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April 19: Schwartz, Urban Awarded Eberly Career Development Professorships in Biological Sciences


Lauren Ward

Amy Pavlak

Schwartz, Urban Awarded Eberly Career Development
Professorships in Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon   

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University assistant professors Russell Schwartz and Nathan Urban have received Eberly Family Career Development Professorships inRussell SchwartzBiological Sciences. The Eberly family's philanthropy has supported Carnegie Mellon and other colleges and universities through scholarships, professorships and other educational initiatives. 

Established in 1993, the Eberly Family Career Development Professorship in Biological Sciences was divided into two chairs in 1997. These professorships help to recruit, retain and recognize exceptional biological sciences faculty in the Mellon College of Science

"Russell and Nathan are creative, highly productive scientists who use ingenious computational and mathematical tools to solve interesting problems at disciplinary interfaces," said Elizabeth Jones, the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and head of the Department of Biological Sciences. "The Eberly Professorships will allow these scientists to conduct high-risk research projects — ones that define new fields and require exceptional scientific insight."    

Schwartz (top right), an assistant professor of biological sciences, conducts research at the interface of biology and computer science. His computer programs simulate how complex biological systems work, allowing him to manipulate variables in ways that would not be practical or possible in a living system. Schwartz is also developing computational methods that will quickly identify key regions of the human genome that can be traced to prehistoric times. Ultimately, such tools will help researchers address basic questions about human evolution and identify regions of the genome involved with diseases like cancer, diabetes and mental illness. Schwartz's honors include a 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and a 2004 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career DevelopmentNathan Urban(CAREER) Award.   

Urban (bottom right), an assistant professor of biological sciences, investigates the molecular, cellular and circuit-level properties of neuronal systems in the mouse olfactory bulb. Using a variety of experimental and computational techniques, Urban describes the detailed physiological properties of neurons and their connections with one another. He then constructs models that provide insight into how these properties give rise to more global brain functions, such as the synchronous neuronal firing that allows a mouse to sense an odor. Ultimately, this work could help scientists understand how neurons network with one another in learning and disease. In 2005, Scientific American recognized Urban as one of the nation's top 50 science and technology innovators.     

The Eberly family established the Eberly Scholarship Fund at Carnegie Mellon in 1991 and has annually supported four students from Fayette County. In 1996, the family endowed the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, which helps new and tenured professors become the best educators they can be.