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Natural Sciences News

Robert Douglas pictured at his office on the University Park campus in 1982. Photo courtesy of USC University Archives.

In Memoriam: Robert Douglas, 78

February 10, 2016

Robert Guy Douglas, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, has died. He was 78. Douglas died at home in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Jan. 26 after a long battle with cancer. Dean of natural sciences and mathematics at USC…

Assistant Professor (Research) of Spatial Sciences Yao-Yi Chiang combines his skills in computer programming and the spatial sciences to unlock information in historical maps. Photo courtesy of Yao-Yi Chiang.

Spatial scientist’s digital mapping software opens a window into history

February 5, 2016

There are myriad online platforms that allow you to search the history of a used car before you purchase it or the quality of a hotel before you book a room. But what if you wanted to find out the history of your property…

The carbon dioxide-to-methanol process. Illustration courtesy of Surya Prakash.

Turning air into fuel: USC chemists convert carbon dioxide into methanol

February 1, 2016

They’re making fuel from thin air at the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. For the first time, researchers there have directly converted carbon dioxide from the air into methanol at relatively low…

USC Joint Educational Project (JEP) manager DJ Kast watching the Northern Lights during a trip to Iceland in December. Photo by Roee Fung.

One of Forbes’ ‘30 under 30,’ Dieuwertje Kast is educating next-gen STEM leaders.

January 25, 2016

Resplendent in a dress patterned with the periodic table of elements, there can be no doubt that Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast is passionate about her subject. Recently recognized as one of Forbes’ 2016 “30…

Archaeology at El Zotz

USC Dornsife archaeologist discovers Maya royal burial

January 7, 2016

Thomas Garrison was four hours away from camp down a bumpy jungle road — headed into the city to get treated for poisonwood exposure — when he got the call from his co-director Edwin Román. “You need…

Our Top 10 stories from 2015

Our Top 10 stories from 2015

December 29, 2015

   10 — A rescue mission Alumnus Jamie Brisbin, a participant in the USC Wrigley Institute’s “Catalina Semester” program, today works as a pararescueman for the U.S. Air Force Special…

This Leiopathes coral is estimated to be more than 4,200 years old.

Oceanic fossils suggest current climate models misrepresent El Niño

December 17, 2015

An analysis of fossil corals and mollusk shells from the Pacific Ocean reveals there is no link between the strength of seasonal differences and El Niño, a complex but irregular climate pattern with large impacts on…

USC Dornsife's Scott Kanoski studies the way the brain controls how and why we eat. Photo by Gus Ruelas.

‘Hunger hormone’ turns eating less into eating more

December 15, 2015

Looking to avoid overeating during those big holiday meals? You might want to avoid fasting in the days beforehand. Cycles of food restriction unleash a “hunger hormone” that increases the capacity to eat more…

Cancer cells proliferate at a more accelerated speed than healthy ones. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Researcher hopes to use fluorescence to target tumors

December 14, 2015

Cancer usually manifests itself in tumors that proliferate quickly. This happens because tumor cells have higher quantities of cell surface growth factors than regular ones, which causes them to develop at accelerated…

Contrasting projections of 21st century precipitation from two of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models. The left panel shows a projection from Japan's Model for Interdisciplinary research on Climate (MIROC) and the right depicts projections from the United States' Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The MIROC model projects a drying over the western U.S. during the 21st century, whereas the GFDL model projects wetter conditions. Image courtesy of Lowell Stott.

El Niño and beyond: How to predict climate change

December 10, 2015

In 2014, the Pacific Ocean was primed for a strong El Niño season. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific led scientists to believe that conditions would provide…