Matt Lamanna ’97 was recently featured in The Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, Penn., in a list of innovators. Pittsburgh was recently home to the G-20 summit. The article noted, “Pittsburgh’s innovators continue to advance the cause of science, medicine, engineering and popular culture. Here’s a list of innovators and what they’re working on.”
Lamanna is assistant curator and the lead scientific advisor on Dinosaurs in Their World, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s exhibit that nearly tripled the size of the Museum’s former Dinosaur Hall.
He graduated with high honors in biology and geoscience from Hobart, and went on to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied dinosaur paleontology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science and earned a master of science and his Ph.D.
The full list of “Pittsburghers,” is below.
Pittsburghers forge ahead on cutting edge
September 20, 2009
Pittsburgh’s innovators continue to advance the cause of science, medicine, engineering and popular culture. Here’s a list of innovators and what they’re working on.
Luis von Ahn, 28, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist, is one of the youngest recipients of a MacArthur Fellows “genius” grant. He received $500,000 to spend as he sees fit. He is one of five recipients nationwide of this year’s Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship, a $200,000 award to help young professors who are likely to define the direction of computer science.
Dr. Stephen Badylak, AGE, deputy director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. His research focus is a naturally made material called extracellular matrix, or ECM. Derived from pig bladder or intestine, ECM sends the right signals to the body to re-grow healthy tissue, rather than heal injury with scar. ECM became widely known when a model airplane hobbyist sliced off the tip of his finger and it grew back after he sprinkled a powder form of ECM on the injury.
Jacobo Bielak, 68, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of civil and mechanical engineering, received a $1.2 million, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his earthquake research.
Andrew Gellman, 49, head of the chemical engineering department at CMU and director of an energy consortium designed to develop cleaner, more efficient fuels. Received a $2 million research grant from the Department of Energy to continue developing chemical reactions that can be used in the chemical and petroleum industries.
Gregg Gillis, 27, also known as Girl Talk, blends songs from multiple artists from different genres – Roy Orbison and Kanye West, for example – to create his own music. His 2008 release, “Feed the Animals” was ranked fourth in Time Magazine’s Top Albums of 2008. His fall 2008 tour included two sold-out shows in Los Angeles. His music is controversial because it relies on a loose interpretation of the fair use principle of copyright law.
Carlos Guestrin, 34, assistant professor of computer science and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon recently was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given to young U.S. scientists. In 2008, he was listed as one of Popular Science’s Brilliant Ten for his work developing computer algorithms designed to collect information efficiently – whether it’s the best blogs to read for news or the number/location of sensors needed to monitor the safety of a water system.
Andy Hannah, 44, CEO of Plextronics, an international technology company that specializes in printed solar, lighting and other electronics. The company’s focus is on organic solar cell and OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) lighting, specifically the conductive inks and process technologies that enable those and other similar applications. Particularly relevant as the worldwide search for renewable energy becomes more urgent, the company’s technology will enable the mass production of printed devices, such as low-cost organic solar cells and high-efficiency lighting.
Matt Lamanna, 33, paleontologist at Carnegie Museum of Natural History who uncovered bird fossils on a dig that help support the theory that birds descended from dinosaurs, and was featured in a documentary on the dig. He led the renovation of the dinosaur museum.
Dr. Bruce Lee, 41, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology and biomedical informatics, University of Pittsburgh, is an expert in creating virtual models to gain insight into epidemics. He is collaborating with world-renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Donald Burke, dean at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, to develop computer simulations of H1N1 by using census data and other data sets to build simulations of individuals as they move about and interact with one another through schools, workplaces, households and communities. By modeling their contacts, they are working to determine the likelihood a person will spread the disease to others, and to evaluate which interventions might be the most effective such as school closings, travel restrictions, hand washing, vaccines or a combination of these techniques.
Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, 52, chief of the division of plastic surgery and professor of surgery and orthopedic surgery at UPMC, recently performed the nation’s first bilateral hand transplant and is one of the world’s foremost experts in tissue allograft and hand transplantation. His research focuses on limiting the need for long-term medications to suppress the immune system following composite tissue allografts, such as a hand or face transplant.
Marlin Mickle, 73, Pitt professor whose “smart tags” could be used to cut down lines in grocery stores by using the technology to scan entire carts rather than individual items. He is working on wireless technology that can recharge batteries.
Marios Savvides, 33, one of four researchers nationwide selected to be part of a new Center for Academic Studies in Identity Studies, under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The center will provide the intelligence community with a pool of researchers in biometrics and provide a variety of solutions to the nation’s identity security issues. He is a research assistant professor at CMU’s electrical and computer engineering department and the university’s CyLab.
Andrew Schwartz, professor, Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His team studies neural interfaces that have allowed monkeys to move prosthetic arms with their thoughts alone. In one experiment, the animals were able to grab a marshmallow and feed it to themselves with a prosthetic arm. Now, they are working on turning a doorknob, a task of far greater complexity.
Laura Staniland, 22, a Duquesne University senior majoring in digital media arts, co-created Your Place, USA, a project that was one of only 19 selected from around the world to be awarded $30,000 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Your Place teaches kids ages 9 to 13 about civic-decision making and regional planning. Staniland is co-founder and creative director of Pittsburgh-based CivicsLab.
Dr. Massimo Trucco, 61, an international leader in the field of immunogenetics, having dedicated his life’s work to finding a cure for diabetes. Trucco is the Director of the Division of Immunogenetics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Hillman Professor of Pediatric Immunology at Children’s Hospital, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
William “Red” Whittaker, 60, director of the Field Robotics Center and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the chief scientist of RedZone Robotics. Whittaker led the Tartan Racing team to its first place in the 2007 DARPA GrandChallenge, which earned the university a $2 million prize. He leads the CMU team which is competing for the Google Lunar X Prize worth at least $15 million. As the chairman of Astrobitic Technology, Whittaker will play an instrumental role in further lunar development.
Jerome White Jr., 27, Pittsburgh native and Japan pop sensation better known as “Jero.” He was named Best New Artist at the 50th Annual Japan Record Awards – the Japanese equivalent of the Grammy Awards.
Kiesha Lalama-White, 36, joined the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park in 2000, who recently won an Outstanding Choreographers Award at the Youth America Grand Prix Regional Semi-Finals, was selected to choreograph a scene in the upcoming film, “Sorority Row,” and was named in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.” She’s the education director of the Civic Light Opera. A new production she conceived and choreographed will premiere in December.
Marco Zenati, 47, and Howie Choset, 41, co-founders of Cardiorobotics, a start-up company based in Newport, R.I., with a research facility in Pittsburgh, developed a minimally invasive robotic “snake” for heart surgery and other medical uses. The company plans to apply for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to use the flexible, remotely operated probe in experimental surgical procedures on humans. Choset is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Zenati is a surgery professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.