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August 02, 2023

Personal Mention

Sarah Mendelson, a professor of public policy, recently convened international senior human rights scholars and practitioners to explore how to teach and train human rights differently using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For the last several years, Amb. Mendelson, together with teams of students and a few faculty members from the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, has been researching the impact of Covid relief and recovery funds on social justice issues in a handful of North American cities. These efforts, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, are part of her work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Last year, with support from the Packard Foundation, the team took their findings to the World Justice Forum in The Hague to reflect on what they had learned and what more was needed to drive positive outcomes. Related to this work, growing out of the Brookings Institution and Rockefeller Foundation’s flagship 17 Rooms exercise, Mendelson, Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and Head of Heinz College in Washington, D.C., has since 2020 convened senior human rights scholars and practitioners to explore how to teach and train human rights differently using the SDGs. Those combined work streams led recently to an in-person meeting by Mendelson to co-create a community of practice dedicated to growing the next generation of human rights experts, activists, practitioners, and scholars through education about and research on the SDGs. Another purpose was to co-create a plan to accelerate action on this nexus of human rights and the SDGs. Read the story.

Ethan Meitz, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, was awarded the selective U.S. Department of Energy’s Computational Science Graduate Fellowship for his work in creating predictive nanoscale models for the thermophysical properties of liquids. Meitz is the first student from the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 25 years to be awarded the fellowship; fewer than 40 people across the nation receive it each year. He said he was very excited to have received the award and is looking forward to how the fellowship will support his research, such as attending the ACM/IEEE Supercomputing Conference in the fall. “I find it really interesting when you have to understand both the physics and the computer itself to solve your problem,” Meitz said. Read the story.

R. Ravi, a professor of operations research, was honored with the Test of Time award from the Association for Computing Machinery for his influential 1991 work on algorithms to create efficient networks at a low cost. The 1991 paper, titled "When trees collide: An approximation algorithm for the generalized Steiner problem on networks," presented the influential AKR algorithm; named after the initials of the three inventors. "Working on this award-winning paper jump-started my research career," said Ravi. "It added a new tool to the algorithm design palette." Ravi added that the primal-dual method it enhanced is squarely in the intersection of optimization, algorithms, and graph theory for which Carnegie Mellon and its prestigious Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization doctoral program are known. "I have worked on derivatives of the method over the past three decades and am currently working on one with a doctoral student," he said. The impact of Ravi's research extends beyond the specific problem addressed in the paper. The AKR algorithm pioneered a methodology that has influenced the design and analysis of various approximation algorithms in different domains. This shaped the landscape of facility location, prize-collecting traveling salesman, and feedback vertex set problems. Read the story.

Who's New at CMU?

Carnegie Mellon welcomes the following new staff members this week.

  • Mark Gardner, Graduate Program Manager, CM Institute for Security and Technology;

  • David Gunyon, Security Officer, University Police;

  • Jacob Morton-Black, Coordinator, Office of Community Standards & Integrity and Housefellow, Community Standards & Diversity Initiatives;

  • Varun Rambhala, Director of Strategy, University Communications & Marketing;

  • Jacquelyn Stubenraugh, Coordinator of Community Standards & Integrity and Housefellow, Community Standards & Diversity Initiatives;

  • Vincent Varsalona, Director of Visual Storytelling, Communications Design and Photography Group, University Communications & Marketing;

  • Gloria Viveros, Administrative Coordinator, The Center for Student Diversity Inclusion; and

  • Roxxanne White, Assistant Machine Learning Researcher, SEI Cyber Security Foundations.