News of Note

Issue Date: 
March 4, 2013

Army Officer Ryan Ahl Is Named Director of Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services

Ryan Ahl has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Veterans Services, where he will assist veterans in their transition from military to University life, support their academic successes, and help them and their families receive military education benefits. Prior to arriving at Pitt, Ahl served for 10 years as an infantry squad leader with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, participating in more than 500 missions in Iraq. Since July 2012, Ahl has served as a maintenance control officer with the brigade support battalion of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. 

Law Professor Jessie Allen Presents Research in Australia

Pitt Assistant Professor of Law Jessie Allen—an expert on one of the most important legal treatises ever written in the English language, Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769)—gave a presentation in December at an international symposium at Australia’s University of Adelaide. Allen’s paper, “Reading Blackstone in the 21st Century and the 21st Century Through Blackstone,” combined original research on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent increased citations of Blackstone’s Commentaries with material from Allen’s blog, Blackstone Weekly, Blackstone’s Commentaries consolidated English common law into a unified and rational system and greatly influenced legal education in both England and America. Allen presented a second paper, “Theater of International Justice,” at Australia’s University of Melbourne Law School. At a freestanding seminar of the law school’s Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Allen responded to the critique of international human rights tribunals as not “real” courts by analyzing the theatrical nature of international rights adjudication and its effects.

History Graduate Matthew Casey Receives Award for Dissertation on Haitians in Cuba

Recent graduate Matthew Casey (A&S ’06G, ’12G) has received the 2011–12 Eduardo Lozano Memorial Dissertation Award from Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies and Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures for his dissertation, “From Haiti to Cuba and Back: Haitians’ Experiences of Migration, Labor, and Return, 1900–1940.” The selection committee wrote that Casey’s dissertation, written for his PhD in history, “challenges the traditional perception of Haitian workers in Cuba” and praised his use of Cuban nationalization records. Casey is now an assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The award—presented annually for the best doctoral dissertation at the University of Pittsburgh on a topic related to Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latin American communities—is named after Pitt librarian Eduardo Lozano, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and directed the Latin American collection at Hillman Library from 1967 until his death in 2006, developing it into one of the most outstanding collections of its kind. An honorable mention was given to Laura Macia-Vergara (A&S ’12G) for her dissertation, “Dealing with Grievances: The Latino Experience in Pittsburgh,” which she wrote while earning a PhD in anthropology. She is a project coordinator with the Department of Behavioral and Community Health in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.  

Geology Professor Emily Elliott Awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Grant

Emily Elliott, assistant professor of environmental isotope geochemistry in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences within Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a five-year, $550,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER Program offers prestigious awards that support junior faculty members doing groundbreaking research who demonstrate a great understanding of their fields. Through her research, Elliott intends to prove that poor constraints on nitrogen releases in urban environments have quite heavily influenced the nutrient sources of urban ecosystems like streams and riverine systems. She plans to compare the reactive nitrogen deposition, fluxes, and speciation between urban and rural environments; examine the mechanisms that retain nitrogen in urban ecosystems; and determine how the ecosystem responds to the addition of atmospheric nitrate. This research will be aided not only by this NSF CAREER grant, but also by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Science Center.

Elliott has been a member of the University’s faculty since 2007 and has had nearly a dozen articles published in refereed journals since that time. She recently received an honorable mention from the 2013 Carnegie Science Awards in the Environmental Award category for her examination of the pollutants caused by power-plant stacks. 

Student Conduct Officer Deborah Walker Selected to Serve on County Advisory Board

Deborah Walker (GSPIA ’03, CGS ’01), student conduct officer in Pitt’s Division of Student Affairs, has been selected to serve on the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) Block Grant Advisory Board. She will be responsible for helping to distribute state-allocated block grant funds for mental health, behavioral health, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, homelessness, child welfare, and human services projects. Last year, the board distributed more than $128 million. The board comprises 48 members who reflect the diversity of the populations served by DHS. “I’m honored to have been selected as part of the DHS Block Grant Advisory Board, knowing that I will help make a significant impact on improving the lives of residents of Allegheny County,” Walker said.

Pitt Business School Recognized as a Top 100 Social Media-Friendly School

The University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been selected as a Top 100 Most Social Media–Friendly MBA School for 2013 by Staff at compiled data from the social media accounts of more than 400 business schools, ranking them based on their presence and activity levels on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Flickr. This is the first year the rankings have been issued.