Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

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June 19, 2014

Personal Mention

Anita Barkin, director of University Health Services and a U.S. leader among college and university health professionals, has announced that she will be leaving CMU this fall to relocate to Macon, Ga., to be closer to family. "It would be impossible for me to adequately capture the transformational impact that Anita has had on the health and welfare of this community over the last 27 years," wrote Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy in an email to the Campus Affairs group. "When Anita joined us in 1986, our health services operation was effectively a small clinic. … Under Anita’s inspired leadership and deep commitment, the operation expanded to include a broader set of services, better facilities, and an ethos of care that served as an inspiration to us all. Just as critically, Anita assumed the mantel of our chief health officer in matters ranging from educational outreach, staff training, policy development and local, regional and national advocacy." Murphy also noted the influential roles she played and the contributions she made as president of the Mid-Atlantic College Health Association and of the American College Health Association. He also listed the many professional honors and awards she received for her work and dedication, including CMU’s Andy Award for Outstanding Service. "I am enormously grateful to Anita for all that she has done, seen and unseen, for this community," Murphy said. "We are all richer for her and her family being a part of our lives, as they will no doubt continue to be for many in spite of this transition."

Emma Brunskill
, assistant professor of computer science, is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency’s most prestigious award for junior faculty. The five-year, $670,000 award will support her research on data-driven, machine learning algorithms for automatically constructing personalized strategies. Brunskill will use these methods to help create self-improving tutoring systems that provide individualized learning experiences, focusing on mathematics education.  Brunskill joined the faculty of the Computer Science Department in 2011 and received a 2012 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, which recognizes pioneering young academic computer scientists. She was selected as a 2012-2013 Wimmer Faculty Fellow by CMU's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence. Her research has been recognized with best paper nominations from the Educational Data Mining (EDM) and Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conferences, and her work has received financial support from the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, Google, Yahoo, and the university's Berkman Faculty Development Fund. Brunskill received a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and physics at the University of Washington and, as a Rhodes Scholar, was awarded a master's degree in neuroscience at Oxford University. She earned a Ph.D. in computer science at MIT and was a NSF Mathematical Sciences postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, before coming to Carnegie Mellon.

Anind K. Dey has been appointed the new Charles M. Geschke Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), where he has been a faculty member since 2005. Dey succeeds Justine Cassell, who has assumed the position of associate vice provost of technology strategy and impact for the university; she remains on the HCII faculty. In his research, Dey uses sensors and mobile technology to develop tools and techniques for understanding and modeling human behavior, primarily within the domains of health, automotive, sustainability and education. His projects have included dwellSense, which used sensors to monitor daily activities of older people to detect physical or cognitive decline; using computer vision and other tools to detect behavior disorders such as autism; and automobile navigation systems that adapt to an individual's preferences, as well as systems that convey navigation information through the steering wheel via haptic feedback. Learn more.

John Woolford, professor of biological sciences, has been named acting head of the Department of Biological Sciences, effective July 1, when Nathan Urban, the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Professor of Life Sciences and current department head, assumes the position of interim provost. Woolford is co-director of the Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology (CNAST), a multidisciplinary center focused on understanding the biology of nucleic acids and developing new technologies aimed at regulating gene expression. His research focuses on ribosome assembly and formation. Woolford, who joined the CMU faculty in 1979, received the Mellon College of Science's Julius Ashkin Award in recognition of his excellence in teaching undergraduates and the Richard Moore Award for his sustained contributions to the college. He also received the university's William and Frances Ryan Award for meritorious teaching.

Foreign Policy expert Kiron Skinner has appeared on several international programs discussing the militant situation and crisis in Iraq. Skinner, who was a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, under former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, gave interviews to BBC WorldWide News — both TV and radio — Sky News and Bloomberg Businessweek. Additionally, she wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times on what should be done to stabilize Iraq and stop the insurgents’ march. Read "Honor the Sacrifice of Our Troops."  Skinner is associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of the Center for International Relations and Politics.

Jim Ray Daniels'
new book, "Eight Mile High," will be released July 1. Through 14 short stories in the book, Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English, connects characters with specific places in Detroit, such as the fictitious Eight Mile High School and the always-open restaurant, the Clock. The white working-class community defines the individuals as they navigate work and love, change and loss, as best as they can. Daniels, an award-winning author, poet and screenwriter, experiments with different writing styles as he puts the small community under a microscope. Learn more and watch Daniels read excerpts from the book.

Illinois Institute of Technology President John L. Anderson, who was recently elected to a three-year term on Carnegie Mellon's Board of Trustees, has been appointed to a six-year term on the National Science Board by President Barack Obama. The appointment, announced last Friday, begins in August. The National Science Board serves as the governing body for the National Science Foundation and as policy advisers to the president and Congress regarding matters related to science and engineering. Anderson is a former dean of CMU's College of Engineering and former head of the Chemical Engineering Department.


Alumnus Bob Matysek, a 1977 graduate of the College of Engineering, died on June 8 doing something he loved — competing in the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. During what would have been his 20th crossing, Matysek began to have difficulties and he could not be revived. He was 58.  Matysek of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., was a chemical engineer for Bordon Chemicals and Plastics. He and his brother, Jim, were swimmers for Carnegie Mellon's intercollegiate swimming and diving team. Read the full obituary.