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Faculty Research News

An estimated 40 percent of all Chinese children in rural areas — as many as 60 million — are left behind. Photo by Blazej Mrozinski.

Children and Adversity

September 10, 2015

Making a plan can mean the difference in overcoming a difficult childhood, while just thinking about those difficulties can drag down the child. A set of four new studies from researchers at USC and Southwest University in…

<em>Trichodesmium</em> is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas. Photo courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Bacteria in Overdrive

September 8, 2015

Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium,…

The iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film <em>Psycho</em> still raises goosebumps, and for good reason.

8 Reasons Psycho Taps into the Psyche

September 8, 2015

September 8 marked the 55th anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s quintessential film Psycho. Despite the evolution of digital technology and special effects, many critics believe Marion’s slashing…

The Hebgen Lake earthquake, magnitude 7.1-7.3, struck southwestern Montana in August 1959, causing significant damage. Photo courtesy of USGS.

Strange Earthquakes

August 31, 2015

It’s not a huge mystery why Los Angeles experiences earthquakes. The city is right along a boundary between two tectonic plates — they shift, we shake. But what about places that aren’t along tectonic plate…

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…