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Faculty Research News

<em>Eotiaris guadalupensis</em> fossil discovered by Jeffrey Thompson in the Smithsonian collections. Image courtesy of David Bottjer.

Oldest Urchin

November 9, 2015

Researchers have uncovered a sea urchin fossil that pushes back a fork in its family tree by 10 million years, according to a new study. A team from USC Dornsife found the fossil — Eotiaris guadalupensis — in…

James Moffett, professor of biological sciences and earth sciences, served as chief scientific officer for a recent ocean expedition that was the first to find dissolved iron as far as 2,500 miles from its source in hydrothermal vents. Photo by Darrin S. Joy.

Deep Sea Surprise

November 6, 2015

Iron is the single most abundant element on Earth. It’s also one of the most important for living organisms, which use it for myriad biological processes. An expedition in the South East Pacific Ocean may have found the…

Morteza Dehghani and a team of psychology researchers and computer scientists at USC Dornsife have developed a new text analysis software program for social scientists.

A TACIT Understanding

November 3, 2015

According to a 2015 Global Web Index report, today’s average adult spends 6.15 hours a day online. More than a quarter of this time is spent on social networking sites. Life in the digital age means an abundance —…

Health care stereotype threat stemming from commonly held beliefs about unhealthy lifestyle choices can jeopardize care outcomes, according to a study by Cleopatra Abdou of psychology.

Health Care Stereotype Threat

October 30, 2015

Warning: Stereotypes may be harmful to patients’ health. A national study led by USC Dornsife’s Cleopatra Abdou found that people who encountered the threat of being judged by negative stereotypes related to…

According to psychology professor Donna Spruijt-Metz, who researches ways to combat childhood obesity, Halloween offers parents an opportunity to talk to their kids about healthful eating.

Tricky Treating on Halloween

October 30, 2015

When Donna Spruijt-Metz was young, her mother would sit down with her after trick-or-treating on Halloween and help her sort her candy. “We had a joke about how she loved the mini-Hershey bars, so she would negotiate…

Confronted by odd moments of “cultural disinfluency,” people perform better on cognitive reasoning tests and are less likely to buy things. Photo: iStock.

Shocked into Clarity

October 29, 2015

Halloween-decorated plates at a Labor Day party. A bride in a green gown with her groom in a purple tuxedo and no wedding party. An obituary that declares of the deceased: “Regina had no hobbies, made no contribution to…

Earthquakes and other disasters — both natural and man-made — pose a significant threat to lives and economies around the Pacific Rim. Photo courtesy of Walter D. Mooney/USGS.

Pacific Preparedness

October 23, 2015

Not far from Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, an alarm pierces the air. At a nearby elementary school, hundreds of children drop to the floor, scramble beneath their desks and hold on for dear life. It’s March 9, 2012, two…

Hanna Damasio and Antonio Damasio receive Doctor Honoris Causa degrees at a formal ceremony held at the Sorbonne in Paris on Sept. 17. Photos by Julien Hay.

French Honors

October 22, 2015

Two USC Dornsife professors have received honorary degrees from the Université Paris Descartes — more widely known as the Sorbonne — for their pioneering work in psychology. University Professor Antonio…

The emotion of gratitude is important in social behavior, according to the study’s senior author. Photo courtesy of iStock.

Tracking Gratitude

October 20, 2015

Neuroscientists have mapped how the human brain experiences gratitude with help from an unexpected resource: the testimonies of Holocaust survivors. “In the midst of this awful tragedy, there were many acts of bravery…

During a 27-year career at USC Dornsife, Professor Emeritus of International Relations Abraham Lowenthal combined his academic career with institution building.

Learning from Experience

October 20, 2015

“A transition from authoritarian rule requires every group to understand that it cannot demand everything it wants. That is a transition: talking with those who think differently, even if they have been…