By Nicole St. Pierre
USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences recognized the accomplishments of its faculty at the annual holiday reception and award ceremony presided over by Dean Joseph Aoun on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
Besides the awarding of the Albert S. Raubenheimer and other awards to faculty and graduate assistants, Provost Lloyd Armstrong and University Professor Michael Waterman were also honored.
The Raubenheimer awards, recognizing exemplary teaching, research and service, were given to four faculty members. This year’s recipients were Mark Thompson, professor of chemistry, John Wilson, professor of geography, and Edward Finegan, professor of linguistics and law. Each received $3,000. Janelle Wong, assistant professor of political science and American studies and ethnicity received the Junior Faculty Award and $1,500 for showing unusual promise in research, teaching and service.
Mark Thompson’s pioneering accomplishments extend to both research and teaching. He recently created the General Education course “Chemistry in the Environment, Energy and Society,” in which students use chemistry to learn about the origins of pressing social problems, such as air pollution, global warming, the ozone layer, clean water and genetic engineering. The hallmark of Thompson’s research is the combination of imaginative fundamental studies of the chemistry of materials and how they can be applied for use in flat panel displays, including cell phones and digital cameras, and biocompatible implants in the human body. He is forging into exciting interdisciplinary fields including solar energy conversion. Since arriving at USC in 1995, he has published 125 articles in refereed journals and secured 45 patents.
Edward Finegan is known for his contributions to the general education curriculum at USC and teaches the popular undergraduate course Social Issues. He is regarded as a leading expert on language usage and on modern English grammar and its history. His work in forensic linguistics bridges the academic and public worlds when he serves as a pro-bono consultant to federal and state prosecutors and public defenders in criminal cases. On campus, he’s served on the University Writing Committee, serving as chair from 1998-2003, and currently chairs the Faculty Handbook Committee of the Academic Senate. He also played a pivotal role, at President Sample’s invitation, in finalizing details of extending benefits to USC faculty and staff domestic partners.
John Wilson’s colleagues call him an “active and eclectic scholar” with interests ranging from GIS tool development to environmental modeling. He has a flourishing research program with funding from both government and private sources, including two multi-year NSF grants awarded in the past 18 months. As a teacher, he is known to be an innovative mentor of graduate students, currently supervising ten doctoral students, encouraging them to present their work at conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals prior to graduation.
Janelle Wong joined the College three years ago and has already established herself as an engaging, articulate and inspiring teacher. She is a faculty mentor to numerous undergraduate student groups, was a Faculty Fellow for the Pardee Towers Campus Residence Hall and is described by her peers as an “engaging, articulate, well organized, knowledgeable, and even inspirational” teacher. Her research focuses on politics of race and the dynamics of immigrant political mobilization. Her new book, Democracy’s Promise: American Civic Institutions and Political Mobilization among Asian American and Latino Immigrants will soon be released by the University of Michigan Press.
Other College awards presented at the December 8th holiday reception:
General Education Teaching Awards
Stephen Finlay, Philosophy
Judith Jackson Fossett, English
Robert Girandola, Kinesiology
Michael Messner, Sociology
Roberto Lint Sagarena, Religion
Charles Sammis, Earth Sciences
Gideon Yaffe, Philosophy
Maite Zubiaurre, Spanish
General Education Graduate Assistant Award
Arsiyanti Ardie, Comparative Literature
Arthur Auerbach, Political Science
Nathaniel Lorentz, Earth Science
Olanna Mills, Comparative Literature
Kathryn Strong, English
Brian Talbot, Philosophy
Advanced Writing Teaching Award
Diana York Blaine, The Writing Program
USC College Doctoral Research Prize
Upjeet Chandon, Anthropology
Lyudmila Slipchenko, Chemistry
Mary Beth Tegan, English
In a departure from previous ceremonies, Waterman was presented—by Provost Armstrong—with a unique USC College Award for Excellence for his tireless service to the USC and College communities.
Waterman is a key contributor in various academic departments, including mathematics, biology and computer science, serves on countless USC committees, and is the Hall Master at USC’s International Residential College, Parkside Suites.
Waterman helped build the mathematical foundations of modern molecular biology, which have grown increasingly important in the era of genome sequencing and the attendant exponential growth in biological data. In Armstrong’s words, without Waterman’s work, “there wouldn’t be a human genome project.”
Finally, in a turnabout, Armstrong was recognized for his dedicated service to the university, and especially to the College. College Dean Joseph Aoun and Waterman presented Armstrong with a plaque that recognized his many years of outstanding visionary leadership and his exemplary commitment to placing USC College at the heart of the university. Armstrong has announced that he will step down from the Provost's position next year.