Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
October 02, 2014

News Briefs

CMU Acquires Robert Mehrabian Collaborative Innovation Center

CMU has purchased the Robert Mehrabian Collaborative Innovation Center at 4720 Forbes Avenue from the Regional Industrial Development Corporation.

A cross-functional team from Treasury Management, the Controller’s Office, Facilities Management Services (FMS), General Counsel, and Campus Design and Facilities Development (CDFD) were involved for many months in anticipating and coordinating the many elements of this transition. The operation of the building, the tenants, and the Property Management team (LG Realty) will remain the same in many aspects, but there will be a few changes.

  • Kathy Proch, associate controller, has been appointed interim asset manager for the property;
  • FMS will support the property management by managing all third-party service and maintenance contracts, as well as provide oversight to facilities management of the property; and
  • The Asset Management team is working with other university services to transition building services, including cleaning, parking services and security to ensure continuity of service with minimal disruption to tenants.

Questions should be directed to Kathy Proch at 412-268-5158 or

ProSEED/Crosswalk Grant Proposals Due Oct. 29

Proposals for a second round of ProSEED/Crosswalk grants are due Oct. 29. The ProSEED/Crosswalk Grant Program aims to foster and promote new ideas that cross boundaries within and outside of CMU. Funds ranging from $500 - $2,500 may be requested to support the development of new initiatives in areas such as quality of campus life, service learning, student competitions, new course development, entrepreneurial activities and pilot projects.

Eighteen ProSEED/Crosswalk grants were awarded following the first round of proposals. Read about the first round grants at

For more information on ProSEED, visit Email questions to

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

Viral Infection Might Just Be a Phase Transition

Many double-stranded DNA viruses infect cells by ejecting their genetic information into a host cell. But how does the usually rigid DNA packaged inside a virus' shell flow from the virus to the cell?

In two separate studies, Carnegie Mellon biophysicist Alex Evilevitch has shown that in viruses that infect both bacteria and humans, a phase transition at the temperature of infection allows the DNA to change from a rigid crystalline structure into a fluid-like structure that facilitates infection.

The findings, published in Nature Chemical Biology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), provide a promising new target for antiviral therapies. Most antiviral drugs work by deactivating viral proteins, but viruses often evolve and become drug resistant. Evilevitch believes that researchers now have a possible new way to prevent infection — blocking the phase transition. Such a therapy could be generalizable across all types of Herpes viruses, and wouldn't be prone to developing resistance.

Learn more.

Gaining a Better Understanding of Neurons

Nathan Urban, interim provost and the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences, and Robert Kass, professor of statistics and machine learning, have received a $930,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to apply biological and statistical neuroscience approaches in order to create a better overall understanding of how neurons encode information. The research, which is funded by the NSF through the Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) program, is part of Carnegie Mellon's BrainHubSM, an interdisciplinary neuroscience research initiative.

The brain contains billions of neurons, yet each neuron is not an identical copy of the next. Previous work from Urban's lab has shown that each individual neuron reacts to the same stimulus in its own unique way. The Carnegie Mellon researchers believe this diversity plays a critical role in how the brain computes information.

"For a long time, we didn't realize the significance of the differences between neurons. We thought it was just noise," said Urban, who is a member of Carnegie Mellon's Biological Sciences faculty and the joint Carnegie Mellon-University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). "But the subtle nuances play a crucial role in brain function. Understanding the biology behind this could have a tremendous impact on our understanding of how the brain computes information."

Learn more.

Making a Key Discovery About How Cells Communicate

When the body forms new tissues during the healing process, cells must be able to communicate with each other. For years, scientists believed this communication happened primarily through chemical signaling.

Now researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh have found that another dimension — mechanical communication — is equally if not more crucial. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to advancements in treatments for birth defects and therapies for cancer patients.

Philip LeDuc, the William J. Brown Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, said the research team developed a microfluidic control system that enabled the researchers to alter the mechanical processes at the cellular level. The system delivers chemicals at extremely low flow rates over very small specific areas, such as integrated collections of individual cells. They hypothesized that in addition to using chemical signals to communicate with each other, regenerative cells also used mechanical processes — pushing and pulling on each other — to stimulate and respond.

Learn more.

VIA Festival Includes Free Music Conference Oct. 3

Faculty, staff and students are invited to the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry from 1-8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, for a free music conference that's part of the VIA Music Festival, Oct. 1-5. The conference is a very large collaboration among various Carnegie Mellon schools and programs, including music, computer science, IDeATe, Center for Arts in Society, Humanities Center, the STUDIO and VIA.

Richard Randall, associate professor of music theory, and Jesse Stiles, assistant teaching professor of sound media, will be moderating talks with festival artists. Ableton, producers of "Push" and "Live" hardware and software for music production, creation and performance, will be in town to teach a free Max for LIVE workshop, including features like voice-to-midi recording, and using Ableton with a variety of contemporary and retro hardware. Max for LIVE is also used for visual/lighting effects. Festival artists range from legends/sound engineers like Richard Devine, local gems like Michael Johnsen, to emerging producers like Ellie Herring and Chase Smith.

For more information and/or to R.S.V.P., go to

For more information on the VIA Music Festival go to

Cindy Lackner Memorial Game is Saturday 

The Carnegie Mellon community will be recognizing Head Football Coach Rich Lackner's wife's courageous fight with breast cancer in the third annual Cindy Lackner Memorial Football Game at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 4 when the Tartans take on Westminster College. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the UPMC Women's Cancer Research Fund. 

All players on the team have purchased pink socks and arm bands to support breast cancer awareness month and t-shirts will be sold to raise money for the cause. The players also will wear stickers on their helmets to honor Cindy's memory.

Fans are encouraged to attend the game, wear pink and support the football team's fight against breast cancer. If you cannot attend, donations are being accepted online.

ORIC Offers Responsible Research Conduct Seminar Series

CMU's Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) is once again sponsoring the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series during the fall 2014 semester 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.