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Carnegie Science Awards

Presenting Sponsor:
Eaton logo

9/24/2015 to 11/17/2015

2016 Carnegie Science Award Winners

Chairman’s Award
Allegheny Conference on Community Development
The Chairman’s Award is the highest honor conferred at Carnegie Science Awards and will recognize the Allegheny Conference on Community Development for its unparalleled impact in transforming the Pittsburgh region through public-private partnerships that create fertile ground for the growth of science and technology achievement.

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Award presented by Eaton

Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award
Prashant N. Kumta, PhD
University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering

At the cutting-edge of platform technology, Prashant Kumta and his colleagues have developed a family of biodegradable materials to repair severely damaged bones. Instead of repairing complicated fractures with bio-inert and non-degradable metal screws or plates, Kumta has developed a biocompatible and biodegradable metallic “fixation device” and injectable as well as 3-D printable “bone putty” that will resorb into the body after the bone has healed. Pending FDA approval, “bone putty” will be used to repair military and civilian injuries and debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis and bone cancer.

Award presented by Kennametal Inc.

Corporate Innovation Award
Co-founded by Josh Knauer as spin-out from MAYA Design, Rhiza is a software provider pioneering the way marketers, salespeople, and business leaders make Big Data actionable. Working with the biggest media companies in the world (Comcast, Cox, BBC), Rhiza unites data science, software development and human-centered design to empower users to make informed decisions for a more sustainable future.  Rhiza's inclusive company culture and uncompromising focus on helping users without formal training draw on data drives constant innovation.

Award presented by Eaton

Elementary Educator Award
Jessica Huzzard, MLIS
Brooks Elementary School

Leading the STEAM and Maker Movement at Brooks Elementary School is Library Media Specialist Jessica Huzzard. Securing funds to purchase Squishy Circuits and MaKey MaKey kits, Huzzard provides her students with real-world experience by enabling them to explore, invent, and challenge ideas. Through various STEM professional development trainings and workshops, Huzzard has created a vision for four makerspaces at Brooks Elementary School and secured a team of colleagues to collaborate with her.

Award presented by Chevron

Middle Level Educator Award
Laura Micco
Environmental Charter School

Through experience-based learning opportunities for her students, Laura Micco is working with teachers to develop project-based learning units that cross cut all aspects of STEAM learning. As part of her push for Environmental Charter School to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, Micco trained teachers, deconstructed content, applied for grants, integrated partnerships with local organizations around the city, and managed to teach middle grades students about urban birding. Micco’s “Get Outside” campaign at Environmental Charter School has ignited and motivated teachers to document over 1,500 outdoor experiences for students during the 2014-2015 school year.

Award presented by Allegheny Health Network

High School Educator Award
Robert Wesolowski
Saint Joseph High School

Saint Joseph High School educator and Master Teacher for American Society for Metals (ASM) International, Robert Wesolowski’s innovative, collaborative teaching methods help to make STEM concepts accessible and fun for students by using hands-on activities to breakdown complex theories and concepts. Adapting his curriculum to reflect emerging technology needs, Wesolowski ensures that his students are prepared for tomorrow’s STEM careers.

Award presented by FedEx Ground

Leadership in STEM Education Award
Bioinformatics Education Team
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Starting in 2001, the Bioinformatics Education Team has developed and implemented bioinformatics curriculums at graduate, undergraduate, and high school levels. Externally situated from minority-serving institutions (MSIs), the program focuses on building and sustaining curricula and research programs amongst MSIs. Adapted for the high school level in 2007, the curriculum features an in-depth introduction to bioinformatics with real-life emphasis on 21st Century career awareness and readiness.

Award presented by Chevron

Leadership in Career and Technical Education Award
Darby L. Copeland, EdD
Parkway West Career and Technology Center

As Executive Director of Parkway West Career and Technology Center, Darby Copeland’s vision is to add relevant programs that align with the regional workforce and meet the 21st Century needs for career and marketplace. To expose students to a variety of skill sets and opportunities, Copeland has developed partnerships with The Energy Innovation Center and several post-secondary schools. Copeland is going beyond traditional programming to introduce new curriculum, such as Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy Technology and Veterinary Assistant Technology, and he seeks input from regional industry experts to design programs.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

University/Post-Secondary Educator Award
Richard D. Bowden, PhD
Allegheny College

Allegheny College Professor Richard Bowden works with faculty members in the Department of Environmental Science to teach students how to apply STEM research methods to address environmental problems at local, regional, and global scales. Students working with him have collaborated with industry and university partners on projects related to wind energy, sustainable forestry education, alternative biofuel productivity and ecology, climate change effects on forest carbon dynamics, and long-term investigations of acid rain effects on forest soils. Most classes at Allegheny involve hands-on activities that apply environmental principles and theories to real-time investigations and environmental problem-solving.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

University/Post-Secondary Student Award
Elizabeth Oczypok, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

As a graduate student in the MD/PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth Oczypok is on the cutting edge of asthma research. Her research of the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) has impacted our understanding of how asthma develops. Oczypok, using mouse models, showed that it is impossible to develop asthma without RAGE, and that RAGE is needed for the accumulation of pro-inflammatory innate lymphoid cells in the lung after allergen exposure. Her research may lead to the development of new therapies for allergic asthma and the prevention of the disease.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

Emerging Female Scientist Award
Susanne E. Ahmari, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

As a physician scientist, Susanne Ahmari is recognized as an expert for her work in understanding the mechanisms of obsessive compulsive disorder. Pushing technical and conceptual boundaries to gain an understanding of this debilitating condition, Ahmari was among the first to use optogenetics, a technique which allows neurons to be controlled by flashes of light, to uncover mechanisms of psychiatric disease.

Award presented by Eaton

Start-Up Entrepreneur Award
Jorgen Pedersen
RE2 Robotics

Jorgen Pedersen turned his passion for robotics into RE2 Robotics, a leading developer of robotic manipulator arms. After working with the Department of Defense, Pedersen successfully commercialized several robotic technologies that originated from his work with the DoD. Pedersen and his team focus on improving robotic manipulation for a variety of defense and health care applications. Through a joint project funded by the Navy and Army, RE2 developed the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (HDMS), a dexterous dual-arm robotic manipulation system.

Award presented by Pittsburgh Technology Council

Entrepreneur Award
Craig Markovitz
Blue Belt Technologies, Inc.

From university lab to thriving company, Blue Belt Technologies, under the leadership of Craig Markovitz, is developing the next generation of smart surgical instruments for initial use in orthopedic surgery. Changing the face of orthopedic surgery, Blue Belt Technologies Navio® surgical system provides robotics-assistance in knee replacement surgery through CT-free navigation software and a unique, hand-held robotic bone-shaping device. In October 2015, Blue Belt Technologies, Inc. was acquired by Smith & Nephew, Europe’s largest manufacture of artificial hips and knees.

Award presented by Braskem America

Environmental Award
Albert Presto, PhD
Carnegie Mellon University

Albert Presto wants to know what Pittsburghers breathe on a daily basis, and the impact air pollution has on our health. Presto and a group from Carnegie Mellon have developed a method to map pollutant concentrations in Pittsburgh. Using the pollutant maps, Presto and local doctors are better able to understand human exposures to pollution and the relationship between ambient air pollution and asthma symptoms in the region.

Award presented by Orionvega

Information Technology Award
Touchtown, Inc.
For more than 18 years, Touchtown Inc. has been focused on improving the quality of life for senior citizens living in senior living communities throughout North America. Research shows that seniors who are engaged with fellow residents and their community feel more at home, and Touchtown’s products improve the quality of life for seniors living in these communities. Touchtown Resident Apps, their newest innovation, provide residents the opportunity to connect to their senior communities through a personal tablet-based portal. Through the app, residents can view dining menus, sign up for classes, order maintenance, and much more. With more than 1,200 senior living communities in North America, Touchtown continues to make improvements to their app platforms.

Award presented by Pittsburgh Business Times

Innovation in Energy Award
Shiwoo Lee, PhD
U.S. DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory / AECOM

As a researcher with the U.S. DOE NETL’s Fuel Cell Team, Shiwoo Lee has made critical efficiency improvements to solid oxide fuel cells by developing a single-step infiltration technique that deploys engineered nanomaterials to active sites within the fuel cells cathode. These systems have been upgraded through continued innovation to improve the system lifespan and reduce manufacturing cost, and have the potential to be one of the cleanest and most efficient energy technologies in the future.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

Life Sciences Award
Rocky S. Tuan, PhD
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Rocky Tuan’s research in musculoskeletal biology and tissue regeneration cover basic science and engineering, as well as translation and clinical applications. His interests range from skeletal patterning and embryonic cartilage development to the biology of adult stem cells and reprogrammed stem cells. He has extensive experience in applying adult stem cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

Science Communicator Award
Deborah D. Stine, PhD
Carnegie Mellon University

As the Associate Director for Policy Outreach at Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and a Professor of Practice in Engineering and Public Policy, Deborah Stine has developed several unique communication tools to translate CMU’s research to the public in a more accessible way. These communication tools, such as animated videos and podcasts, with just the right amount of humor help transform complex information about energy into easy-to-understand language and visuals.

Award presented by WTAE Channel 4

Junior Division Student Award
Oscar Heller
Carson Middle School

Oscar Heller’s project helps students and teachers choose the most precise and accurate program to use to program robots for robotic competitions. He tested the three main robot programming languages: Robot.c, NXT, and EV3, and ran each language through a series of tasks several times to find the average.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

Intermediate Division Student Award
Aria Eppinger
Winchester Thurston School

Aria Eppinger studied the effects of the herbicide Roundup® to determine if it negatively affects beneficial bacteria more than detrimental bacteria. Ingestion of Roundup® residue may cause gut dysbiosis, which is associated with diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression. In her research, gut bacteria was exposed to varying Roundup® doses, and she measured its growth.

Award presented by NOVA Chemicals

Senior Division Student Award
Sophia Yurkovetsky
Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

Using fruit flies as a model, Sophia Yurkovetsky studied how the over-expression of dShrm (a protein specific to apical constriction) affects the neural systems from the larval state to the adult state. Through stains of extracted larval brains and adult behavioral tests, Yurkovetsky determined whether dShrm over-expression affects the make-up of nervous system tissue.

Award presented by Carnegie Science Center

2016 Honorable Mentions

Corporate Innovation
Simcoach Games

Middle Level Educator
Robin Whitaker, Chartiers Valley Middle School, Chartiers Valley School District

Leadership in Career and Technical Education
Guy C. Berry, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University

University/Post-Secondary Educator
Mark T. Stauffer, PhD, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Emerging Female Scientist
Inês Azevedo, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University

Mark Evans, Confluence

Dr. Natalie Pekney, National Energy Technology Laboratory

Innovation in Energy
Ronald Gdovic, PhD, WindStax Wind Power Systems

Science Communicator
Robyn K. Coggins, Pitt Med Magazine

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