Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
March 14, 2011

Pioneer in Study of Bridge-Fatigue Damage to Speak at Pitt on March 17

John W. Fisher, a professor emeritus at Lehigh University and a renowned structural engineer who pioneered the study of fatigue stress in bridges, will deliver the 2011 Landis-Epic Lecture hosted by the Pitt Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

In his lecture, “Fatigue and Fracture: A Challenge for Existing and Future Steel Bridges,” Fisher will examine the ongoing efforts to study and prevent fatigue-based damage, as well as building practices from the past that actually exacerbate bridge deterioration today. The free public talk will be held at 4:30 p.m. March 17 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. A reception will follow.

When Fisher began his work in the late 1960s, fatigue was not considered the serious bridge-performance issue it is now. Limited, small-scale tests comprised the experimental knowledge of fatigue cracking, and certain building practices unwittingly encouraged fractures; for instance, a rule adopted after World War II that avoided welding to tension flanges has resulted in extensive cracking and damage in bridges today. Fisher was among the first researchers to conduct large-scale tests and accurately determine the stress range of bridge welds and components. (Pitt professor of civil and environmental engineering Kent Harries, one of the many engineers influenced by Fisher’s work, conducts related large-scale research.) Fisher’s work prompted the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which sets building standards for U.S. highways, to adopt in 1974 codes related to fatigue. His basic data serve as the basis for bridge codes worldwide.

—Morgan Kelly

Dallas Morning News Mexico Bureau Chief to Speak on Mexican Violence

Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, will be the featured speaker for the University of Pittsburgh American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and the University Honors College at 8 p.m. March 16 in the Twentieth Century Club, Oakland.

The lecture, titled “Midnight in Mexico: Descent Into Darkness,” gives Corchado’s personal account of Mexico’s accelerating violence and a search for hope from both sides of the border amid the bloodiest period since the 1910 Mexican revolution.

Cosponsored by the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, the event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Anyone interested in attending must RSVP with name, phone number, and name(s) of additional attendees by visiting the American Experience Web site at For more information on the lecture series, call 412-624-1514.

Discussion moderators will include Pitt alumnus and trustee Dick Thornburgh (LAW ’57), formerly governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, attorney general of the United States, and U.N. undersecretary general, who is now of counsel to the international law firm K&L Gates in its Washington, D.C., office; Phil Williams, director of the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies; Cindy Skrzycki, senior lecturer in Pitt’s Department of English and business correspondent for; and David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

—Patricia Lomando White

Queloides Exhibition Featured In New York City Gallery

The Cuban art exhibition Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art, which just ended a critically acclaimed run at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, will be shown at The 8th Floor, a private art gallery in New York City, beginning April 12. Cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the New York City exhibition runs through July.

Queloides, cocurated by Pitt professor Alejandro de la Fuente, addresses the debate about the persistence of racism in contemporary Cuba and throughout the world. While in New York, Queloides will be part of the Cuban arts and culture festival ¡Sí Cuba!

While taking steps to eliminate inequality, the Cuban revolution suppressed discussions of race, claiming that discrimination had been forever eliminated from the island. After decades of being considered taboo, discussions about race and racism occur more openly in contemporary Cuba. In the early 1990s, artists, scholars, and writers in Cuba began to do the unthinkable: denounce the persistence of racial discrimination in Cuban socialist society.

Queloides is the answer of a group of Cuban visual artists and intellectuals to these changing realities,” says de la Fuente, a University Center for International Studies (UCIS) research professor of history and Latin American studies at Pitt. “Artists such as the ones showcased in Queloides have tried to articulate an answer to the deteriorating racial situation in Cuba. It is the protest of a generation that grew up in a mostly egalitarian society and that then witnessed how that society collapsed in front of their eyes.

“Since its conception, the exhibition has been a product of collaboration between Cuban artists and intellectuals and American institutions, such as Pitt’s CLAS and the Mattress Factory museum,” adds de la Fuente.

From March to June, 14 New York institutions are convening to celebrate the rich artistic vitality of Cuba by presenting the ¡Sí Cuba! festival, a showcase for the diversity of Cuban culture from the traditional to the modern. For the complete lineup of ¡Sí Cuba! festival events, visit

For additional information on Queloides, visit

—Amanda Leff Ritchie