Joseph J. McCarthy

  • Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies

Key Areas

Undergraduate programs • personalizing education • academic calendar • new undergraduate programs • course attributes • academic initiatives • academic support services • undergraduate education support • academic experience • program development • undergraduate learning environment • inter-school programs • inter-campus programs • undergraduate education policies • undergraduate student satisfaction/success • Provost’s Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Programs • undergraduate research

Vice Provost Role

Vice Provost Joseph McCarthy leads the Undergraduate Studies group within the Office of the Provost academic team, which focuses on undergraduate education with the ultimate goal of enhancing the academic experience of the undergraduates on all five campuses of the University. This includes developing and facilitating programs to improve student satisfaction and retention, student success, and the overall learning environment (quality of programs, dissemination of opportunities, undergraduate advising and mentoring, and diversity of perspectives and people). In addition, McCarthy and team coordinate the review of programs and policies affecting undergraduate education—such as academic planning proposals, transfer credit and articulation agreements, academic integrity issues, and academic innovation initiatives—and work with University committees including the Provost's Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Programs and the Enrollment Management Steering Committee.

Professional Biography

In addition to being Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, Joseph McCarthy is also the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. He has been on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh since 1998.

Deeply engaged in undergraduate education throughout his career at the University, McCarthy has been recognized for his contributions to teaching, curriculum development, and his leadership of undergraduate research programs. In 2008, he received the Carnegie Science University Educator Award for developing and implementing the innovative “Pillars” curriculum that reshaped undergraduate education in chemical engineering. In 2012, the Swanson School recognized his contributions with their Outstanding Educator Award, and in 2015, he received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

In addition to his scholarly and instructional activities, McCarthy’s record of administrative experience in the chemical engineering department dates back to 2005 and includes serving as Undergraduate Coordinator, and then as Vice Chair for Education. In these roles, he focused on leading department-wide educational initiatives for undergraduate and graduate programs during a time when undergraduate enrollment within the department more than tripled. 

He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He also has served on the editorial board of the AIChE Journal and as an Executive Committee member for the 2013 American Physical Society – Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting and also as an organizer and plenary speaker at the international Discrete Element Methods conference in Brisbane, 2007 (held every three years).

To date, McCarthy has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts in various international journals, conference proceedings, and popular press outlets such as Nature (cover article), PNAS (cover article), Langmuir (cover article), Angewandte Chemie (cover article), Soft Matter (cover article), Physical Review Letters (highlighted article[s]), Physical Review E, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, AIChE journal, Powder Technology, Chemical Engineering Science, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer and Chaos. His publications have resulted in an H-index of 28, and his group has given more than 45 invited lectures to industry, national laboratories, academia, international conferences, and workshops.

Education & Training

  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, 1998
  • BS in Chemical Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 1993

Representative Publications

  • "Transport analogy for segregation and granular rheology," Siying Liu and Joseph J. McCarthy, Phys. Rev. E 96, 020901(R) – Published 10 August 2017
  • Lash, Melissa, Morgan V Fedorchak, Joseph McCarthy, and Steve Little. 2015. “Scaling up SelfAssembly: Bottom-up Approaches to Macroscopic Particle Organization" (cover article). Soft Matter 11 (28): 5597–5609. doi:10.1039/C5SM00764J.
  • Lash, Melissa H, Morgan V Fedorchak, Steven R Little, and Joseph J Mccarthy. 2015. “Fabrication and Characterization of Non-Brownian Particle-Based Crystals" (cover article). Langmuir 31: 898–904. doi:10.1021/la501511s.
  • H Li and J J McCarthy. Controlling Cohesive Particle Mixing and Segregation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90 (2003), p. 184301
  • Guy Metcalfe, Troy Shinbrot, J J McCarthy, and Julio M Ottino. Avalanche mixing of granular solids (cover article). Nature 374 (1995), pp. 39–41

Research Interests

  • Multi-scale, multi-phase study of the transport phenomena (the flow of momentum, heat, and mass within a system) aimed at understanding materials processing and process engineering
  • Development of the Discrete Element Method (DEM; a technique that relies on first-principles simulation of particle-level physics) and its integration with multi-physics problems, including: incorporation of cohesive and adhesive modeling components, coupling with Lattice-Boltzmann (LB), incorporating thermo-mechanical interactions (for which he was the original developer of the “Thermal Particle Dynamics” technique), and extension to multi-scale problems (where he recently developed a hybrid DEM-Molecular Dynamics technique suitable for the study of catalyst preparation)


  • CASE US Professor of the Year Nominee, 2015
  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2015
  • Swanson School of Engineering Outstanding Educator Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2012
  • Selected for NAE Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium, 2009
  • Carnegie Science Award for Higher Education, 2008