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July 14, 2016

Personal Mention

John MillerIn a new book, Professor of Economics and Social Science John H. Miller argues that there are lessons to be learned by understanding how bees in a hive, and a variety of other systems, interact. He details the link between honeybees and the U.S. primary system, and provides many more examples, in a recently authored popular science book, titled “A Crude Look at the Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life and Society,” published by Basic Books. A review of the book in the journal “Nature,” which also included the book in its top five science picks of the week on Jan. 20, 2016, called it a “succinct, elegant study of systems thinking.” Learn more.

Andy NormanFrom the nightly news to Facebook posts, we’re inundated with messages designed to persuade us. According to new research from Andy Norman, an adjunct faculty member in the Philosophy Department, the urge to convince others has evolutionary roots. In a paper recently published in Biology & Philosophy, titled "Why We Reason: Intention-Alignment and the Genesis of Human Rationality,” Norman argues that reasoning is biologically unique to humans. Though other animals draw inferences, only people are able to produce and respond to what he describes as “reason-giving performances.” He says this trait allowed our ancestors to build and maintain shared outlooks — a necessity for collective societies in which groups hunted for food together, for example. Find out more.

Rachal HolladayRising senior Rachel Holladay has won the 2016 Collegiate Award from the National Center for Women & IT. Conferred on up to six winners annually, the award recognizes women's technical contributions to projects that demonstrate a high level of creativity and potential societal impact. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash award, engraved trophy and a trip to the annual NCWIT Summit in Women and IT. Holladay, a computer science major, received the honor for her work on "Robot Gesture Engine (RoGuE)," which she completed in the Personal Robotics Lab in the Robotics Institute. Working with Associate Professor in Computer Science Siddhartha Srinivasa, Holladay developed a library of gestures that improve robot communication and partnership skills in human environments and collaborative settings. While the gestures function on several robots, Holladay worked primarily with the lab's Home Exploring Robot Butler, HERB. Learn more.

John PylesJohn Pyles collaborated with artist Greg Dunn on “Self Reflected,” Dunn’s most ambitious project to date. The 8’ x 12’ gilded microetching of a sagittal slice of the human brain recently debuted at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia as part of its permanent collection. Pyles contributed his expertise in anatomical and diffusion MRI, as well as images and white matter connectivity data from his own brain. He is a research scientist in the Psychology Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Learn more about the project.

Luke SkurmanAlumnus Luke Skurman, founder of the Pittsburgh-based content company Niche, was among nine winners of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award named by Ernst & Young LLP. He received the award June 24. Niche provides reviews and insight from everyday experts on topics such as choosing a neighborhood, college or K-12 school. Niche was founded in 2002 by Skurman as, which reviewed colleges to help users select the right college for them. Skurman, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the Tepper School of Business in 2002 and a master’s degree from the Heinz College in 2004, is a member of CMU's Board of Trustees and serves as vice chair of the Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee. Learn more about