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Faculty Notes

George Olah Elected to the National Academy of Engineering


Arieh Warshel Elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Saori Katada Awarded NEH Fellowship


T.C. Boyle Inducted into American Academy of Arts and Letters


Karen Halttunen Earns Guggenheim Fellowship


Michael Arbib, Sarah Bottjer and Myron Goodman Named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


It’s a First for David Kang and USC


International Relations Faculty and Students Receive National Awards


Richard Meyer Receives Art Journal Award


USC College Biologists Awarded $3.2 Million NSF Grant


A Flying Fountain of Youth


Biofilms: Even Stickier Than Suspected


Iron From the Deep May Feed Oceans


Blogging from El Salvador


More Faculty Notes

Julie Albright of sociology has won the Journal of Sex Research’s 2008 Hugo G. Beigel Award for her article, “Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sexseeking and its Impacts.”

Daniela Bleichmar, assistant professor of art history and history, has received a USC Early Modern Studies Faculty Fellowship.

Joseph Boone, professor of English, gender studies and comparative literature, has been named a fellow at the National Humanities Center for the 2009–10 academic year. Boone will join 32 other distinguished scholars from institutions across the United States and four foreign countries working on a wide array of projects.

Lynne Casper, professor of sociology, has been elected president of the Association of Population Centers.

Marshall Cohen, University Professor Emeritus, professor emeritus of philosophy and law, and USC College dean emeritus, was honored with the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the university’s annual Academic Honors Convocation in April. The award recognizes eminent careers and notable contributions to the university, the profession and the community. During his 40-year career in the academe, Cohen has distinguished himself as a noted scholar in the philosophy of law, aesthetics and film studies, and as a consummate teacher and mentor. 

Kelvin J.A. Davies, professor of molecular and computational biology in USC College and holder of the James E. Birren Chair of Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, has been awarded an honorary doctoral degree by Semmelweis University of Budapest, Hungary, “for his monumental contributions to science, especially his discoveries of adaptive gene responses to environmental challenges.” Davies gave the 2009 William A. Pryor Distinguished Annual Lecture at Louisiana State University in March. He also organized and chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Oxidative Stress and Disease in Il Ciocco, Italy.

Bill Deverell, professor of history and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, has been appointed the 2009–10 Frederick W. Beinecke Senior Fellow in Western Americana at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Richard Easterlin, USC University Professor and professor of economics, has been awarded the 2009 Prize in Labor Economics by the Institute for the Study of Labor, based in Bonn, Germany. The prize, which is endowed with an award of 50,000 euros, is among the top economics awards worldwide.

Alfred Fischer, professor emeritus of earth sciences, has been awarded the National Academy of Sciences’ Mary Clark Thompson Medal. He is honored for leadership and research in the discovery of the cyclical and period nature of the sedimentary record in the geologic past and its connections with earth-system change, including biodiversity.

Margaret Gatz, professor of psychology, gerontology and preventive medicine, has won the American Psychological Association’s 2009 Developmental Health Award. This award recognizes Gatz’s research contributions to the fields of health and aging.

Ko Honda, professor of mathematics, has been appointed Simons Visiting Professor at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute for the program in Symplectic and Contact Geometry and Topology.

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, professor of sociology and director of graduate studies in the Department of Sociology, received ¡Adelante! California’s ¡Adelante! Award at the group’s March 2009 awards dinner. ¡Adelante! California is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in communities throughout the state and nurturing youth through educational programs that promote advocacy.

David Kang, director of the Korean Studies Institute and professor of international relations and business, was interviewed for a CNN segment that aired internationally titled “Remembering Roh Moo-hyun.” The report focused on the rise and fall of the former South Korean president who committed suicide in May. Kang was also featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor and other media outlets about North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons.

Robin D.G. Kelley, professor of American studies and ethnicity, and history, has been appointed the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University for the 2009–10 academic year.

Sonya Lee, assistant professor of art history, and East Asian languages and cultures, received a grant from the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies for the publication of her book Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture.

Daniel Lidar, associate professor of chemistry and electrical engineering systems, has been named an Outstanding Referee of the Physical Review and Physical Review Letters.

Chi Mak, professor of chemistry, received the 2009 USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching in April for his inspired teaching and enduring contributions to undergraduate and graduate education. This is the highest honor the university faculty bestows on its members for outstanding teaching.

Peter Mancall, professor of history and anthropology, director of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, and associate vice provost for research advancement, has been elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society. He also published an article in the spring 2009 issue of American Heritage.

Jill McNitt-Gray, professor of kinesiology, biological sciences and biomedical engineering, was a featured expert in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars episode eight results show that aired on Nov. 11. “To be a professional dancer you need a perfect combination of strength, speed and grace,” she said. “If anyone out there thinks that these professional dancers aren’t athletes, then think again. They’re some of the toughest athletes in the world.”

Michael Messner, professor of sociology and gender studies, received a 2008 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for his book Out of Play: Critical Essays on Gender and Sport (State University of New York Press, 2007).

Manuel Pastor, professor of geography, and American studies and ethnicity, participated in a panel discussion titled “High-Wage America” as part of “Thinking Big, Thinking Forward,” a conference convened by The American Prospect, Institute for America's Future, Demos, and the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., this February.

Mary Elise Sarotte, associate professor of international relations, has received the American Academy in Berlin’s 2009–10 Berlin Prize.

Carmen Silva-Corvalán, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and linguistics, has been appointed a research associate at the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council’s Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Bangor University and has been awarded a grant to be a visiting researcher there.

Kevin Starr, University Professor and professor of history, was presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award by the American Ireland Fund at the California chapter’s annual fundraising gala in March.

Pamela Starr of international relations was invited to Washington, D.C., in March to have dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and help brief her in advance of her trip to Mexico.

Simon Tavaré, holder of the George and Louise Kawamoto Chair in Biological Sciences and professor of biological sciences, preventive medicine and mathematics, has been named a fellow of the United Kingdom’s Academy of Medical Sciences. One of the pioneers of computational biology, Tavaré studies the evolutionary genetics of primates with anthropologists, DNA chip and sequencing technology with molecular biologists, and the vagaries of cancer with medical scientists.

William Thalmann, professor of classics and comparative literature, has been selected as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study to pursue his book The Production of Space in the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes.

Ann Tickner, professor of international relations, was honored at the seventh annual Remarkable Women Awards sponsored by the Office of Campus Activities and the Women’s Student Assembly. Nominated by peers and students, the recipients were chosen based on achievements in their respective fields, contributions to USC, commitment to students and women’s issues, community involvement and other accomplishments.

Karen Tongson, assistant professor of English and gender studies, has been appointed visiting assistant professor of performance studies and distinguished guest faculty in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Rachel Walker, associate professor of linguistics, joined the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) for a three-year term beginning in January 2009. The LSA Executive Committee serves as the principal governing board for the society.

Michael S. Waterman, University Professor, holder of the USC Associates Chair in Natural Sciences, and professor of biological sciences, computer science and mathematics, has been named a 2009 fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. This fellowship is an honorific designation conferred on members distinguished for their outstanding contributions to the fields of applied mathematics and computational science.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, associate professor of American studies and ethnicity, and geography, has been elected president of the American Studies Association. She will serve a three-year term starting July 2009 and is the fourth USC faculty member to hold the title. She also lectured at the University of Lisbon on “Regime-Change in the United States: What’s New and What’s Old in the Age of Obama?” before the U.S. presidential inaugural address and participated in a question and answer period.

Gideon Yaffe, associate professor of philosophy and law, has been awarded a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Monastic Matrix has been awarded an Honorable Mention in the American Library Association and ABC-CLIO’s bi-annual competition for web-based projects. Directed by Professor of History and Gender Studies Lisa Bitel, the project is currently housed within USC as part of its digital archives and is supported by USC College, the Center for Religion and Civic Culture and USC Libraries.


Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows

Frank Alber and Tansu Celikel of biological sciences have been named 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows. The Sloan Research Fellowships support the work of young researchers early in their academic careers in the fields of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, and neuroscience.


USC-Mellon Mentoring Awards

Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, the USC-Mellon Mentoring Awards honor individual faculty for helping build a supportive academic environment at USC through faculty-to-faculty and faculty-to-student mentoring. Sarah Bottjer of biological sciences and psychology received an award for faculty-to-faculty mentoring. Eugene Cooper of anthropology, Mark Irwin of English, and Vanessa Schwartz of history won USC-Mellon Mentoring Awards for mentoring graduate students. Frank Manis of psychology and John Odell of international relations won USC-Mellon Mentoring Awards for mentoring undergraduates.


2008 Holiday Reception and Awards Ceremony

Faculty members were honored at the 2008 Holiday Reception and Awards Ceremony held in December. General Education Teaching Awards were presented to Daniela Bleichmar of art history and history; Judith Halberstam of English and gender studies; Dana Johnson of English; Sharon Lloyd of philosophy; William McClure of biological sciences; and John Platt of earth sciences. Advanced Writing Teaching Awards went to John Murray and Ron Scheer of the Writing Program. Macarena Gómez-Barris of sociology was selected for the Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, and Peter Mancall of history and Charles McKenna of chemistry for the Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Faculty Awards.


The Levan Institute Establishes New Partnership

The Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics has established a partnership with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs to help create a global, interactive network with educational institutions around the world. Carnegie Ethics Studio partners contribute original content to share with the network, and host interactive discussions across continents. In the process, a cross-cultural dialogue develops and educational activities take on deeper, richer dimensions. USC College Technology Services will act as the technical center for the network.


Syd Field Establishes Bequest for MPW Program

Society’s future and the human race depend upon a growing understanding of all areas of science. Hoping to urge young people to pursue an education and careers in the sciences, Syd Field, instructor in the Master of Professional Writing (MPW) program, has established a bequest to USC College that will fund a prize for outstanding screenplays written with a scientific bent.

“The purpose of my annual prize is to encourage and inspire USC students to develop screenplays about science and scientific achievement,” Field said. Screenplay topics may include pure science, aerospace science, medical science, and technical and engineering science. 

To learn more about how you can establish a prize or other bequest to USC College, contact Susan Redfield, director of planned giving, at (213) 740-1628 or


Read more articles from USC College Magazine's Spring/Summer 2009 issue.