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The Products of Pittsburgh podcast is about the people in Pittsburgh – innovators, scientists, community leaders – and the remarkable stories behind how they came to be and the work they have produced.

Have ideas about who you would like to learn more about? Know someone having a positive impact on the Pittsburgh community? Let us know by emailing us at ctsipodcast@pitt.edu.

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Tenacious Inventor: Rory Cooper


October 8, 2019

Rory Cooper and his team at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories have developed over 100 inventions related to wheelchairs, robotics, and wearable instruments designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities and military veterans.  Cooper grew up being around mechanics and machines; however, before becoming an engineer and prolific innovator, Rory became an Eagle Scout and at age 17 decided to serve his country by joining the Army.  

About Cooper:

Rory Cooper, PhD is the Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Associate Dean for Inclusion, FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor, and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Community Connector: Lina Dostilio


September 10, 2019

Moving around a bit in their early life has connected Lina Dostilio to the concept of space and place, particularly as it relates to community engagement and Dostilio’s work within that framework. A self-described hard worker, Dostilio thinks deeply about how to build relationships between and among folks in the community and those engaged in an academic university. A lover of “bizarre British television,” cooking, and her family, Lina balances long workdays with finding joy off the clock.

About Dostilio:

Lina Dostilio, EdD is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations at the University of Pittsburgh. She is responsible for supporting community-facing work at Pitt that includes community relations, cultivating strategic opportunities to advance Pitt’s community engagement agenda, and implementing the University’s place-based community engagement initiative through the development of neighborhood-based community engagement centers.

Blazing a Trail: Erricka Hager


August 20, 2019

A lifelong love of books about science and history, coupled with a family of generations of strong black women, has led Erricka Hager to a space of community and health advocacy. Hager’s goal of representation in the field of science will not only blaze a trail for others, but could also land Hager in a dream spot of having a building dedicated in their name.

About Hager

Erricka Hager is bio-cultural broker who serves as both the integrated special populations’ liaison at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and one of the community engagement coordinators

Critical Care: Cameron Dezfulian


July 30, 2019

Being a doctor isn’t easy.  Sure there are the long hours, but there can also be difficult situations as well as tough conversations with patients and their families.  As a critical care medicine doctor, Cameron Dezfulian has had his fair share of challenges, but getting to help people every day?  That’s why he does it.   

About Dezfulian

Cameron Dezfulian, MD is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Clinical and Translational Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.  

The Art of Building: Bill Strickland


July 9, 2019

Bill Strickland spent over half a century teaching kids and training adults.  It started on the North Side of Pittsburgh, the neighborhood where he grew up and would name the organization he built:  Manchester.  In 1968, Bill was a student at the University of Pittsburgh when he founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild as an arts program for inner-city youth.  A few years later, he built a career training center that, along with the arts program, became a model embraced by cities all over the country. Today, he has the Key to the City – Pittsburgh’s highest civilian award – and travels the world building new partnerships and centers.

About Strickland

Bill Strickland is the Executive Chairman of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in American History and Foreign Relations from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969.  Bill serves on the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees.

Finding a Rose in the Concrete: Richard Garland


June 11, 2019

In 1992, Richard Garland graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, a year after being released from the Western Penitentiary.  Since then, Garland has become a leader for Pittsburgh’s anti-violence initiative.  He is leveraging his unique lived experience to find spaces of light in the lives of gang members and transferring skills gained on the streets to positive and safe alternatives in society.   

About Garland

Richard Garland MSW is the Director of the Center for Health Equity’s Violence Prevention Initiative and Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

From Bench to Bedside: Maliha Zahid


May 21, 2019

As a young girl, Maliha Zahid knew what she wanted to do – become a doctor.   Yet, after becoming a doctor Maliha decided she also wanted to become a scientist and began translating discoveries from the lab to the clinic.  And between conducting research and practicing medicine, Maliha finds time for another talent… dancing. 

About Zahid

Maliha Zahid, MD, PhD Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental Biology at the University of Pittsburgh.  Maliha received her Ph.D. in Microbiology & Molecular Genetics from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) 2016 and 2018 awardee

Startup Science: Phil Brooks


April 30, 2019

From a research scientist to CFO, COO, and CEO, Phil Brooks has experience in all facets of business. Today, Phil uses his technical knowledge and range of experience to help faculty and students navigate the commercialization pathway of innovation. 

About Brooks:

Phil Brooks MS, MBA, is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute where he also co-leads the Pitt Ventures program.

Moving Through Trauma with Love: Rev. Paul Abernathy


April 9, 2019

Reverend Paul Abernathy learned that when serving others, love and opportunity are quite the weapons for positive and impactful changes. In and around Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Father Paul works to break down silos that perpetuate trauma and pain – connecting neighbors and creating a community of love and a culture of good health.

About Abernathy:

Rev. Paul Abernathy is an Orthodox Christian priest and the Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh, a non-profit focused on Trauma Informed Community Development located in the Hill District. He received a master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Caring about Research: Kerri Jackson


March 19, 2019

As a teenager, Kerri Jackson left home in McKeesport, Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pittsburgh and essentially stayed ever since.  From library systems to research, Kerri has made a career out of helping others learn.   

About Jackson

Kerri Jackson is an Administrator for the Pitt + Me Registry Office at the Clinical & Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh   

About the Hosts

Mike Flock, PhD, is the Innovation Core Manager for the CTSI. He coordinates novel funding and translational research programs, such as the Pitt Innovation Challenge. Before joining CTSI, Flock worked in R&D at large food and supplement companies. It was his interest in health science communications, cross-disciplinary research, and a sense of curiosity that led him to the Products of Pittsburgh. 

Staff photo
Mike Flock, PhD
Innovation Core Manager
Phone: 412-864-3490
E-mail: mif55@pitt.edu
Staff photo
Bee Schindler, LMSW
Community Engagement Coordinator
Phone: 412-864-6092
E-mail: bee.schindler@pitt.edu

Bee Schindler, LMSW, is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the CTSI. Bee works with researchers to facilitate best practices for working in and with the communities for which their research aligns. Bee also works with community organizations to advocate for research dissemination, identifying how the latest research and best practices affect the health and wellness of the people the organization serves. Bee is an advocate whose educational background is in journalism and social work, a foundation that encourages the belief that everyone has a story to tell.