Carnegie Mellon University

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February 28, 2013

Personal Mention

Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon received an honorary doctoral degree in public service from the University of Pittsburgh last Friday at the Pitt Honors Convocation at the Carnegie Music Hall. The first Pitt honorary degree given to a sitting CMU president, was bestowed upon Cohon in recognition of his cooperative spirit and the collaboration between the two schools. “Jerry Cohon has been an outstanding leader for Carnegie Mellon, a committed citizen of Pittsburgh, a devoted partner of Pitt, and a wonderful friend to me,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg. “Among many other accomplishments, he helped create an institutional culture that fostered levels of collaboration between Pitt and CMU that are unique in the world of higher education. That spirit of cooperation has made both institutions stronger and has provided a distinctive form of strength to the region.” Cohon delivered the keynote address at the Honors Convocation, which recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of Pitt alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Cohon’s remarks focused on the future of higher education. Read more in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Toward That Endless Plain,” a CD of orchestral works by Associate Professor of Composition Reza Vali, has been released by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)/Sound label. The CD contains Vali's compositions “Toward That Endless Plain: Concerto for Persian Ney and Orchestra,” “Folk Songs, Set No. 8,” and “Folk Songs, Set No 14.” The soloists on this recording are Khosrow Soltani and the mezzo-soprano Janna Baty. The works are performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose. For more information, go to the BMOP/Sound website.

Sheng Shen, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has received the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, its most prestigious award for junior faculty, for his work to improve thermal transport and management. Shen will use the five-year, $400,000 grant to understand and improve thermal transport nanostructures, which can be highly beneficial to the electronics and energy industries. “This grant will help me develop tools to improve thermal transport and management so essential to improving performance of computer processors now burdened by higher heat loads as users demand faster and faster operating speeds,” Shen said. Thermal transport and management is used widely in the electronics, aerospace and automotive industries to reduce heat backup and static charges. Read more about Shen.

At a time when the U.S. government is contemplating changes to federal guidelines governing research with humans, serious questions are being raised about the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in overseeing such research. Particularly, critics have cited lost time, money and even lives under a system that they claim consumes scarce resources and stifles academic freedom. In response, defenders of the IRB system point to the need to protect research participants from abuse. Carnegie Mellon's Alex John London, an internationally renowned expert in research ethics, is calling for a system that works for all stakeholders. In a paper published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, London argues that both sides of this debate are in danger of undermining aspects of the current system that are critical to its success. Read the full story.

Carnegie Mellon’s Franz Franchetti, an associate research professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received a 4.5-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop software for protecting unmanned ground vehicles and high-end cars from cyber attack. Franchetti's work is part of DARPA’s High-Assurance Cyber Military System (HACMS) program launched last year to produce ultra secure systems that are resilient to growing cyber threats. Franchetti is leading a team of researchers developing verification tools, including virtual high-assurance sensors and automatic software systems, to help computers figure out that they are under attack and to help them survive and continue operating. Read the full story.

“Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi” showcases recent scholarly criticism on the music and philosophy of the brilliantly original composer Giacinto Scelsi. In this collection, College of Fine Arts Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives Franco Sciannameo and music scholar Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini select and translate into English for the first time essays that reflect the evolution of recent scholarship on Scelsi’s complete works since his death in 1988. “Music As Dream” opens with the event known as “The Scelsi Case,” which erupted shortly after Scelsi’s death in 1988, when composer Vieri Tosatti claimed paternity for his works. This quarrel reached its climax in the pages of “Piano Time’s” March 1989 issue, in which musicologist Guido Zaccagnini questioned a group of noted composers, writers and arts managers on whether a composer can claim sole authorship for a work accomplished in collaboration with others. Read more at

Obituary: Leonard Gelfand

Leonard Gelfand, for whom Carnegie Mellon’s Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach is named, died on Feb. 21. He was 85.

A native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Gelfand, an electrical engineer, was chief engineer of Erico International Corporation in Cleveland and Solon, Ohio. He was the first of his family to pursue a technical career and was an inspiration to his nephew Mark, who in 2006 provided funding to name CMU’s outreach center in honor of his uncle. Mark, co-founder of Intex Solutions in Needham, Mass., earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Carnegie Mellon in 1973.  

 “I am proud that we have been able to impact the lives of so many children as a way to honor Mr. Gelfand, and we will continue this work in memory of him,” said Judith Hallinen, director of the Gelfand Center.

The center supports more than 75 university-wide programs for K-12 students and teachers aimed at improving and enhancing the teaching and learning process. Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff are active participants in its many outreach initiatives, which include certification and professional development programs for teachers and administrators; tutoring, mentoring and enrichment courses for students; and activities for students aimed at improving local communities. The center works to connect university students to volunteer and paid positions that allow them to develop expertise while meeting the needs of local agencies and individuals.

Read more about the Leonard Gelfand Service Learning & Outreach Center.
Read more about Leonard and Mark Gelfand (Click on "Our history.")