Carnegie Mellon University

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February 27, 2014

Personal Mention

Marlene Behrmann will receive the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professorship in Cognitive Neuroscience in recognition of her outstanding contributions to understanding the psychological and neural bases of visual processing. Behrmann joined the Department of Psychology faculty in 1993 and is widely considered to be one of the foremost experts in the cognitive neuroscience of visual perception. In January, she became CMU's co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint institute between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh devoted to investigating the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities. "Marlene Behrmann is a gifted researcher, educator and leader, and her work in cognitive neuroscience, especially visual perception, is of great importance because it is not only laying a foundation for understanding many aspects of human cognition but is also deepening our understanding of disorders like autism and face blindness," said John Lehoczky, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Learn more about Behrmann.

Carnegie Mellon neuroscientist Aryn Gittis has been named the recipient of a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. NARSAD Young Investigator grants enable early career scientists to explore new and innovative ideas that have the potential to further the understanding and treatment of brain and behavior disorders. Gittis, who is an assistant professor in biological sciences and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, will use the two-year grant to study the neuronal mechanisms that underlie compulsive behavior. Learn more about Gittis.

In honor of its centennial, the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is developing a list of "Books that Shaped Work in America." Labor issues expert and associate professor of English Kathy M. Newman has been selected as a contributor. Read her list at

Martin Gaynor, the E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy at the Heinz College, is among the 2014 Northwestern Alumni Association Alumni Merit Award recipients. The program recognizes Northwestern University alumni for high achievement in a profession or field. Gaynor earned a master’s degree and doctorate in economics from Northwestern in 1979 and 1983, respectively. He is on leave and serving as director of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Economics.

Daniel Schnitzer's EarthSpark International has won a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand its existing microgrid in Les Anglais, Haiti, to a town-sized, solar-diesel hybrid smart grid to serve residential and commercial customers. "What we are doing is developing a model that can be replicated throughout Haiti," said Schnitzer, founder and executive director of EarthSpark International and a Ph.D. candidate in Carnegie Mellon's Engineering and Public Policy Department. The USAID award was made under its Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development program. EarthSpark was one of 12 winners selected from more than 475 organizations from 80 countries. The program called for market-based, clean-energy innovations for the agricultural sphere in developing countries. Learn more about Schnitzer and EarthSpark.

Esther Kunda, a student in Carnegie Mellon's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program in Rwanda, is using her newly honed technical skills to create a virtual agriculture company to give Rwandan farmers a market boost. "I want to do something that would help our farmers better market key products and also get timely information about how climate change impacts crops and production," said Kunda, one of the first 22 students scheduled to graduate July 24 from the MSIT program. "I want my virtual startup to help farmers learn about better crop maintenance and delivery systems." To help make her entrepreneurial dream a reality, Kunda successfully obtained a $5,000 business startup grant from Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding site. Learn more about Kunda.

Alumna Linda Kaplan (E'07), a civil engineer and bridge designer for Gannett Fleming in Pittsburgh, has received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Pittsburgh Section 2013 Young Civil Engineer of the Year Award. The ASCE Award is given to an outstanding young engineer under age 35 who has demonstrated exceptional and innovative work in the field of engineering, is working to advance the profession, and is active in the Pittsburgh Section of ASCE and the community."Her high level of service commitment to our profession provides an outstanding example to young women considering engineering, to engineering students and to all engineers. She has given many hours of her time to engage students and young engineers in the activities of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section. We are very proud of our accomplished and hard working alumna," said Dave Dzombak, head of CMU's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Learn more

Andy Helms (TPR’93) has been named offensive coordinator for the Carnegie Mellon football team. He succeeds longtime offensive coordinator Rich Erdelyi, who will retire at the end of the academic year. Helms was a safety for the Tartans from 1989-92 and was team captain his senior year. He is tied for the CMU single-season record with seven interceptions and ranks third all-time with 13. He was a two-time All-University Athletic Association selection and All-America pick following his junior and senior seasons. Helms has coached at Denison University and at several high schools in the Ohio area. Learn more about Helms.

Obituary: Howard Brenner

Howard Brenner, a professor of chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon from 1966-1977, died on Feb. 17. He was 84. Brenner’s extraordinary and accomplished academic career spanned more than 60 years. Considered one of the world’s foremost theoreticians in the transport properties of flowing suspensions and multiphase systems, he had a profound impact on the profession through his broad and fundamental research on low Reynolds number fluid-particle hydrodynamics, microfluidics, complex fluids, interfacial transport processes and emulsion rheology, multiphase flow and transport processes in porous media, generalized Taylor dispersion phenomena, and macro transport processes.

After leaving CMU, he joined the faculty at the University of Rochester (1977-1981), where he was department chair. He joined MIT in 1981 and was there through 2005 as the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Read more about Brenner.