• Awardees
  • Awardees
  • Awardees
  • Awardees

Carnegie Science Awards

Presenting Sponsor:
Eaton logo

9/24/2015 to 11/17/2015

2015 Carnegie Science Award Winners

Advanced Manufacturing Award
Michael Podobnik
Teletrix Corporation

Launched by Podobnik in his garage, Teletrix specializes in making training simulators for personnel who are exposed to radiation. With the objective of replacing 'live' radiation in training, Teletrix developed instruments that rely on simulation, thus creating a zero-exposure training environment, improved education for practitioners, and a safer world.

Award presented by Kennametal
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Advanced Materials Award
Steven R. Little, PhD
University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering

Dr. Little leads engineers and student researchers as they collaborate with clinicians to use engineering to inform medicine. Little has designed a process that controls drug release in the body, mimicking the way that the body releases signals naturally.

Award presented by Kennametal
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Catalyst Award
Rory A. Cooper, PhD
Human Engineering Research Laboratories

At the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Cooper translates scientific and engineering discoveries into products that help people with disabilities. Cooper strives to provide assistive technologies that empower people with disabilities to become more independent and have a higher quality of life.

Award presented by Orionvega
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Corporate Innovation Award

Aesynt addresses important issues facing today's health systems by developing products to help hospitals reduce costs and improve quality of care. More than 1,500 hospitals globally rely on Aesynt solutions to safely dispense medications, while helping them to build better businesses, manage change, and improve patient outcomes.

Award presented by Eaton
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Elementary Educator Award
Jenna Whitney
South Allegheny Elementary School

Whitney has served as a mentor to three winning teams in the annual Polar Bear International competition, which challenges young people to implement community projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Her students have minimized energy consumption, examined their carbon footprints, and stimulated change in the community.

Award presented by Chevron.
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Middle Level Educator Award
Julie Allison
Beaver Area School District

As Technology Coach, Allison founded the Student Technology Assistance Program, which provides project-based instruction in programming logic, computer hardware, networking, and software. She inspires all students, through the rigor necessary to advance them toward STEM careers.

Award presented by Allegheny Health Network
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High School Educator Award
Graig Marx
Winchester Thurston School

Through project-based courses, Marx seamlessly incorporates multiple STEM disciplines in his teaching. Marx challenges his classes to solve authentic and relevant problems, such as designing new uses for used water bottles, programming drones to gather environmental data, and designing turbines to function in urban settings.

Presented by FedEx Ground
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Leadership in STEM Education Award
Marijke Hecht
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Hecht leads the Parks Conservancy efforts to expand opportunities for Pittsburgh's children to deepen their understanding of science, using Pittsburgh's public parks as learning laboratories. Participants explore, hypothesize, collect data, solve problems, and construct explanations and predictions about ecosystem health.

Award presented by Chevron
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University/Post-Secondary Educator Award
David Brumley
Carnegie Mellon University, CyLab

As the Technical Director of CMU's CyLab cyber security lab, Brumley recognized the need for novel approaches to STEM education, leading him to spearhead picoCTF, a national cyber security game and contest targeted at exciting young minds about computer security.
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Emerging Female Scientist Award
Shirley Ho, PhD
Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Physics

By controlling systematic errors in data, Ho devised a method to produce the world's most accurate measurements of the scale of the universe. Through the examination of dark energy and dark matter, Ho's research provides a better understanding of our universe.

Award presented by Eaton
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Environmental Award
Jeanne M. VanBriesen, PhD, P.E.
Carnegie Mellon University
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

VanBriesen has conducted water quality research for the past 15 years, focusing on combined sewer overflows, drinking water quality, and the impacts of resource extraction. Her research on the treatment and discharge of drilling waste water was instrumental in developing state policy.

Award presented by Bayer
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University/Post-Secondary Student Award
Danielle Chirdon
Carnegie Mellon University

Chirdon's graduate research focuses on developing new materials to improve solar cells and generation of hydrogen fuel from sunlight. She also co-founded "MCS Future Leaders of Science," an organization that nurtures leadership skills and a commitment to service, while inspiring K-12 students to investigate the world around them.

Award presented by Campos Inc.
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Start-Up Entrepreneur Award
Ananya Cleetus

A budding roboticist, Cleetus has designed and built multiple robotic prostheses that led her to the 2014 White House Science Fair. As a senior at Upper St. Clair High School, Cleetus founded the tech startup, Magikstra, a social network for ambitious students like herself.

Award presented by Pittsburgh Technology Council
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Entrepreneur Award
Jesse Schell
Schell Games

Producing an array of innovative and award-winning entertainment experiences, Schell is a dominant force in the "transformational" game market, a phrase he coined to describe games that use entertainment mechanics to transform players in a positive and meaningful way.

Award presented by Braskem
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Information Technology Award
Luis von Ahn, PhD

Von Ahn, a MacArthur grant recipient known for solving large scale-problems through technology, co-created Duolingo, the free language learning platform used by 70 million people worldwide. Duolingo, Apple's iPhone App of the Year and Google's Best of the Best, creates personalized education through machine learning.

Award presented by Pittsburgh Business Times
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Life Sciences Award
Yadong Wang, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
Pittsburgh Biomaterials Foundry

Using a multidisciplinary approach combining chemistry, biology, materials science, and engineering, Wang has created functional biomaterials to enable new treatments in regenerative medicine. His development of a cell-free, biodegradable artery graft offers a transformative change in vascular bypass surgeries.

Award presented by UPMC
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Science Communicator Award
Kathleen Knauer
The Allegheny Front

Knauer has built The Allegheny Front into a well-respected news source for topics ranging from climate change, to natural gas extraction, and wildlife conservation. Under her leadership, the weekly public radio program has presented complex issues of environmental science to an audience of 20,000 listeners.

Award presented by WTAE 4
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Junior Division Student Award
Benjamin A. Bermann & James T. Votruba-Drzal
Falk Laboratory School

As sixth graders, Benjamin and James were interested in exploring how biomass from algae can be used to produce biofuel. The team tested growing conditions to find which variables resulted in the most Spirulina algae, manipulating nutrient levels, agitation, and water temperature. Their results showed that high temperature, low agitation, and either low or high nutrient levels generated the most algae.

Presented by Bombardier
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Intermediate Division Student Award
Haley Nichols
Falk Laboratory School

Haley Nichols, a seventh grader at Falk Laboratory School, investigated the health benefits of Himalayan sea salt. She compared Himalayan salt to normal sodium chloride as well as other varieties from France, Hawaii, and India by comparing which salt allowed brine shrimp to hatch and thrive.

Presented by NOVA Chemicals
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Senior Division Student Award
Suvir Mirchandani & Konrad Urban
Fox Chapel Area High School

Inspired by the needs of those suffering from aphasia, a language comprehension disorder, this student duo designed a text-to-image communication system. The team created supervised machine learning models to train a 2D human representation on 700 action verbs annotated with physical characteristics. They then developed an image processing algorithm that identifies simplified images of abstract and concrete nouns.

Presented by EQT Foundation
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Honorable Mentions
Corporate Innovation - Rhiza, Inc.
Elementary Educator - Michele Thomas, Kiski Area School District
High School Educator - Volunteer Advisors of the Seneca Valley Chapter of the Science National Honor Society
Leadership in STEM Education - David Brumley, Carnegie Mellon University, CyLab
University Student - Sarah Kochanek, Duquesne University
Emerging Female Scientist - Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Start-Up Entrepreneur - Robb Myer, NoWait
Entrepreneur - Susan & Eric Koger, ModCloth
Environmental - Ronald Gdovic, WindStax Wind Power Systems

Videos of our 2014 Awardees can be found here

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