Skip to main content

USC Dornsife New Faculty 2011-12

USC Dornsife welcomed 27 new faculty members in the 2011-12 school year. Hailing from universities around the world, this year’s group of scholars are some of the best and brightest in the nation, bringing with them years of experience and research in a wide range of disciplines.

“The arrival of such a remarkable group of distinguished scholar-teachers demonstrates our continuing commitment to reaching ever higher levels of academic excellence,” said Howard Gillman, Dean of USC Dornsife.

Read more about USC Dornsife's new faculty members below.

Jan Amend

Professor of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Geochemistry, 1995
University of California, Berkeley
Previous Institution: Washington University in St. Louis

Jan Amend investigates the microbiology in a wide range of extreme geochemical environments, including marine hydrothermal systems, continental hot springs, arsenic-laden waters, and the deep subseafloor. His work couples numerical modeling, laboratory experiments and field expeditions. He is a recipient of a 2007 Hanse Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Delmenhorst, Germany. At USC Dornsife, he will be the associate director of the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI).

Brian Bernards

Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Ph.D., Asian Languages and Cultures, 2011
University of California, Los Angeles

Brian Bernards’ research contributes to the fields of modern Chinese and Southeast Asian literature and film, postcolonial studies, and Sinophone and Chinese diaspora studies. He focuses on cultural production (literature, film, theater and television) from Southeast Asia (particularly Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) in several languages, including Chinese, Thai and English. With grants from Fulbright-Hays, the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program and the UCLA Asia Institute, he conducted research for his current manuscript project at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute from 2008 to 2009. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (Columbia University Press).

Juan De Lara

Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity
Ph.D., Geography, 2009
University of California, Berkeley
Previous Appointment: USC Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, American Studies and Ethnicity and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration

Juan De Lara’s research interests include the social production of space; geographies of economic development; urbanization; culture and political economy; race and ethnicity; labor; regional border economies; California and the American West; Los Angeles; and the U.S./Mexico border. He was a fellow of the Institute for the Study of Social Change from 2005 to 2007 and a fellow of the Graduate Opportunity Program from 2003 to 2009, both at UC Berkeley. He is the author of the chapter “Ports, Commodities, and the Production of Metropolitan Inequality: Moving Beyond Splintering Urbanism” in Cities and Flows (Routledge, forthcoming) and co-author of “All Together Now? African Americans, Immigrants and the Future of California” (Center for the Study of Immigrant Immigration, 2011).

Dion Dickman

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Neuroscience, 2006
Harvard University
Previous Institution: University of California, San Francisco

Dion Dickman researches the development, function and plasticity of synapses, the fundamental units of communication in the nervous system. More specifically, he is interested in how these processes are stably maintained within proper physiological ranges. He uses Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, and a combination of genetic, electrophysiological and imaging approaches to identify the molecules and elucidate the mechanisms that achieve and maintain the stability of neural function, and to determine how dysfunction in these processes contribute to the etiology of neuropsychiatric diseases. His honors include the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Ian Ehrenreich

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Genetics, 2008
North Carolina State University
Previous Institution: Princeton University

Ian Ehrenreich studies the genetic basis of trait variation among individuals. His lab uses high-throughput genome sequencing and phenotyping in a variety of micro-organisms to study how genomes evolve in natural populations, how genomic change contributes to phenotypic diversity, and how variation at the DNA and trait levels contribute to the adaptation of micro-organisms to environmental cues. His honors include the National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral National Research Service Award in 2009 and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2004.

Lee Epstein

Provost Professor of Law and Political Science
Ph.D., Political Science, 1983
Emory University
Previous Institution: Northwestern University

Lee Epstein’s research focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court, constitutional courts abroad, judicial behavior and constitutional law. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and a recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation. She has authored or co-authored 14 books including the Constitutional Law for a Changing America series (Congressional Quarterly Press) and Advice and Consent (Oxford University Press, 2005). She is a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization; vice-president of the International Society for New Institutional Economics; and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Kate Flint

Provost Professor of English and Art History
D.Phil., English, 1985
Oxford University
Previous Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Kate Flint specializes in Victorian and early 20th-century cultural and literary history, visual culture, women’s writing, gender studies and transatlantic studies. Her latest book, The Transatlantic Indian, 1776–1930 (Princeton University Press, 2008), explores the role of the Native American in British transatlantic culture during this period. She is the author of books including The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and The Woman Reader, 1837–1914 (Oxford University Press, 1993), and editor of the Victorian volume of the new Cambridge History of English Literature (forthcoming, 2012). She was a fellow of the National Humanities Center from 2007 to 2008 and a fellow of the Huntington Library in 2008.

G. Clinton Godart

Assistant Professor of History
Ph.D., History, 2009
The University of Chicago
Previous Institutions: University of Cambridge, Needham Research Institute

G. Clinton Godart’s research concerns the intellectual history of modern Japan, focusing on the connections and tensions between science, philosophy and religion. He is currently working on the history of the relation between science and Buddhism in Japan, and he is writing a book, Darwin and Modernity: Evolutionary Theory in Japanese Intellectual Life.

Olivia Harrison

Assistant Professor of French and Italian
Ph.D., French and Romance Philology and Comparative Literature, 2010
Columbia University
Previous Institution: Linfield College

Olivia Harrison’s areas of research include 20th- and 21st-century North African and Middle Eastern literature, “Beur” or Franco-Maghrebi literature and film, and debates on colonialism, immigration and identity in postcolonial France. Currently, she is revising a manuscript on literary representations of Palestine in the Maghreb from the 1960s to the present; preparing a second research project on the Palestinian question in postcolonial France; and co-editing a translation of selected texts from the Moroccan journal Souffles-Anfas. Her honors include a Grand Marnier Fellowship in 2007, Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship in Arabic in 2005, and she was a faculty fellow of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University from 2003 to 2010.

Christoph Haselwandter

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Ph.D., Physics, 2007
Imperial College London
Previous Institution: California Institute of Technology

Christoph Haselwandter studies the physical mechanisms underlying living systems, with particular emphasis on the organization, dynamics, shape and signaling properties of cell membranes. His research is motivated by the general prospect that a physical understanding of the organizational principles underlying life will yield new fundamental insights into nature, and that a physical understanding of biological function will also suggest novel approaches for the control and quantitative analysis of living systems. His honors include an Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund and the 2007 Armstrong Medal and Prize from Imperial College London for outstanding research accomplishments.

Khalil Iskarous

Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Ph.D., Linguistics, 2001
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Previous Institution: Haskins Laboratories

Khalil Iskarous researches speech and language, complex human skills that are still little understood. He focuses specifically on how sound patterns in language form, and how they affect speech perception and the physical control of tongue, lip and velum motion. The relation between the development of speech and reading is one of his new interests. He was a 2010–11 Distinguished Fulbright Visiting Chair at McGill University, Montreal.

Sherman Jackson

King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion, and American Studies and Ethnicity
Ph.D., Oriental Studies: Islamic Near East, 1991
The University of Pennsylvania
Previous Institution: The University of Michigan

Sherman Jackson’s areas of expertise are Islamic and Near Eastern studies, along with American law and African American studies. The hallmark of his research is his attempt to bring the classical tradition of Islamic learning into more serious and fruitful conversations with modern and most particularly American reality; and to venture beyond the boundaries imposed upon Islamic studies by the area studies paradigm out of which it has traditionally operated. He was recognized in 2009 as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan, and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is the author of the forthcoming Sufism for Non-Sufis: Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah’s Tâj al-‘Arûs (Oxford University Press).

Karen Jesney

Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Ph.D., Linguistics, 2011
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Karen Jesney’s research focuses on the modeling of sound patterns in adult language and the developing language of children. Using simulation techniques, she studies the learning paths that are predicted to emerge given different theories of phonology, and tests these predictions against corpora of child language data. Most recently, her work has specifically concentrated upon the differences that emerge depending if phonological systems are modeled using ranked versus weighted constraints.

Shieva Kleinschmidt

Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., Philosophy, 2011
New York University

Shieva Kleinschmidt’s primary area of research is metaphysics. She is particularly interested in mereology, ontology, philosophy of time and modality. Her current research focuses on how theories of part/whole relations and location relations impact both one another and also theories of what sorts of entities exist, which entities are fundamental, how entities persist, and how we should understand the debates on these topics.

Yilmaz Kocer

Assistant Professor of Economics
Ph.D., Economics, 2010
New York University
Previous Institution: Princeton University

Yilmaz Kocer’s main research interests are in micro-economic theory, behavioral economics and game theory. His current research focuses on learning under bounded memory. He is interested in how economic agents can optimally utilize limited memory resources to learn about uncertain alternatives in the market and whether memory limitations help explain documented regularities in consumption behavior related to the attitudes towards experimentation.

Aaron Lauda

Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Ph.D., Mathematics, 2006
University of Cambridge
Previous Institution: Columbia University

Aaron Lauda’s areas of expertise are low-dimensional topology, representation theory, and categorification, an emerging branch of mathematics that reveals hidden structure in algebraic objects used in mathematical physics. His work utilizes an intuitive diagrammatic calculus that allows these algebraic structures to be studied using simple pictures in a plane. He received the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2011.

Karen Lewis

Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., Philosophy, 2011
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Karen Lewis specializes in the philosophy of language, philosophical logic and cognitive science. Her dissertation, “Understanding Dynamic Discourse,” explores the roles of semantics and pragmatics in updating the conversational context. Her interest in cognitive science is interdisciplinary, involving work in computer science, linguistics, cognitive psychology and philosophy. She is especially concerned with how the tools and concepts of each discipline can inform the others. Her honors include a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship from Rutgers in 2010. Her paper, “Discourse Dynamics, Pragmatics, and Indefinites,” was accepted for publication in the journal Philosophical Studies.

Megan Luke

Assistant Professor of Art History
Ph.D., History of Art and Architecture, 2009
Harvard University
Previous Institution: The University of Chicago

Megan Luke is an art historian who focuses on the conjoined histories of abstraction and collage; theories of spatial construction and perception; and the relationship between mass culture, modernism and art historiography. Her research spans the entire 20th century in Europe and the U.S., with areas of focus in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. She is particularly interested in the history of image archives and art reproductions; silent cinema; and the impact of fascism, exile and utopian projects on the art and architecture in this period. Her first book, The Image in Exile: The Late Work of Kurt Schwitters, is forthcoming from The University of Chicago Press.

Henrike Moll

Assistant Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., Psychology, 2006
University of Leipzig
Previous Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Henrike Moll studies the development of social cognition in infancy and young childhood. The main focus of her work concerns the ability to engage in joint attention and how children come to learn about perspectives. She is the recipient of the 2011 Young Mind & Brain Prize from the University of Torino, Italy, and a member of the Young Academy, a German Academy of the Sciences for young researchers. She held a Dilthey Fellowship from the Volkswagen Foundation and was funded by the German National Merit Foundation throughout her doctoral studies.

Rhacel Salazar ParreƱas

Professor of Sociology
Ph.D., Ethnic Studies, 1998
University of California, Berkeley
Previous Institution: Brown University

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is a qualitative sociologist who engages questions concerning transnational families, migrant women’s labor, migrant citizenship and human trafficking. Her research fields include gender and feminist studies, the family, migration, international development, and labor. Her awards include a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She recently completed her fourth monograph, Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Fabien Pinaud

Assistant Professor of
Biological Sciences

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2007
University of California, Los Angeles
Previous Institution: École Normale Supérieure

Fabien Pinaud is the principal investigator of the Single Molecule Biophotonics Group at USC. His lab focuses on using a variety of single molecule microscopy techniques to study how nanoscale cellular compartments modulate the diffusion and the activity of proteins involved in normal and pathological cellular signaling and responses. Pinaud’s awards include the Marie Curie Intra-European Research Fellowship Award and the Biochemistry Department Best Ph.D. Dissertation Award from UCLA, both in 2007. He is the author of Peptide-coated Quantum Dots: Applications to Biological Imaging of Single Molecules in Live Cells and Organisms (VDM Verlag Publishing, 2009).

David Treuer

Professor of English
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2000
University of Michigan
Previous Institution: University of Minnesota

David Treuer specializes in creative writing — primarily fiction and nonfiction, Native American literature, 20th-century literature and modernism. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Bush Foundation. He is the author of books including Little: A Novel (Graywolf Press, 1995), for which he won a Pushcart Prize; The Hiawatha: A Novel (Picador, 2000); The Translation of Dr Apelles: A Love Story (Graywolf Press, 2006), named a best book of the year by The Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages; Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual (Graywolf Press, 2006); and the forthcoming Rez Life.

Gabriel Uzquiano-Cruz

Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., Philosophy, 1999
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Previous Institution: Oxford University

Gabriel Uzquiano-Cruz’s research interests lie in philosophical logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mathematics. His is the author of numerous journal articles including “Plural Quantification and Modality,” published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, and he is the co-editor of Absolute Generality (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Assistant Professor of Economics
Ph.D., Economics, 2004
University of Rochester
Previous Institution: The University of Iowa

Guillaume Vandenbroucke’s research focuses on broad trends that are common to growing economies, such as increases in educational attainment, fertility behavior and labor supply. He tries to model and understand the fundamental forces at work to account, quantitatively, for these trends. His publications include “Whither Chinese Growth? A Sectoral Growth Accounting Approach” in 2010. He has been honored with the Professional Excellence in the Training of Economists award from the University of Iowa in 2011, and an Excellence in Refereeing Award from The American Economic Review in 2009.

Ralph Wedgwood

Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., Philosophy, 1994
Cornell University
Previous Institution: Oxford University

Ralph Wedgwood’s research focuses on a wide range of areas of philosophy, including normative ethics, the nature of normativity, meta-ethics, and both moral and general epistemology. His book, The Nature of Normativity (Oxford University Press, 2007), presents a comprehensive theory of the nature of normative thought. He has been a Leverhulme Research Fellow and has held visiting fellow positions at institutions around the world including Australian National University, The Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Princeton University. In 2000, he received the American Philosophical Association’s Jean Hampton Prize.

Duncan Williams

Associate Professor of Religion
Ph.D., Religion, 2000
Harvard University
Previous Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Duncan Williams is a social historian of Japanese religions with a focus on Buddhism and modernity, Buddhism in America, and Buddhism and environmentalism. Williams is the author and co-editor of books including Camp Dharma: Buddhism and the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II (University of California Press, forthcoming) and Issei Buddhism in the Americas (University of Illinois Press, 2010). In June 2011, he received a Commendation from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Consul General of Japan for deepening the bilateral relationship between Japan and the U.S. He will found a new research institute housed in USC Dornsife, the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

Chao Zhang

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Chemistry, 2004
Princeton University
Previous Institution: University of California, San Francisco

Work in Chao Zhang’s group focuses on the development and application of chemical approaches in the study of biological systems with the ultimate goal of advancing human health.