Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

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August 21, 2014

Personal Mention

Kathryn Whitehead, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, and alumnus Severin Hacker, co-founder of the CMU spinoff Duolingo, have been recognized by MIT's Technology Review magazine's Innovators Under 35 list. Whitehead was named a pioneer for her work in biotechnology and medicine. Whitehead is helping to shape the frontiers of drug delivery: getting therapeutic drugs — such as those that help fight cancer and other diseases — to the right cells in the body. Whitehead's research group uses nanoparticles to encapsulate and protect the drug from the body's immune system so it can successfully reach the cells in need. The group modifies the chemical makeup of the nanoparticles so they may enter the cells and perform their therapeutic duty. Hacker, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science from CMU earlier this year, co-founded Duolingo with CMU Associate Professor of Computer Science Luis von Ahn. A free education platform, Duolingo teaches foreign languages to anyone with a smartphone or an Internet connection for free. Duolingo began as a research project at CMU and now offers 32 language courses and has more than 30 million users. Learn more.

Professor of Mathematical Sciences Alan Frieze delivered a plenary lecture at the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Seoul, Korea, this week. The ICM, held every four years, is one of the largest and most prestigious international congresses in the mathematics community and only a select group of mathematicians are invited to deliver plenary lectures. Frieze is a pioneer in the study of random combinatorial structures and the use of randomness in algorithms. His polynomial-time algorithm for approximating the volume of a convex body — work done jointly with former CMU Computer Science Professor Ravindran Kannan and Martin Dyer — has had a lasting impact on theoretical computer science. Frieze also is a major contributor to a weak version of the Szemeredi Regularity Lemma, a critical tool in combinatorics. Ryan O'Donnell, an associate professor of computer science, also attended the ICM as an invited section lecturer. O’Donnell, whose research focuses on algorithms and theoretical computer science, spoke on "Social choice, computational complexity, Gaussian geometry and Boolean functions." Learn more about the ICM at

Erin Scott has been named the School of Drama's new communications coordinator. She succeeds Dennis Schebetta, who left this summer to teach theatre and screenwriting at the University of Pittsburgh. Most recently managing editor of POP CITY, an online magazine in Pittsburgh, Scott also has held positions at the The Washingtonian, was weekend editor of DCIST.COM and was a Leadership Fellow at the Pew Charitable Trusts, all in D.C. Scott earned her bachelor's degree in theatre from Loyola University in Chicago, and studied at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Ana Beisy Cruz, a senior majoring in electrical and computer engineering, has received a Center for Science of Information (CSoI) Channels scholarship for continuing her work on developing and examining neuro-stimulation techniques for treating various ailments. Only three undergraduates received the award from the CSoI, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center at Purdue University. Cruz, who works in the lab of ECE Assistant Professor Pulkit Grover, has been designing signal processing techniques for using ultrasound for neuro-stimulation. Thus far her work has been mostly mathematical and simulation-based, but she intends to use the award to help her advance her work to the experimental stage.

Jay Kadane, a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, compares the situation involving a police officer shooting a young African-American man in Ferguson, Mo., to events that have happened in Pittsburgh and the culture that creates them. Read "It Isn’t Just Ferguson." Kadane is the Leonard J. Savage University Professor of Statistics and Social Sciences, Emeritus.

Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. student Kosa Goucher-Lambert and Jonathan Cagan, the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor in Engineering, won the Best Paper Award at the 2014 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Design Theory and Methodology Conference.  Their paper, titled “The Impact of Sustainability on Consumer Preference Judgments of Product Attributes,” was presented this past Tuesday (Aug. 19) in Buffalo, N.Y.

Professors Lorenz Biegler and Ignacio Grossmann, recognized as the “fathers of optimization,” participated in the South African Process Optimization Symposium at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month.  Biegler gave a presentation on “Nonlinear Programming Strategies for Optimization in Process Modeling, Design and Control.” Grossmann’s presentation was titled “Discrete and Continuous Optimization Models for the Design and Operation of Sustainable and Robust Process Systems.” Biegler is the Bayer University Professor and head of the Chemical Engineering Department. Grossmann is the Rudolph R. and Florence Dean University Professor of Chemical Engineering. Learn more and listen to their presentations at