Skip to main content

Faculty Research News

Failure can be a rewarding experience if the brain is allowed to learn from mistakes. Photo by istock.

Rewards of Failure

August 26, 2015

Many political leaders, scientists, educators and parents believe that failure is the best teacher. Scientists have long understood that the brain has two ways of learning. One is avoidance learning, which is a punishing,…

Nancy Lutkehaus, professor of anthropology and political science. Photo by Peter Zhaoyu Zhou.

Institutionalizing the Primitive

August 20, 2015

Walking into the dramatic first-floor gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the visitor is confronted with the towering bis poles collected by Michael Rockefeller on his final expedition to New Guinea.…

Professor of Physics and Astronomy Clifford V. Johnson.

Phantastic Physics?

August 14, 2015

Despite being much anticipated, particularly by Marvel fans, the newest Fantastic Four feature is failing to live up to its name, appearing to flame out at the box office. And as far as critics are concerned, it’s…

Detail of the stamp honoring Arieh Warshel and his fellow 2013 Nobel Prize laureates in chemistry, which will be released Oct. 10. Courtesy of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Stamp of Approval

August 6, 2015

On a recent trip to accept an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Nobel Laureate Arieh Warshel was also honored with a commemorative Israeli postage stamp. The imprint, which…

USC Dornsife scientists created a mutant form of yeast that fails to completely duplicate its DNA before dividing, yet still survives.

Zombie Cells

August 6, 2015

When cells divide normally, they duplicate their DNA so that each of the two new cells has a full and complete copy of the original genetic message.  But some cells don’t play by the rules — and the results…

Ella Watson, a government cleaner, is pictured in her Washington, D.C., home with three grandchildren and her adopted daughter in this 1942 photograph by Gordon Parks.  Photo courtesy of Library of Congress: Farm Security Administration archives.

From Wonder to Detestation

August 3, 2015

Her quiet dignity captured for all time, an elderly African American woman is pictured in her simply furnished but spotless home. Taken by photographer Gordon Parks in 1942, the black and white photograph shows Ella Watson, a…

“Figueroa Spectres, 1935-1997,” a photo montage by Philip J. Ethington.

Ghost Stories

July 30, 2015

For Philip J. Ethington, it’s been more séance than research — this long journey back to raise old ghosts and their attendant stories. Ethington, professor of history and political science at USC Dornsife,…

The study findings may offer a tasty salvo against rising obesity rates and health care costs. Photo by Peter Zhaoyu Zhou.

A Gift for Better Eating

July 28, 2015

It’s not easy to lose weight in our “super-sized” nation, but researchers at USC Dornsife and the USC Marshall School of Business have found that even modest incentives to eat smaller portions work in a big…

Material from landslides is filling up riverbeds with sediment. Photo by Greg Willis.

Quakes, Landslides, Now Floods?

July 28, 2015

For Nepal, the hits just keep coming. It started with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April, which led to aftershocks that are ongoing even now. All of the shaking triggered what are estimated to be more than 5,000 landslides,…

We spend a third of our lives in slumber — or we should — and USC researchers are studying the phenomenon and learning ways we can all improve our sleep habits.

Science of Sleep

July 24, 2015

In the classic fairy tale, Snow White bites into an apple and slips into a state ofsuspended animation. For her fellow figment of fiction, man-about-the-Catskills character Rip Van Winkle, a sip of moonshine affords the luxury…