Carnegie Mellon University

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October 16, 2014

News Briefs

Philosophy Department Partners With Pitt in New Center

To maximize the benefits of big data and data science for biomedical research, Carnegie Mellon's Department of Philosophy is partnering with the University of Pittsburgh to form a new Center for Causal Modeling and Discovery in the Biomedical Sciences.

Funded by a four-year, $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this Big Data to Knowledge Center of Excellence will help scientists capitalize more fully on enormous and growing collections of data, and to make computerized searches for causal relations a more prominent component of biomedical research.

Through the new center, Carnegie Mellon philosophy faculty members will join an elite team, including researchers from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Yale University, Rutgers University and other national and international collaborators, to develop and disseminate tools that can find causal links in very large and complex biomedical data.

"This grant is devoted to extending and applying computational causal discovery methods, developed primarily in the CMU Philosophy Department, to biomedical data concerning cancer and lung disease. It's very exciting that our faculty will have the opportunity to take a lead role in algorithm development and training within the new center," said Richard Scheines, dean of CMU's Dietrich College and professor of philosophy who will be working on providing training and educational software for investigators who wish to use the methods on their own scientific problems.

CMU's Clark Glymour, the Alumni University Professor of Philosophy, and Nicholas Nystrom, director of strategic applications at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, will lead teams that will develop and implement causal modeling and discovery algorithms to support the data analyses of three separate investigations, each focusing on distinct biomedical problems whose answers lie in a sea of data: cell signals that drive the development of cancer; the molecular basis of lung disease susceptibility and severity; and the functional connections within the human brain (the "connectome").

Learn more.

$100K Gift Honors Coach, Supports Golf Program

Ronald Low and Wanda Denson-Low, parents of senior golfer Cameron Low (DC'15), have made a gift of $100,000 to establish The Coach Richard Erdelyi Endowed Fund for the Men's Golf Team.
"This is a transformative gift for the men’s golf program," said Director of Athletics Josh Centor. "It will provide us with the flexibility to enhance the educational experience of our young men at Carnegie Mellon. It has already served others as an inspiration to contribute to the endowment and will motivate others to work toward establishing other funds of this nature."

Erdelyi, who retired in June, expressed his gratitude to the Lows.
"This ensures golf at Carnegie Mellon forever. I really believe that," Erdelyi said. "I am honored and humbled; I am honored to have my name on this endowment. I am humbled that you [Ronald and Wanda] and Cameron would think enough of me to do this. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  I love this program and this school [Carnegie Mellon]."

"There are those who coach for a living and then there are those whose life is being a coach, that is Coach Erd," Ronald Low said. "It is those kinds of people that understand where the game ends and reality begins.
"Our generosity and our gift on behalf of our family is a tribute to the coach because I understand very well what it means to him and this university. As he spent time and life blood to help grow this program it was also his intent to grow the young men and women that came through this university and whose paths he crossed. This fund is a way to continue to grow the program."   

During Erdelyi's tenure as head coach, the golf team won the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship in 2009 and finished 22nd in the nation, competing for the first time in the NCAA Championships. Erdelyi was named UAA Golf Coach of the Year in 1998, 2006, 2009 and 2013, and he mentored Carnegie Mellon students who became UAA individual champions in 1995, 2006, 2007 and 2009. He coached 16 All-America Scholars of the Golf Coaches Association of America, three CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-Americans, nine All-Region golfers and one All-American. His 2009-10 and 2013-14 teams had the highest GPA in Division III.

AED Training Classes Scheduled

The Environmental Health & Safety Department has scheduled three automated external defibrillator (AED) training sessions in the next few weeks. The schedule follows:

  • 10 a.m. - Noon, Oct. 22, Rangos 2, Cohon University Center;
  • 10 a.m. - Noon, Oct. 30, Rangos 2, Cohon University Center;
  • 10 a.m. - Noon, Nov. 10, Rangos 1, Cohon University Center.

Class space is limited, so register early. To register go to You must login with your Andrew ID and password.

SURG Deadline is Oct. 29

The deadline for Small Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) proposals is at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 29.  Grants are open to all undergraduates in any discipline.

Grants are available from up to $500 for single entries and up to $1,000 for group entries to cover the cost of supplies and materials, time on laboratory equipment, or travel to another city for archives. Applications are accepted online at

Those applying are urged to attend the SURG Proposal Writing Session from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20 in the Cohon University Center’s Dowd Room. Your proposal also can be reviewed. To have it reviewed please contact Undergraduate Research Office Director Stephanie Wallach ( or Assistant Director Jennifer Keating Miller ( no later than Oct. 27.

It is the quality of the proposal that determines who is selected. For more information, go to

New System To Support Research Administration - SPARCS

CMU is making significant progress toward the implementation of an enterprise-wide system that modernizes and supports the administrative aspects of the university’s research activities.  The Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance System (SPARCS) will replace existing electronic and paper processes.
The SPARCS project implementation schedule will deliver modules and functionality in phases through FY 2017. The system consists of four modules: conflict of interest (COI); human subject research (IRB); animal care and use (IACUC); and grants and contracts management. Once fully implemented, the system will streamline the process of submitting proposals, obtaining compliance approvals and processing awards. 
COI is the first module to "go live" as part of SPARCS. This new module replaces an electronic system that investigators with Public Health Service funding currently use as well as paper forms that others use. COI certifications and disclosures for investigators with external funding for research will transition to the new system beginning on Oct. 21. Use of the system will be phased in, college by college, with all investigators using the new system by spring 2015. Training on use of the new system will be provided throughout the transition period and beyond. The points below show the schedule for roll-out.
Conflict of Interest Roll-out Dates

  • The first groups to be impacted are investigators with Public Health Service funding and investigators from the Dietrich College and Mellon College of Science.  They must complete annual certifications in SPARCS by Nov. 30.
  • Investigators from the Tepper School, Heinz College and College of Fine Arts will begin using SPARCS Dec. 1. They must complete annual certifications by Jan. 31, 2015.
  • School of Computer Science investigators will begin using SPARCS on Feb. 1, 2015. Annual certifications for them must be completed by Feb. 28, 2015.
  • College of Engineering investigators will begin using SPARCS March 1, 2015. They must complete their certification by March 31, 2015.
  • From April 1, 2015, on, all investigators will complete COI Certifications in SPARCS.

Detailed information about how to access and use the new COI system is being provided to investigators and business managers.  Training sessions and a variety of materials will be available to assist users with the new system. Additional information is available at the SPARCS website and COI website.

CMU's United Way Campaign is Underway

Carnegie Mellon’s 2014 United Way Campaign will run through Thursday, Dec. 11. This year’s theme is "Be the answer."

Employees are encouraged to live this year’s campaign theme by advocating for, or volunteering with, the United Way and by pledging or donating during the campaign. Please visit to make your pledge online and learn more about featured agencies that benefit from the United Way, including CMU's current featured agency, Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (United Way agency code #300). "Be the answer" to someone in need in Allegheny County. Pledge today!

Celebrating Open Access Week

The University Libraries is collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh Library System for an extended celebration of Open Access Week with a keynote event on each campus.

Culture Change in Academia: Making Sharing the New Norm
3-4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22
Ballroom B, University Club, University of Pittsburgh

Join a lively discussion with Erin McKiernan, an early-career neuroscientist and leading advocate for Open Access and Open Science. McKiernan will explore the powerful benefits of openness in scholarly research, the tension between personal success as a researcher and Open Science, and the need for reform in academic evaluation and incentive systems. A panel discussion featuring members of the Pitt academic community will follow. Hosted by the Pitt Library System.

Panel Discussion: The Challenge of Openness and Transparency in Scholarly Communication
4:30-6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 29
6115 Gates Hillman Center

Panelists are:

Moderated by Dean of Libraries Keith Webster, the discussion is co-hosted by Carnegie Mellon University Libraries and the Pitt Library System. The event will be webcast live via Silverlight.

October is National Cybersecurity Month; Take "Security 101"

In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), the CMU Information Security Office ( encourages the university community to take its online training course, titled "Security 101." The course will raise your awareness of CMU's information security policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities, and offer guidelines for safeguarding your data and information systems.  

All faculty, staff and graduate students are automatically enrolled in a section of Security 101.  To access your section, login to Blackboard ( using your Andrew ID and password. Then, click on “2014 – Security 101 [section letter]” under “My Courses.”   

Hundreds have already accessed Security 101. If you haven’t accessed Security 101 yet or if you haven’t finished, the ISO asks that you take an hour out of your busy schedule this month and complete Security 101.  

For more information about NCSAM, visit

Seeking Women Volunteers for Medical Study

The University of Pittsburgh Center for Family Planning Research is looking for postmenopausal women to help in an important research safety study of a vaginal ring to prevent HIV. Volunteers will make five visits to Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and complete two phone call surveys over approximately five months. Eligible participants will be compensated up to $500 for their time and travel. Additional compensation may be provided for completion of additional study procedures.

Learn more or call 412-641-5496 to see if you are eligible.

Skibo Gym Converts to ID Card Access System

On Monday, Oct. 20, Skibo Gym will convert to the CMU ID card access system. ID cards will be needed to open the entrance doors to Skibo Gym from 6:30 - 8 a.m. and 7 - 11 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. on weekends.

ORIC Offers Responsible Research Conduct Seminar Series

CMU's Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) is sponsoring the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series to provide faculty, students and staff with an overview of topics typically covered in RCR curricula. All sessions are from 12 – 1 p.m. in the Cohon University Center. Upcoming sessions are as follows:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 22: Research Misconduct Lessons;
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29: Using the IRB and Ethical Issues Involving Human Subjects Research;
  • TUESDAY, Nov. 4: International Research Considerations: Shipping and Setting Up a New Lab;
  • Wednesday, Nov. 12: Data Security; and
  • Wednesday, Nov. 19: Lab Safety.

More information is available on the RCR website. Space is limited, so please register early.