University of Pittsburgh
July 18, 2013

News of Note From Pitt

Contact:  412-624-4147

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Computer Science Professor Adam Lee Receives Award for Social Media Privacy Research

School of Social Work Helps Young People Find Their Way Following Foster Care

• Chemistry Professor W. Seth Horne Wins National Institutes of Health Grant

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.

Computer Science Professor Adam Lee Receives Award for Social Media Privacy Research

Adam J. Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been honored with an Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. Lee’s five-year, $545,623 award will be used to design computer tools that enable daily social media users to better understand the interplay between security, privacy, and utility within the context of their online interactions. The foundation’s CAREER Program offers prestigious awards that support groundbreaking research by junior faculty members who demonstrate great understanding of their fields.

“Most systems deployed today have inherent security/privacy limitations,” said Lee. “However, it’s tough for people who use these systems to understand the implications of the actions that they take online.  For example, ‘checking in’ at my neighborhood pub in order to get a free Guinness seems like a great idea, until I realize that the pub is using this information to profile my activities, and I could inadvertently be tarnishing my social image with certain groups of people.”

The grant also will aid in the development of educational materials, which will support two undergraduate courses at the University—one for computer science majors and one for nonmajors—that explore the social, technical, and privacy implications of our increasingly digitized society. 

Written by Melissa Carlson


School of Social Work Helps Young People Find Their Way Following Foster Care

Nearly 1,000 children age out of Pennsylvania’s foster care system every year—and many face uncertain futures. The 2013 Independent Living Youth Retreat, to take place August 5-9 at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown campus, is designed to help these young people, ages 16 to 21, make a smoother transition into adulthood. Media coverage will be welcome.

Sponsored by the Pitt School of Social Work’s Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center and the Department of Public Welfare Office of Children, Youth and Families, the annual retreat provides 150 participants from across the state with a busy fun-filled week of educational sessions, group discussions, and other activities in a campus setting. Gathering under the theme “United, Not Divided,” the young people will set goals, discover their options, and make connections with others. Approximately 60 child welfare workers from across the state also will attend.

“The idea is to provide foster care youth with a college experience to help motivate them to pursue higher education where they may reach their full potential,” says Helen Cahalane, principal investigator of the child welfare education and research programs in Pitt’s School of Social Work. “The retreat gives them a forum to acknowledge their accomplishments and plan for their future.”

To arrange interviews with participants, contact Lucinda Gore at 717-585-7214 (cell) or lcg7@pitt.edu. Helen Cahalane can be reached at 412-624-6386 or hcupgh@pitt.edu.

Written by Sharon Blake 

 

Chemistry Professor W. Seth Horne Wins National Institutes of Health Grant

W. Seth Horne, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has received a research grant from the National Institutes of Health based on a proposal titled “Molecular Mimics of Protein Tertiary Folding from Primary Sequence Information.”

The five-year, $1.35 million award is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and will support research in the Horne lab. This research aims to develop new strategies for mimicking chemical protein function, aiming to improve biological stability in the human body. Horne will use natural proteins to design molecules that have similar biological effects.

Along with funding research to develop the foundational technology, the grant also will support work toward biomedical applications related to cancer detection and malaria. The work on cancer diagnostics will be performed in collaboration with Jan Pilch, assistant professor in the Pitt School of Medicine’s Department of Urology.

Written by Melissa Carlson

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Adam J. Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science

W. Seth Horne, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry