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Engineering alumni Sossena Wood and Adam Iddriss named inaugural Rising African American Leaders


Contact: Cara Masset [412-624-4361 (office); masset@pitt.edu]

PITTSBURGH  (April 23, 2013) ... The University of Pittsburgh African American Alumni Council (AAAC) of the Pitt Alumni Association will recognize the inaugural winners of its Rising African American Leaders Award at the ninth annual Interfaith Baccalaureate Service at 3 p.m. April 27 in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The event, cohosted by Pitt's Black Action Society, is a free public ceremony that also will celebrate the academic achievements and honors of more than 150 graduating seniors and their families.

The keynote speaker will be Candi Castleberry-Singleton, chief inclusion and diversity officer with UPMC. The awards will be bestowed following Castleberry-Singleton's address. 

The Rising African American Leaders Award recognizes alumni graduating within the past decade who are younger than 40 and have demonstrated excellence in professional achievement and/or community service. The inaugural honorees are Marisa Bartley (A&S '05), a business development officer for Citizens Financial Group, Inc.; Adam Iddriss (ENGR '07, A&S '07), a medical student at Johns Hopkins University; Derrick Tillman (SIS '04), president of Bridging the Gap Development and chief executive officer of DNT Property Investments; and Sossena Wood (ENGR '10), a doctoral candidate in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. 

AAAC president Tony Fountain (A&S '70) said that these young leaders represent the best and brightest of the Pitt community. 


Adam Iddriss, a medical student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was honored as a Pitt undergraduate in 2006 with a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of the most prestigious and highly competitive academic awards of its kind in the United States. His affiliations include the Student National Medical Association, The Johns Hopkins University Medical Device Initiative, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. 

Iddriss is the founder of Engineers for a Sustainable World, an organization that creates and helps fund service projects in developing nations, and he has provided health care assistance at clinics around the globe. In addition to winning a Truman Scholarship, he has received the 2011 Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellowship, the 2010 David Satcher Research Fellowship, and a 2008 Framework Program in Global Health Grant from the National Institutes of Health. Iddriss graduated from Pitt with Bachelor of Science degrees in bioengineering and chemistry in 2007. 


Sossena Wood, a doctoral candidate in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering, is the newly elected chair of the National Society of Black Engineers; she is only the sixth woman to serve in this position since the organization's founding in 1975. She also has served the organization as vice chair and Region 2 chair. As an undergraduate, Wood served as president of the Pitt chapter of the society from April 2009 to April 2010.

Wood is conducting her PhD research in the Radio Frequency Research Facility, where she is developing technology for the advancement of Seven Tesla MRI Machines. Her honors include a Pitt K. Leroy Irvis Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM). Wood graduated from Pitt with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 2010. 

Click here to read the full news release.


Contact: Cara Masset