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Natural Sciences News

During the recent USC Dornsife 2020 retreat at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, doctoral students presented their research and had an opportunity to enjoy the brilliant night sky. Photo by Corey Arnold.

Brainwaves by the Sea

September 17, 2013

Every student knows how vitally important it is to remember information for a final exam. However, trying to memorize your class notes in the library can be challenging. Distractions — the person next to you whispering…

Jennifer Achiro, a neuroscience doctoral student in Bottjer’s laboratory, is first author in the study examining the activity of neurons in songbirds’ brains using electrodes to record the activity of individual neurons. Photo by Amy Garrison.

Worth Crowing About

September 6, 2013

USC Dornsife scientists have discovered a population of neurons in the brains of juvenile songbirds that are necessary for allowing the birds to recognize the vocal sounds they are learning to imitate. These neurons encode a…

Welcome Incoming Faculty

September 3, 2013

USC Dornsife welcomed 19 new faculty members for the 2013-14 academic year. Hailing from universities around the world, this year’s group of scholars are some of the best and brightest in the nation, bringing with…

International relations alumna Pam Mizuno spent a week this May volunteering on coffee farms in Costa Rica, assisting with research relating to American leaf spot, a disease currently affecting coffee harvests in the country. Photo courtesy of Pam Mizuno.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

August 30, 2013

Volunteering at organic coffee farms in Costa Rica, Pam Mizuno rose with the sun each morning around 5 a.m. Once on her feet, Mizuno would slather on a thick layer of sunblock, coat herself in bug spray, then enjoy a hearty…

Ivan Krylov and Melissa Williams, chemistry researchers at USC Dornsife, were honored by the International Society for Antiviral Research (ISAR) for excellence in scientific poster presentations. Photo by Erica Christianson.

Fourfold Excellence

August 22, 2013

Postdoctoral research associate Ivan Krylov and Ph.D. chemistry students Melissa Williams, Candy Hwang and Elena Ferri have more than one thing in common. They all work in the laboratory of Charles McKenna, vice dean for…

William Berelson, chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife, collaborates at the high-vacuum line in his laboratory with Maria Prokopenko, who was lead author of a recent paper appearing in <em>Nature</em>. Photo by Erica Christianson.

The Nitrogen Cycle Intensified

August 14, 2013

In a discovery that further demonstrates just how unexpected and unusual nature can be, scientists have found two strains of bacteria whose symbiotic relationship is unlike anything seen before. Working with William Berelson,…

Jan Amend, who is affiliated with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, housed in USC Dornsife, is leading a $6.7 million project to develop approaches for detecting and characterizing microbial life in the subsurface. Photo by Michelle Salzman.

Life Underground

August 1, 2013

USC Dornsife researchers have embarked on a five-year project to look for microorganisms hundreds of meters below the surface — in deep mineshafts, boreholes and other sites — as part of the search for the limits…

Every person has perhaps billions of bytes of information stored in long-term memory. Babies develop long-term memories for past experiences beginning at the age of about six months or even earlier.

Mind Games

December 18, 2012

As a child, how many of you memorized the planet names and order with this little ditty: My very elegant mother just sat upon nine porcupines. Although the demotion of Pluto to a dwarf planet renders this particular mnemonic…

Candy Hwang, chemistry doctoral student in USC Dornsife, is depicted in a video she created with USC School of Cinematic Arts animators, which picked up two awards in a recent National Science Foundation competition. Titled, <em>The Secrets of Nitrogenase</em>, the video breaks down the complex science behind the nitrogenase enzyme.

The Little Enzyme That Could

December 12, 2012

The cute kiddie cartoon shows an animated Candy Hwang wearing a white lab coat jotting down data on her clipboard. But the 90-second video is not child’s play. Called The Secrets of Nitrogenase, it clearly and concisely…

G.K. Prakash, Professor and George A. and Judith A. Olah Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry in USC Dornsife, who has spent decades researching flourine reagents is also working on a methanol economy concept. Here, he holds up a methanol fuel cell, which is powering a fan. Photo by Philip Channing.

One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Treasure

December 11, 2012

A team of USC Dornsife chemists has developed a way to transform a hitherto useless ozone-destroying greenhouse gas that is the byproduct of Teflon manufacture into reagents for producing pharmaceuticals. The discovery was…