Issue: Winter 2004
What’s New - Shelf Life - People Watch
News & Notes on All Things Trojan
||Illustration by Michael Klein
than 50 new faculty have joined the USC College of Letters, Arts and
Sciences as part of an initiative emphasizing academic innovation and
called it “a serious blow” when philosopher Scott Soames, one of that
Ivy League institution’s most distinguished and popular professors,
decided last spring to join the tide of academic heavyweights surging
toward USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
one of 31 new faculty members who arrived at USC College this fall. The
author of four major books on philosophy of language and the history of
analytic philosophy, he declares himself thrilled to be part of
building a “world-class” philosophy department at USC.
Soames is joined by 10 other senior faculty members, eight associate
professors and 12 assistant professors – all new arrivals in the
2004-05 academic year.
Just two years after publicly announcing an ambitious Faculty Hiring
Initiative, USC College has passed the midpoint in its drive to recruit
100 new star faculty. “We’re more than halfway there, and we have
momentum,” says its dean, Joseph Aoun.
To date, 122 new faculty have joined the college; 52 of those
appointments have gone either to senior professors or “rising stars” –
mid-career academics clearly about to break away from the pack.
“Our aim was to cast a more visionary look at USC College,” says Aoun. “We did not conduct business as usual.”
Joining Soames, who leaves Princeton after nearly 25 years, are fellow
philosophers Andrei Marmor (from Tel Aviv University, with a joint
appointment in the Law School) and Jeffrey King (UC Davis); historians
William Deverell (Caltech) and Karen Halttunen (UC Davis); culture
scholar Anne Balsamo (Stanford, with a joint appointment in the School
of Cinema-Television); earth scientist John Platt (University College
London); literature scholars John Carlos Rowe (UC Irvine) and Judith
Halberstam (UC San Diego); economist John Strauss (Michigan State); and
classicist Claudia Moatti (University of Paris).
Moatti, an expert on Roman history from the University of Paris’ campus
in Saint-Denis, represents an exciting addition to the classics
department, says USC College dean of faculty Beth Meyerowitz. Her
appointment moves the college closer to the goal of becoming a premier
North American center for the study of ancient Rome.
Another big-name hire is John Carlos Rowe, one of the nation’s foremost
Americanists. Coming from UC Irvine’s top-ranked English and comp-lit
program, Rowe is seen as largely responsible for spearheading the “new
American studies” movement as well as the rise of American studies
programs around the world. He is the author and co-editor of a dozen
scholarly books on topics ranging from Henry Adams to the Vietnam War.
Rowe’s work spans the fields of critical theory, television and film
studies, African-American studies, Latin-American studies and women’s
Like Rowe, most of the new faculty straddle more than one discipline.
Several have hit the ground running since arriving this fall, forging
partnerships with institutions such as the Huntington Library and the
Getty Research Institute.
Within the university itself, many of the new scholars are
collaborating with faculty in engineering, law, cinema, medicine and
communication. These partnerships have a multiplier effect, Aoun
believes, providing both the college and its partners with valuable
resources they wouldn’t otherwise have.
The strategy, Aoun explains, is to attract scholars who meld
fundamental and applied research and scholarship. Most of the new hires
are leaders in emerging fields such as computational biology; literary,
visual and material culture; urban space; geosystems; geobiology;
philosophy of language and mind; art history; and urban and visual
“We have used the initiative to further diversify our faculty, an
important priority for us,” he adds, noting that nearly half this
year’s hires are women.
The aggressive recruitment of top scholars to complete the Faculty Hiring Initiative will continue, Aoun says. Stay tuned.
– Nicole St. Pierre and Katherine Yungmee Kim
Violinist of Autumn
||Photo by Dan Borris
Her stunning career began at age 11 with her New York Philharmonic
debut under Zubin Mehta, performing the technically hair-raising first
movement of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1. She cut her first album
at 14, the same year she wowed critics with her unshakable resolve at a
Tanglewood concert: soloing on Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade” with the
composer conducting, she broke strings on two violins and borrowed a
third to finish the piece. Midori
has since played with most of the world’s top orchestras. This fall,
the 32-year-old virtuoso (whose full name is Midori Goto) joined the
faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music, where she holds the
endowed Jascha Heifetz Chair in Music. Since 2001 she has also been on
faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, a position she retains.
At the USC Thornton School, Midori will develop new approaches to music
mentoring, specifically through chamber music, and will teach both
classical music and jazz studies majors. Looking beyond the traditional
instructional environment, she will also play as an equal member of two
new student quartets.
“I’m excited by the opportunity USC will provide to explore music
instruction beyond the traditional paradigm of the one-to-one imparting
of instrumental skills,” she says. “Participating in the formation of
integrated artists who are complete human beings is at the center of my
concerns as an educator, as these issues were of vital importance to me
as a student. I also greatly enjoy engaging students in a more holistic
approach to music education, with all the collaboration and discipline
Says USC Thornton dean Robert Cutietta of the appointment: “Midori will
be an excellent mentor for our students because she combines the
highest level of artistry appropriate to a conservatory and the
intellectual curiosity appropriate to a research university.”
A polymath, Midori earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and
gender studies from New York University and is currently completing her
master’s there in psychology and children’s literature – all while
playing 100 concerts a year. In recent years, she has been recognized
not only for her performance bravura but also for her devotion to
developing new educational and community-based outreach programs: She
has inspired underprivileged children through her two foundations,
Midori & Friends and Music Sharing. And she recently released her
memoir, issued by German publisher Henschel Verlag (Einfach Midori, 2004).
||Illustration by A.J. Garces
fidget, can’t follow directions or work in groups. Some can’t even
execute the simplest drawing. Now a special state commission has
recommended that children under 5 be excluded from kindergarten in
California public schools. While most educators applaud the proposal to
move up the birthday cutoff from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1, some parents have
serious doubts. But USC Rossier School education expert Priscilla
Wohlstetter says keeping younger kids back is in their own best
interest. “What we expect of kindergartners today is far more advanced
than what we expected even five years ago,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
“As these expectations increase, I am not sure that anyone under 5
should be there.” They should be in good preschools, not at home,
Wohlstetter notes, adding that a nationwide push for universal
preschool is on the march.
Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information
Hitting Peak Performance
Using state-of-the-art biomechanical techniques, USC scientists can help athletes and others achieve their personal best.
makes Lenny Krayzelburg’s backstroke gold-medal material? What sets
Kaitlin Sandeno and Klete Keller apart from other swimmers in
freestyle? The answer: natural talent, lots of practice, and in some
cases, a little help from high-tech biomedical modeling taking place at
the USC Biomechanics Research Laboratory.
The lab runs an experimental program to develop state-of-the-art biomechanical modeling techniques for top USC athletes.
“We look at ways to improve a swimmer’s flips, dives and strokes or
show sprinters how to spring from the starting line,” says exercise
scientist Jill McNitt-Gray.
“In gymnastics, we’ll videotape and model someone’s performance to get
a sense of how they are generating vertical and angular momentum when
they launch a backflip from the balance beam,” she says. “We can advise
them on how to shift their weight just a little or spring up just a
little sooner to perfect the performance.”
McNitt-Gray, who holds joint appointments at USC in kinesiology,
biomedical engineering and biological sciences, specializes in force
impact to the lower extremities. But her experimental modeling
technique can be applied to a wide range of skilled performers –
athletes, musicians and blue-collar workers – to improve results
without overloading the musculoskeletal system.
The field is called “sports biomechanics,” a relatively new niche
spawned by the convergence of knowledge in kinesiology, engineering and
human biology. Kinesiology has been around for 35 years, but it has
experienced a renaissance with new electronics, video and modeling
McNitt-Gray starts by placing electrodes on the athlete’s body to
measure muscle firing patterns and neural control during performance.
USC aerospace engineer Henryk Flashner converts this motion, force and
muscle activation data into 3-D coordinates and equations of motion.
Thanks to computer simulations, researchers can ask a series of “what
if” questions about the athlete’s movements. What if he modifies the
timing of the arm swing? What if she strengthens her hip muscles? What
if he pushes on the ground in a different direction?
McNitt-Gray also works with coaches Mick Haley and Paula Weishoff, who
train the USC women’s volleyball squad. The collaboration seems to be
paying off: the team scored two consecutive NCAA championships in 2002
She uses these same techniques in a project with the USC-affiliated
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, studying wheelchair
propulsion and balance control of older adults. And she collaborates
with Peggy Tsutsui of the USC School of Dentistry to optimize the
training of dental hygienists.
“If we understand an individual’s body mechanics and control
mechanisms, we can help them refine their movements and avoid injury to
the body,” McNitt-Gray says. “This goes for dental technicians,
athletes, children who play sports and people who are trying to recover
from crippling injuries, such as damage to the spinal cord or losing a
Hit by a Pitch
Baseballs and Bullets
A round from a .45-caliber handgun slams into soft body armor with the
same impact as a 90-mile-per-hour fastball whacking a bare chest. That
seemingly mundane piece of information could someday lead to a better
bulletproof vest; but gathering it was anything but mundane. USC
electrical engineer Bart Kosko
employed a mix of standard statistical methods and exotic fuzzy-logic
techniques to arrive at this homespun baseball metaphor. Studies show
handgun bullets won’t kill armor-clad police officers by piercing, but
little else is known about the resulting bruising or other physical
effects. Based on data from test firings of different caliber bullets
into ordnance gelatin-backed vests, Kosko developed a trainable fuzzy
system. He and colleagues from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
and the Keck School of Medicine of USC compared these gelatin
deformations to bruise patterns from actual body-armored shooting
victims. The researchers discovered that the energy of a speeding
bullet grows with the square of its velocity; however, slower-moving
heavy bullets (.45 caliber) bruise more than high-velocity lighter ones
(.22 caliber). To get a more intuitive understanding of a bullet’s
actual impact, Kosko compared the data with a baseball hurled by a
pitching machine. “Handgun bullets are like baseballs,” he explains.
“They do not knock people backwards as in the movies. Instead they
bruise soft tissue.” It turns out that while a .45 carries the impact
of a major league fastball in the ribs, a .22 is equivalent to being
hit by a ball traveling at a leisurely 40 mph.
||Doing research at zero-G in the Vomit Comet.
Photo courtesy of NASA
Favored Fuel of Astronauts
Next time you’re filling ’er up for zero gravity, remember that solid particles burn longer and safer than gaseous ones.
from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering say solid-fuel particles may
be safer for hazardous work environments on earth and burn more
efficiently in the microgravity of space than gaseous fuels, which are
more combustible and difficult to transport.
engineers Charles Campbell and Fokion Egolfopoulos have made
significant progress toward understanding the complex chemical
processes that take place when tiny particles of solid fuels burn.
The duo’s findings could lead to safer and more efficient solid fuels
for propulsion in space or for maintaining human outposts on the moon
or Mars. Their research could also benefit fire-prevention practices.
“Understanding the thermal effects is a first step toward improving
fuel economy in both space vehicles and those we use on Earth,”
Egolfopoulos says. “It’s also a good start toward preventing
spontaneous combustion in dangerous work environments, like in lumber
milling, in grain elevators or in mine galleries.”
Funded by NASA, the researchers made detailed studies of solid-fuel
combustion, including the effects of gravity on the reaction. They
measured the burning characteristics of various solid-fuel particles on
earth and in microgravity, using NASA’s KC-135 aircraft – nicknamed the
Vomit Comet – to simulate the weightlessness of space.
“It takes some getting used to, but after a while, you learn to conduct
the experiment very precisely,” says Mustafa Gurhan Andac, a USC
Viterbi School postdoc who ran the experiments in the nearly weightless
environment aboard the NASA aircraft.
“You only have about 23 seconds in zero-G, so you have to be sure to
finish the experiment and record the data during those precious seconds
of weightlessness,” Andac says.
The team used two smooth-burning flames to compare the consumption of
solid and gaseous fuels. One burner slowly spews gas to carry
solid-fuel pellets to the flame, while another issues particle-free gas.
“Depending on the prevailing flow conditions and characteristics of the
particles, some particles will ignite and burn completely, where others
behave as half-inert and burn only partially,” Egolfopoulos says.
The researchers measured particle size, speed and distribution to determine the optimal conditions for efficient combustion.
“In reduced gravity, a low-speed gas was more effective for complete
fuel consumption,” Campbell says. “However, when we ignited the pellets
in our laboratory at USC, in earth’s gravity, a much higher gas
velocity was needed to carry the pellets to the flame. Increased speed
caused some of the fuel pellets to burn incompletely.”
NASA is finding additional applications for the work as the space
agency looks to longer missions. In trips to the moon or Mars, solid
fuels derived from the lunar or Martian soil – or solid carbon,
extracted from the Martian atmosphere – may power the return flights to
||Illustration by A.J. Garces
surveys show 60 to 70 percent of Americans who get news online are men,
while the gender breakdown among print readers holds steady at 50-50.
Editors worry this may be evidence that Web news sites aren’t paying
enough attention to women. To advertisers, it’s a heady sign that the
elusive 18- to 34-year-old male – that most prized of consumer
demographics – is finally within reach. Web users are spending less
time with newspapers and magazines in general, USC’s Jeffrey Cole told Wired News.
Cole is director of the USC Annenberg School’s Center for the Digital
Future. No one’s exactly sure why the online-news gender gap exists.
Perhaps women are still catching up to men in wiredness; if so, the gap
will diminish in time. Or maybe women simply want different content
from the Web. Next up: bride e-zines?
Faculty Books & Recordings
||Photo by Philip Channing
An Anglicized Past
Historian William Deverell examines the Southland’s troubled relationship to – and denial of – its Mexican roots.
The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past
By William Deverell
University of California Press, $30
Los Angeles has long been touted as a cultural crossroads, welcoming
immigrants from around the world. Yet a closer look at the City of
Angels shows it wasn’t always that way.
In his new book exploring the city’s roots back to the 1850s, historian
William Deverell finds that the Los Angeles of the past was anything
but inclusive, especially when it came to Mexican and Mexican-American
“Even though Los Angeles was once part of Mexico, the city came of age
by cutting ties with Mexican places and people,” says Deverell, a
distinguished scholar who left Caltech to join USC’s faculty this fall.
“Throughout the early years of California statehood, there was a very
troubled relationship between the growing city of Los Angeles and
Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.”
That trouble accelerated in the bloody years of the 1850s, just after
the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, and continued well into the
20th century as the modern metropolis – built largely by Mexican
laborers – arose.
The goal was to keep Chicanos visible but isolated on the landscapes of
the burgeoning city. This came about through a discriminatory wage
system, public segregation in schools and political and social
Deverell chronicles several developments in Los Angeles history that
promoted this separation process: For example, city leaders divided
Mexicans – literally and figuratively – from other Angelenos by the
decision to fill the Los Angeles River with concrete.
“Proximity to the river had long been one marker of Mexican Los
Angeles,” Deverell says. “The river bounded and separated neighborhoods
from the commercial districts of downtown. Concrete and fencing drove
the point home.”
Other watershed events in this separation include the 1924 outbreak of
bubonic plague; the evolution of America’s largest brickyard; and the
presentation of the famed Mission Play, a drama tied to regional
assumptions about history, progress and ethnicity.
Yet city leaders weren’t shy about capitalizing on Los Angeles’ Mexican
culture for commercial or economic purposes. When the city’s business
interests were looking to establish an urban identity, they borrowed
Mexican cultural traditions and put on a carnival called La Fiesta de
Deverell’s goal is to show how the establishment of Los Angeles is
intertwined with its relationship to – and denial of – Mexican culture.
“What I am most interested in are the ways proximity to Mexican people,
to Mexico itself and to a recent Mexican past both troubled and
intrigued Anglo-American arrivals and new settlers in the region,” he
Los Angeles’ history of racial exclusion holds lessons not only for historians but for urban planners, Deverell believes.
“If the city of the future is to work at all, we must look closely at
how patterns of exclusion, segregation and cultural appropriation were
established and sustained,” he says. “Then we have to work together to
make sure that they no longer function.”
The Los Angeles Times calls Whitewashed Adobe a “masterly book, which can be approached as a work of history, cultural criticism and social commentary.”
||Photo by Mark Tanner
Kids Endorse Divorce
Children suffer no long-term harm from growing up in a broken home, a USC sociologist finds in a 20-year study.
We’re Still Family:
What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce
By Constance Ahrons
Does divorce leave lifelong scars on children? It’s a complicated
question psychologists have pondered for more than 50 years. In We’re Still Family, USC sociologist Constance Ahrons gives voice to a group that’s seldom consulted: the adult children of divorce.
The good news is that the majority have not suffered long-term
consequences. In most cases they grow up to be effective adults who
sustain family connections and commitments. Many emerge stronger
despite – or even because of – their parents’ divorce and remarriages.
However, one-fifth of the grown children say they suffer from “lifelong emotional scars that didn’t heal.”
The book’s findings are based on interviews with 173 Generation X-ers –
the offspring of participants in Ahrons’ landmark 20-year study of
postdivorce families. Their average age is 31; most were between 6 and
15 at the time of the split. Ahrons had previously interviewed their
newly divorced parents in 1979, research that culminated in her 1994
landmark book, The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart.
The topic of divorce enjoyed a flurry of media attention in the early
1970s when the National Center for Health Statistics reported that one
out of two marriages would fail. At the time, Ahrons revolutionized the
concept of an amicable divorce.
In her new book, Ahrons finds that nearly 80 percent of the now-adult
children say their parents’ decision to split was a good one, and more
than half say their relationships with dad improved after the divorce.
“The truth is that while some divorces result in family breakdown, the
vast majority do not,” Ahrons concludes. “While divorce changes the
form of the family from one household to two – from a nuclear family to
a binuclear one – it does not need to change the way children think and
feel about the significant relationships in their families.”
Among Ahrons’ other findings:
• 78 percent report that they and their parents are either better off or not affected by the divorce.
• 60 percent say their parents have cooperative relationships 20 years after divorcing.
• Two-thirds feel close to their stepfathers. Only half feel close to
their stepmothers. Almost all feel close to their half-siblings.
“Children of divorce have routinely been viewed by society as the
unfortunate victims of broken homes,” Ahrons says. “I think my findings
will show that is far from the case.”
Ahrons wasn’t expecting the results to be so positive. “It is rare that
children don’t find their parents’ divorce distressing,” she says.
“What I was not prepared for is the striking direction of the long-term
findings: They clearly and boldly contradict our deeply entrenched
stereotypes that children remain angry and bitter about their parents’
According to an article in USA Today, We’re Still Family
will “comfort divorced parents and their children – and discomfort
those who believe divorce is consistently negative for kids.”
Books and Music
||LAGQ Guitar Heroes
CD by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
With compositions inspired by Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin, Chet
Atkins, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny, Steve Howe and Django Reinhardt,
this recording transcends genre labels. The LAGQ, comprised of USC
Thornton School guitarists Bill Kanengiser and Scott Tenant, spans
classical, pop, New Age, bluegrass, jazz, rock and heavy-metal styles.
“These guys are amazing,” says Amazon.com. “What is this
uncategorizable CD? A joy – that’s what.”
||Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession
by Richard Wightman Fox
Where else but in America would people ask: “What would Jesus drive?”
or “How would Jesus vote?” The savior holds a unique position in Yankee
culture as both a sacred and a secular hero. USC historian Richard
Wightman Fox explores how Jesus has influenced 400 years of American
thought, from Puritan predestination to manifest destiny to the public
piety of modern presidents. The New Republic
calls this book “an extraordinary blend of historical sophistication,
theological discrimination and spiritual understanding ... rich and
fluent in the complexities of religious life.”
CD by the Frank Potenza Quartet
USC Thornton School jazz guitarist Frank Potenza pays homage to Gene
Harris in this collection of standards played in the style of the late,
great pianist’s eponymous quartet, of which Potenza was a member. “The
music is very straight ahead swing, the kind that makes people tap
their feet and feel good,” he writes. According to JazzTimes, “Potenza dips deep into his bluesy, Harris-honed reservoir … but this pony is capable of more than just one trick.”
Movers & Shakers
||Illustration by Tim Bower
Star of the Guitar
Pepe Romero celebrates his return to USC – and his father’s legacy to the world – with a festival of darkness and laughter.
had to feel for 11-year-old Tim Callobre performing at his first master
class with the great Pepe Romero. Newman Recital Hall had been pitched
into blackness at the maestro’s behest – so that the prodigy might play
the prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 without distractions. A
pint-sized pro, Callobre plucked from the darkness a bright and
noticeably self-assured interpretation.
That episode was but
one in a week’s worth of adrenaline- and laugh-producing events during
a summer guitar festival at USC in memory of Romero’s father,
composer-performer Celedonio Romero.
Besides daily master classes with students from around the world,
Romero gave a recital and a gala concert to fund a guitar scholarship
in his father’s name.
Romero has played for princes and kings, a pope and an American
president. Four years ago, Juan Carlos I of Spain knighted him and
brothers Celin and Angel in a special ceremony held at USC. After a
20-year absence, this star of classical guitar is again a fixture at
the USC Thornton School of Music. Romero had shaped a generation of
faculty here in the 1980s; since 2000, he has been training a new
generation of USC Thornton students.
“We are here to celebrate the guitar in the spirit of my father,”
Romero told an audience of guitar enthusiasts on the festival’s first
day. Dressed casually in Hawaiian shirt and sandals, Romero spoke
passionately of his avocation. “Our job,” he said in his endearing
Spanish accent, “is to open the door and enter the temple of music in
which we learn about ourselves. As players, we try to hold the door
open so we and the audience can enter that magic place. What matters is
not technically how well we play but how well we keep the door open.”
In an evening conversation, Romero told lovingly of his one and only teacher.
“My father had an unusual way to get me to practice,” he quipped. “He paid me.”
He reminisced about childhood drills with older brother Celin, who
would administer slaps for every botched note; Pepe reciprocated with
kicks. He described how his dad’s anti-Franco politics had forced them
into exile and how the Romeros rose from rags to renown as the “Royal
Family of the Guitar.”
At the last master class, Romero greeted young Callobre’s well-lit
rendition of Granados’ Spanish Dance No. 5 exuberantly: “Gorgeous.
Congratulations!” And he reached to shake the boy’s hand, one
door-opener to another.
Technology Meets Terpsichore
||Photo by Philip Channing
Teaching Robots to Rumba
As a kid Margo Apostolos
dreamed of playing shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. Even after settling
on a career in dance, she took her art beyond the hurdles normally
facing little girls in tutus. At Stanford, she supplemented her
choreography studies with courses in sports medicine, biomechanics,
kinesiology and mechanical engineering. Watching a robotic arm at work
one day, she wondered: Why can’t it move more gracefully? “The moment I
met the robot, I knew I was meant to make it dance,” she says. Soon
Apostolos was pioneering the field of robot choreography. Projects for
NASA have included work on a less-jerky robotic satellite repairman and
an early prototype of the Mars rover. At USC, she has conducted
research on facial expression and human-computer interactions. She
encourages her students to keep pressing the envelope in
terpsichore-inspired research combinations. “Dance is a catalyst,” she
says. “It can be coupled with so many different things.”
Medicine Meets Math
||Illustration by Tim Bower
Number-Cruncher to the Docs
Most statisticians predict how many soccer moms will vote Republican or
how many pre-teen boys will get Playstation cartridges for Christmas.
USC’s David Conti helps
medical researchers predict the probabilities of disease. Conti is a
biostatistician. “Basically, I use statistical methods to determine how
genetic variation leads to disease outcomes or traits,” he says. At the
Keck School of Medicine’s Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Conti crunches
numbers on everything from prostate cancer to the effects of smoking.
“This is a great time to be doing this kind of work,” he says. “The
Human Genome Project started us off, but there’s so much to be done. We
can read the letters of the genome now, but we don’t know what they
say. My job is to help do some of the translation.”
Conti helps medical researchers design experiments and create models to
tease out gene variations linked to a specific biomedical or behavioral
condition. He’s currently working with researchers in the Keck School’s
Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, asking questions such
as: What is the relationship between aggression and smoking? And how do
genetic variations factor into this relationship? Conti also works with
basic scientists to narrow the search for genetic variations linked to
neurodegenerative and neuropsychological diseases. In addition, he’s
studying the best way to identify which polymorphisms – present in
essentially every known gene – are worthy of further investigation and
which are completely silent.
Mad About Malaria
The future looks bright for this epidemiology-loving Fulbright.
up in Utah and Northern California, Sulggi Lee knew very little about
Uganda; and she certainly never expected to live there one day. But
after winning a Fulbright scholarship, the MD/PhD student is doing just
With two years of medical school under her belt and her
dissertation on breast cancer genetics all but complete, Lee is
spending this year in the malaria-riddled East African nation. On a
basic-science level, she’s researching genetic variations associated
with human resistance to malaria and the parasite’s increasing
resistance to standard drug therapies. But she’s also making a
measurable difference in people’s lives.
“When you do medical research in a developing county, a lot of it isn’t
about the science so much as about making an immediate impact on public
health and government policy,” says Lee. “That’s what is so powerful
about international work: you have a direct connection with the
population you’re helping.”
Her efforts are already being felt. “While I am here, I hope to train
Ugandan public-health students in epidemiology and biostatistics,” she
says. She’s also transferring the genotyping skills she learned at USC
to local lab technicians.
Lee is one of three students from USC’s Health Sciences campus awarded prestigious Fulbright scholarships for 2004-05.
Looking ahead to the five to seven years remaining in her medical
education, Lee knows she’ll be hip-deep in rotations and hospital
rounds come next summer. “I realize that this [Fulbright] is my window
of opportunity to really explore international infectious disease
research as a trained epidemiologist before shuttling back into the
Health products manufacturer Gale K. Bensussen,
who is president-elect of the USC Alumni Association, has been elected
to the university’s Board of Trustees. Bensussen is president of
Carson, Calif.-based Leiner Health Products, one of the world’s largest
makers of vitamins, nutritional supplements and over-the-counter drugs.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from the USC Marshall School of
Business in 1970 and holds a law degree from Southwestern University.
As a member of the USC School of Pharmacy’s Board of Councilors, he led
the effort to establish the Laboratory for Analytical Research and
Services in Complementary Therapeutics. The endeavor is the first of
its kind at any pharmacy school in the nation.
USC cognition scientist Elizabeth Zelinski
has been named interim dean and executive director of the Ethel Percy
Andrus Gerontology Center and the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology,
succeeding Edward L. Schneider, who has returned to the gerontology
faculty. The school’s associate dean for academic affairs, she has
joint appointments in gerontology, psychology and gender studies, and
is principal investigator of the Long Beach Longitudinal Study, which
evaluates cognition, memory and language comprehension in older adults.
Financial manager Ruth Wernig
has been elected treasurer of USC, succeeding William C. Hromadka, who
held the position since 1987. Wernig joined USC in 1984 as a treasury
associate – a position in which she managed the university’s internal
endowment portfolios and its investment managers. Since 1998, she has
served as associate treasurer.