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Faculty Research News

USC Dornsife professor Kenneth Nealson is working on an atmospheric monitor that will search for signs of life on Mars. Photo by Phil Channing.

Is the 'Dead Planet' Full of Life?

November 22, 2011

David Bowie asked it best in his 1971 song “Life on Mars?” But when it comes to the question of whether there’s currently life on the Red Planet, USC Dornsife professor Kenneth Nealson is fairly confident…

Laura Baker's Southern California Twin Project investigates the roles heredity and environment play in producing different behaviors in fraternal and identical twins.

Twin Study Offers Insight into Antisocial Behavior

November 16, 2011

There is good reason students and faculty walking the halls of the Seeley G. Mudd building think they are seeing double — they are. For the past 11 years, hundreds of sets of twins have visited the lab of Laura Baker,…

Duncan Ryûken Williams is the new director of the USC School of Religion, and the founder and co-director of the newly created USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

Enlightening the West

November 16, 2011

Born in Tokyo to a Japanese Buddhist mother and a British Christian father, Duncan Ryûken Williams believes it is his destiny to serve as a bridge between the religions and cultures of his upbringing. “I’ve…

Antonio and Hanna Damasio, University Professors in USC Dornsife, receive their honorary degrees Oct. 15 from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Here, Hanna addresses the audience. Photo courtesy of the Damasios.

Antonio and Hanna Damasio Honored

November 11, 2011

University Professors Antonio and Hanna Damasio — who together have challenged dominant 20th-century views about brain function and demonstrated how emotions play a critical role in high-level cognition — have been…

Dennis Hedgecock's 1986 article in <em>Bulletin of Marine Science</em> was one of the most cited articles in the journal's 60-year history. Photo by Dietmar Quistorf.

Academic Journal Honors USC Professor's Contributions

November 9, 2011

Early in his career, USC marine biologist Dennis Hedgecock explored a pair of hypotheses that since have significantly influenced science’s understanding of how marine animals pass genes on to future generations. In…

The world's oil and gas reserves are expected to run dry this century. USC Dornsife's George Olah and G.K. Surya Prakash's methanol economy has emerged as an alternative.

Sun Sets on Oil Wells

November 9, 2011

For more than 20 years, George Olah and G.K. Surya Prakash have quietly and consistently worked toward saving the world. The USC Dornsife professors’ solutions were recently featured in the Journal of the American…

60-Second Seminars: Ange-Marie Hancock

Rotary-Dial Politics in an iPhone World

November 7, 2011

Picture this scene from an episode of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock: Two characters Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney face off, both of them fuming. Tracy, a black male, is wearing a woman’s wig and a hot pink blazer, his face…

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

November 1, 2011

Everything in life requires making decisions. Even deciding when — or if — to get out of bed. “Or choosing what to wear,” said Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business. “How much…

Sidney Poitier (left), Harry Belafonte, and Charlton Heston lead the Hollywood contingent in the March on Washington to promote civil rights and economic equality for African Americans, in August 1963. The march took place before Heston became a Republican activist beginning in the '70s. Belafonte and Heston are featured in Steven Ross' new book, <em>Hollywood Left and Right</em>. Source: National Archives

Wag the Elephant

October 26, 2011

In 1972 and at the height of his career, Warren Beatty became so involved in George McGovern’s presidential campaign he turned down starring roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Way We Were, The…

Mapping the Moral Domain

Mapping the Moral Domain

October 25, 2011

In politics, as in war, everyone believes morality is on their side. And the mingling of political beliefs with moral certainty makes compromise all but impossible, according to Jesse Graham, assistant professor of…