Awards & More

Issue Date: 
March 22, 2010

Engineering professor Peyman Givi recently became the first Pitt faculty member to be selected a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace technical society. Givi, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was recognized for his “pioneering contributions in mathematical modeling and computational simulation of turbulent combustion.” He is among 30 Fellows worldwide who will be honored at the May 12 AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.

Givi studies the complex field of engine turbulence and creates computer models of engines to help engineers design more efficient, cleaner-burning engines while saving the time and expense of constructing an actual test engine.

A Pitt staff member and a Pitt student have been honored with the 2010 Iris Marion Young Awards for Political Engagement. Gail Austin, director of Pitt’s Academic Resource Center, is the recipient of the staff award. Michelle McGowan, a senior in Pitt’s School of Social Work, received the undergraduate award.

The awards honor the late Professor Iris Marion Young, a philosopher and social theorist who had a faculty appointment in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She died of cancer in 2006. The two awards are given annually to those who work to promote social justice and democracy.

Austin has worked for 40 years as an advocate for civil rights, human rights, and peace—both at the University and in the community. With other activists, she helped form the Afro-American Cultural Society, which works to increase the number of Black students, staff, and faculty at Pitt. She has been an advocate and resource for students in her roles as staff member of the University Challenge for Excellence Program (UCEP) and, more recently, as director of the Academic Resource Center. She served on the Pitt Divestment Coalition and was active in Pittsburghers Against Apartheid, the national Free South Africa Movement, the No Dope Campaign, and African Americans Against War. Austin’s latest work focuses on Black Voices for Peace, an organization that opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is president of the Kente Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to bringing quality arts programming to underserved communities.

McGowan, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in social work this May, began her political activism in high school. She participated in the Million Women March and earned a service-learning certificate for her work with Easter Seals and Planned Parenthood. At Pitt, McGowan has been active in the G-20 Resistance Project and Students Taking Action Now in Darfur.

A number of faculty and staff of the University of Pittsburgh schools of the health sciences have been recognized for their significant achievements and exceptional leadership.

Anda Vlad, an assistant professor of immunology, received an Early Career Development Award funded by the Ovarian Cancer Academy of the Department of Defense. The five-year, $840,000 grant will fund Vlad’s investigation of tumor-promoting genetic mutations and testing of novel ovarian cancer therapies.

Jacob Larkin, a fellow in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Pitt School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health, received a three-year, $300,000 award, jointly sponsored by the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Foundation and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, to support his research on placental response to injury.

J. Anthony Graves, an assistant professor of pediatrics in Pitt’s School of Medicine and a researcher and physician in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is an awardee of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The award, which is named after Amos, who was the first African American to serve as a department head at Harvard University, is part of the Robert Wood Johnston’s Building Human Capital initiative. There are as many as eight scholars selected each year who receive a yearly stipend of $75,000 and $30,000 to use toward research. The award runs for four years.