University of Pittsburgh
February 10, 2011

News of Note From Pitt: Pitt PhD Student Among Top 10 Aspiring Women in Computer Science and Executive Director of Pitt's Center for Energy Connects Pitt Research to the World

News, Awards, and Developments From the University of Pittsburgh
Contact:  412-624-4147
  • Pitt PhD student nets one of 10 Microsoft scholarships for outstanding aspiring women in computer science 
  • New executive director of Pitt’s Center for Energy to steer private and public support, need for solutions to Pitt researchers 

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 PhD Student Nets One of 10 Microsoft Scholarships for Outstanding Aspiring Women in Computer Science 

Software giant Microsoft selected Mengmeng Li, a computer science doctoral student in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, as one of 10 aspiring women in computer science from the United States and Canada to receive the 2011 Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship. The scholarship is intended to increase the number of women pursuing PhD degrees in computer science, a field traditionally dominated by men. 

The one-year award includes $15,000 for the 2011-12 academic year, a $2,000 travel grant to a professional conference of the recipient’s choice, and a possible Microsoft Research internship. Li—whose research interests include networking, computer security, and piracy—was honored along with women postgraduate students from such institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Toronto. 

Li’s achievement complements the ongoing efforts in Pitt’s Department of Computer Science to increase the participation of women—and other underrepresented groups—in the University’s program and computer science in general. Twenty percent of department faculty members are women, which exceeds the national average. 

The department’s recruitment of talented female students also was exhibited in 2006 when then-doctoral student Neven Abou Gazala was one of 19 student nationwide to win the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, a $10,000 award that goes to outstanding female undergraduate and graduate students in computer science or related fields. 

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), 

New Executive Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy to Steer Private and Public Support, Need for Solutions to Pitt Researchers 

Don Shields, director of corporate relations for Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will now also serve as executive director of the University’s Center for Energy. Shields will take a leading role in developing strategy, acquiring funding, and expanding the focus and influence of the University’s nationally recognized energy research center. The new position builds on Shields’ extensive efforts at the Swanson School to secure government and industry support for new research and educational programs in the energy area. 

Pitt’s Center for Energy is dedicated to improving energy-technology development and sustainability, including energy efficiency, advanced materials for demanding energy technologies, carbon management, and energy diversification. Shields will work to connect the center’s faculty members and their research to the private and public organizations with a need for their work, supplying Pitt researchers with important problems they can solve and the means to solve them. 

Shields—who also serves as codirector of Pitt’s Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence—has nearly 25 years of experience in technology management and higher education resource development. Shields earned his bachelor’s degree in geosciences and biogeology from Penn State University, his master’s degree in geology from the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Public Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University. 

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), 



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