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October 16, 2014

Personal Mention

President Subra Suresh will be officially inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Sunday, Oct. 19 in Washington, D.C., making him the only university president to be a member of all three national academies (IOM, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering). In addition, he is one of only 16 living Americans and the first CMU faculty member to be elected to all three academies. Election to a National Academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers, scientists and medical and health professionals. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to their fields. Selected for induction into the IOM in October 2013, Suresh is being recognized for advancing health and medicine through his research into cell mechanics related to malaria, blood diseases and certain types of cancer. Read more.

Venkat Viswanathan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is developing a search engine that will help researchers and industry experts discover and develop electrolytes for batteries more quickly and efficiently than currently possible. Viswanathan, who is researching new types of lithium batteries for electric vehicles, is focusing on developing a data genome for electrolytes. Using a search engine similar to social networking sites Facebook and Yelp, scientists and researchers can use the electrolyte genome to enter the beginning of queries and receive suggestions about what they might mean, similarly to how when you type "Sara" into your Facebook search, the people named Sara who are your friends are the top suggestions. Learn more.

Edmund M. Clarke, the FORE Systems University Professor of Computer Science, received the first honorary doctorate from the University of Crete’s Department of Computer Science on Oct. 13. The University of Crete is a multi-disciplinary, research-oriented institution, located in the cities of Rethymno and Heraklion, on the island of Crete. It is ranked 48th in The Times Higher Education annual list of the top 100 universities founded in the past 50 years. Clarke is known for his pivotal role in the development of model checking, a formal method for verifying the correctness of computer hardware and software design. For that achievement, he shared the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2007 Turing Award and, earlier this year, received the Franklin Institute’s prestigious Bower Award and Prize.

Mark Roth, an award-winning senior staff writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of English, will receive the 2014 Friend of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) Award from Carnegie Mellon and Pitt during a dinner on Friday, Oct. 17. Roth is being recognized for his cutting-edge journalism that brings current science and medical issues to the public's attention. This first Friend of the CNBC Award coincides with the center's 20th anniversary celebration, which is being marked with a series of events on the CMU and Pitt campuses Oct. 17-18.  "Mark Roth does more than just report on medical and science news. His attention to detail, quest to uncover all pertinent information, and commitment to explaining complex issues in a way that is understandable and relatable greatly impacts the Pittsburgh community and his readers across the globe. We are thrilled to present him with this award to recognize his efforts to share important science with the public," said CNBC co-directors Marlene Behrmann of CMU and Peter Strick of Pitt. Learn more.

Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCII) Aniket Kittur and Ph.D. student Jeff Rzeszotarski won first prize at the 3 Rivers Venture Fair University Tech Showcase for their work on DataSquid, tangible data visualization software that the pair developed at the HCII and are commercializing as a startup. According to its founders, DataSquid (formerly known as Kinetica) uses real-world physics to make data fluid responsive, letting people sift, sort, stack and stratify data with their fingers. The application unchains data from desktop computers and Excel, letting analysts manipulate data on their iPads. In DataSquid, each row of data becomes a physical object that responds to touches easily and fluidly. "We built DataSquid to democratize data visualization, so that anyone in an organization can instantly start making better decisions with their data — not just the data experts," Kittur said. "To do that we invented ways for people to interact with data that were never before possible, using magnets, walls and lenses to let people sift out key market segments, group core customers, and find answers to questions they didn’t know to ask."

Obituary: George G. Biddle

George G. Biddle, longtime Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Department machine shop foreman, died on Saturday, Oct. 11. He was 86. Biddle was a member of the Carnegie Mellon community for more than five decades. He joined MSE in 1947 and remained through 2003. Harry Paxton, MSE professor emeritus and former department head, remembers Biddle for his very important contributions to MSE.  “No one person makes or breaks a department but we would have been very different without George — [our] Mr. Fixit," Paxton said.