In the news

Farnam Jahanian Named President of Carnegie Mellon University

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 13 March 2018

Farnam Jahanian, the nationally recognized computer scientist, successful entrepreneur, senior public servant and respected leader in higher education, has been appointed as the 10th president of Carnegie Mellon University. The appointment is effective immediately, with a formal inauguration scheduled for fall 2018.

Jahanian holds a master's degree and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

He currently serves as chair of the National Research Council's Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), sits on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness, and is a trustee of the Dietrich Foundation. He also is a board member of the Computing Research Association (CRA), the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, among others.

 

Jim Bain named ECE's new Associate Department Head for Academic Affairs

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 28 February 2018

 James Bain was recently named ECE's new Associate Department Head for Academic Affairs, effective June 1, 2018. In his new role, Bain will extend his work with the Graduate Studies Committee to the entire student body and play a vital role in establishing ECE's long-term educational strategy.

Congratulations!

Peng Liu receives the 2018 Award in Early Excellence in Physical Organic Chemistry

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 28 February 2018

Peng Liu has been named the winner of the 2018 Award in Early Excellence in Physical Organic Chemistry, sponsored by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  The award presentation will take place at the Reaction Mechanisms Conference, to be held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 10-13, 2018, where he will receive the honorarium of $5000 and a plaque.

Congratulations!
 

Frolov and Team Featured on Pitt Website

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 12 January 2018

PQI Members Sergey Frolov, David Pekker, Noa Marom, Michael Hatridge, Benjamin Hunt, and Hrvoje Petek featured on Pitt Website for their accomplisment on landing $4.8M award from National Science Foundation (NSF) for International Research and Education (PIRE) program.Sergey Frolov will be the Director of new PIRE.  Hrvoje Petek, Michael Hatridge and David Pekker are other PQI co-PIs for this project. The duration of the program is 5 years.

dB-SERC awards help transform science education

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 28 June 2019

The need to bring different educational methods to different academic subjects has long been clear to Chandralekha Singh, a physics and astronomy professor at UPitt and director of dB-SERC — the Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center. She has been conducting research on discipline-based education for more than two decades. She continues to amass evidence that gearing educational methods to specific types of students in specific subjects can result in measurable gains in knowledge and in attitude, which can be just as important. On average, the GPAs of engineering majors in introduction physics courses, who are study subjects for Singh's students, did not change over four years

“I don’t believe it is the students’ fault,” she says, if they do not improve their GPAs across their college careers. “We as faculty in the University should think of it as our responsibility to help these students.” That’s the impetus behind dB-SERC and the motivation for its course transformation awards. Since db-SERC’s founding in 2013, it has funded as many as 10 awards annually — up to $10,000 — to natural sciences faculty members in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The dB-SERC course transformation awardees meet weekly and present talks about their ideas and progress. “Participating in those, my first year at Pitt, I met a lot of the other science faculty,” Whittinghill recalls. “It helped me feel a part of a community at Pitt.” The weekly gatherings help faculty improve their approaches to course changes and conceive of new directions, based on others’ experience and thoughts, Singh says: “A lot of times when people are doing some innovative teaching and learning, things may not work as people expected. You may need to keep refining things to make them really adaptable to your students, to your own style.”

Giannis Mpourmpakis wins Distinguished Young Scientist Award

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 June 2019

Dr. Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, Bicentennial Alumni faculty fellow and assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected to receive the Bodossaki Foundation Distinguished Young Scientists Award in Chemistry. The Distinguished Young Scientists Award honors the most outstanding scientists of Greek descent under the age of 40 and is given once every two years. The award will be presented at a ceremony on June 19, 2019, in Athens, Greece, where Dr. Mpourmpakis will be honored by the Greek president. It also includes a prize of 20,000 euros. 

The award takes into consideration the individual’s achievements in their field, their contribution to the cultural, scientific and economic development of Greece, and their contribution to the international promotion of Greece through their work and ethics. Dr. Mpourmpakis was nominated by Steven R. Little, PhD, chair of the chemical engineering and petroleum department, and Sunil Saxena, PhD, chair of the chemistry department. “We were honored to nominate Yanni for this prestigious award,” says Dr. Little. “Yanni has made tremendous advances in our knowledge of the chemistry of nanomaterials. We are excited that his impressive work will be recognized on the global stage.” Dr. Mpourmpakis’s Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (CANELa) uses theory and computation to investigate the physiochemical properties of nanomaterials with potential applications in diverse nanotechnology areas, ranging from green energy generation and storage to materials engineering and catalysis.

2019/2020 GSR Award Winners

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 24 June 2019

Congratulations to the 2018/2019 PQI Graduate Student Research Award Winners!

Ilia Kevlishvili (Liu Lab, Chemistry), Tzu-Chiao Chien (Hatridge Lab, Physics), Shiv Upadhyay (Jordan Lab, Chemistry), Jierui Liang (Fullerton Lab, Chemical Engineering), Caleb Clever (Waldeck Lab, Chemistry), and Zhi Li (Mong Lab, Physics) each won one term of graduate funding for the year 2019/2020.

Helium recovery at Pitt

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 19 June 2019

In 2014, in the midst of a multiyear spike in helium prices, the University of Pittsburgh poured millions of dollars into building a high-tech machine aimed at recovering the helium that its researchers used. Prices stabilized soon after, and a substantial return on its investment seemed a far-off possibility. But now, as another shortage threatens the viability of basic science research, Pitt’s machine — one of the most efficient of its kind in the world — is paying dividends. Crude helium prices sold at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s 2019 auction clocked in at $279.95 per million standard cubic feet, an increase of roughly 135% from the year prior.

Helium is used to maintain low-operating temperatures of medical devices such as MRI scanners and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers — machines that help with analysis of small molecules. Mr. Chambers, the Pitt facilities director, said the university’s recovery system has decreased its helium usage by over 60%. Yet he still remains concerned about availability, especially after an ominous call from a supplier recently warning of a “large shortage” coming in July.

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