Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

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February 09, 2012

Personal Mention

Susan G. Polansky has been reappointed as head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Modern Languages. Her second term will begin July 1. During her first term, Polansky, a teaching professor of Hispanic studies, worked to broaden the department’s global education initiatives by creating a new Masters Program in Applied Second Language Acquisition, enhancing faculty and student involvement in community outreach activities and increasing study abroad participation. She also led the launch of an Arabic program, which now offers advanced level courses. Read more about her reappointment.

Three Carnegie Mellon professors, Illah Nourbaksh, Greg Lowry and Shelly Anna, have received Carnegie Science Awards. Nourbaksh, a professor of robotics, earned the Catalyst Award, which recognizes excellence in promoting public awareness of scientific issues, and advancing science in society to bring about measurable, beneficial change. Nourbakhsh directs the CREATE Lab, which explores human-robot interaction through educational and social robotics and by using robotic technology to empower individuals and communities. It includes such innovative projects as GigaPan, ChargeCar, Robot250, TeRK, Message from Me, Hear Me and Robot Diaries. Lowry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, earned an honorable mention citation in the Environmental category, and Anna, an associate professor of chemical and mechanical engineering, received an honorable mention award in the Emerging Female Scientist category. Awardees will be honored during a formal celebration May 11 at Carnegie Music Hall.

Cyrus Forough, professor of violin, will present a concert at the Music Institute of Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 18. Forough, joined by pianist Tatyana Stepanova, will perform Bach's Chaconne; Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1; and Prokofiev's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80.

Reza Vali, associate professor of composition, was featured in a recent article, "Beyond the Melting Pot," in Symphony magazine's winter issue. The article describes Vali's compositions for Persian instruments with Western orchestra, as well as his experiments on reproducing the sounds of Middle Eastern techniques on Western instruments. Vali's Concerto for Ney and Orchestra was recently featured in the Sacramento Philharmonic's "Songs of Hope" concert series.

In a World Economic Forum blog entry, Justine Cassell, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, says technological innovations won’t reach their potential for solving human concerns if developers fail to understand the goals, fears and experiences of the humans who will use those innovations.

A recent article in City Paper focuses on Burr Settles, a post-doctoral researcher in the Machine Learning Department and musician, for his role in creating and sustaining February Album Writing Month.

The Technical University of Dortmund in Germany has awarded Ignacio Grossmann, the Rudolf and Florence Dean University Professor of Chemical Engineering, an honorary doctorate promoted by the Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering and the Institute for System Dynamics and Operations. His citation read "Professor Ignacio Grossmann is a world leader in the field of mixed-integer programming and its application in process design and planning and scheduling problems and has contributed much to the cooperation of Carnegie Mellon University with the Technical University of Dortmund." Read the full story (in German).