About USC Faculty
Since joining USC in 1977, Distinguished Professor George Olah has made landmark contributions to hydrocarbon chemistry. The 1994 solo Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for his research in superacids – billions of times more acidic than conventional acids – and his pioneering use of them to explore the chemical reactions of hydrocarbons. His Noble citation recognizes that "he gave the catons of carbon longer life." Olah was also awarded the 2005 Priestley Medal, the highest honor awarded by the American Chemical Society.
Distinguished Professor Morten Lauridsen’s acclaimed large choral works and song cycles have established him as one of the most performed living composers in the country, and earned the National Medal of Arts.
University Professor Kevin Starr was awarded the National Humanities Medal as an American historian best known for his multi-volume series on the social and cultural history of California, collectively called America and the California Dream, which now comprises seven volumes.
Presidential Professor Andrew J. Viterbi won the National Medal of Science, and also was named Millenium Technology Laureate for the invention of the Viterbi algorithm, the key building element in modern wireless and digital communications systems, touching the lives of people everywhere. The Viterbi Algorithm is used in wireless communications like cellphones and digital-image transmissions from space. He was co-developer of CDMA, the U.S.'s most widely used cellphone technology. He was also awarded the Benjamin Franklin medal in electrical engineering.
Presidential Professor Sidney Harman was the inaugural Isaiah W. Hellman Professor of Polymathy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He helped define the home hi-fi industry with harman/kardon's development of the first hi-fi receiver, pioneered cooperative management of plants in which workers set their own schedules and goals, and developed widely-known quality of working life programs. He has served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce, president of Friends World College, and founder and chairman emeritus of Harman International Industries.
Presidential Professor George Lucas accepted the National Medal of Technology on behalf of Industrial Light & Magic for 30 years of innovation in visual effects technology for the motion picture industry.
Presidential Professor Simon Ramo won the National Medal of Science. He developed General Electric’s electron microscope and helped provide the foundation for the nation's early explorations of space as chief scientist of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile program. Ramo is a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Ramo is the "R" in TRW.
The Provost's Professors are leading inter-disciplinary scholars who have significant responsibilities in two or more schools. Henry Jenkins, Provost's Professor of Communications, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts, is a renowned media studies expert, and was one of the earliest scholars to examine the changing role of the audience in a transmedia environment.
Internationally-recognized researcher in molecular pharmacology Micheal Kahn is Provost's Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Pat Levitt, Provost's Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy, is an eminent neuroscientist who oversees the efforts of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute to understand the genetic and environmental basis for brain disease, including autism.
Gary Watson, Provost's Professor of Philosophy and Law, has helped shape the understanding of the nature of moral agency, moral responsibility, freedom of action, and freedom of the will.
Wendy Wood, scholar of sex differences in human behavior and persuasion and social influence, is Provost's Professor of Psychology and Business.
The research achievements of Philip J. Stephens, who joined the chemistry faculty in 1967, span theoretical chemistry, molecular spectroscopy and bioinorganic chemistry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the U.K.'s national academy of science, which was founded in 1660.
University Professor Michael Waterman, a founding editor of the Journal of Computational Biology and a founder of that field, is co-developer of the Smith-Waterman algorithm for sequence comparison and the Lander-Waterman formula for physical mapping.
Among the outstanding faculty of the Viterbi School of Engineering is Distinguished Professor Leonard Adleman, who is a Turing Award laureate. Adleman is co-inventor of the RSA Cryptosystem, a public-key system that offers both encryption and digital signature authentication.
Richard Bucy is known for the Bucy-Kalman filter, a mathematical technique for optimization, fundamental for modern control theory.
Irving Reed is famed for the Reed-Solomon Codes, which are used to correct errors in compact disks, DVDs, cellular telephones, satellite communitions and digital television.
University Professor Solomon Golomb and Presidential Professor Andrew Viterbi are each members of the National Academy of Science as well as the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. University Professor Robert Hellwarth is a member of both the NAS and NAE.
In 1961, a radar signal encoded with Golomb-devised signal technology bounced off Venus, and the Golomb codes are at the heart of the Mars rovers' deep-space communications. Golomb also invented the idea of polyominoes (which inspired the computer game Tetris.)
USC has four winners of the Shannon Award —- Golomb, Reed, Viterbi and Lloyd Welch -— tied with MIT for most recipients of this highest honor in information science.
University Professor Richard Easterlin is known for his Easterlin Hypothesis about the influence on behavior of people's assesment of how well off they are relative to society. He is recognized as the pioneer of research on how personal wealth relates to an individual’s sense of contentment.
Distinguished Professor Jean-Jacques Laffont was among the world's 10 most published economists, a celebrated expert on the regulation of competition and public companies, especially the telecommunications sector.
Distinguished Professor Norman Arnheim was instrumental in making work the polymerase chain reaction, for which Mullis was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Keiiti Aki, who founded the Southern California Earthquake Center, was famed for processing seismic data, inferring the Earth’s inner structure, and measuring earthquake sizes. He won the American Geophysical Union's Bowie Medal, and the European Geosciences Union's Gutenberg Medal.
University Professor Richard Thompson is the first to map the neural circuits responsible for classical conditioning. He holds a presidential appointment to the National Science Board, which directs the National Science Foundation and advises the president and Congress on scientific and policy matters. The American Philosophical Society selected him for the 2007 Karl Spencer Lashley Award, probably the top prize in behavioral neuroscience.
Both psychologist James Birren, dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and genomics researcher Caleb Finch, University Professor, won the Sandoz Award, gerontology's highest prize. Birren founded the first gerontology school in the world and helped establish the field of gerontology.
Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio study the neuroscience of affect, consciousness, and social behavior.
Paul Bohannan, leading economic and cultural anthropologist, was dean of social science.
Distinguished Professor Pierre Koenig, one of the century's most influential architects, designed simple, elegant cubes of exposed steel and glass. The photo of his Case Study House #22, featured in over 1200 books, has been called the most famous picture ever taken of Los Angeles. The American Institute of Architects California Council recognized his Case Study House #21 with the 25 Year Award, and honored Koenig with The Maybeck Award for lifetime achievement in design.
Ruth Simmons, former associate dean of the Graduate School, became head of Brown University, the first African American to lead an Ivy League institution. She was named by Time in 2001 as America’s best college president.
University Professor Warren Bennis was hailed by Forbes as the “dean of leadership gurus.”
University Professor Manuel Castells is a preeminent scholar of the information age. He has been a leading urban theorist since the 1960's and is a founder of the New Urban Sociology.
University Professor Geoffrey Cowan, who was director of the Voice of America, is the Walter Lippman Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Business Week proclaimed Distinguished Professor Edward Lawler one of the top six gurus in the field of management.
The terms "population explosion" and "zero population growth" were coined by Kingsley Davis, one of the outstanding sociologists and demographers of the 20th century.
Everett Rogers, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Communication, was known for his theory of the "diffusion of innovations."
Annenberg School professor Elihu Katz, pioneer in the sociological study of communications, won the Israel Prize for Social Sciences.
Michelle Nicolosi's investigative reporting won the Pulitzer Prize. Pulitzer winner Edwin Guthman was editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Pulitzer winner Michael Parks was editor of the Los Angeles Times -- which earned four more Pulitzers under his leadership. The Oakland Tribune won a Pulitzer under Roy Aarons' leadership.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded the Charles Ives Living to Distinguished Professor Stephen Hartke of the Thornton School of Music, and the New York Philharmonic commissioned his Symphony No. 3.
Midori Goto, the Jascha Heifetz Chair in Music, has a stunning performing career.
Among other outstanding music faculty was Lynn Harrell, one of the foremost cellists of our time.
Elyn Sacks, law and psychiatry expert, and Luis Alfaro, writer/performer and producer/director, each received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant.”
Ken Price was known for his ceramics, sculptures, paintings, and drawings. His work is in the collections of the Hirshhorn, Metropolitan, MOMA, National Gallery, Smithsonian, Stedelijk, Victoria & Albert, and Whitney museums.
Polymath Stephen Toulmin, University Professor, was noted as philosopher and historian of science, culture, and medicine. He was chosen as Jefferson Lecturer, the Federal Government's highest recognition for intellectual achievement in the humanities.
Distinguished Professor James Higginbotham's research includes philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and theoretical linguistics.
Distinguished Professor T. Coraghessan Boyle, faculty member since 1978, won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Novel of the Year (for World's End), two O. Henry Awards, and the Prix Passion (for Water Music.)
Among eminent faculty of the School of Cinematic Arts, Tomlinson Holman is the inventor of Lucasfilm's THX sound system ("Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment".) He has won the Samuel L. Warner Medal and the Eastman Kodak Gold Medal as well as the World Technology Award for Information Technology.
Mark Jonathan Harris, Distinguished Professor of Cinematic Arts, won Oscars three times for his documentaries.
William Tierney, University Professor, is acclaimed for his research on higher education.
Under the leadership of Carl Cohn of the Rossier School of Education, the Long Beach Unified School District won the Broad Prize for Urban Education.
Commemorating USC's 125th Anniversary, these pages highlight some USC faculty.
In addition to
About USC faculty,
for selected faculty by subject area see
More about USC faculty,
and for illustrious part-timers see
For pages honoring the past, take a look at
Early faculty notables as well as
Looking back at the USC faculty.
And for a sampling of those in the public eye, see
Faculty in the broader community.