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Accolades & Honors

6 Pitt faculty earned NSF CAREER Awards

Trees blossom around the Cathedral of Learning

Six faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh earned National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, one of the foundation’s most prestigious in support of early-career faculty.

Winners not only serve as principal investigator on a project, but also integrate an education aspect into their research. NSF selects recipients who are role models and can lead advances in their department and at the University.

Here are this year’s recipients from Pitt:

Amir Alavi

The assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering has been working to engineer a new class of intelligent materials that can create the foundation for mechanical computing systems. A $535,120 CAREER award will further his research in self-powered mechanical "metamaterials" that can think for themselves without the need for delicate processors or batteries — materials that will be useful for everything from medical implants to space computing.

Mostafa Bedewy

The assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in the Swanson School will use his $596,734 award to develop laser-induced nanocarbon (LINC) to expedite and revolutionize flexible device manufacturing processes by creating graphene and related nanomaterials directly

Maria Chikina

The assistant professor of computational and systems biology in Pitt’s School of Medicine received a $749,994 CAREER award to build general and flexible algorithms that can reduce large collections of data into smaller, biologically meaningful representations that are concise enough to be easily manipulated by nonexperts while rich enough to support the originally intended analysis and future data reuse.

Xiaowei Jia

This assistant professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Information wants to know:  How can new advances in machine learning impact real-world problems and discoveries? In June 2023, Jia earned $599,987 for his project, “Combining Machine Learning and Physics-based Modeling Approaches for Accelerating Scientific Discovery.”

Lingfei Wu

The assistant professor of informatics and networked systems in Pitt’s School of Computing and Information earned $565,087 for his probe into the distinct roles research teams play in unfolding the advance of science and technology. Wu’s project, “How Does Core Scientific Knowledge Advance Understanding Team Innovation at the Foundations of Sciences,” was funded for a five-year period.

Xiayun Zhao

The assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in the Swanson School received $657,610 to further her research in photopolymer additive manufacturing (PAM). This technology utilizes two lights to cure photosensitive materials and curb the associated overcuring, allowing for the fabrication of components with higher resolution and greater precision than existing PAM technologies.


— Brandie Jefferson, photography by Aimee Obidzinski