Carnegie Mellon University

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CMU Community News

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June 15, 2022

News Briefs

CMU Contingent Shows Pride at Downtown Parade

On Saturday, June 4, a contingent of Carnegie Mellon University community members joined thousands of people gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Pride Revolution March. CMU alumnus and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter was the grand marshall for the event, which drew at least 35,000 people. For more Pride Month events, visit the Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's website

See more images from the march.

Peekaboo! Here’s a System to Guarantee Smart Home Privacy

Many internet-connected devices — let’s use smart speakers as an example — share data to the cloud when you interact with them. How do you know your speaker isn’t always listening? How do you know it’s not sharing more information than is necessary to fulfill your request?

There’s currently no way to check, but CyLab researchers are close to a solution.

“People are concerned that their devices are capturing and sharing too much data,” says CyLab’s Haojian Jin, a Ph.D. student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. “Companies want to tell users that they only collect certain pieces of information, but they currently have no way to actually prove it.”

Jin and a team of researchers have developed a new privacy-sensitive architecture for developers to build smart home apps, which the team refers to as “Peekaboo.” The system takes requests from developers to share certain pieces of data and ensures only the essential pieces of data to fulfill their request are shared with them.

Learn more about Peekaboo.

University Partnership Aims to Make Chemistry More Equitable

Carnegie Mellon is partnering with Arizona State University to develop more equitable general chemistry courseware with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

On average, Black, Latino and Indigenous students fail or withdraw from general education courses in their first year of college more often than their white peers. Similar trends are observed between students from lower-income backgrounds and their more affluent peers. Carnegie Mellon and Arizona State University are partnering to change that, starting with general chemistry courseware.

“On this project, I am excited to guide an equity-centered approach to innovative chemistry courseware,” said Rod Roscoe, human systems engineering associate professor at ASU. “Our team believes that all learners will be served by empowering them to see themselves in the field of chemistry, form a personal and cultural connection to chemistry ideas, and take ownership of chemistry."

Ariel Anbar, director of the Center for Education Through Exploration at ASU, and Norman Bier, director of CMU’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI), will serve as the primary investigators. The courseware will be made available through the Inspark Teaching Network, a part of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, and OLI, which both distribute innovative online courseware designed to improve the success of disadvantaged students.

"This is really a singular opportunity to combine and build upon the success of ETX and OLI’s approaches," Bier said. "To successfully serve these learners will require that we innovate — pedagogically and technologically — in ways that demand rapid, science-informed innovation. These are areas where our partnership and shared platform shine."

Find out more about the project.

MCS Announces Staff Award Winners

The Mellon College of Science celebrated its hardworking, dedicated staff from across the college when it presented its annual staff awards on June 2. The Zoom ceremony featured the winners with kind words from their nominators. This year’s winners are:

Research Award: Marcela Madrid, Senior Computational Scientist at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)
Merit Award: Thomas Maiden, Manager of User Services at the PSC

Rookie Awards:

  • Junior Rookie Award: Krystalyn Kovacs, Undergraduate Programs Coordinator for Biological Sciences
  • Senior Rookie Award: Tod Pike, HPC Unix System Administrator at the PSC
Outstanding Achievement Awards:
  • Biological Sciences: Mariah Murphy, Lab Manager for Undergrad Labs;
  • Chemistry: Jessica Derenburger, Senior Administrative Coordinator;
  • Mathematical Sciences: Christine Gilchrist, Academic Program Manager;
  • Physics: Seth Wolbert, Storeroom Manager/Buyer; and
  • PSC: Julian Uran, Machine Learning Research Engineer.

Learn more about the winners.

Tartans Earn High Marks on the Field and in the Classroom

After one of the most successful years in Tartan history with 13 programs earning bids to the NCAA Championships, Carnegie Mellon student-athletes continued their excellence in the classroom as well. For the spring, 141 student-athletes posted a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) with 62 percent earning a 3.5 GPA or better.

“We have just completed the most successful athletics year in our history, and our students’ academic performance was staggering in both semesters,” said Director of Athletics Josh Centor. “The Tartans are impacting all areas of the Carnegie Mellon University community and demonstrating that academic and athletic excellence can and should go hand-in-hand.”

The 14-member women’s golf team, which returned to the NCAA Championships and placed fourth this year, led Tartan programs with a 3.7 GPA for the spring semester. For the year, the women’s golf team finished with a 3.72 team GPA and seven 4.0s.

Find out more about the Tartans' success.

Fire Evacuation Drills Scheduled for July

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is conducting fire evacuation drills this summer in compliance with local fire codes. All drills will be conducted between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and will last approximately 10-20 minutes.

  • Once the alarm sounds, please evacuate immediately in a safe and orderly manner – do not run. Shut-off any heat sources or equipment, quickly gather personal belongings (i.e. keys, purses, bags) and proceed to the nearest exit.
  • Remember to use stairs and not elevators when evacuating.
  • After exiting, proceed to the building’s designated evacuation assembly points or move to a safe location 150 feet away or further from the building. Do not re-enter the building until given the all clear to return inside by EHS personnel.
  • If you need help evacuating, shelter-in-place or go to an enclosed stairwell, if safe to do so. Tell someone of your location and ask them to notify the EHS personnel conducting the drill. If you are not sure if the fire alarm is a drill, call University Police at 412-268-2323 and tell them your location and situation.

Learn more about the fire safety services provided by EHS. See the building evacuation schedule.

If you have questions regarding proper procedures for your area please email EHS at  

Attention Undergraduate Students: The Tartan Ambassador Program Is Seeking Applicants for In-Person and Virtual Positions

Are you a student who is looking for a summer on-campus or virtual job? If the idea of getting paid to talk about your CMU student experience interests you, you may want to consider applying to become a Tartan Ambassador.

University Communications and Marketing is looking to hire a diverse group of current undergraduate CMU students who represent different schools, programs, years and experiences at CMU. Each paid position will work either in person or virtually by connecting and engaging with visitors (primarily prospective undergraduate students) through written communications and events, including in-person and virtual tours and panels.

You can learn more information about the positions on Handshake:

Who's New at CMU?

Carnegie Mellon welcomes the following new staff members this week.

  • Juan Betancur, Senior Software Engineer, HuBMAP, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center;
  • Daniel Prince, Robotics Engineer - Computer Vision, Robotics Institute, National Robotics Engineering Center;
  • Ellen Hughes, Director of Research Partnerships, Associate Dean for Research;
  • Jacob Lizewski, Robotics Engineer - Mobile Robotics, Robotics Institute: National Robotics Engineering Center;
  • Paige Zalman, Associate Director of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development, Undergraduate Research Office;
  • Samantha Clark, Research Programmer, Institute for Software Research;
  • Serena Lea, IT Support Consultant, SCS Computing Facility;
  • Thomas Swiech, Project Manager, Communications Design and Photography Group; University Communications and Marketing;
  • Xiao Lin, Research Assistant, Robotics Institute – Campus;
  • Jamshida KV, Research Assistant, Research Seed Funding – Qatar;
  • Jordan Albert, Research Associate I, Psychology;
  • Dustin Harris, Manager of Graphic & Multimedia Design, Administration – Qatar;

  • Harkirat Dhingra, NREC Data Labeler, Robotics Inst: National Robotics Engineering Center;

  • Laken Eddy, Associate Director for Alumni Engagement and Events, Tepper School of Business;

  • Rhaven Nelson, NREC Data Labeler, Robotics Institute, National Robotics Engineering Center;

  • Timothy Barnes, Assistant Program Manager, Education-Undergraduate, Computer Science Department;

  • Esmatullah Jafari, Temporary Employment Service, HR Operations;

  • Emma Wooten, Academic & Event Coordinator, Integrated Innovation for Products and Services;

  • Julie Price, Administrative Coordinator, Biomedical Engineering;

  • Kira Sullivan, Administrative Coordinator, Language Technologies Institute;

  • Richard Vardzel, Plumber I, Facilities Management and Campus Services;

  • Summer Phillips, Library Assistant, University Libraries-Collections & Info Access Services; and

  • Youssef Hussein, Software Engineer, Robotics Institute, National Robotics Engineering Center.