Carnegie Mellon University

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July 26, 2012

Personal Mention

Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of the Center for International Relations and Politics, has been named the university’s adviser on national security policy. Skinner, a renowned expert in international relations, U.S. foreign policy and political strategy, will build on the growing and diverse network that Carnegie Mellon has with the national security community in Washington, D.C. — both inside and outside of government. She is the first person to hold this position at CMU. “Kiron Skinner is well-respected and well-connected within the national security community, and she consistently attracts top-level officials to CMU for talks and technical briefings in areas in which Carnegie Mellon excels, such as robotics, cyber security, public policy and information technology,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon. “Kiron is also a leader in shaping new educational programs to prepare emerging military and national security leaders for the evolving technical and policy challenges they will face. I expect the entire university to benefit from having her in this new role.” Read the full story.

Associate Professor of Dramatic Writing Rob Handel’s theater company, “13P,” was recently featured in The New York Times. Reporter Alexis Soloski writes, “The group came together with a deceptively simple goal: to offer a full production to each of its 13 associates, most of them unknown at the time of the group’s founding. Its pithy (if slightly snippy) motto: “We don’t develop plays. (We do them.)” Read the feature and sidebar and view the slideshow. The theater company has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York and The Brooklyn Rail.

Alex Hills, distinguished service professor in the Engineering and Public Policy Department, was mentioned in a speech at Carnegie Mellon last week by Ajit Pai, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. In his talk, Pai discussed how the FCC can help accelerate economic growth in the technology sector and how it can modernize its approach to remove barriers to infrastructure investment and technological innovation. "That network, named Wireless Andrew after Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, was the forerunner of the Wi-Fi networks that we now all take for granted," Pai said. "The effort to build Wireless Andrew was led by Professor Alex Hills, who still teaches at Carnegie Mellon. All of us with mobile devices owe Professor Hills a debt of gratitude."

Alessandro Acquisti, an associate professor in the Heinz College, provided expert testimony to the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, titled "What Facial Recognition Technology Means for Privacy and Civil Liberties," on Wednesday, July 18. In his testimony, Acquisti said the convergence of face recognition, online social networks and data mining has made it possible to use publicly available data and inexpensive technologies to produce sensitive inferences merely starting from an anonymous face. Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called the hearing to raise awareness of the use of facial recognition and that federal privacy laws are “totally unprepared to deal with this technology.” Watch the hearing.

David S. Mawhinney, assistant teaching professor of entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business, has been named the new executive director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship. Mawhinney, who received his MBA with distinction at the Tepper School in 1990, succeeds Art Boni, the John R. Thorne Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship, who has led the center through a period of steady growth and successful outreach since 2005. Mawhinney becomes the center's fourth director after serving a year as its associate director.  The center is a critical component of the university's Greenlighting Startups initiative.

Timothy Verstynen, a new faculty member within the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education for his research on the zombie brain. Read “Young Neuroscientists’ Popular Zombie Study Frightens Their Advisers Most of All.”

Ken Koedinger, professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, will present the keynote address, “Bridging the Gap Between Psychological Science and Educational Practice,” at the American Psychological Association annual conference Aug. 2 in Orlando, Fla. His speech will outline potential rifts between research and classroom practice and discuss how principles of learning can be applied and tested in controlled experiments in schools.