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February 25, 2016

Personal Mention

Mary Jo DivelyPennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has appointed Vice President and General Counsel Mary Jo Dively as one of Pennsylvania’s commissioners to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The conference is a national nonprofit group that is responsible for drafting and proposing specific statutes in areas of the law where uniformity among the states is desirable. The Uniform Commercial Code, which governs commercial transactions in the U.S., is one example of the commissioners’ work. Dively joined CMU in 2002. She established the university’s first legal team and has managed CMU’s legal affairs ever since in Pennsylvania, nationally and abroad. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the Association of American Universities’ General Counsel Roundtable. Dively is a current member and past chair of the board of trustees of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a member of the board of trustees of UPMC Health System, Shady Side Academy, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Frick Art and Historical Center Inc.

Ryan TibshiraniJing LeiThe National Science Foundation has awarded Jing Lei (right) and Ryan Tibshirani (far right) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards. Lei and Tibshirani, both assistant professors in the Statistics Department, each received five-year, $400,000 grants for their projects “Modernizing Classical Nonparametric and Multivariate Theory for Large-scale, High-dimensional Data Analysis” and “Locally Adaptive Nonparametric Estimation for the Modern Age — New Insights, Extensions, and Inference Tools,” respectively. The CAREER Award is the NSF’s most prestigious honor designed to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through their outstanding research and excellent teaching. “These CAREER awards are a testament to the innovative contributions that both Ryan and Jing are making in their research,” said Christopher R. Genovese, head of the Statistics Department. “They are emerging leaders in the field, and their work is advancing our understanding of statistical inference with large, complex and high-dimensional data." Find out more.

Wesley PegdenAbhinav GuptaComputer scientist Abhinav Gupta (right) and mathematician Wesley Pegden (far right) have been awarded 2016 Sloan Research Fellowships.  They are among 126 early-career scientists and scholars from 52 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada who will receive $55,000 to further their research. Gupta, an assistant professor of robotics, specializes in computer vision and large-scale visual learning. His research interests include developing methods for computers to gain a deep understanding of visual scenes, including how elements of the scene relate to each other physically and functionally. He also studies the role of language in visual learning and how people interact with their environments. Pegden, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, studies problems in combinatorics, including discrete geometry, probabilistic combinatorics and graph theory. Among other things, Pegden and colleagues have established a new paradigm for understanding the Abelian Sandpile Process from statistical mechanics, and have developed new perspective on the hardness of geometric cases of the Traveling Salesman Problem. Find out more.

Mariana AchugarMariana Achugar, associate professor of Hispanic Studies and second language acquisition in the Department of Modern Languages, recently authored “Discursive Processes of Intergenerational Transmission of Recent History: (Re)making Our Past.” In the book, Achugar turned to family conversations, history textbooks, popular culture and other transmission tools to learn how information is being presented, received and used to make sense of the Uruguayan Dictatorship of the 1970s and ’80s. Ruth Wodak, emeritus distinguished professor of discourse studies at Lancaster University, said, “This is an excellent book – a must-read for scholars and students alike who want to understand the complex dynamics of memory, history, trauma, politics and discourse.” Find out more.