University of Pittsburgh
February 20, 2013

News of Note From Pitt

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  • Geology Professor Awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Grant 
  • Army Officer Named Director of Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services
  • Student Conduct Officer Selected to Serve on County Advisory Board

PITTSBURGH—Behind the larger stories about the University of Pittsburgh are other stories of faculty, staff, and student achievement as well as information on Pitt programs reaching new levels of success. The following is a compilation of some of those stories.

Geology Professor Awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Grant

Emily Elliott, assistant professor of environmental isotope geochemistry in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences within Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a five-year, $550,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER Program offers prestigious awards that support junior faculty members doing groundbreaking research who demonstrate a great understanding of their fields. 

Through her research, Elliott intends to prove that poor constraints on nitrogen releases in urban environments have quite heavily influenced the nutrient sources of urban ecosystems like streams and riverine systems. She plans to compare the reactive nitrogen deposition, fluxes and speciation between urban and rural environments; examine the mechanisms that retain nitrogen in urban ecosystems; and determine how the ecosystem responds to the addition of atmospheric nitrate. This research will be aided not only by this NSF CAREER grant but also by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Science Center.

Elliott has been a member of the University’s faculty since 2007 and has had nearly a dozen articles published in refereed journals since that time. She recently received an honorable mention from the 2013 Carnegie Science Awards in the Environmental Award category for her examination of the pollutants caused by power plant stacks. 

Army Officer Named Director of Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services

Ryan Ahl has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Veterans Services, where he will assist veterans in their transition from military to University life, support their academic successes, and help them and their families receive military education benefits. Prior to arriving at Pitt, Ahl served for 10 years as an infantry squad leader with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, participating in more than 500 missions in Iraq. Since July 2012, Ahl has served as a maintenance control officer with the brigade support battalion of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. 

Student Conduct Officer Selected to Serve on County Advisory Board

Deborah Walker, student conduct officer in Pitt’s Division of Student Affairs, has been selected to serve on the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) Block Grant Advisory Board. She will be responsible for helping to distribute state-allocated block grant funds for mental health, behavioral health, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, homelessness, child welfare, and human services projects. Last year, the board distributed more than $128 million. The board comprises 48 members who reflect the diversity of the populations served by DHS.

“I’m honored to have been selected as part of the DHS Block Grant Advisory Board, knowing that I will help make a significant impact on improving the lives of residents of Allegheny County,” Walker said.



Ryan Ahl

Deborah Walker

Emily Elliot