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29 faculty projects earned 2022-23 Pitt Momentum Funds awards

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Pitt Momentum Funds will support 29 projects this year, including community-based work with autistic adults, research on the formation of mountains, a study of racial disparities in psychiatric committals and an examination of how waves affect the swimming speeds of microorganisms in lakes and oceans.

“We want the University to continue to shine as a leader in research and discovery. But, most importantly, we want the work we do to impact the world around us. Projects like these look to solve today’s challenges with bold solutions and enhance the scholarly record for future thought leaders, creating unprecedented pathways,” said Rob A. Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research. “Such significant accomplishments deserve to be celebrated.”

Momentum Funds, which are a collaboration between the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and the Office of the Provost, support high-quality research and creative endeavors. The funds’ three-tiered structure enables funding at all stages of the research cycle: Priming Awards help start projects. Teaming Awards help establish collaborative teams. Scaling Awards help projects do the detailed work necessary to pursue large external funding.

Teams of faculty, coordinated by members of the University Research Council and Pitt administrators, reviewed 68 proposals to select this year’s winners. The annual competition also welcomes proposals aligned with the University-wide annual themes developed by the provost, and five projects reflect the Year of Emotional Well-Being.

The Fueling Our Future showcase in September will highlight the Momentum Funds, with presentations and opportunities to meet the winners. Visit the Pitt Research website to learn more about the program and read about this year’s awardees.

A girl wearing a face mask on a playground looks sad

Scaling Awards

Examining psychosocial correlates of loneliness and perceived isolation among marginalized youth

Cesar Escobar-Viera, School of Medicine, with colleagues Xu Qin, School of Education, Robert W. S. Coulter, School of Public Health, Nadine Melhem, School of Medicine, Sophia Choukas-Bradley, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Marta Peciña, School of Medicine, Kar-Hai Chu, School of Public Health and Patricia Documét, School of Public Health

Two people laugh at a table

Linking university-community initiatives to promote a children’s thriving pipeline across early developmental stages

Shannon Wanless, School of Education, with Daniel Shaw, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, James Huguley, School of Social Work and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

A person holds up a sheet of letters for another person to point at

Teaming Awards

Supporting mental and physical wellbeing in autistic adults through community-based mindful movement

Rachel Robertson, School of Education, with colleagues Marissa Vogel, Open Up Pittsburgh, Caitlin Conner, School of Medicine, Carla Mazefsky, School of Medicine and Sally Sherman, School of Education

Students work in a library

Testing the effectiveness of faculty as facilitators of psychological resilience interventions for students in professional and graduate programs

Ann Sinsheimer, School of Law, with colleagues Omid Fotuhi, Learning Research and Development Center and Ming-Te Wang, School of Education

Priming Awards

Reconstructing the early career of Jorge Luis Borges as a public speaker: Talks and courses from 1949 to 1955

Daniel Balderston, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Resisting racist police violence: An oral history of the Ferguson rebellion

Joshua Bloom, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

The "New" New York: race, space, and power in gentrifying Brooklyn

Amanda Boston, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Hemispheric conversations urban art project

Caitlin Bruce, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, with colleagues Oreen Cohen, Independent Artist, Shane Pilster, Rivers of Steel and Max Gonzales, Rivers of Steel

Measuring the prevalence of earnings manipulations: A novel approach

Nicole Cade, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, with colleague Joshua Gunn, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

Enhancing resilience and healthspan through listening sessions with community engagement centers

Rose Constantino, School of Nursing, with colleagues Willa Doswell, School of Nursing, Betty J. Braxter, School of Nursing and Mario C. Browne, School of Pharmacy

Training health sciences faculty to deliver the Pitt personal wellness program to graduate students

Laura Dietz, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Toward the two-way coupling of swimmer and surface gravity waves

Lei Fang, Swanson School of Engineering

Investigating the environmental exposure risks of asthma

Peng Gao, School of Public Health

Unpacking racial disparities in the involuntary psychiatric commitment of youth and young adults in Allegheny County

Catherine Greeno, School of Social Work, with colleague Nev Jones, School of Social Work

Exploring new metallic quantum spin liquid in intermetallic compounds

Xin Gui, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Preserving fairness of deep learning under environmental changes

Xiaowei Jia, School of Computing and Information, with colleague Hassan Karimi, School of Computing and Information

War Risks: Understanding war trauma through a comprehensive study of war risk insurance claims by American veterans of the first world war

Bridget Keown, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

The geochemistry and petrogenesis of the Braganca and Morais Massifs of northern Portugal: Examining islands of rock to understand how mountains are built

Ryan Kerrigan, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Emission-Management for sustainable computing systems

Stephen Lee, School of Computing and Information

Experimental studies and kinetic modeling of co-pyrolysis of biomass and plastic wastes with the combined scheme of kinetics and machine-learning

Hui Liu, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

The labor of commoning: Women against authoritarian populism in Hungary

Gabriella Lukacs, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Anthropocene stewardship: Linking ecological sustainability, social justice and well-being in settler-colonial Hawai’i

Tomas Matza, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Distributional equity analysis of residual risk for national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) and stakeholder engagement

Christina Ndoh, Graduate School of Public Health

Improving quantum sensing using variational quantum optimization algorithms

Kaushik Seshadreesan, School of Computing and Information, with colleagues Gurudev Dutt, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Bringing mobile health to the underdeveloped world

Longfei Shangguan, School of Computing and Information

Freshwater bivalve shells as monitors of river contaminant sources over time: Application of barium isotopes

Brian Stewart, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences'

Synthetic tuning of ligand field for precise control of molecular zero-field splitting

Wesley Transue, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Imagination PLAYce: Towards critical liberatory and digitally mediated pedagogies of higher education

Veena Vasudevan, School of Education, with colleagues Bea Dias, School of Education and Tinukwa Boulder, School of Education

Archive of Pittsburgh language and speech

Daniel Villarreal, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences


— Patrick Monahan, photography by Tom Altany