Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
August 15, 2013

Personal Mention

Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of the university's Center for International Relations and Politics, will be a panelist for a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Town Hall Meeting on national security. Skinner will join former Pennslyvania Governor and the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and others for a discussion titled "How Safe Are We?" Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman will moderate the talk beginning at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the August Wilson Center. The event is free with pre-registration requested. For complete details visit

Mitchell Small, the H. John Heinz Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, will join a panel of industry experts from 2 - 3 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21, in a webinar sponsored by McGraw Hill Construction to explore the opportunities and risks involved with extracting natural gas from shale. Small will discuss the environmental impacts of fracking in producing gas from shale, and give updates on state and federal research and recommendations about these new production technologies. Small chairs a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) panel created to scrutinize shale gas drilling. The webinar is designed to explore the biggest challenges in the fracking marketplace, and how industry can develop new technologies to ensure safety and environmental protection. Read more at

The Department of Athletics has named Eric Grotzinger as its NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, effective at the start of the 2013-14 academic year. Grotzinger, the associate dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the Mellon College of Science, succeeds Jim Garrett, who was named dean of the College of Engineering this past January. Grotzinger, who advises the incoming class of first-year students and assists in the advising and mentoring of upper-class students, has been a tremendous supporter of the Athletics Department. “I have had the pleasure of attending many athletic events and watching our scholar athletes perform at a very high level both on and off the field. I am delighted to serve as faculty representative so that I can contribute to this excellent athletic tradition,” Grotzinger said. Read the full announcement.

Jon Peha is urging U.S. government officials to allow emergency responders to use commercial services on a priority basis during a crisis. In 2012, Congress voted to create FirstNet, the first nationwide communications network for emergency responders, such as firefighters, police and paramedics. As a result of the new network, many people are talking about building out new infrastructure. But in a summer 2013 article in Issues in Science and Technology, Peha, a professor of engineering and public policy and electrical and computer engineering, outlines a strategy for emergency officials to take advantage of infrastructure already built out by the private sector. Read more.

Founder of CMU startup Rubitection, alumna Sanna Gaspard outpaced 1,000 competitors from 14 nations to become one of 18 finalists in the 2013 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards (CWIA). The CWIA highlights women entrepreneurs managing competitive and innovative businesses with sustainable business plans. Gaspard's Rubitection is developing the Rubitect Assessment System (RAS) to detect and monitor early-stage pressure ulcers, commonly called bed sores. “This is truly a wonderful honor and validation of my work and efforts to grow Rubitection into a competitive and sustainable company,” said Gaspard, who earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at CMU in 2011. Read more.

Statistics professors Robert E. Kass, Larry Wasserman, Christopher Genovese, Stephen E. Fienberg and Kathryn Roeder were honored at the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) — the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America. The meetings were held Aug. 3-8 in Montreal.

  • Kass received the Outstanding Statistical Application Award from the American Statistical Association (ASA) for his paper "Assessment of Synchrony in Multiple Neural Spike Trains Using Loglinear Point Process Models."
  • Wasserman was invited to give the annual Reitz Lecture, which serves to clarify the relationship of statistical methodology and analysis to other fields.
  • Genovese was elected a fellow of the ASA for outstanding professional contributions to, and leadership in, the field of statistical science.
  • To celebrate Fienberg's 70th birthday, two special sessions were held: "Would the Real Steve Fienberg Please Stand Up: Getting to Know a Population from Multiple Incomplete Files" and "Session in Honor of 70th Birthday of Stephen E. Fienberg and His Nearly 50 Years of Statistical Practice."
  • As a past winner of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Award for the best statistician under the age of 40 and in honor of the 50th anniversary of COPSS, Roeder was invited to participate in a panel of past COPSS Award winners to discuss the "Past, Present and Future of Statistics."

Read more about the honorees.

Ardon Shorr, a Ph.D. student in biological sciences; Jesse Dunietz, a Ph.D. student in computer science; and Adona Iosif, a Ph.D. student in machine learning, are the subjects of a new National Science Foundation Science360 video on communicating science to the public. Last year, the three doctoral students founded a campus group called Public Communication for Researchers,, which presents seminars for grad students to help them better communicate with the public, with the media and even with each other. Watch the video.