The University of Pittsburgh
School of Arts & Sciences Snapshot

Issue 6, December 2009


Russell L. Anderson: Pioneering the Way >

It's an era when the Cathedral of Learning is little more than a twinkle in Chancellor Bowman's eye (he won't even announce his plans for the towering building until November); when Pittsburgh is still the undisputed world capital of iron and steel; and when racial segregation is the norm, not the exception. Read More.

In Focus

Jessica Ghilani: Gaining Perspective on Media, Advertising, and the Army >

Jessica Ghilani can't believe her luck. She's just found the perfect quote. It encapsulates everything she wants to argue in her doctoral dissertation. She looks around the quiet room in the Smithsonian Institution Library to make sure she hasn't exclaimed out loud and disturbed anyone. She grins widely and inks a series of exclamation points and asterisks around the quote in her notebook. Read More.

Close Up

Kathleen Blee: Leading Sociology Into New Territory >

It's the day before 20 world leaders will converge on Pittsburgh. A packed crowd gathers in Posvar Hall at the University of Pittsburgh to gain some perspective, not only on what to expect at the G-20 summit, but also on social movements and protests in general. Panelists cum-Pitt sociology professors Suzanne Staggenborg, Mohammed Bamyeh, and Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum file into the auditorium ready for a lively discussion.

Today—and in the coming days—Pitt's Department of Sociology gets to put its scholarly expertise into play on the global stage. Read More.

Wide Angle

Common Reading Program Provides Uncommon Opportunity >

This fall, incoming freshmen enrolled in Arts and Sciences Freshman Programs courses at the University of Pittsburgh were invited to take part in a shared academic reading program. The Common Reading Program was created to welcome students into the University community through a shared intellectual experience; encourage the growth of an intellectual community through reading, discussion, and activities; develop a sense of community among students, faculty, and staff; and, reinforce the importance of reading as an integral part of a liberal arts education. Read More.


Four Arts and Sciences faculty members—Michael Grabe, Department of Biological Sciences, Lillian Chong and Megan Spence, Department of Chemistry, and Gurudev Dutt, Department of Physics and Astronomy—received 2009 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards. Arts and Sciences now has an all-time high of seven active CAREER Awards (the others are Shigeru Amemiya in the Department of Chemistry, and Rebecca Hwa and Alexandros Labrinidis in the Department of Computer Science).

According to the NSF, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers, “the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.”

Eleanor Ott, a University Honors College graduate who received a BA degree in history and French and a BS degree in chemistry from the School of Arts and Sciences in April 2009, has been named a 2010 Rhodes Scholarship winner. The University of Pittsburgh is the only public institution in Pennsylvania with a 2010 Rhodes Scholar.

Ott is the sixth Pitt undergraduate-degree recipient to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. A former Pitt Chancellor's Scholar, the Lawrence, Kansas, native was a 2008 Truman Scholarship winner. Ott’s interests are in human rights, refugee issues, and evidence-based policy. At the University of Oxford, she will study forced migration and evidence-based social intervention, refugee and migration studies, and social science research methods.

The U.S. Senate confirmed School of Arts and Sciences alumnus Patrick Gallagher as the 14th director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher will direct the agency that supplies and oversees the nation’s standards of measurement, including the official time. The agency has an annual budget of approximately $800 million; and employs around 2,900 people, including scientists and engineers.

Gallagher earned his master's and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 and 1991, respectively. He has been with NIST since 1993 and was named the agency’s deputy director in 2008 before President Barack Obama nominated him as director. Prior to that, he served for four years as the director of the NIST Center for Neutron Research in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In recognition of his work, Gallagher was awarded a Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the department's highest award, in 2006. Find out more.

The Department of Studio Arts will present an exhibition of student artworks from this summer’s University Honors College Field Study trip to Wyoming. The exhibition will be held in the University Art Gallery of the Frick Fine Arts Building and will run January 14–29. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 14 from 4-6 p.m., and Gallery Talks will be held on Wednesday, January 20 at noon.

Participating artists from the department include Benjy Blanco, Marika DeLozier, Nancy Egger, and Jason Georgiades, who will show works created during their two weeks in Wyoming as well as other works that were inspired by their experiences this summer.

For more information, visit

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School of Arts and Sciences
917 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260