exacerbations will be eligible for the study if they are either 1) failing non-invasive ventilation and presenting a high risk of being intubated and mechanically ventilated or 2) have required intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation due to acute respiratory failure. Serving as the study principal investigator is Dr. Nicholas Hill, MD, Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Hill is an international leader in pulmonary critical care medicine, having led studies which established non-invasive ventilation as the standard of care for COPD exacerbations. In addition to the US-based VENT-AVOID study, The Hemolung RAS is also being studied in a landmark pivotal study for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as part of the 1,120-patient REST Trial in the United Kingdom. “Our commitment to clinical science runs very deep,” added Mr. DeComo. “We will soon be the only company participating in not just one, but two major pivotal trials validating the safety and efficacy of extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal therapy provided by the Hemolung RAS.” ALung worked collaboratively with the FDA under its Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program to obtain IDE approval. The Expedited Access Pathway is a new FDA program aimed to facilitate more rapid patient access to breakthrough technologies intended to treat or diagnose life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. ALung will continue to collaborate with the FDA during study enrollment and through the PMA process. COPD affects 30 million Americans1 and is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.2 Acute exacerbations, defined as a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COPD patients. For patients with severe exacerbations, high levels of carbon dioxide can result in respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation as life saving measures. Unfortunately, mechanical ventilation is associated with many side effects, and in-hospital mortality remains as high as 30%. ECCO2R therapy with the Hemolung RAS allows carbon dioxide to be removed from the blood independently of the lungs with the aim of facilitating the avoidance or reduction of intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation. ALung was founded in 1997 by Dr. William Federspiel, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and the late Dr. Brack Hattler, a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr. Federspiel and his team at the University’s Medical Devices Laboratory, part of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, developed the original Hemolung technology which was subsequently licensed by ALung for commercial development. The Hemolung RAS has been approved outside of the United States since 2013 and is commercially available in major European markets. ### About ALung Technologies ALung Technologies, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of innovative lung assist devices. Founded in 1997 as a spin-out of the University of Pittsburgh, ALung has developed the Hemolung RAS as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung is backed by Philips, UPMC Enterprises, Abiomed, The Accelerator Fund, Allos Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Tree Ventures, Eagle Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, West Capital Advisors, and other individual investors. For more information about ALung and the Hemolung RAS, visit www.alung.com. For more information about the VENT-AVOID Trial, visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03255057. The Hemolung RAS is an Investigational Device and limited by United States law to investigational use. This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized.
Scott Morley, Sr. Vice President of Market Development, ALung Technologies, Inc.
Sep
22
2017

NAMEPA Recognizes Swanson School’s Commitment to Diversity in Engineering

Diversity

Blacksburg, Va. (September 22, 2017) … The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) awarded both the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Simeon Saunders and the INVESTING NOW program for outstanding contributions to the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups pursuing education in engineering. Saunders received the NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award, and INVESTING NOW received the NAMEPA Recruitment Award at the 38th Annual NAMEPA National Conference, which took place from Sept. 10 – 13 on the Virginia Tech campus.Simeon M. Saunders is an academic counselor and Coordinator for Diversity Outreach for the Pitt EXCEL Program, which annually provides more than 250 students—particularly historically underrepresented groups in engineering—with academic counseling, peer mentoring, tutoring, engineering research opportunities, graduate school preparation, and career development workshops. NAMEPA grants the Wings to Succeed Award to people who have helped students overcome historic barriers for minority groups or who have met the challenges of their positions and committed extraordinary effort to fulfilling their job responsibilities. The award usually goes to non-traditional diversity roles, such as faculty, corporate representatives, community organizers, and other university administrators.Saunders received his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in higher education management from Pitt. He is currently working toward his doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education. In 2010, Saunders joined the Pitt EXCEL team and created the male mentoring group B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (Brothers Respecting Open Thought Helping Every-Man Realize His Own Original Dream). The group offers opportunities for upperclassmen and alumni to participate in local community service activities, workshops, seminars, social outings, and peer to peer mentoring opportunities.Since 1988, INVESTING NOW has prepared pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups for matriculation at selective colleges and universities, such as the University of Pittsburgh, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. Approximately 175 students participate annually in INVESTING NOW activities, which include advising sessions, tutoring, hands-on science and engineering workshops, college planning sessions, and career awareness activities. The primary goals are:1. Create a pipeline for well-prepared students to enter college and pursue science, technology, engineering, and math majors.2. Encourage and support students’ enrollment and achievement in advanced mathematics and science courses.3. Ensure that the participants make informed college choices.4. Support and encourage parents in their role as advocates for their children.5. Coordinate partnerships between the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and local schools.NAMEPA grants the Recruitment Program Award to programs that have engaged minority student populations in engineering. Over the past three decades, not only has 100 percent of INVESTING NOW students graduated from high school, but a minimum of 94 percent of INVESTING NOW graduates have made the transition to college, including 100 percent in 2016 and 97 percent in 2017 – with more than 50 percent of both groups entering college as STEM majors. The INVESTING NOW team at Pitt includes: Dr. Alaine M. Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW, pre-college STEM diversity program and Pitt EXCEL, undergraduate engineering diversity program; Linda Demoise, Academic Support Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Emiola Jay Oriola, Associate Director for INVESTING NOW; Heather Mordecki, Office Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Patience Stanicar, Program Coordinator for INVESTING NOW; C. Elyse Okwu, Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) Coordinator; and Julissa Garcia, Student Assistant. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
22
2017

2018 CEE Faculty Positions

Civil & Environmental, Open Positions

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for tenure-track faculty positions effective September 1, 2018.  These positions are part of the strategic expansion intended to support research and teaching activities in the area of Sustainable and Environmental Engineering (SEE) with a specific focus on environmental engineering. For these tenure-track positions in environmental engineering, we seek candidates with fundamental expertise and research interests in the areas of environmental microbiology and biological processes, environmental aquatic chemistry, and urban infrastructure systems (e.g., water and transportation). We encourage applicants with research that addresses multiple scales and/or at the intersection of food, energy and water.  Additional research areas will be considered. Preference will be given to appointees at the Assistant Professor level but applicants with outstanding credentials will be considered at other levels. Candidates interested in collaborative and interdisciplinary research and teaching within the Department and/or related focus areas in the Swanson School of Engineering, such as the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and the Center for Energy, are encouraged to apply. Candidates will have the opportunity to join our vibrant, diverse and growing department of 19 faculty members, 300 undergraduates and 160 full-time graduate students (60 of which are PhD students). Successful applicants will be expected to develop and sustain a strong, externally funded research program within their area of expertise and contribute to the teaching mission of our graduate and undergraduate programs. We strongly encourage candidates from underrepresented US minority groups and women to apply for this position.  The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. An earned doctorate in civil engineering, environmental engineering and science, earth science or a closely related field is required.  Interested applicants should submit: (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) teaching statement, (4) research interests and future plans, (5) copies of three representative publications, and (6) the names and contact information for at least three references.  We are highly motivated to continue growing the diversity of our department, and strongly encourage applicants to include a 1-2 page statement of diversity as a part of their application package.  Please submit the application in a single pdf file to CEE17SEE@pitt.edu. Review of applications will begin November 15, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled.

CEE17SEE@pitt.edu
Sep
18
2017

Scratching Below the Surface

Chemical & Petroleum

Posted with permission of Pittwire. View the original article here. Many people have suffered through an itchy skin rash after a brush with poison oak, wearing jewelry containing nickel or using latex gloves. That rash is one of the several symptoms caused by allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), a common skin condition that also causes blistering, ulcers and cracking skin, among other ailments. Topical creams and ointments can relieve symptoms, but they do not treat the underlying causes. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh may have hit upon a better treatment. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Controlled Release, Steven Little and colleagues propose that the underlying causes of ACD can be remedied by manipulating T cells, which control inflammation. “The technology here coaxes the body’s own cells to address inflammation that leads to these kinds of diseases,” said Little, chair of Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “We are essentially using strategies like this to convince the immune system into not attacking something that it would normally attack. When we administer our treatment at the same time as the allergen, it teaches the body to not become inflamed to that specific thing.” The researchers manipulated cells to release proteins, immune system molecules and other compounds to suppress destructive hypersensitivity responses to allergens that cause skin rashes, effectively preventing or reversing ACD in previously sensitized mice. Little said other researchers are trying to solve this problem by administering drugs that suppress the immune system, but side effects are a concern. Another treatment method under investigation takes cells out of the body, manipulates them and then reinjects them. “This is really tough, because it is inefficient and we don’t know what happens to the cells when you put them back into the body,” Little said. “The FDA is wary of these kinds of things.” The difference between these methods and the one proposed by Little and his colleagues is that it appears possible to induce the body’s own cells to treat the disease by manipulating cells inside the body with proteins that promote T cells to divide and react to allergens more quickly and aggressively to better control inflammation. Researchers also said this approach to what is known as in vivo T cell induction could also aid in the development of new therapies for transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. “It has the potential to do all of this without the side effects you’d normally see,” Little said. ###
Amerigo Allegretto, Communications Specialist, University of Pittsburgh
Sep
18
2017

In Search of a Greener Cleaner

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (September 18, 2017) … Molecular chelating agents are used in many areas ranging from laundry detergents to paper pulp processing to precious metal refining. However, some chelating agents, especially the most effective ones, do not degrade in nature and may pollute the environment. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering are developing machine learning procedures to discover new chelating agents that are both effective and degradable.Dr. John Keith, a Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy and assistant professor of chemical engineering at Pitt, is principal investigator; and Dr. Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering and co-director of Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, is co-PI. Their project titled “SusChEM: Machine learning blueprints for greener chelants” will receive $299,999 from the NSF.“Chelating agents are molecules that bind to and isolate metal ions dissolved in water,” explains Dr. Keith. “Cleaning detergents normally don't work well in hard water because of metal ions like magnesium and calcium interfering. That’s why commercial detergents typically include some chelating agents to hold up those metal ions so the rest of the detergent can focus on cleaning.”While chelating agents are valued for their ability to bind strongly to different metal ions, researchers are also factoring how long it takes them to degrade in the environment and their probabilities of being toxic when searching for more effective chelate structures. “Many of the widely used chelating agents we use end up in water runoffs, where they can be somewhat toxic to wildlife and sometimes to people as well,” says Dr. Beckman.Developing new chelating agents so far has relied on trial and error experimentation. Dr. Beckman continues, “In the past, folks have tried to create better chelating agents by tweaking existing structures, but whenever that produces something less toxic, the chelating agent winds up being much less effective too. We’re trying a new approach that uses machine learning to look through much larger and more diverse pools of candidate molecules to find those that would be the most useful.” The Pitt research team will use quantum chemistry calculations to develop machine learning methods that can predict new molecules that would be more effective and greener than existing chelating agents. While computational quantum chemistry can be used to screen through a thousand hypothetical chelating agents in a year, machine learning methods based on quantum chemistry could be used to screen through 100,000s of candidates per week. Once the researchers identify promising candidates, they will synthesize and test them in their labs to validate the efficacy of the machine learning process for designing greener chemicals.The results of the research will have a significant impact on a range of topics relevant to environmentally-safe engineering and the control of metals in the environment, including computer-aided design of greener chelating agents used in detergents, treatments of heavy metal poisoning, metal extractions for soil treatments, waste remediation, handling normally occurring radioactive materials from hydraulic fracturing sites, and water purification.“Chelating agents are used in such a wide range of industries, so even a small improvement can have a big impact on sustainability as a whole,” said Dr. Keith. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
1
2017

American Health Council Names Bioengineeirng's Dr. William Federspiel to Education Board

Bioengineering

AHC NEWS RELEASE - William Federspiel, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. He will be sharing his knowledge and expertise in Healthcare Education, Workforce Development, Business, Leadership, Management, Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Medical Devices. Dr. Federspiel has been active in the healthcare industry for the last 28 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1978 and his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1983 from the University of Rochester. Inspired to pursue his profession by a desire to help people, Dr. Federspiel has now been a bioengineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 21 years. His day-to-day responsibilities include teaching and mentoring, administrative duties, and research grants. Dr. Federspiel attributes his success to hard work and dedication. He has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and has held academic positions in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. Awards and honors he has received include Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Service to the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Scientific Merit Review Board from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and an Honorable Mention in the Start-Up Entrepreneur category of the 2014 Carnegie Science Awards. Dr. Federspiel is also a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE) and member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO). His long-term professional goals include helping his start-up company be successful and seeing his respiratory assist devices treating patients. Among his many achievements, Dr. Federspiel is most proud to be a founder of ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he serves as the head of the scientific advisory board. ###
American Health Council

Aug

Aug
31
2017

Safer Carbon Nanomaterials, by Design

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 31, 2017) … Carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) are a class of engineered nanomaterials that can be used for many environmental applications, including water treatment and contaminant sensing and remediation. While they are prized for their ability to detect, remove, or degrade contaminants in the environment, CNMs don’t just disappear after they are used.“Like any chemical that persists in the environment, there is concern about impacts on organisms and systems that results from the inherent hazard of the material, its degradation products, and its potential to bioaccumulate—or build up in the bodies of living things,” explains Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering.Dr. Gilbertson and her research team are studying the inner workings of CNMs to develop the best design practices that result in environmentally sustainable CNMs, enhancing the ability to control their desirable and undesirable impacts. To support her research, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Dr. Gilbertson $285,670 for the project titled “SusChEM: Decoupling Structure and Surface Chemistry Impacts of Carbon Nanomaterials on Environmentally Relevant Electrochemical and Biological Activity.”“The conventional pursuit of research focuses on either the potential risks posed by a given nanomaterial or the development of beneficial applications,” says Dr. Gilbertson. “Our goal is to outline a rational approach to CNM design that considers potential risks and benefits simultaneously, to sustainably advance nanotechnologies. This means uncovering ways to control the inherent hazard of a material and the desired functional properties it provides.”Dr. Gilbertson believes the two primary concerns about CNMs are human exposure and the unknown consequences of CNMs released into the environment. The greatest risk of human exposure occurs while handling during processing, product manufacture, and at the end of the products useful lifetimes. Despite the danger, CNMs have one of the highest production volumes of any class of engineered nanomaterials and account for more than a quarter of the nanomaterial market, according to a report by Reports & Markets. “There are many examples where a chemical was used to advance technology and later determined to cause adverse consequences to humans or the environment: tetraethyl lead in gasoline, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant, and asbestos for electrical and thermal insulation, to name a few,” adds Dr. Gilbertson.Dr. Gilbertson and her team will develop a framework to inform design of CNMs in a way that minimizes the potential for future unintended consequences. This work is being pursued through controlled manipulation of surface chemistry coupled with biological and electrochemical activity testing. Once they have characterized their physiochemical properties, electrochemical properties, and the biological reactivity, they will apply statistical methods to identify correlations between specific CNM properties, function, and hazard. These correlations will be the key to unlocking new relationships that optimize the future design of CNMs. Dr. Gilbertson has been leveraging surface chemistry as a design handle to manipulate CNM properties since she was a graduate student. Her dissertation research proposed mechanisms for the influence of surface chemistry on the cytotoxicity of single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes: Impact of Surface Functionalization on Bacterial Cytotoxicity of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Realizing Comparable Oxidative and Cytotoxic Potential of Single- and Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes through Annealing Toward Tailored Functional Design of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWNTs): Electrochemical and Antimicrobial Activity Enhancement via Oxidation and Selective Reduction Toward safer multi-walled carbon nanotube design: Establishing a statistical model that relates surface charge and embryonic zebrafish mortality She was also involved in collaborative work exploring the impacts of surface functionalization on conductive properties of carbon nanotube thin films: Enhanced dispersion and electronic performance of single-walled carbon nanotube thin films without surfactant: A comprehensive study of various treatment processes Highly Conductive Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Thin Film Preparation by Direct Alignment on Substrates from Water Dispersions In March of this year, Dr. Gilbertson published a paper in a special “Rising Stars” issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Green Chemistry about her research suggesting the underlying structure of a material plays and important role in relation to the surface chemistry of graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide, which will be the CNMs at the focus of her research funded by the NSF grant.“These recent findings are exciting for the proposed research, which not only allows for exploration of inherent material properties as a function of structure and surface chemistry, but in collaboration with Arizona State University, we will also expand our CNM hazard evaluation to include a complete range of environmental trophic levels, including biomolecules, bacteria, algae, and aquatic organisms,” says Dr. Gilbertson. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
31
2017

Building the Sound Barrier

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (August 31, 2017) … Although it may not fit the traditional definition, acoustic noise is a form of pollution because of its negative impact on human health. Indoor-generated noise is especially a problem in the workplace, where noise can cause minor distractions or even mental stress. Thanks to an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are exploring fundamental new research that may lead to new sound barriers that mitigate acoustic noise.Piervincenzo (Piero) Rizzo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, is principal investigator for a two-year, $200,000 NSF-EAGER grant for the project “EAGER: Acoustic Diode as Architectural Material (ADAM).” EAGER awards support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.“Engineers and architects strive to create effective and fine solutions to mitigate indoor- and outdoor- generated noise in order to enhance the comfort of the occupants, improve personnel efficiency in the workplace, guarantee privacy, and to provide distraction-free spaces. However, traditional building materials have limits, whether structurally or economically,” Dr. Rizzo said. “Through this award we’ll explore a new architectural system based on the concept of acoustic diodes acting as a sound barrier that impedes unwanted noise in an environment.”According to Dr. Rizzo, acoustic diodes offer low resistance to sound in one direction and high resistance in the opposite direction, which cancels out sound transmission along one direction. His hypothesis is that a diode, embedded in novel architectural material, can be scaled at multiple lengths to shield indoor noise and eventually transit-generated noise.“Our research will explore “trapping” acoustic noise in building materials via acoustic diodes, where they would reflect and decay,” Dr. Rizzo said. “By integrating several disciplines including acoustics, nonlinear dynamics, and architectural engineering, we hope to determine the feasibility of this potential technology.” ### About Dr. RizzoDr. Rizzo’s academic and professional interests include nondestructive testing/evaluation, structural health monitoring, signal processing and automatic pattern recognition for real-time prognosis of structural and biological materials, and implementation of embedded sensor network for the health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures. Current research is focused on the development of guided wave-based SHM methodologies for pipes, and the investigation of highly-nonlinear solitary waves for the noninvasive assessment of structural and biomaterials including structural buckling. In 2015 the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring recognized him as the Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year. In 2016 he received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Junior Scholar Award, the Pitt’s most esteemed award given to young faculty.  Dr. Rizzo earned his laurea (MS) in aeronautical engineering from the University of Palermo, Italy, and his master's and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California – San Diego.About Pitt’s Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringFounded in 1867, the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the U.S. Civil engineering students at Pitt have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of topics, including environmental engineering and water resources, geotechnical and pavements, structural engineering and mechanics, and sustainability and green design.

Aug
29
2017

MEMS Students Bring the Heat at International Research Competitions

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 29, 2017) … Two students in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science won Best Poster Awards at competitions over the summer. Emily Kistler, a PhD student, won for her research based on a metal degradation process called hot corrosion; and Laura Fulton, an undergraduate student, won for her research into heat transfer in thermoelectric devices.Kistler, a member of MEMS Chair Brian Gleeson’s research group at Pitt, received the Best Poster Award at the Gordon Research Seminar on High Temperature Corrosion in New London, N.H. Her poster was titled “Impact of S02 Content and Temperature on the Early-Stage Hot Corrosion Behavior of a Current Generation Nickel-Based Superalloy.” The research presented in the poster was in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer of aircraft engines, and supported by the United States Office of Naval Research and a fellowship from Pitt’s Center for Energy. The study addressed how variation in SO2 content in the atmosphere impacts the mechanism and extent of a particularly aggressive form of degradation known as hot corrosion.“Hot corrosion is an accelerated form of attack due to the presence of a sulfate containing deposit, such as sodium sulfate (Na2SO4),” explained Kistler. “Sodium dioxide, or SO2, is present in fuel as well as a constituent in the atmosphere. SO2 reacts with O2, creating SO3, which stabilizes liquid formation below the melting point of Na2SO4 leading to hot corrosion, and both above and below the melting point of Na2SO4 higher concentration of SO2 leads to a greater extent of attack. In the future, I will study potential mitigation strategies such as homogenizing the alloy, because the current heat treatment of the alloy the composition is not completely uniform (dendritic structure). I will also test how varying the percent of certain elements, such as Cr, may protect again hot corrosion below the melting point of Na2SO4.”About 60 young researchers from around the world participated in the GRS. Kistler’s poster won first place out of a field of 54 posters. Her research has both scientific and practical relevance to the performance of aero turbines.Fulton, a member of Assistant Professor Matthew M. Barry’s research group at Pitt, received the Best Poster Award at the International Conference on Thermoelectrics in Pasadena, Calif. Her poster titled “Numerically Resolved Radiation View Factors for Single and Multi-Junction Thermoelectric Devices” was based on research in collaboration with Texas A&M University that focused on developing methods to quickly and accurately determine radiation view factors within complex three-dimensional structures considering ray collisions.“My project is concerned with thermoelectric devices which take thermal heat and convert it into electrical energy,” said Fulton. “What I looked at was modeling the heat exchange between the surfaces of a device. I examined the surface orientation and geometry since these factors influence heat transfer. View factors are the proportion of radiation which leave one surface and strike another, and I focused on creating coding program that mathematically calculated these factors based on a thermoelectric device’s surface geometry and orientation.”Fulton’s poster was one of 338 presented. More than 550 researchers and scientists participated in the conference. Her work has impact on the modeling of thermoelectric devices applied to high-temperature waste heat recovery applications, radioisotope generators used within space applications, and many implications with respect to the nuclear industry. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
28
2017

Building a Pump without Parts

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 28, 2017) … Controlling fluid flow at the micro- and nano-level can enable the development of self-operating microfluidic devices and even small-scale factories that perform chemical synthesis and biomedical assays, as well as drive robotic systems operating in harsh environments. The stumbling block, however, is devising effective ways to regulate the movement of the fluids at such small, confined levels. To find solutions to this challenge, the National Science Foundation has awarded $1.8 million to the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, establishing the NSF Center for Chemo-Mechanical Assembly (CCMA). Principal investigator is Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and the John A. Swanson Chair of Engineering. The CCMA is established through the Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program, which supports research centers focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges. Dr. Balazs explained that while mechanical pumps are traditionally used to drive fluid flow, such systems are not useful when designing micro- and nano-fluidic devices that could operate without external controls or power supplies. Catalytic reactions, however, can serve as “chemical pumps” by creating gradients in chemical concentrations and fluid densities that spontaneously give rise to net flows.“Just as a river current carries a pebble, fluid flows can carry particulates such as nanoparticles and microcapsules. Building upon our previous research at Pitt and partner institutions, we have developed novel tools to enable unprecedented control over fluid flow and particle organization in confined, small-scale environments,” she said. “These “catalytic conveyor belts” enable the design of self-powered, self-sustaining systems that organize particles and are capable of performing complex functions, such as delivering significant amounts of particulates to sensors on surfaces and, thus, allowing highly sensitive studies to be performed both efficiently and rapidly, or fabricating complex microstructures and patterned surfaces in solution. “Most importantly, our research shows that we can do this without the need for mechanical devices, and instead create micro- and nano-systems that harness chemical reactions to drive their performance. In essence, our systems convert chemical energy into mechanical motion, much as our bodies harness nutrients to drive our actions. The CCMA will host an interdisciplinary team with expertise in catalysis, synthetic chemistry, physical chemistry, fluid flow, and modeling.”Potential applications for this research includes the creation of stand-alone microfluidic devices that autonomously perform multi-stage chemical reactions and assays for biomedical applications; automated materials assembly in harsh environments; and small-scale factories that can operate autonomously to build microscale components for use in fine instrumentation and robotic systems. Also as part of the national center program, the NSF award enables Dr. Balazs to engage in STEM workforce development and public outreach. Funding will support graduate and postdoctoral students, especially those from underrepresented populations, as well as public lectures, hands-on traveling exhibits, and museum and science center projects. Dr. Balazs' co-investigators include Todd Emrick, Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering and Director of the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Polymers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Ayusman Sen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University; and Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University.CCMA is the Swanson School’s third national NSF center, and one of only five Phase I CCIs awarded this year through a combination of a research grant and a center planning grant. In FY 2020, CCMA and other Phase I CCI’s will compete for Phase II funding at $4 million per year for five years, with a competitive renewal for five additional years. “This center will work on exciting chemistry at the forefront of the field. Researchers will utilize novel approaches to manipulate the behavior of particles using catalytic chemical reactions to drive the self-organization of particles and form useful micro-devices,” said Dr. Angela Wilson, Division Director for the NSF Division of Chemistry. “The fundamental research conducted by this new CCI could enable a new generation of portable biomedical devices, automated materials assembly in harsh environments, and even small-scale ‘factories’ for building microscale instrumentation and robotics components. We look forward to the developments that will ensue from this CCI.” ###

Aug
23
2017

An Eye towards Islets

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 23, 2017) … Tiny packets of cells called islets throughout the pancreas allow the organ to produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes – also known as juvenile diabetes – tricks the immune system into destroying these islets. Patients must take insulin daily to maintain blood sugar, or too much sugar will build up in the blood stream and lead to hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, and, if left untreated, death. Patients must self-regulate their blood sugar for their entire lives, unless there were some way to restore the pancreatic islets. To explore that potential, the National Science Foundation has funded a multi-university study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering who are investigating the use of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to engineer pancreatic islets in the lab. A major goal of the research is to develop a method of vascularizing islets in vitro—literally “in glass”—which studies suggest will result in higher viability and enhanced function after the transplant. “This the first attempt to generate in vitro vascularized pancreatic islet organoids from hPSCs,” explains Ipsita Banerjee , associate professor of chemical engineering at Pitt and principal investigator of the study. “Through collaborative efforts, we have developed a method of implanting blood vessel fragments into the islets. By vascularizing the islets before they are transplanted to the body, they are more likely to survive and can begin regulating blood glucose more quickly.” Pancreatic islets have a very high oxygen demand. Once inside the body, they need to connect to the host vessels quickly, otherwise they start dying and lose their ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Researchers began looking for new techniques to speed up vascularization after tests began to show high vascularity ultimately improved the transplantation outcome. In addition to developing vascularized islets inside the lab, the study - “Engineering a functional 3D vascularized islet organoid from pluripotent stem cells” - will use a novel hydrogel system to create a three-dimensional cell culture configuration that mimics the way the body forms pancreatic cells naturally. “The hydrogel is like a scaffold, and it helps to configure the cells in a 3D space,” says Dr. Banerjee. “The status quo is hPSCs randomly arranged in uncontrolled configurations with varying size and structure; however, by using the hydrogel developed by our collaborator at Arizona State, we can create a precise, multicellular architecture called ‘spheroids.’ Unlike a 2D culture grown in a petri dish, islet spheroids grown on the hydrogel look the same as the ones made by the body.” Although Dr. Banerjee’s research will most directly impact cell therapy for diabetics, creating a procedure for developing working islets outside of the body could also serve as a valuable tool for testing the efficacy and toxicity of new drug compounds for pancreatic disease. The general implications of in vitro vascularization of cells show even more promise. “The principles behind pre-designing vascularization before transplantation apply to any type of tissue, not just pancreatic,” Dr. Banerjee says. “Even when donor islets are used for a transplant, a fraction of the islets survive the procedure. We expect the advanced measures we are taking in the lab, before the new cells enter the patient’s body, to have tremendous application to the next generation of regenerative medicine.” Dr. Banerjee’s team of researchers includes Prashant Kumta , professor of bioengineering at Pitt; Kaushal Rege , professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University; and James Hoying , professor of surgery at the University of Louisville. ### Photo: Dr. Banerjee (right) with PhD Candidate Thomas Richardson
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
14
2017

Pitt Students’ Autonomous Drone ‘Flies High’ at International Robotics Competition

Electrical & Computer

ATLANTA (August 14, 2017) … Two decades ago, the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center served as a swimming venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics. This past summer, the competitors weren’t battling with backstrokes or synchronized dives; instead they were waiting anxiously on the sidelines to see if their autonomous robot drones could herd a group of randomly-moving Roombas to one side of the floor while avoiding obstacles.At the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) Mission 7 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pittsburgh Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) won Best System Design award and had the highest overall score out of 13 international teams present. The Best System Design award recognizes the overall design of the drone and its fitness for the mission, while points are awarded for flight performance and several static judging categories including a symposium presentation and a technical paper.“We were able to demonstrate autonomous flight, takeoff, and landing,” says Andrew Saba, Pitt RAS Director of Outreach and a member of the Pitt RAS team. “A lot of the aspects of the mission work in simulation but have not been integrated and tested on actual hardware. We are proud of how far we have come, but we know there is much more left to go.”The IARC Missions competition began in 1991, and each mission is repeated annually until it is successfully completed. Tsinghua University completed Mission 6 in 2013, prompting the creation of Mission 7.Mission 7 challenges teams to design and build a fully autonomous aerial vehicle capable of navigating through an indoor environment without landmarks. As the drone flies through the environment, ground robots move randomly around the floor. The main objective is for the drone to “herd” the ground robots across one side of an arena by touching them, while also avoiding moving obstacles.“Mission 7 is difficult because it requires the integration of many complex behaviors including localization without external landmarks, fast movement, target identification, obstacle avoidance, and artificial intelligence. Each of these is a research area in itself,” says Levi Burner, an electrical engineering undergraduate who led the Pitt RAS team at IARC alongside physics and computer science undergraduate Aaron Miller.In addition to the American Venue, an identical competition takes place annually at the Asia/Pacific Venue at Beihang University in Beijing, China. American judges and Asian judges confer, and representatives from both regions are present at each venue. The American Venue competition took place on July 26, and the Asia/Pacific Venue competition will take place in late August.“This mission could be completed at the Asia-Pacific Venue this year, or maybe never. We just do not know,” says Saba. “We have a lot of work to do and are hoping to beat the mission. This is its fourth year, and we have only been working on it for one.”“Competition allowed us to validate our design decisions, and this year the team will focus on higher level concepts such as interacting with ground robots and improving obstacle detection,” adds Burner. “While we did not interact with ground robots in 2017, we did lay a solid foundation and expect to have ground robot interaction completed in time for next year.”The IARC intentionally designs the mission to be impossible based on commercially available technology. If the mission is not completed by a team at the Asia/Pacific Venue this year, the mission will be repeated in 2018. No team was able to complete the full mission at the American Venue, and only four teams were capable of flying autonomously during the competition, including the Pitt team.“I was very impressed by what they were able to accomplish, especially in an international competition,” says Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “The project was totally student driven. Their workshop is next door to my office, and they worked every day on their design. There were many occasions I heard them working late in the evening. It’s really a great student group, not only are they active, they are very welcoming and make concerted efforts to include anyone and everyone who is interested in robotics.”About the Robotics and Automation SocietyPitt’s Robotics and Automation Society is a cross-discipline, student-run organization that focuses on emerging technologies in robotics, automation, and autonomous systems. Anyone interested in learning more about the Robotics and Automation Society and the IARC should visit their headquarters in 1212 Benedum Hall, email ras@pitt.edu, or check out the website at pittras.org. Pitt RAS also invites anyone to join their Slack at pittras.slack.com. ### Image above (from left to right):  Pitt RAS team members Andrew Saba, Ritesh Misra, Aaron Miller (back), Garret Sultzbach (holding plaque), Levi Burner, and Elliot Miller.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
14
2017

Pitt's ECE Department Welcomes Four New Faculty Members This Fall

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (August 14, 2017) … Four new faculty members will join the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering beginning September 1. Ahmed Dallal and Jingtong Hu will join the department as Assistant Professors; Wei Gao will join as an Associate Professor; and Heng Huang will join as the John A. Jurenko Endowed Professor. “We are very excited to announce and welcome these four new ECE faculty members,” said Alan George , Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “This group is truly exceptional and brings diverse interests and strengths, educational backgrounds, and experiences in academia that will be crucial in our on-going efforts and progress to broaden and deepen our academic and research programs in computer and electrical engineering.” Ahmed Dallal, Assistant ProfessorDr. Dallal received his BS and MS degrees in systems and biomedical engineering from Cairo University in Egypt. He received his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. His PhD work focused on human-machine interaction and networked control applications for air traffic management. His research interests include biomedical signal processing, biomedical image analysis, and computer vision, as well as machine learning, networked control systems, and human-machine learning. Dr. Dallal received the Duquesne Light Fellowship in 2013 and 2014. He also received the Dean Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. He was the winner of the Young Innovator Award of Nahdet el Mahrouse in Egypt in 2009. Jingtong Hu, Assistant ProfessorDr. Hu was an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University from 2013-2017. He received his PhD degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2013. He received his BE degree from the School of Computer Science and Technology, Shandong University, China in 2007. His research interests include embedded systems, Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology, and emerging memory technology. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Air Force Research Laboratory, and Intel/Altera. He has published more than 50 papers for premier journals and conferences. Dr. Hu has served on the Technical Program Committee for many international conferences such as ASP-SAC, DATE, DAC, ESWEEK, RTSS, and others. He is also the recipient of OSU CEAT Outstanding New Faculty Award, Women’s Faculty Council Research Award, and Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship. Wei Gao, Associate ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Gao was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Gao received his PhD degree in computer science from Pennsylvania State University in 2012. His research interests include mobile and embedded computing systems, cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things, wireless networking, and big data. Dr. Gao has published more than 60 research papers at various top-tier journals and conference proceedings. He has attracted more than $2.5 million of external research funding from various federal agencies including NSF, Army Research Office, and Department of Energy. He is the winner of an NSF CAREER award in 2016. Heng Huang, John A. Jurenko Endowed ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Huang was a Distinguished University Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was also an adjunct professor of clinical sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Huang received his PhD degree in computer science at Dartmouth College and then joined UTA as an assistant professor. His research areas include machine learning, big data mining, imaging genomics, medical image analysis, bioinformatics, health informatics, computational neuroscience, and precision medicine. He has published more than 130 papers in top-tier conferences and many papers in premium journals such as NIPS, ICML, KDD, RECOMB, ISMB, IJCAI, AAAI, CVPR, ICCV, SIGIR, Bioinformatics, IEEE Trans. On Medical Imaging, Medical Image Analysis, IEEE TKDE, and others. As principal investigator, Dr. Huang is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded $2 million R01 project on imaging genomics based complex brain disorder study, multiple NSF-funded projects on precision medicine, biomedical data science, big data mining, electronic medical record data mining and privacy-preserving, computational biology, smart healthcare, cyber physical systems, and also industry-funded projects on computational sustainability, smart metering, and smart grids. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
9
2017

Chancellor Gallagher appoints Chemical Engineering Distinguished Professor Anna Balazs to the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair of Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 9, 2017) … Recognizing her contributions to the fields of chemical engineering and computational modeling, the University of Pittsburgh has appointed Anna C. Balazs as the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher made the appointment on the recommendation of Provost Patricia E. Beeson and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder.“Anna’s appointment to the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering recognizes and rewards the quality and impact of her work to date, which has earned deep and widespread respect,” said Gallagher. “This designation is well deserved—and one of the highest honors that any university can bestow upon a member of its faculty.” “Anna’s award-winning contributions to her field have been tremendous, and she is one of the most valued and respected members of our faculty,” Dean Holder added. “But most importantly, she has been and continues to be a mentor to so many students and post-doctoral researchers who have been impacted by her innovative research, creativity, and wonderful personality.” Dr. Balazs is also the Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and previously held the Robert v.d. Luft Professor at the Swanson School. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College in 1975 and PhD in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Her research involves developing theoretical and computational models to capture the behavior of polymeric materials, nanocomposites and multi-component fluids, with funding awarded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society, and was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. She has served on a number of editorial boards including Macromolecules, Langmuir, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Soft Matter, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Science Advances. She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000, and received a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. Her other awards include the Maurice Huggins Memorial Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science (2003), the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014), and the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015). Most recently, she was the first woman to receive the prestigious American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize (2016). ###

Aug
9
2017

Roc-ettes Have Fun, Gain Real-World Experience at Red Bull Flugtag Event

All SSoE News, Student Profiles

For a Pitt team, competing in the Red Bull Flugtag — a traveling competition for teams and their homemade aircraft — wasn’t just about winning.The group of students and a recent alumnus of the Swanson School of Engineering, dubbed the Roc-ettes — a play on the name of Pitt's panther mascot Roc — challenged themselves, learned a lot and came away with an experience unlike any other.More Fun With Flugtag“We learned helpful information on designing and building such a massive object,” said Ryan Blair, a mechanical engineering alumnus, of the 24-foot machine. “We researched, designed and built a craft using our technical knowledge. We applied what we learned in school. Read the original article by Kevin Zwick on Pittwire. Photo above: The Roc-ettes pose with their aircraft in the staging area at the Red Bull Flugtag on Aug. 5. The team of Swanson School of Engineering students and one recent graduate competed with 37 teams. From left, Paul Gatto, Nick Bertani, Rina Zhang, Chad Foster, Ryan Blair and Theo Schwarz. (Pittwire)
Kevin Zwick, University Communications
Aug
9
2017

Nanoparticle Research by ChemE's Giannis Mpourmpakis Could Take the Guesswork Out of Creating New Metals

Chemical & Petroleum

The steel beams that make up bridges and skyscrapers, the gold used for jewelry and the brass that forms musical instruments can be traced back to tiny building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles — materials around 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.Scientists have been able to synthesize metal nanoparticles for years, but have not been able to figure out why they formed at specific sizes. This meant they had to rely on trial-and-error methods to make new kinds of metals needed for the aforementioned examples. In addition, no one is quite sure what makes these particles stable.Giannis Mpourmpakis' work is supported by the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation.A new study in Nature Communications, co-authored by Pitt’s Giannis Mpourmpakis, an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, and PhD candidate Michael Taylor, offers a possible way to unravel these mysteries, with the help of computer simulations. Read the full story by Amerigo Allegretto in Pittwire. Image above: The gold used in jewelry can be traced back to microscopic building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles. University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Giannis Mpourmpakis and PhD candidate Michael Taylor have been researching how metal nanoparticles are synthesized to create more efficient production processes. (Pittwire)
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Aug
8
2017

Pitt’s ChemE Department Recruits NETL Researcher Hseen Baled

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 8, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering announced that Hseen Baled will join its faculty as an Assistant Professor on August 28.“Hseen was our number one choice in the hiring pool and brings not only ability to teach practically any course in our chemical engineering curriculum, but our petroleum engineering curriculum as well,” said Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of the department of chemical and petroleum engineering.Dr. Baled received his PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. He graduated from Rheinisch-Westfälishce Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University in Germany with a diploma (a combined BSc and MSc) in chemical engineering. He has extensive research experience in high-pressure fluid thermodynamic and transport properties and phase equilibria. Beginning in 2015, Dr. Baled worked at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research Associate. He studied the viscosity and phase behavior of crude oil components at deepwater conditions of extreme temperatures and pressures, as well as pre-combustion carbon dioxide capture using physical solvents.Dr. Baled is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and he received the Coull Award for Outstanding ChE PhD Student at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2017

Pitt Engineering Students Find Sustainable Solutions through Summer Research

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) … At the 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URP) hosted by the Swanson School’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, students presented the results of their multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable engineering. Research for the 17 student projects took place during the 12-week URP summer program. The students worked independently on their projects but received guidance from University of Pittsburgh faculty mentors.Angela Leo and Kendra LaVallee, both majoring in chemical engineering, received first and second place, respectively. As a Covestro Scholar, Leo was supported by the high-tech polymer company Covestro; and as a Mascaro Scholar, LaVallee was supported by Civil Engineering alumnus, John C. Mascaro.Leo’s project titled “Unlocking Energy Efficient Water Oxidation for Ozone Disinfectants” examined the electrochemical production of ozone through extreme water oxidation and its overpotential – a measurement of a reaction’s optimal value compared to what is experimentally observed. Using advanced computational methods, Leo was able to model and observe a reduction in the overpotential, indicating progression towards efficient ozone catalysis. Ozone has the potential to offer a more sustainable alternative to water sterilization when compared to traditional methods such as chlorine or chloramine.LaVallee’s project titled “Fueling a Growing World: Nanoparticle Catalyzed Synthesis of Ethylene” focused on developing a novel synthesis method for ethylene production from ethane. Ethylene, an important commodity chemical that serves as a precursor for most plastics, is currently manufactured in an energy-intensive process that releases harmful air pollutants to the atmosphere. LaVallee’s research explored a process called oxidative dehydrogenation, which permits gentler reaction conditions.About Angela LeoLeo will graduate in fall 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Since this past January, she has been an undergraduate researcher in the research group of John Keith, Assistant Professor and the Inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. In the group, she has learned how to utilize Python and the software CP2K to investigate chemistry computationally.Leo is currently a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band, in which she plays the bass (tuba). She is also a former member of the photography club. About Kendra LaValleeLaVallee will graduate in the fall 2017 and will receive her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She is pursuing a certificate in Supply Chain Management in the joint program between the Swanson School and the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration. After completing a yearlong co-op in the technical operations department at Johnson & Johnson, LaVallee received the National Co-op of the Year Award from the American Society of Engineering Education at the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration.This summer, she worked under the guidance of graduate student Yahui Yang in the catalytic reaction engineering laboratory of Goetz Veser, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.An active participant in PittServes, LaVallee traveled to Ecuador during her spring break to volunteer to help build a sustainable marketplace. She is in the Honors Chemical Engineering Society, Omega Chi Epsilon, and she is also the Women’s Engineering Conference Publicity Chair for the Society of Women Engineers. ### Above image: Kendra LaVallee (left) and Angela Leo (right)
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2017

Pitt’s Coulter Program awards $650,000 to six teams developing novel biomedical technology

Bioengineering

ul { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom:40px; } PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) …The University of Pittsburgh Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program awarded grants totaling $650,000 to six translational research teams through its most recent funding cycle. The new funded projects include a biomarker for identifying intracranial hemorrhage, a biosensor platform for detecting cardiac events, a drug delivery platform for preventing sexually transmitted infections, a device to improve viability of donor livers for transplantation, a novel peripheral IV placement catheter, and a significantly improved surgical retractor. “The six winning teams met our rigorous business oriented criteria and were among the best we have seen. They were also among the most diverse, as a result of a broader field of applicants,” said Max Fedor, Coulter Program Director. “In addition to direct funding for translational research, teams receive significant coaching from our experienced staff and from external business and clinical experts, who have partnered with us. We are extremely pleased with the success of this year’s program and look forward to expanding further funding collaborations across the University community in the upcoming competitive grant cycle this fall.” The Coulter Program, housed within Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering, is a partnership between the Swanson School of Engineering, the Schools of the Health Sciences and the Innovation Institute. The Program aims to identify, select, and develop promising late-stage biomedical projects that address significant unmet clinical needs and have the potential for positive clinical and economic impacts. The 2017 Coulter funding cycle was unique from previous years, in that applications were accepted in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data and SciVelo, the Department of Dermatology, the Department of Plastic Surgery, the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and the Vascular Medicine Institute. Each partner agreed to provide financial support jointly with Coulter for winning projects within their category.  Details on the six funded technologies and their scientific and clinical teams include: Biomarkers for Infant Brain Injury Score (BIBIS): A serum biomarker panel for improving identification of intracranial hemorrhage in infants and young children. Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics Brian Pak, PhD, Director of Assay Development and Paul Smith, President and CEO of Axela, Inc. CardioSense: A universal biosensor platform for detection and monitoring of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction. Prashant Kumta, PhD, Professor, Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine Robert Kormos, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Bioengineering Mitali Patil, MS, and PhD Candidate, Department of Bioengineering Prashanth Jampani Hanumantha, PhD, Department of Bioengineering HerShield: A quick dissolving vaginal film for on-demand drug delivery platform for protection against sexually transmitted infections. Lisa C. Rohan, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Katherine Bunge, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Sravan Kumar Patel, PhD, Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences OrganEvac: A whole-organ sonothrombolysis device to increase the number of livers available for transplantation from donors after cardiac death Christopher Hughes, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation Paulo Fontes, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director, Machine Perfusion Program, Starzl Transplantation Institute ThreadRite IV: A novel resistance-sensing catheter with guidewire to expedite peripheral IV placement on the first attempt. William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, Professor Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Cameron Dezfulian, MD, Assistant Professor Adult & Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Ehsan Quaim, Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Dennis Wist, CEO Nicholas Krehel, Research Assistant, Critical Care Medicine Steeltown Retractor: A flexible arm surgical tool holder that gives surgeons unprecedented fast, precise tool positioning capabilities while minimizing operating room (OR) costs for the hospital Jeffrey Vipperman, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Pete Allen, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Garth Elias, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery Joe Marcanio, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Innovation Institute Christopher Dumm, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science About the Coulter Translational Research Partners II ProgramThe Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program is a University based accelerator, designed to help faculty researchers translate their innovations to commercialization. By way of a competitive grant program, training processes, and collaborative services, our goal is to de-risk University technology and identify viable commercial pathways through the complex healthcare industry landscape. Further, we engage extensively with business partners, mentors and clinical experts to bring industry perspectives to translational research. In 6 years, the Coulter Program has attracted almost 200 applications, funded 31 projects leading to eight license agreements, four optioned technologies and eight start-up companies. ###

Aug
7
2017

Multiscale Thermophysics Researcher Heng Ban Joins the MEMS Faculty

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) … Expanding its impact in energy research, the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has recruited thermal science researcher Heng Ban to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) as the R. K. Mellon Professor in Energy. “Heng has already had a successful career at Utah State University, exploring new research topics in thermal science and publishing his results in top journals,” said Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and Chair of MEMS. “We look forward to seeing those talents put to use at the University of Pittsburgh.”Dr. Ban’s research interests covers topics in thermal and energy sciences. His focus has been to understand the relationship between material microstructural change and its thermal performance, with research covering experimental and computational material thermophysical properties and measurement technique development. His research can be applied to a better understanding of nuclear fuels and materials, micro-scale measurements, and the development of hot-cell or in-pile sensors and instrumentations.“Many impressive and highly-qualified candidates were considered for this position, but Professor Ban’s particular research interests and expertise make him the perfect addition to our faculty and to the Center of Energy’s research portfolio,” said Greg Reed, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and Director of the Center For Energy at Pitt.Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Ban was a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Utah State University and the founding Director of the Center for Thermohydraulics and Material Properties. He is also a former associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Ban received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky; his MS in engineering thermal sciences from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China; and his BS in engineering mechanics from Tsinghua University in Beijing. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
4
2017

Bioengineering Faculty tenured/tenure-stream

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering ( engineering.pitt.edu/bioengineering ) invites applications from accomplished individuals with an earned PhD or equivalent degree in bioengineering or closely related disciplines for a faculty position in Synthetic Biology or Systems Biology. This is a tenured/tenure-stream, open-rank position and we wish to recruit an individual with strong research accomplishments in synthetic or systems biology, with a focus on engineering of living systems and potential to complement our current strengths in biomechanics, neural engineering, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, medical device engineering, and bioimaging. In addition, candidates must be committed to contributing to high quality education of a diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh is a top-five institution in terms of NIH funding, and provides a rich environment for interdisciplinary research, strengthened through its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Department of Bioengineering, consistently ranked among the top programs in the country, has outstanding research and educational programs, offering undergraduate (~270 students, sophomore-to-senior years) and graduate (~150 PhD or MD/PhD and ~50 MS students) degrees. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine ( mirm.pitt.edu ), the Vascular Medicine Institute ( vmi.pitt.edu ), the Brain Institute ( braininstitute.pitt.edu ), Center for Neuroscience ( neurobio.pitt.edu ), and the Drug Discovery Institute ( upddi.pitt.edu ) offer many collaborative research opportunities. The Coulter Translational Partnership II Program ( engineering.pitt.edu/coulter ) and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data ( healthdataalliance.com/university-of-pittsburgh ) provide biomedical innovation and translation opportunities. Interested individuals should send the following as a single, self-contained PDF attachment via email to bioeapp@pitt.edu ( include AY18 PITT BIOE POSITION in the subject line ): (1) cover letter, (2) complete CV (including funding record, if applicable), (3) research statement, (4) teaching statement, (5) three representative publications, and (6) names and complete contact information of at least four references. To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by November 30, 2017. However, applications will be reviewed as they are received. Early submission is highly encouraged. The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

bioeapp@pitt.edu
Aug
4
2017

MEMS MMCL Postdoc

MEMS, Open Positions

We invite applications for a postdoctoral position in the Materials Micro-Characterization Laboratory (MMCL) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh. The MMCL offers shared-user access to electron-, ion- and x-ray-based micro-analysis resources, and serves the diverse needs of a growing community of academic and industry users. The MMCL instruments include field-emission transmission and scanning electron microscopes (TEM and SEM), which are equipped for composition and crystal orientation analyses, as well as x-ray-diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy and nano-mechanical testing equipment, and features a suite of state-of-the-art instruments for advanced electron microscopy specimen preparation. The position is available for a micro-characterization specialist for materials science applications. With a focus on metals, ceramics and composites, the successful candidate will directly work with users to initiate and execute materials research primarily with EM and XRD methods. This includes sample preparation and interpretation of the results, preparation of reports and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as participation in technical and scientific meetings to disseminate research results. Also, he/she will conduct user training, co-manage day-to-day MMCL operations, ensure peak performance and improvement of instruments, work with department and laboratory leadership in strategic build-out of the MMCL, promote its service capabilities on and off campus, and engage in outreach and limited teaching activities. A PhD in materials science, physics, chemistry, or a related field, and at least two years of documented hands-on experience with modern SEM, TEM and XRD instrumentation in high-level research of crystalline materials are required. Apart from good communication and interpersonal skills, the qualified candidate will have acquired superior competency with the relevant theoretical knowledge. Familiarity with modern computer programming and optimization techniques, simulations of EM and XRD data, and post-acquisition data processing and analyses using popular software is desirable. Candidates with experience operating user facilities and expertise with advanced EM techniques are of particular interest. The position is available as early as September 1, 2017, with an initial appointment for one year and the possibility of extension for subsequent years, depending on performance and availability of funding. Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV and contact information for at least two (2) references electronically to the attention of Professor Wiezorek at Wiezorek@pitt.edu. The University affirms and actively promotes the rights of all individuals to equal opportunity in education and employment without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.

Aug
3
2017

Sending the Right Signals

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (August 3, 2017) … Through a process called cell signaling, cells collaborate on necessary functions such as responding to changes in the environment, fighting off threats to the body, or regulating the basic processes that keep the body alive. Cells work much like computers carrying out functions and use cell signaling over a vast network. Also much like computers, cells can be reprogrammed to change their behavior.Warren Ruder, assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is developing microparticles that carry engineered bacteria known as ‘smart biomaterials.’ As the basis of a study recently supported by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ruder will use the biomaterials to reprogram mammalian cell signaling. The goal of the study is to use these hybrid, living-nonliving biomaterials to better understand how cell signaling works and influence cell behavior when a problem occurs.“Fundamentally, many diseases result from incorrect cell signaling,” explains Dr. Ruder, “which causes the body’s natural control systems to fail to maintain normal function, or homeostasis. New tools that allow cell signaling to be rewired therefore can affect many diseases. This project is geared toward developing new tools for exploring and rewiring cell signaling.”Dr. Ruder will serve as principal investigator of the project titled “Creating Smart Biomaterials Using Engineered Bacteria that Cooperatively Reprogram Mammalian Cells.” The research will focus on delivering synthetic genetic components to mammalian cells and reprogramming their calcium signaling processes, specifically. Calcium signaling occurs in many cells, and it controls both slow and fast cellular processes.“Calcium signaling is one of the most important cell signals,” Dr. Ruder says. “It is the signature of muscle contraction, relevant to many forms of cardiac or musculoskeletal disease, but also a master regulator of processes ranging from neuron firing and brain function to fertilization.” Once Dr. Ruder introduces the smart biomaterials, they will be able to collaborate and collectively determine when to transmit genetic components to mammalian cells. Dr. Ruder will then use mathematical modeling and computation simulation to explore the processes behind calcium signaling in mammalian cells and which genetic alterations will cause the most significant changes in cell signaling dynamics.“The bacteria will be genetically engineered to invade mammalian cells. Once inside, they will genetically engineer the mammalian cells in a process distinctly different from viral genetic delivery. We will engineer two different types of bacteria that will signal each other and thus work as a team to invade after they monitor the environment,” says Dr. Ruder.The project will receive $338,414 in NSF funding and will cover the award period from August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2020.About Dr. RuderDr. Ruder graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a BS in civil and environmental engineering in 2002. He completed his MS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Dr. Ruder was also part of the inaugural “Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine” class, which is a joint program between Pitt and CMU that receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and aims to provide training in biomechanical engineering principles and biology to students pursuing doctoral degrees in bioengineering.His work focuses on merging biomechanical systems and the microscale and nanoscale with engineering living cells and smart material systems, the latter of which involves synthetic biology. Over the years his research has included: two years of research on mammalian cell signal transduction in the laboratory of Professor Aldebaran Hofer at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Surgery; one month in the field in Antarctica studying organismal biomechanics and responses to ice encapsulation (a field of ecological mechanics); and two and a half years as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor James Collins, at Boston University (now at MIT) and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.Dr. Ruder left his position as an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech to teach at Pitt as a Bioengineering Assistant Professor. For the past four years at Virginia Tech, he directed the “Engineered Living Systems Laboratory,” a group focused on merging synthetic biology with biomimetic systems. He has authored 23 archival papers in journals such as Science, PNAS, Lab-on-a-Chip and Scientific Reports, and his group’s work has been highlighted in Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Wired (UK). The student honor society in his department at Virginia Tech selected Dr. Ruder as his department’s “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2014. While at Pitt, Dr. Ruder will be applying his work to medical technologies and cures for disease. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
3
2017

Erosion triggers most bridge collapses, so a Pitt engineer buried an alarm

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

Michael Rothfuss buried 15 PVC tubes packed with batteries and radios around a remote bridge that spans a small creek in Armstrong County more than two years ago. He hasn't heard from them since. Rothfuss, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, placed the tubes as part of a Pitt RFID Center of Excellence project. It was to help PennDOT improve erosion monitoring around underwater support structures of remote, rural bridges. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review. Photo: Michael Rothfuss in the RFID Center of Excellence. (Aaron Aupperlee/Tribune-Review)
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer

Jul

Jul
27
2017

CEE’s Eddy Hasis Named 2017 Peter J. Mascaro Fellow in Construction Management

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 27, 2017) … Edwin Hasis, a graduate student in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the recipient of the 2017 Peter J. Mascaro Fellow in Construction Management. As part of the yearlong fellowship, Hasis will receive full tuition reimbursement for his graduate studies, enabling him to better focus on his first year of graduate school.“During his first year as a graduate student, Eddy has shown outstanding commitment to understanding all the steps of the construction process and has the potential to become an excellent leader in the construction industry,” said John Sebastian, LEED, AP, the McKamish Director of the Construction Management Program at the Swanson School. “The first year of graduate school can be a challenge as students adapt to a different learning environment, and so it is important that funding programs such as the Mascaro Fellowship help ease some of that pressure and allow students to focus on coursework.”John C. “Jack” Mascaro (ENGR ’66, ‘80G), founder and chair of Mascaro Construction Company L.P., established the Peter J. Mascaro Endowed Fund in 1996 to provide tuition assistance each year to a graduate student with a focus on Construction Management and who plans to receive a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh.In addition to meeting Pitt academic standards, candidates for the Mascaro Fellowship must have a desire to stay within the Western Pennsylvania region following graduation. As part of the selection process, candidates interview with an advisory group who helps to assess their construction knowledge and interest and their business acumen.“During his interview, Eddy was very thoughtful and he listened, showing great emotional intelligence,” said Mascaro. “He is a hard worker, but more important is that he can integrate theoretic and pragmatic concepts for the construction industry.” Hasis, a native of Jefferson Hills, Pa., graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 2010. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W. Va. and began working as a field engineer for an oil and gas service company after graduation. He enrolled in the Construction Management Master’s Program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016.After completing his degree, Hasis said he would like to work in the construction industry as a project engineer and eventually a project manager. He is currently working on site for Mascaro Construction during the summer. About the Construction Management Program at PittPitt’s Construction Management and Sustainability Program Concentration encompasses public and private sector perspectives, building and engineering construction, and the roles played by all the participants on the construction team (owners, contractors, design professionals, and other supporting professionals). The program emphasizes managerial decision-making in an engineering context and teaches students decision-making skills that are important to the successful completion of construction projects as measured by time, cost, and quality objectives. In addition, the program develops in the students those professional qualities that will make them effective managers - communication skills, computer applications, ethical standards, and leadership attributes. ### Photo above (from left to right): Eddy Hasis, Jack Mascaro, and John Sebastian
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
27
2017

Raising the Bar

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

The next time the barcode on your box of cereal or bag of lettuce won't scan, it could be on its way to a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt partners with GS1 , the international association responsible for regulating barcodes and setting barcode standards, to improve on the decades-old technology. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review.
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer
Jul
26
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical devices with $65,000 total Round-1 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $65,000 to three research groups through its 2017 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for reducing risk of post-partum uterine hemorrhage, a thermal device for inducing nerve block in pain control, and a system to improve transplanted organ viability.CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare.“This is our sixth year of pilot funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “Since our inception, more than $1 million from external funding sources and from the Swanson School of Engineering has been invested in early stage medical technologies. Many of these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the delivery of health care and several new companies have resulted from the program, which has successfully partnered UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”AWARD 1: Objective Postpartum Uterine Tone MonitoringFunds development of a new prototype uterine tone measurement device for eventual testing in the clinical setting. The device would evaluate intra-uterine muscle tone for detection of and control of postpartum bleeding.Gerhardt Konig, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Jason Shoemaker, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of EngineeringAWARD 2: Novel Thermal Block Technology to Block Nerve ConductionFor development and preclinical testing of a thermal nerve block device for anesthesia and pain control. Early research in mice shows that the effect can be useful in controlling production and communication of nerve impulses. The award will demonstrate proof of concept to attract additional funding from external competitive grants. Development of a small implantable, wireless controlled, wireless chargeable device to control the electrodes will be a primary goal. The prototype device will then test the pudendal nerve to confirm the nerve block effects. Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Christopher Chermansky, MDAssistant Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Bo Zeng, PhD Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: OrganEvac/Whole Organ Sonothrombolysis DeviceThis award is an equal participation between the Center for Medical Innovation and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt. The early stage seed grant will demonstrate proof of concept that sonothrombolysis technology can greatly enhance viability of transplanted liver tissue through evaluation of thromboemboli in excised, non-transplantable human liver tissue. Paulo Fontes, MDAssociate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector of the Machine Perfusion Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterJohn Pacella, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular InstituteFlordeliza Villaneuva, MDVice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterAbout the Center for Medical InnovationThe Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). Established in 2011, CMI promotes the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; educates the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and facilitates the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. CMI has supported more than 50 early-stage projects through more than $1 million in funding since inception. ###

Jul
25
2017

We Have a Quorum

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (July 25, 2017) … From the smallest cell to humans, most organisms can sense their local population density and change behavior in crowded environments. For bacteria and social insects, this behavior is referred to as “quorum sensing.” Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have utilized computational modeling to mimic such quorum sensing behavior in synthetic materials, which could lead to devices with the ability for self-recognition and self-regulation. The findings are based on research into biomimetic synthetic materials by Anna C. Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and post-doctoral associate Henry Shum, who is now an assistant professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo. The article, “Synthetic quorum sensing in model microcapsule colonies,” is published this week in the journal PNAS (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702288114).“Quorum sensing (QS) is a distinctive behavior of living organisms that allows them to initiate a specific behavior only when a critical threshold in population size and density are exceeded,” Dr. Balazs explained. “This tunable self-awareness is apparent in macro systems such as bees selecting a site for a new hive, but is vital to cellular systems like bacteria, which produce and secrete signaling molecules that act as “autoinducers” once a specific population is reached. Creating a biomimetic response can allow synthetic materials to effectively “count”; this is, to sense and adapt to their environment once a preprogrammed threshold is reached.”  In a biological system, autoinducers in low concentrations diffuse away and therefore do not trigger response. Hence, the system is in a type of “off” state. However, when the cells reach a specific number or quorum, the production of autoinducers leads to a detection and response. This “on” state increases the production of the signaling molecule and activates further metabolic pathways that are triggered by QS, coordinating the colony behavior. “However, autoinducers tend to maintain the “on” state once activated so the system is less sensitive to subsequent decreases in the population,” Dr. Shum said. “For self-regulating materials to unambiguously determine their present density, we modeled a colony of immobile microcapsules that release signaling chemicals in a “repressilator” network, which does not exhibit the same “memory” effect. Instead, we found that chemical oscillations emerge in the microcapsule colony under conditions that are analogous to achieving a quorum in biological systems.”The researchers note that their findings could inspire new mechano-responsive materials, such as polymer gels with embedded QS elements that would activate a certain chemical behavior when compressed, and then switch off when stretched, or when a specific temperature is reached. “For example, you could have a robotic skin that solidifies to protect itself at a certain temperature, and then becomes “squishy” again when the temperature drops to a nominal level,” Dr. Balazs adds. “Although our work is computational, the results show that the creation of self-recognizing and self-regulating synthetic materials is possible.”This research was supported as part of the Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award DE-SC0000989. ### Image (above) and animated gif (below): Modeled microcapsules (image: grey spheres/gif: small circles) demonstrate “quorum sensing” behavior. A small collection of microcapsules remains dormant (left) whereas a large, crowded population exhibits oscillations in chemical activity (right), represented by circular waves of color (image)/cyclic color changes (gif).

Jul
16
2017

How secure is the nation's power grid?

Electrical & Computer

Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt's Center for Energy, joined PJM President and CEO Andy Ott with KDKA's Jon Delano on the Sunday Business Page to discuss the security of the nation's power grid. (Original airdate: July 16, 2017) View the Sunday Business Page at KDKA TV.

Jul
12
2017

From Schenley Place to Outer Space

Electrical & Computer

Reposted with permission of Pittwire. Space is not a welcoming environment for computers. Cosmic radiation, solar winds and the vacuum of space itself all threaten the reliability of space computers and can even kill their processes entirely.Yet computing is deeply intertwined with space technology. Vast distances, perpetual orbits and conditions unsuitable for humans all suggest the future of space technology lies in computing. The question that remains is how to make a better space computer.In January 2017, the National Science Foundation Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing — CHREC, pronounced “shreck” — and its founder Alan George found a new home at the University of Pittsburgh. The lab researches reconfigurable, high-performance space computing. Picture these processors like Legos — super durable and able to break apart and reassemble into many different shapes. The lab's aim is to develop advanced computers that can remain reliable even amidst a harsh, extraterrestrial environment.“Computers are the future astronauts and at the heart and soul of anything you do in space,” said George, who also became the Mickle Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering when he came to Pitt. “At CHREC, we develop and test ways to increase performance, reduce power consumption and meet the demands of space computing.” Operational since 2007, CHREC comprises more than 30 industrial, governmental and academic partners, including Lockheed Martin SSC, BAE Systems and Harris Corporation; the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research and NASA; and a four-university collaboration of Brigham Young University, Virginia Tech and the University of Florida — with Pitt serving as the lead institution. George said he hopes CHREC can partner with more local and national organizations as well.“We realize that we need a broad group of people to succeed,” he said. “We can really take the initiative in a place like Pittsburgh and stick our neck out to help the community, particularly those interested in new, esoteric space technology.”This past March, the U.S. Department of Defense deployed a payload to the International Space Station with two experimental CHREC space processors and a high-resolution camera. The CHREC processors are the basis for a variety of studies in resilient, reconfigurable computing in orbit. They are remotely operated from the new facility at Pitt located in Schenley Place, an office building less than a half of a mile from the Cathedral of Learning.Christopher Wilson, a PhD student and visiting scholar in the CHREC lab, operates the ground station controlling the processors from Schenley Place when the space station schedule permits. He and the other members of his team are reconfiguring the computers, which means they are using a technology called switching fabric to actually restructure the computer’s hardware.Wilson specializes in space systems research and balances his own dissertation research with his responsibilities as a CHREC group leader. Organizing his schedule based on NASA’s timetable can be demanding, he said, but the opportunity is well worth the hassle.“Our research at CHREC never needs to be some intangible, theoretical project that will never have any practical use because we have the opportunities to put our research to use in space,” said Wilson. “I can wake up in the morning and send commands to space computers on the International Space Station that we developed in our lab.”Wilson is one of four doctoral students who came to Pitt to finish their studies under George. They will graduate with degrees from the University of Florida, CHREC’s first home. Ten other graduate students came as well, and they will graduate with degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. One of these students, Bradley Shea, is pursuing his master's degree in electrical and computer engineering and is the hardware lead at CHREC. Shea works on high-speed, printed-circuit-board design for space flight, particularly for missions involving a small box-shaped satellite called CubeSat. Universities, companies and governments use the standardized CubeSat design to explore new applications for space technology.“Our lab is defining the future of scientific and payload processing for CubeSat missions with lower cost and power,” Shea said. “With our scalable designs, we can potentially save millions of dollars by doing real science processing with a small CubeSat rather than with a much larger satellite payload.”CHREC’s move to Pitt also has introduced space computing to undergraduate students curious about applying their education to topics in space. The inaugural class of the Summer Space Group launched on May 12, 2017. The group includes 17 students majoring in a variety of engineering fields as well as computer science, physics and economics.“Space technology applies to most of the engineering disciplines, so we are looking to be accessible to anyone interested in learning more about the field, from our own undergraduate students to the broader Pittsburgh community,” said George.The Summer Space Group will spend all summer working with Pitt faculty and CHREC graduate student mentors to explore topics in space technology firsthand. Their work will have a significant impact on the next International Space Station processor project, called STP-H6, which CHREC will deliver to the station in 2018. The Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing mission on STP-H6 will increase the number of space computer processors commanded from Pitt on the space station from two to eight and explore more advanced processes in the hybrid computing system. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

Pitt ASCE Student Chapter Wins Back-to-Back Distinguished Chapter Awards

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … For the second consecutive year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has chosen the University of Pittsburgh student chapter as recipient of the Distinguished Chapter Award for Region 2. The Pitt chapter was also a returning finalist for the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award, which is awarded annually to the single most outstanding student chapter nationwide.“They’re a spirited group and very inclusive of anyone who wants to get involved,” said Anthony Iannacchione, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty advisor to ASCE. “We’ve had a great string of presidents and active leadership from the board members. They’re always trying to bring along the younger students for the next year, and I think that’s why our success continues to build.”The ASCE Distinguished Chapter awards are based on information from the chapters’ 2016 annual reports. The Pitt chapter’s annual report outlined strategies for growing the chapter, events and activities, and plans for 2017.In 2016, the chapter increased first-year membership by 40 percent compared to the previous year. Fundraising increased around 200 percent, and 24 companies attended the Civil Engineering-specific Fall Career Fair at Pitt. The chapter also invited members of other professional chapters to give presentations at the October ASCE meeting. Attendees included Associated General Contractors, Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Society of Highway Engineers, and the American Institute of Architecture Students.One particular highlight from the Pitt chapter’s past year was the Ohio Valley Student Conference. This meeting of more than 350 civil engineering students and professionals representing 15 schools from Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania challenged students with competitions such as building a steel bridge, writing and presenting a technical paper, and constructing a concrete canoe and racing it.Pitt ASCE came in 3rd Place Overall out of 14 universities at the 2016 Ohio Valley Student Conference. They took first place overall in the environmental category, the surveying category, and the most sustainable apparatus category of the environmental competition. Other awards included third place in four categories: most creative apparatus (environmental), best poster/display (environmental), civil site design, and best technical review paper.“We had a very successful year last year, and I think earning the Distinguished Chapter Award is a testament to the members and faculty of ASCE,” noted Chaz Donnelly, 2017-18 ASCE Pitt Student Chapter President and upcoming senior in civil engineering. “Our chapter takes pride in every event we are involved with, because our members genuinely enjoy Civil Engineering. This is reflected in the way our school is represented at career fairs, professional events, and OVSC.”Throughout 2016, 60 percent of the Pitt chapter’s members participated in at least one volunteer day, with events including: Pitt ASCE joined 3,500 Pitt students during the university-wide Pitt Make a Difference Day, helping with service projects around the city Pittsburgh. Presenting the fundamentals of civil engineering to younger students during the Middle School Engineering Day. Ten ASCE members brought samples of concrete and steel for the students to examine and used balsa wood bridges to demonstrate how forces work. Looking ahead to 2017, the Pitt ASCE chapter will host the annual Region 2 assembly, which will bring members of ASCE to Pittsburgh from Washington, DC, parts of northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The assembly will provide professional development opportunities through presentations on current engineering design practices as well as chances for students, professors, and practitioners to meet and interact. ### Image above (from left to right): Pitt ASCE chapter members Chaz Donnelly, Pete Eyre, Anna Thomas, Cameron Schmidt, and Connor Bassett.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

Working the [Immune] System

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … As a rule, implants and the immune system don’t get along. The human body recognizes these materials as foreign substances and tries to fight them like a virus or bacteria. Although this response can cause trouble for doctors and patients, new research at the University of Pittsburgh suggests the immune system can actually assist the body in accepting implanted biomaterials. The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.57 million R01 grant to examine how aging affects implantable medical devices. This is the second R01 grant from the NIH Dr. Brown has received this year to support his research of implantable materials. His study, “Assessing the Impacts of Aging upon the Macrophage Response to Implantable Materials,” will specifically address reactions to implantable medical devices by the aged body, including immunosenescence (a deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging), dysregulation of white blood cell function and polarization, and delayed resolution of acute immune responses.“The impacts of aging on individuals with implants have never been investigated,” said Dr. Brown. “As Baby Boomers in particular age, the number of people over 65 will grow, and more than 75 percent of these individuals have at least one chronic condition, usually associated with inflammation. We need therefore a better understanding of how aging affects the immune system’s responses to implants.”Dr. Brown will build upon earlier research in which he demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to the success and function of implants. His study found that the first week of macrophage activity (a type of white blood cell) at the implant site could predict immune system response as far as 90 days down the road. By controlling the immune system response, Dr. Brown and his team are looking for the best way to lengthen the lifespan of implants and minimize the negative effects of implanting a foreign object into the body.“Really, the challenges are not fully known,” explained Dr. Brown. “Many implants are used primarily in older individuals, so there is not always a point of comparison. However, in our previous work, we have demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to success and function of implants. Therefore, we are trying to define changes in aged individuals to develop informed approaches to improving implant function in this population. With a projected two billion individuals over the age of 65 by 2050, optimizing the success of implants that can treat a wide range of illnesses could result in significant benefits for patients in their golden years.” ### Image above: Dr. Brown (middle) in the lab with Pitt BioE graduate students Alexis Nolfi (left) and Samuel LoPresti (right).
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
10
2017

How do you build a metal nanoparticle?

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … Although scientists have for decades been able to synthesize nanoparticles in the lab, the process is mostly trial and error, and how the formation actually takes place is obscure. However, a study recently published in Nature Communications by chemical engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering explains how metal nanoparticles form. “Thermodynamic Stability of Ligand-Protected Metal Nanoclusters” (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15988) was co-authored by Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and PhD candidate Michael G. Taylor. The research, completed in Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (C.A.N.E.LA.), is funded through a National Science Foundation CAREER award and bridges previous research focused on designing nanoparticles for catalytic applications.“Even though there is extensive research into metal nanoparticle synthesis, there really isn’t a rational explanation why a nanoparticle is formed,” Dr. Mpourmpakis said. “We wanted to investigate not just the catalytic applications of nanoparticles, but to make a step further and understand nanoparticle stability and formation. This new thermodynamic stability theory explains why ligand-protected metal nanoclusters are stabilized at specific sizes.”A ligand is a molecule that binds to metal atoms to form metal cores that are stabilized by a shell of ligands, and so understanding how they contribute to nanoparticle stabilization is essential to any process of nanoparticle application. Dr. Mpourmpakis explained that previous theories describing why nanoclusters stabilized at specific sizes were based on empirical electron counting rules – the number of electrons that form a closed shell electronic structure, but show limitations since there have been metal nanoclusters experimentally synthesized that do not necessarily follow these rules. “The novelty of our contribution is that we revealed that for experimentally synthesizable nanoclusters there has to be a fine balance between the average bond strength of the nanocluster’s metal core, and the binding strength of the ligands to the metal core,” he said. “We could then relate this to the structural and compositional characteristic of the nanoclusters, like size, number of metal atoms, and number of ligands.“Now that we have a more complete understanding of this stability, we can better tailor the nanoparticle morphologies and in turn properties, to applications from biolabeling of individual cells and targeted drug delivery to catalytic reactions, thereby creating more efficient and sustainable production processes.” ### Image above: Structure of a ligand-protected Au25 nanocluster (credit: C.A.N.E.LA.)

Jul
6
2017

Keeping the Beat: NIH continues Pitt’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program with Five-Year, $1.9 Million Award

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 6, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has renewed funding for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP). The program - which educates students who are interested in cardiovascular research and pursuing a PhD in bioengineering - will receive nearly $1.9 million over the next five years.Sanjeev Shroff, the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering at Pitt, established the CBTP in 2005 to train bioengineering doctoral students for careers in basic and/or translational cardiovascular research. By renewing the grant, the NIH has guaranteed funding until 2022.“A unique feature of the program is that students are exposed first-hand to real-world clinical problems requiring bioengineering input for their solution,” said Dr. Shroff, who serves as principal investigator for the program. “The program is designed to provide students both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development issues. Upon completion, students are well-versed in both basic and clinical aspects of cardiovascular engineering and are well prepared for rewarding careers in a growing field.”Student research within Pitt’s CBTP has focused on a variety of problems, ranging from basic science to novel biomedical technologies for the diagnosis and/or treatment of critical cardiovascular health issues. Examples of these research projects include: Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction by cardiac troponin-I phosphorylation Mechanical processes and pathways that underlie heart morphogenesis Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying vaso-occlusion in Sickle Cell Disease Role of Profilin-1 in angiogenesis Externally regulated synthetic capillary system for promoting angiogenesis Rapidly degrading synthetic materials for tissue-engineered vascular grafts Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds for heart tissue regeneration Adipose stem cell-based treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysms Improved biocompatibility of implanted cardiovascular devices to reduce rejection Coacervate-based controlled delivery of growth factors for cardiac repair Thermal strain imaging for non-invasive identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides funding for the program and has designated the grant a National Research Service Award. These awards are granted to training programs in disciplines that address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs with an emphasis on producing diverse pool of highly trained scientists. Each student in the CBTP receives a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, health insurance, and a travel budget.About the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training ProgramThe goal of the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP) is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a productive independent career in cardiovascular bioengineering. This is accomplished via a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary training program with a combination of core and elective courses, clinical internships, research activities, and specialized training opportunities to enhance professional and career development. There are three focus areas of this program: (1) Basic understanding and quantitative characterization of native (normal and pathological conditions) and perturbed (i.e., with deployment of man-made devices or constructs) cardiovascular function at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), (2) Imaging for functional assessment at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), and (3) Design and optimization of artificial devices and constructs (mechanical, tissue-engineered, and hybrid).About Dr. ShroffDr. Sanjeev Shroff is the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, Dr. Shroff was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 17 years in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology Section). Trained as an electrical engineer (Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and Master of Engineering from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Dr. Shroff obtained his doctoral degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine. Dr. Shroff is widely recognized as a distinguished scholar in the cardiovascular arena. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Jun

Jun
28
2017

Improving Nuclear Sensor Tech

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 28, 2017) … The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering will receive $1.275 million for collaborative research that includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Reactor Laboratory, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The award is part of $66 million awarded by DOE to advance innovative nuclear technologies.Kevin Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt, will lead the collaborative study to develop radiation-hard, multi-functional, distributed fiber sensors, and sensor-fused components that can be placed in a nuclear reactor core to improve safety and efficiency. The grant is from the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program, part of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).“This NEET grant will allow our lab to continue its partnerships with leading technological companies and national laboratories to develop solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting nuclear energy production,” said Dr. Chen. “Advances in sensor technology can greatly enhance the sensitivity and resolution of data in harsh environments like a nuclear reaction, thereby improving safety operations.”The research will focus on the fabrication of the optic sensors using additive manufacturing and advanced laser fabrication techniques. The group will develop both high-temperature stable point sensors and distributed fiber sensors for high spatial resolution measurements in radiation-hardened silica and sapphire fibers, according to the funding report by the DOE.In 2014, Dr. Chen received a $987,000 grant from the NEET program to study high sensitivity, high accuracy sensor networks. These fiber optical sensor networks allow nuclear engineers to be much more responsive to problems in the nuclear power reactors and fuel cycle systems, increasing safety and reducing operating cost.“The networks we developed contain up to 100 sensors per meter and can be placed in critical locations to quickly relay information to the plant operators and isolate problems before they spread to other areas,” Dr. Chen explained.In addition to the NEET grants, the University of Pittsburgh has received $2.8 million in funding from the DOE NEUP program between 2009 and 2016:• General Scientific Infrastructure funding: $300,000• Two research and development projects: $1,676,422• Five fellowships: $770,000• 11 scholarships: $70,000Dr. Chen’s research into fiber optical sensing technology also earned him a 2017 Carnegie Science Award. The “Innovation in Energy Award” recognized Dr. Chen’s contributions to improving efficiency of energy production and safety of transportation infrastructures in the energy industry. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
27
2017

US DOD selects Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate researcher Lisa Stabryla for competitive NDSEG Fellowship

Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (June 27, 2017) … Lisa Stabryla, graduate researcher and teaching assistant in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received a 2017 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship from the United States Department of Defense equal to full tuition and $153,000 in stipend funds.Stabryla is the third student from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering to receive the NDSEG Fellowship in 2017 along with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science’s Emily Cimino and Erica Stevens.“The NDSEG Fellowship offers the freedom and opportunity for me to engage in interdisciplinary collaborative research on a topic that I find fascinating and that aims to improve global public health,” said Stabryla. “The fellowship not only provides me with the financial stability to pursue my research endeavors but is also an honor to become a member of a distinguished network, and it inspires confidence as I launch my research career.”Stabryla earned a B.S. in engineering science from Pitt and is currently pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering under the advisory of Dr. Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. Stabryla joined Dr. Gilbertson’s lab in 2016 as a graduate researcher and teaching assistant. Previously she worked as an undergraduate student researcher in the Bibby Lab and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI).As a PhD student in Dr. Gilbertson’s lab, Stabryla is pursuing research questions related to the sustainable design of nanomaterials. In particular, she focuses on design of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) aimed at combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - the ability of bacteria to resist toxic effects of chemical agents. AMR has become one of the biggest threats to global public health and poses a problem to numerous industries including health care, agriculture, water treatment, and drinking water distribution. The relevance to NDSEG stakeholders includes the potential future need to defend against intentional use of resistant organisms to cause harm. ENMs offer the potential to serve as a next-generation solution to combat AMR because of the ability to tailor high efficacy and their multiple modes of inactivation. The goal of Stabryla’s research is to discover the underlying mechanisms of inactivation and the evolution of these mechanisms with changes in ENM physicochemical properties. Emerging evidence that demonstrates the potential for bacteria to resist certain ENMs (e.g., silver nanoparticles) further motivates her work to inform design of effective antimicrobial agents that preclude (or at least prolong) emergence of resistance.The NDSEG Fellowship is sponsored and funded by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). NDSEG selections are made by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Army Research Office (ARO). The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) administers the NDSEG Fellowship. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
22
2017

Christopher Wilmer Wins AIChE Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (June 22, 2017) … The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) selected Christopher Wilmer , assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as its 2017 recipient of the Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation. The AIChE Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) presents the award annually to one individual who received his/her highest degree within the past seven years. “In the three years since Chris came to Pitt, I have watched him pursue research topics with the potential to have a profound impact on energy, the environment, and society as a whole,” said Steven Little , the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. “By reaching so high, he has been able to accomplish so much during the very early stages of what promises to be an extraordinary career. The CoMSEF Young Investigator Award is one of the most prestigious honors in chemical engineering simulation and modeling, and truly reflects the breadth and depth of Chris’ career over such a short period.” The AIChE CoMSEF Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation accepts applicants throughout academia, industry, or government laboratories. According to AIChE, the award recognizes “outstanding research in computational molecular science and engineering, encompassing both methods and applications." In addition to the award, Dr. Wilmer will receive a plaque, honorarium, and invitation to give a talk within the CoMSEF Plenary session at the AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., this October. Dr. Wilmer is the fifth recipient of this award since its establishment in 2013. About Dr. Wilmer Dr. Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications. He is the principal investigator of the Hypothetical Materials Lab at Pitt and leads his team in solving energy and environmental challenges with complex, hypothetical nanostructures called “molecular machines.” He earned his bachelor’s degree in applied science from the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science—Nanoengineering program, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern under the mentorship of Prof. Randall Q. Snurr. While at Northwestern, Dr. Wilmer took an interest in developing new technologies through entrepreneurship and co-founded NuMat Technologies, which designs porous materials that could be used to make better natural gas fuel tanks for vehicles. In 2012, the company won the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, while Dr. Wilmer was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Energy.” He has authored more than 20 publications and holds more than 500 article citations. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at www.wilmerlab.com . ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
20
2017

ECE Department Names 2017 Outstanding Seniors

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 20, 2017) … The Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering chose recent University of Pittsburgh graduates Brandon Contino and Daniel Bednarczyk as its Outstanding Seniors for 2017. Contino represents the electrical engineering (EE) discipline, and Bednarczyk represents computer engineering (COE).“Brandon and Daniel excelled at balancing their engineering interests outside of the classroom with truly exceptional academic performances,” said Alan George, the Mickle Chair Professor and Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “As the department continues to grow and explore new ways to provide our students with a comprehensive academic experience, these two outstanding seniors set the tone for student performance.” Assistant Professor and EE Undergraduate Program Director Irvin R. Jones Jr. and other faculty members are responsible for electing the Outstanding Senior in Electrical Engineering. Selection criteria are based on students’ academic standing; demonstration of character and leadership; and service to the EE discipline, ECE department, School of Engineering, and the community.A small committee consisting of undergraduate program leaders and chairs selects the Outstanding Senior in Computer Engineering. The committee evaluates students on the basis of their technical and professional accomplishments as well as their contributions to the discipline of computer engineering.About Brandon ContinoContino graduated this spring with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a minor in economics. He was president of the Robotics and Automation Society, the Engineering Student Council, and the Panther Amateur Radio Club. He also represented Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University, and West Virginia University students as Student Representative Chair of the Pittsburgh Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.While pursuing his degree, Contino had several positions at Pitt as an Undergraduate Researcher working alongside Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Guangyong Li; Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor David Sanchez; and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) Department’s Professor William Clark and Professor and Vice Chair Jeffrey Viperman. He also took a position as Power Systems Automation Engineering Intern at Eaton Corporation during the summer of 2015.For his senior design project, Contino worked with three mechanical engineering students to design an autonomous laundry folding robot. “Foldie” won first place at the MEMS Symposium and both second in MEMS and second in ECE at the Pitt Design Expo in Fall 2016. Along with classmate and friend Dan Chi, Contino is now pursuing a venture applying technological innovation to greenhouse farming, beginning with the development of a tomato harvesting robot for greenhouse tomato production.“The ECE Department has assisted me as a student immensely through not only providing the courses to learn the required knowledge to function as an electrical engineer, but it has also provided numerous opportunities and outside the classroom learning,” said Contino. “The faculty and staff have been incredibly helpful in assisting in projects. A lot of the work and hands on learning I acquired would not have been possible without Jim Lyle and Bill McGahey in SERC (Student Electronics Resource Center).”About Daniel BednarczykBednarczyk graduated this spring with a BS in Computer Engineering. He interned with The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Bentley Systems, where he now works full-time as a Software Engineer. He recently received second place in his department at the Pitt Design Expo for his senior project ‘Augmented Reality Dashboard,’ an Android application sponsored by Eaton. He also received the Best Computer Engineering Paper award at the Freshmen Engineering Conference. Bednarczyk received the Buick Engineering Achievers Scholarship and the Pittsburgh Italian Scholarship in 2013.During his time as a student, Bednarczyk joined many clubs, including Engineers for a Sustainable World Hydroponics Team, Engineering Student Council, and the Music Engineering Laboratory. He was also involved in non-engineering clubs such as WPTS Radio, the Pitt Program Council, and Residence Life.Bednarczyk is a first-generation college student, which he was able to afford through a combination of scholarships, paid internships, and service as a Resident Assistant in the First-Year Engineering Living Learning Community. An avid singer/songwriter, Bednarczyk frequented the Swanson School’s new Music Engineering Laboratory and recording studio. He has also done graphic design work for both the university and Swanson School.“The ECE Department has dedicated, personable staff who worked with me closely in many courses. I was encouraged to develop challenging projects and experiment with new technologies,” said Bednarczyk. “It allowed me to have a flexible curriculum built around my particular interests in both hardware and software, and the department continues to offer new courses on exciting topics.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
19
2017

Minking Chyu Appointed Distinguished Service Professor

MEMS

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 19, 2017) … In honor of significant contributions to the University of Pittsburgh, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has appointed Minking Chyu as Distinguished Service Professor, effective September 1, 2017. Dr. Chyu is currently the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Associate Dean of International Initiatives, and the inaugural Dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) in China. After officially opening its doors in fall 2015, SCUPI has already grown freshman enrollment from 100 to 160 students this past year. There are currently 22 faculty and staff members and a new 300,000 square-foot building is currently under construction.“Dr. Chyu conceived the idea of creating a joint institute that would offer three University of Pittsburgh engineering degrees in China, led a team from the Swanson School to find a suitable partner, convinced the leadership of Sichuan University—a top 10 Chinese institution—to partner with Pitt, and persuaded the Pitt administration and the Chinese Ministry of Education of the merits of the joint venture. Dr. Chyu’s vision will have an immeasurable impact on future engineers for generations to come,” said Gerald Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.Dr. Chyu received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2000, he was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years. His primary research interests are in thermal and material issues relating to energy, power, and aero propulsion systems. Dr. Chyu is a recipient of four NASA Certificates of Recognition for his contributions on the US space shuttle main engineer program. He has served as an Air Force Summer Research Fellow, Department of Energy Oak Ridge Research Fellow, and DOE Advanced-Turbine-System Faculty Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA), and a member of the Scientific Council of the International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer (ISHMT). Dr. Chyu has published more than 300 technical papers in archived journals, books, and conference proceedings. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
16
2017

ChemE Department Appoints Two New Vice Chairs

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 16, 2017) … In response to increasing enrollment and curricular evolution, two Vice Chair positions for faculty have been established in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Taryn Bayles will become the Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, and Robert Parker will become the Vice Chair for Graduate Education.“Taryn’s and Bob’s shared commitment to our students is very moving to me, and I am quite impressed with the visions that they set forth,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “They have the Department’s full support in achieving those visions, and I could not be more excited to serve alongside them.”Joseph McCarthy, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department, will leave his current role in the Department as Vice Chair for Education to become the University of Pittsburgh Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies on August 1, 2017.As Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Bayles will be responsible for the academic experience of students through the Pillars program, a National Science Foundation-funded grant designed to reform the undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum at Pitt. Her focus will be on increasing diversity, inclusion, and student satisfaction.Dr. Parker served as the Department’s graduate program coordinator from 2006 – 2012. He will be responsible for building the graduate program quality and diversity, with a focus on engaging the post-graduate community.About Dr. BaylesPrior to joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles was the Undergraduate Program Director in Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Under her leadership, the program enrollment more than quadrupled and the percentage of female and underrepresented minority students increased. She has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on $6.6 million in NSF awards that focus on support and mentoring for undergraduate students, outreach, and hands-on design experiences. She has developed and led more than 100 workshops with more than 5,000 participants for K-12 students, K-12 teachers, college students, and faculty members.   Dr. Bayles was awarded the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Collaboration in Public Service and the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Excellence in Mentoring. These are the highest awards given for faculty achievement in the University of Maryland system. To increase diversity at Pitt, she will draw upon her experience with the Meyerhoff program, in which she developed and led engineering workshops for the summer bridge program and received the Mentor of the Year Award. Since joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles has incorporated a hands-on design project in the CHE 0100 course, which was to design, build, test, and analyze a hemodialysis system. She serves as the faculty advisor of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter and the ChemE Car team. Dr. Bayles also serves as Chair of the Education Division of AIChE and the Publications Board of Chemical Engineering Education.About Dr. ParkerDr. Parker joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2000 and was promoted to Professor in 2014. His research program focuses on systems medicine and the use of mathematical models in the design of clinical decision support systems. He has been recognized for excellence in education through awards such as the Carnegie Science Center Excellence in Higher Education Award, the David L. Himmelblau Award from the Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) Division of AIChE, and most recently the 2017 Swanson School of Engineering Outstanding Educator Award. His commitment to a collaborative future in graduate education formed the basis of two funded Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) training programs, as well as the Systems Medicine Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. In addition to developing graduate-level training programs to support PhD students, Dr. Parker will lead graduate admissions, manage PhD timelines including qualifying examinations, support graduate recruiting, work with the Swanson School Office of Diversity to continue building a diverse graduate program, serve as the faculty advisor of the Department's Graduate Student Association, and manage faculty teaching assignments. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
16
2017

Pitt to recognize engineering alumna Elayne Arrington at 2017 AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards

MEMS, Diversity

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh African American Alumni Council (AAAC) will honor five Pitt alumni at a ceremony at 3 p.m. June 17 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, 100 Lytton Ave., Oakland. The AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards are given to outstanding African American Pitt alumni for their professional accomplishments as well as their community stature.Elayne Arrington (ENGR ’61) cleared many hurdles in her quest to become an aeronautical engineer. She earned the second-highest SAT score in mathematics the year she graduated from Homestead High School as class valedictorian. But that year, for the first time in school history, the valedictorian did not deliver the address. Instead, it was given by the class president. Pitt recommended that Arrington receive the Mesta Machine Co. scholarship for employees’ top performing children to study mechanical engineering. But Mesta refused to give the scholarship to a woman. Despite that, in 1961 Arrington became the first Black female to graduate from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. She worked as an aerospace engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Foreign Technology Division. She earned a PhD in math in 1974, the 17th Black woman in the country to do so, and returned to Pitt to teach mathematics for the next 40 years.Martha Richards Conley (LAW ’71) was Pitt Law's first Black female graduate and the first Black female lawyer admitted to practice in Allegheny County. She was employed by the U.S. Steel Corporation for 27 years and retired from there as senior general attorney. A longtime opponent of the death penalty, she was chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She is a longtime member of the historic Aurora Reading Club in Pittsburgh. She is an official visitor with the Pennsylvania Prison Society and escorted Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on a prison visit in 2007.Robert “Bobby” Grier (BUS ’57) broke the color barrier when the Pitt Panthers fullback became the first African American college football player to play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, 1956, when Pitt faced Georgia Tech. The governor of Georgia strongly opposed Grier’s participation in the game, as did the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees, whose members said Georgia Tech would forfeit the game if Grier was not benched. But Grier had strong support of his teammates and Pitt, who vowed “No Grier, no game.” Support for Grier also came from students and football players from Georgia Tech, who strongly protested against a forfeit. Pitt lost the game, 7-0, on a controversial pass interference call on Grier. Later, evidence appeared to show it was a bad call. Pitt won a major victory off the field that year, thanks to Bobby Grier and his Pitt teammates. DAME Vivian Hewitt (SIS ’44) received her library science degree from Pitt’s School of Library and Information Sciences. She began her career as the first Black librarian for the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Later, she became the first Black chief librarian at the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Council on Foreign Relations. Hewitt and her husband began buying works of Haitian and African American art while still a young couple, and now the Hewitt Collection is regarded to be one of the finest collections of its type in the world. It was purchased by Bank of America and gifted to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina. The collection is on display at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center through June 30.Cecile M. Springer (GSPIA ’71) holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Pitt. She achieved professional distinction in a number of fields throughout her diverse career, which has included positions as a research chemist for Bristol Myers Laboratories in New York, a principal planner for the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, president of the Westinghouse Foundation and founder of her own firm, Springer Associates, which provided comprehensive strategic planning. She has been recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, a Carlow University Woman of Spirit and a Legacy Laureate of the University of Pittsburgh — the highest honor for an alumnus. Springer is a past president of the Pitt Alumni Association. ### Pictured above: Dr. Arrington (center) is recognized by the Swanson School "for exemplary leadership and resilience as the University of Pittsburgh's first African American female engineering graduate" during Black History Month on February 28, 2017. With her are (left) Sylvanus Wosu, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity; and Gerald D. Holder, Distinguished Service Professor and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.
Joe Miksch, News Director, University of Pittsburgh News Services
Jun
13
2017