Carnegie Mellon University
May 17, 2016

Aryn Gittis, Joel McManus Awarded Eberly Family Career Development Professorships in Biological Sciences

By Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982 /

Eberly Professors
New Eberly Professors Aryn Gittis (middle) and Joel McManus (second from right) with (l-r) Head of Biological Sciences Aaron Mitchell, Provost Farnam Jahanian and MCS Dean Fred Gilman.

Assistant professors Aryn Gittis and Joel McManus have received Eberly Family Career Development Professorships in Biological Sciences.

The professorships were established in 1993 to recruit, retain and recognize exceptional biological sciences faculty in the Mellon College of Science.

“Career development professorships support young researchers during pivotal points in their careers, allowing them to pursue adventurous paths in research, including more risky paths that might not attract initial funding from other sources,” said Fred Gilman, dean of the Mellon College of Science. “Aryn and Joel are impressive young researchers who are already doing great things in their fields. These professorships will help them to achieve even more.”

Gittis is a neuroscientist who studies the neural circuitry of the basal ganglia, a brain system involved in movement, learning, motivation and reward. Dysfunction in these circuits is thought to play a role in neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and dystonia. Gittis’ lab uses a variety of techniques including electrophysiology, optogenetics, histology and behavior to understand how these circuits affect motor control. Gittis is a member of Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub neuroscience initiative and the joint Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.

McManus is an evolutionary systems biologist who studies gene regulatory mechanisms and their evolution. Gene expression involves a host of cellular networks and pathways, many involving the splicing, translation and regulation of mRNA. Differences in these networks lead to variation in gene expression and can play a role in health and disease. McManus’ lab uses high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics to study these regulatory networks and investigate the secondary structure of mRNA.

The Eberly family has a long history of supporting Carnegie Mellon. In 1991, they created the Eberly Scholarship Fund, which supports students from Fayette County. In 1996, they endowed the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation to assist professors, new and tenured, to become the best educators they can be.