Personal Mention-Faculty & Staff News - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Personal Mention

Neil M. Donahue has been named director of the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research. He succeeds David Dzombak, who recently assumed leadership of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Donahue is a professor of chemical engineering, chemistry, engineering and public policy, and founding director of CMU's Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies. He is an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric chemistry and air-quality engineering. "It's a great opportunity to lead such a diverse and dynamic institute as environmental issues continue to emerge. I look forward to having our research complement ongoing work at the newly created Scott Institute as we all strive to solve the environmental and energy issues of the 21st century," Donahue said. Read more.

Anne Witchner Levin (DC'73), a loyal, dedicated and selfless Carnegie Mellon staff member for more than 35 years, is being recognized with an Alumni Association Service Award tomorrow evening at the annual Alumni Awards ceremony beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27 in the College of Fine Arts' Kresge Theatre. Levin, an assistant dean of Student Affairs, has played a prominent role at CMU since joining the university in 1977.  In addition to the orientation program for incoming first-year students, she’s been among the chief organizers of several major university events, including Family Weekend, the Madrigal Dinner, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Spring Carnival. Read more about Levin in the September Piper.

Maria Sensi Sellner, interim director of choirs in the School of Music, has won the American Prize in Conducting-Opera Division for her versatility as a conductor of opera, orchestras and choruses. The winner of the 2012 American Prize in Opera Conducting, she has conducted productions for Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, the Boston Opera Collaborative, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and the Solon Center for the Arts in addition to CMU’s School of Music. She will conduct the CMU Choirs concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28. Read more.

The Romantic era may be best known for artistic free expressions, but a new book by Carnegie Mellon English Professor Jon Klancher shows how the period during the 18th and 19th centuries transformed the arts and sciences into the disciplines used today. Published by Cambridge University Press, "Transfiguring the Arts and Sciences: Knowledge and Cultural Institutions in the Romantic Age" offers an original study of how new research and educational organizations reconstructed the idea of knowledge, revealing a more complicated history between the arts and sciences than previously thought. Read more.

Chris Jones, teaching professor of French and computer-assisted language learning, gave a keynote address at the annual Eurocall (European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning) meeting held at the University of Evora in Portugal on Sept. 12. His talk, titled "Fulfilling the Promise of Web Delivered Language Instruction: Progress in Student Tracking and Modeling," discussed his recent work in the context of the French Online / Open Learning Initiative course to implement the Learning Dashboard reporting system. The system takes interaction data categorized by learning objective, subjects it to mastery analytics and presents the results to both students and instructors in user-friendly fashion.

Allan Meltzer, the Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy at theTepper school of Business, says the Federal Reserve is relying too heavily on short-term palliatives that have little long-term benefit for the U.S. economy. His remarks, titled “Why the Recovery is Slow: What Should Be Done?”, were presented at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee examining the impact of political uncertainty on jobs and the economy. “The United States has long-standing real problems that require policy procedures very different from the policies we have,” Meltzer told the committee. “Current policies aim at near-term change.  Little if any thought is given to the longer-term consequences. The accumulation of neglect of those consequences and uncertainty about current and future policies is the main reason the recovery is slow." Read more.

Ashlie Henery, a current Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Acquisition in the Department of Modern Languages, is the recipient of the Barbara F. Freed Award for Research on Language Learning in a Study Abroad Context. The award will support work on her dissertation, “Interpreting ‘Real’ French: The Role of Expert Mediation in Learners’ Observations, Understandings, and Use of Pragmatic Practices While Abroad.” Henery also received the 2013-14 Chateaubriand Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences, awarded by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

CMU's Michael J. Tarr and Pitt's Peter L. Strick wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on how Pittsburgh is poised to benefit from the federal BRAIN initiative. Tarr and Strick point out that "the neuroscience community in Pittsburgh is vast, highly accomplished and a major contributor to neuroscience training, research and clinical care." Tarr is the CMU co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint program between CMU and Pitt that is devoted to investigating the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities. Strick is the Pitt CNBC co-director. Read "Brain gain: How our region will benefit from the federal BRAIN initiative."


PopTech, a global social innovation incubator and thought leadership network, has named Jason Hong, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, and Carmel Majidi, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, to its list of 11 PopTech Science Fellows for 2013. The yearlong fellows program helps high-potential working scientists become more effective communicators, collaborators and leaders both within and beyond academia. Hong and Majidi will join the other Science Fellows, as well as 11 Social Innovation Fellows, in Maine next month for an intensive training program that will help them become more effective communicators, collaborators and leaders. Each will make presentations of their work at PopTech’s Sparks of Brilliance conference in Camden, Maine, Oct. 24-26. Hong investigates privacy and security issues for pervasive computing, including smartphone apps. His work, which has been featured in The New York Times and the CBS “Morning Show,” focuses on the human element of these security issues and examines how to empower people so that they have better control over and feedback about their personal information. Majidi studies the next generation of biologically compatible robots, assistive medical devices and electronics. These “soft-matter technologies” include systems that are flexible and adapt their functionality to the changing demands of their operator and environment.