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December 04, 2014

Personal Mention

K. Jimmy Hsia has accepted the position of Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy, effective Jan. 1, 2015. He also will join the College of Engineering as professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering. Hsia will work closely with university, college and school leadership to ensure the continuing quality and high standards of CMU's existing educational offerings, and will engage in CMU’s efforts to identify and evaluate educational and research opportunities for new partnerships around the world. Hsia comes to CMU from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where he is the W. Grafton and Lillian B. Wilkins Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering. At UIUC, Hsia has expanded international education and research opportunities for faculty and students in many countries across Asia; most recently, he has served as chair of the UIUC-Zhejiang University Joint Institute Working Group, where he helped to foster relationships with potential international partners. He also has made productive connections for students and faculty across universities and companies in China.

John O’Brien has been named associate dean at Carnegie Mellon in Qatar. He will be responsible for assisting the Dean’s Office with faculty affairs including recruitment, reviews for reappointment and promotion, and mentoring. A member of the Tepper School faculty since 1984, O'Brien earned tenure in 1992. He was the co-architect of the first Educational Trading Room, which combined and applied real-time data and computer-aided experiential learning tools to finance education worldwide. This resulted in a four-course series titled “Financial Analysis and Securities” (FAST), which was innovative and revolutionary in terms of its application of computer networking and computer-aided decision-making to education. Later, FAST was offered in more than 35 MBA programs across the globe and was also used to train participants in emerging financial markets, such as Russia and Mexico.  A working replica of the FAST program and software was included in the Smithsonian Institute’s Washington, D.C., time capsule on the technological revolution in the 1990s, to be opened 100 years later.  “I have known John for many years, and am very pleased to welcome him into the administration at CMU-Q. With three decades of experience at Carnegie Mellon, John will be an asset to the Qatar campus as we continue to advance the academic programs and attract a world class faculty,” said Ilker Baybars, dean and CEO of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar.

Sue-mei Wu, teaching professor of Chinese Studies in the Department of Modern Languages, has won second prize in the 2014 Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) Cengage Learning Award for Innovative Excellence in the Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language competition. Her project was titled "The Chinese Folk Performance Curriculum: Leveraging Technology, Balancing Learners’ Content Knowledge and Language Proficiency." The project showcases the integration of advanced technology into a course that introduces Chinese representative folk arts, including opera, puppetry, storytelling, music and instruments, folk beliefs and temple festivals. This award is designed to encourage CLTA members to contribute to the improvement of Chinese Foreign Language (CFL) education in the United States through the design, development and application of new pedagogy, innovative classroom practices, and teaching tools (e.g. multimedia). Wu’s innovative idea and contribution to foreign language education were nationally recognized as she received the award at the CLTA Annual Meeting at the CLTA/ACTFL conference, Nov. 21-23, in San Antonio, Texas. Wu created, designed and taught the Chinese Folk Performance course at CMU.

Greg Shannon, chief scientist for the CERT Division at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), has been named chair of the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative. IEEE is the world's largest professional organization advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. As chief scientist at the SEI, Shannon partners with government, industry and academia to develop advanced methods and technologies to counter sophisticated cyber threats. In his role as chair of the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative, he will shape and lead a technical agenda that brings unique solutions to cybersecurity challenges by providing tools and data for computer security education, providing guidance on secure software coding and software assurance engineering, and facilitating adoption throughout the cybersecurity industry. Learn more.

Hamerschlag University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chris Hendrickson has been inducted into the National Academy of Construction. Hendrickson was one of 28 new inductees and joined 187 members who share this distinction. The National Academy of Construction is an organization of industry leaders who have made outstanding contributions to the engineering and construction industry. It is composed of a wide variety of industry representatives, including construction users, designers, constructors, consultants, attorneys and academics. Hendrickson was selected to the NAC in part because of his outstanding systems-oriented research and his leadership in construction project management, transportation and green design. He is the Director of the Traffic 21 Institute and editor-in-chief of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Transportation Engineering. Learn more.

Mariana Achugar, assistant professor of Hispanic Studies and second language acquisition and author of "Piropos as Metaphors for Gender Roles in Spanish Speaking Cultures,” participated in an expert panel for Cosmopolitan Magazine to explore how piropos — a form of flirtatious street talk typically considered complimentary — affect Latinas. Read more

Following Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s resignation, Kiron Skinner wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times’ Room for Debate section on the kind of leader President Obama needs to choose as his successor. Skinner is associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of CMU’s Center for International Relations and Politics. Read "A Secretary of Defense With a Doctrine Could Help Obama."

Doctoral students Ankit Jain and Lauren Strahs were selected this fall as the 2014-15 Northrop Grumman Fellows. This merit-based fellowship is awarded to College of Engineering doctoral students who are conducting multidisciplinary research associated with strategic directions within the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems.

  • Jain is a mechanical engineering doctoral student and is advised by Alan McGaughey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. The objective of Jain's research is to predict the thermal transport properties of the two-dimensional layered materials hexagonal boron-nitride (h-BN) and molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) using a robust, efficient and highly accurate quantum-mechanics driven computational framework.
  • Strahs is a doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering and is advised by Jeanne VanBriesen, professor of civil and environmental engineering. The goal of her research is to characterize, predict and mitigate organic fouling that occurs with membrane treatment for desalination.


Jon Beckley, a longtime faculty member in the School of Art, died on Sunday, Nov. 30, after a period of illness. Beckley joined Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in 1979 and gave 34 years of dedicated service to the School of Art until his retirement in 2013. Beckley had great breadth in his artistic practice. In his own work and in his classes he covered painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation and site-specific projects.

"He inspired generations of students to experiment, explore and discover the joy and fulfillment there can be in making art," said John Carson, head of the School of Art. "Jon was instrumental in developing international links for the School of Art and worked tirelessly at setting up exchanges and residencies for our students and visiting students from around the world. He approached his life and his work with optimism, enthusiasm and generosity."

His colleague Susanne Slavick said Beckley was "a fixer-upper with a positive attitude, who always offered encouragement, a kind word, a joke, a smile, or all of the above.”

Information regarding a memorial service will be posted on the School of Art website.

Michel Fougères, associate professor emeritus of French who joined the CMU faculty in 1969, died on Nov. 16. Fougères was known for having a close relationship with his students and for developing a self-paced French program of studies in which students could learn French independently and meet individually with him. Christian Hallstein, teaching professor of German, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "Fougeres had as many as 50 independent study students enrolled at a time along with traditional classroom students." Read the full obituary.