University of Pittsburgh
March 3, 2011

News of Note From Pitt: Professor to Guide Field's Role in AAAS; New Exec. Dir. for Law's Innovation Practice Institute; Ex-Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen Honored for Crisis Leadership

News, Awards, and Developments From the University of Pittsburgh
Contact:  412-624-4147
  • Pitt professor picked to guide role, colleagues of history and philosophy of science in the American Association for the Advancement of Science 
  • Law School’s Innovation Practice Institute appoints new executive director 
  • Pitt to honor Admiral Thad Allen for exemplary leadership during crisis 

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. 

Pitt Professor Picked to Guide Role, Colleagues of History and Philosophy of Science in AAAS

Professor Sandra D. Mitchell, chair of Pitt’s top-ranked Department of History and Philosophy of Science, recently took on the role of enhancing how her discipline interacts with and is represented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest society for general science. 

Mitchell was elected a member-at-large for AAAS’ Section for the History of Philosophy of Science. The section promotes the exploration of scientific research and arguments by looking at their basic structure to determine the strength of presented evidence and to reveal what may be hidden assumptions. As a member-at-large, Mitchell will assess the section’s performance and role in the AAAS, urge section officers to establish working panels on interdisciplinary subjects, and help involve members in useful, professional interaction, among other responsibilities. 

Mitchell is a philosopher of biology whose research centers on scientific explanations of complex behavior and the best approach for representing multilevel, multicomponent systems. She is the author of numerous articles and books, among them the recently published Unsimple Truths: Science Complexity, and Policy (University of Chicago, 2009), which argues that as science unravels the complexity of nature and society, long held assumptions about linear causes, reductive explanation, and simple predict-and-act decision making need to be revised. 

Pitt’s history and philosophy of science department is among the most highly esteemed in the world. In conjunction with Pitt’s Department of Philosophy, it was ranked No. 1 in the English-speaking world for philosophy of science in the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet, a biennial survey of philosophy graduate programs wherein approximately 300 philosophers rate schools and departments by faculty and reputation. For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), 

Law School’s Innovation Practice Institute Appoints New Executive Director

Pitt’s School of Law has appointed Justine Kasznica executive director of the Innovation Practice Institute. Kasznica is actively involved in Pittsburgh’s commitment to innovation and economic development and participates in a variety of entrepreneurial and community outreach endeavors. 

Kasznica has worked as a practicing corporate attorney and a business consultant for a number of Pittsburgh robotics and high-tech start-ups. Since 2009, she has led ReefBot, a Pittsburgh-based team she helped establish that is committed to developing and using underwater robotic technology for coral-reef education and conservation efforts. In December 2010, ReefBot, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, launched a state-of-the-art children’s robotic exhibition at the PPG Aquarium. 

Kasznica earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University in 2003 and a JD degree from the Rutgers University School of Law in 2006. 

Following graduation from Rutgers, Kasznica spent two years as a commercial litigation associate for WolfBlock LLP in Philadelphia. While there, she also taught constitutional law seminars in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. In 2008, Kasznica served as a law clerk for the Honorable Thomas Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pittsburgh. 

Pitt’s Innovation Practice Institute develops experiential and cross-disciplinary learning and immersion opportunities for students. Pitt law students, faculty, and, members of the practicing bar collaborate in supporting various innovations, including the creation and evaluation of cutting-edge technologies, the development of new neighborhood economies, the commercialization of medical innovations, and the study of the legal services strategies and culture. For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or 

Pitt to Honor Admiral Thad Allen for Exemplary Leadership During Crisis

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership will honor Admiral Thad W. Allen (ret.) with the Leadership in a Crisis 2011 Johnson Institute Exemplary Leadership Award. The award ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. March 23 in Ballroom B, University Club, 123 University Pl., Oakland. 

Pitt alumnus and trustee Dick Thornburgh (LAW ’57)—who formerly served as governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, attorney general of the United States, and U.N. undersecretary general and currently is of counsel to the international law firm K&L Gates in its Washington, D.C., office—will provide a response. This free event is open to the public, though RSVPs are requested at or 412-648-1336. 

Now a Senior Fellow with RAND, Admiral Allen was, until recently, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. In that capacity, he led recovery efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Shortly before his retirement, Allen was appointed National Incident Commander for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He is the recipient of two Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, three Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medals, a Legion of Merit Medal, and three Meritorious Service Medals. 

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is part of Pitt’s Graduate School for Public and International Affairs. For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Amanda Leff Ritchie at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-337-3350 (cell), 



University Units