News of Note

Issue Date: 
September 9, 2013

iSchool Inclusion Institute Receives Mellon Grant to Continue Supporting IT Education for Underrepresented Students Nationwide

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation granted Pitt’s School of Information Sciences a three-year, $819,000 grant to support the iSchool Inclusion Institutes, a program designed to increase graduate student diversity among information schools nationwide. This is the third grant to be awarded to the school from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development and hosting of the iSchool Inclusion Institute program, bringing the total donation more than $1.5 million.

The iSchool Inclusion Institute program is an undergraduate research and leadership-development scholarship program that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate studies and careers in the information sciences. Each year, 20 undergraduate students from across the country are selected to participate in a yearlong experience including two summer institutes at Pitt and a yearlong team research project. Through the program, students can explore educational and research opportunities within information sciences.

Student Xiaopeng Li Named Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics Graduate Fellow

Xiaopeng Li, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy Xiaopeng Liwithin Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is the first Pitt student to be selected as a Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics graduate fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara—one of the most renowned theoretical physics institutes in the world. Li will spend the next six months researching condensed matter physics, a branch of physics that focuses on the physical properties of matter like solids and liquids. W. Vincent Liu, a Pitt professor of physics, nominated Li for the fellowship based on his “outstanding dedication to physics research.”

Editor’s Choice in Science: Professor Judy Yang’s Crystalline Transformations in Nanoparticles

A research article by Judy Yang, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Chemical Engineering ProfessorJudy Yang within Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was selected as an Editor’s Choice in the Aug. 9 issue of Science, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to showcasing scientific research. Editors chose Yang’s article, “Non-Crystalline-to-Crystalline Transformations in Pt Nanoparticles,” from the July 19 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society

Together with her team, Yang studied the structure of platinum nanoparticles using a combination of mathematical equations, microscopes, and x-rays. After examining more than 3,000 nanoparticles, she was able to clearly distinguish between non-crystalline and crystalline nanoparticles, finding that not a single size marked the transition between the two. This research is of broad interest, Yang notes, as the transformational properties of nanoparticles could be useful in a variety of technological platforms.

Bioengineering Graduate Student Saik Goh Studies with National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

Saik Goh, a bioengineering doctoral candidate within the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, participated in Clinical and Translational Research for PhD Students, a new National Institutes of Health Clinical Center program.

Goh was among 27 national participants working with National Institutes of Health scientists to explore clinical and translational research, which helps scientists transfer basic research findings into medical practice. Students see firsthand the practical advances that can be made when scientists and clinicians work side by side in a clinical research setting. The Clinical Center is known for discoveries such as the first use of chemotherapy for cancer and the first use of the drug AZT to treat AIDS.

The free, two-week program ran from July 8-22 at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Physics Professor Jeremy Levy Leads National Graphene and Complex Oxide Material Study

Jeremy Levy, director of the Center for Oxide-Semiconductor Jeremy LevyMaterials for Quantum Computation and physics professor within the University of Pittsburgh’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, will lead a new $1.8 million research effort to study composite materials formed from graphene and complex oxide materials. Levy will explore the connection between the two materials, allowing each material to modify the other’s behavior in ways that can lead to new understanding of the materials.

The grant submitted by Levy and his team, titled “Nanoscale Terahertz, Infrared and Plasmonics Platform Using Graphene Complex Oxide Heterostructures,” aims to understand electronic coupling between these two materials for the creation of new classes of high-speed computing materials. These newly discovered materials share the ability to confine electrons to a thin sheet. There, the electrons can respond to electric fields at high frequencies, extending into the terahertz. One terahertz is a frequency equivalent to one thousand gigahertz, significantly faster than current processor speeds in today’s computers, making graphene and complex oxide materials useful for terahertz electronics applications.

Levy’s research is supported by the Office of Naval Research and includes researchers from Columbia University, Harvard University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.