University of Southern California
black horizontal bar for print styles

Biological Sciences

Hancock Foundation Building 107
(213) 740-2777
FAX: (213) 740-8123
Email (undergraduate programs):
Email (graduate programs):

Chair: Douglas Capone, Ph.D.


University Professor and ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging: Caleb E. Finch, Ph.D.

University Professor and USC Associates Chair in Natural Sciences: Michael S. Waterman

Distinguished Professor and Ester Dornsife Chair in Biological Sciences: Norman Arnheim, Ph.D.

George and Louise Kawamoto Chair in Biological Sciences: Simon Tavaré, Ph.D.

William M. Keck Chair in Biological Sciences: Richard F. Thompson, Ph.D. (Psychology)

McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology: Jed A. Fuhrman, Ph.D.

William and Julie Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies: Douglas G. Capone, Ph.D.

Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences: Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D.

Paxson H. Offield Professor of Fisheries Ecology: Dennis Hedgecock, Ph.D.

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences: Michelle Arbeitman, Ph.D.

Professors: Michael A. Arbib, Ph.D. (Computer Science); Norman Arnheim, Ph.D.; Robert F. Baker, Ph.D.; Gerald Bakus, Ph.D.; Michel Baudry, Ph.D.; Sarah Bottjer, Ph.D.; Douglas G. Capone, Ph.D.; David Caron, Ph.D.; Lin Chen, Ph.D.; Xiaojiang Chen, Ph.D.; Katrina Edwards, Ph.D. (Earth Sciences); Susan Forsburg, Ph.D.; Jed A. Fuhrman, Ph.D.*; Myron F. Goodman, Ph.D.; Dennis Hedgecock, Ph.D.; Albert A. Herrera, Ph.D.*(Vice Chair); David Hutchins, Ph.D.; Dale Kiefer, Ph.D.; Chien-Ping Ko, Ph.D.; Donal T. Manahan, Ph.D. (Wrigley Director); William O. McClure, Ph.D.*; Anthony F. Michaels, Ph.D.; James W. Moffett, Ph.D.; Sergey Nuzhdin, Ph.D.; John A. Petruska, Ph.D.; Michael Quick, Ph.D. (Executive Vice Dean); Cornelius W. Sullivan, Ph.D.; Fengzhu Sun, Ph.D.; Miriam M. Susskind, Ph.D.; Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D.; Simon Tavare, Ph.D.; John Tower, Ph.D.; Michael S. Waterman, Ph.D.; Alan Watts, Ph.D.; Sergio Sanudo‑Wilhelmy, Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Oscar M. Aparicio, Ph.D.; Donald Arnold, Ph.D.; Ting Chen, Ph.D.; Suzanne Edmands, Ph.D.; Steven Finkel, Ph.D.; John F. Heidelberg, Ph.D.; Judith Hirsch, Ph.D.; Lei Li, Ph.D.; Emily R. Liman, Ph.D.; Matthew Michael, Ph.D.; Magnus Nordborg, Ph.D.; Peter M. Shugarman, Ph.D.*; Xianghong Zhou, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Frank Alber, Ph.D.; Michelle N. Arbeitman, Ph.D.; Samantha Butler, Ph.D.; Tansu Celikel, Ph.D.; Liang Chen, Ph.D.; Matthew Dean, Ph.D.; Andrew Gracey, Ph.D.; Karla B. Heidelberg, Ph.D.; David D. McKemy, Ph.D.; Andrew Smith, Ph.D.; Eric A. Webb, Ph.D.; Xuelin Wu, Ph.D.; Wiebke Ziebis, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professors: Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.; Gordon Hendler, Ph.D.; Joel W. Martin, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professors: Rodolfo Iturriaga, Ph.D.; Daniel Lewis, Ph.D.; Christine Thacker, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Rahul Jandial, Ph.D.; Judith Lemus, Ph.D.; Beth Orcutt, Ph.D.; Regina Wetzer, Ph.D.

Research Professors: Burton H. Jones, Ph.D.; Simon Tavaré, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professors: Linda Duguay, Ph.D.; Myrna Jacobson, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professors: Mihail Bota, Ph.D; Peter Calabrese, Ph.D.; Fei-Xue Fu, Ph.D.; Juliette Hart, Ph.D.; Arshad Khan, Ph.D.; William Nelson, Ph.D.; Phuong Pham, Ph.D.; Astrid Schnetzer, Ph.D.; Rick Thompson, Ph.D.

Emeriti Professors: Michael Appleman, Ph.D.; Richard Deonier, Ph.D.; Arnold S. Dunn, Ph.D.; Edwin J. Perkins, Jr., Ph.D.; Russel Zimmer, Ph.D.

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Academic Program Staff

Directors of Instructional Laboratories: Celeste Chong-Cerrillo, Ph.D.; Pam Lum, Ph.D.; Michael Moore, Ph.D.; Gorjana Bezmalinovic, M.S.


The Department of Biological Sciences has research faculty with specialties in three disciplines: marine environmental biology, molecular and computational biology, and neuroscience. A diversity of upper division undergraduate and graduate courses permits biology majors to choose an emphasis in any of these three disciplines.

The department offers both B.A. and B.S. degrees in biological sciences and an honors program in which a student can earn either a B.A. or a B.S. degree in biological sciences with honors. The B.S. in biochemistry is offered as a joint program with the Department of Chemistry. The honors program is available to students who maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the sciences and who have completed their freshman year. The honors program includes research opportunities, seminars and thesis preparation courses. Applications for the Honors Program are available in Hancock 105.

Undergraduates in biological sciences have the opportunity to become involved in laboratory or field research by taking research courses for some of their elective units.

At the graduate level, the department offers challenging degree programs that lead to a Ph.D. in biology (with options in either marine environmental biology, neuroscience or integrative and evolutionary biology), a Ph.D. in molecular and computational biology and computational biology and bioinformatics, and an M.S. in marine environmental biology. The department no longer accepts applicants for the terminal master’s programs.

Honor Society

The Department of Biological Sciences offers membership in Phi Sigma, a national honor society, to selected biology majors (Alpha Alpha Chapter at USC.) Phi Sigma is devoted to the promotion of research and academic excellence in the biological sciences. Students with a GPA above 3.0 who have interest in research and have completed core requirements for the first two years in biological sciences are eligible. Major activities range from presentation of papers by members and lectures by outside speakers to field trips, laboratory demonstrations and joint research projects. The advisor is Professor John Petruska, Ph.D., SHS 561, (213) 740-5189.

Catalina Semester

The Biological Sciences Department in conjunction with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (WIES) sponsors two, semester-long programs at USC’s Phillip K. Wrigley Marine Sciences Center (WMSC) on Santa Catalina Island. Each of the semesters consists of a 16 unit program with three upper division lab courses and a special 4‑unit independent research course (BISC 490).

The spring program is focused on population biology and animal physiology, and the fall semester on microbial ecology and the interactions of microbes and the global environment. The program is open to all biology majors as well as students in other departments and other institutions with a strong biology background. Students are primarily in their junior or senior years and may participate in either or both semesters.

All the courses are taught by USC faculty and supported by USC graduate student teaching assistants. The classes are specialized to take advantage of the unique facilities and setting of Santa Catalina Island.

Students live on Catalina Island for the entire semester. Rates for room and board at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center are comparable to those on campus. The program follows the same calendar schedule as the University Park campus. For those wishing to return to the mainland on the weekend – free transportation is provided each Friday to leave and each Monday to return.

For more information, students should contact Dr. Linda Duguay, program coordinator, Hancock 209F, or catsem@‌ or Cindy Joseph, program assistant, or (213) 740-6780 in the Wrigley Offices on the fourth floor of Hancock. Additional information can also be found at