Faculty-Led Research Initiative
Investing in Research Excellence
Launched in 2019 by Dean Amber Miller, the Faculty-Led Research Initiative supports the creation of new centers and institutes that advance cross-cutting areas of academic strength identified by the USC Dornsife community and strategic opportunities in emerging interdisciplinary fields where USC Dornsife can take the lead.
Each year, faculty are invited to submit proposals to be evaluated by an executive committee representing each of the three academic divisions.
Successful proposals receive a first-round of seed funding to further develop the idea with a working group. From this pool, a smaller number of P.I.s will receive more substantial funding to launch their new research initiative with the goal of becoming self-sustaining in the near future. All USC Dornsife faculty and faculty teams are invited to submit proposals.
View the most recent REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
Active Funded Centers and Institutes
Center for Integrated Microbial Systems
Faculty Lead: Eric Webb
Marine Environmental Biology
A hub for microbiology at USC, the center integrates faculty and students performing microbiological research and fosters a spirit of collaboration and community through invited external seminar series, joint grant proposals, research seminars and select symposia.
Center for Synthetic Living Systems
Faculty Lead: Ian Ehrenreich
Molecular and Computational Biology, Biological Sciences
The goal of the center is to nucleate and grow synthetic biology in Dornsife and at USC. Synthetic biology is a discipline at the interface of the life sciences and engineering focused on the design and construction of living systems, both for fundamental research and real-world applications that benefit society.
Center for Music, Brain and Society
Faculty Lead: Assal Habibi
Brain and Creativity Institute, Department of Psychology
The center is designed to serve as a collaborative hub for USC faculty committed to investigating music at neurobiological and social levels, and to promoting the application of resulting knowledge to foster human well-being and social flourishing.
Faculty Lead: Darby Saxbe
An interdisciplinary group of USC faculty study family systems, close relationships, and mental and physical health across the lifespan.
Faculty Lead: Karen Tongson
English, American Studies and Ethnicities, Gender and Sexuality
The Consortium on Gender, Sexuality & Race in Popular Culture brings together faculty researchers from across USC, Southern California, and beyond, to explore and contextualize shifts in representations of gender, race, and sexuality in public culture, while translating that research to the public square.
New Microbes For New Beneficial Natural Products
Faculty Lead: Jan Amend
Earth Sciences/Marine Environmental Biology
Taking a radically different approach in the search for new natural products with benefits for society, the initiative explores new classes of natural products that can be produced by and harvested from microorganisms that inhabit the largest but woefully understudied ecosystems on Earth — the
coastal and deep oceans, and the continental and marine subsurface.
The Plastics Problem
Faculty Lead: Travis Williams
The Plastics Problem research group develops enterprise-ready solutions to reclaim value from waste plastics to help create a more sustainable future.
The Urban Critical Zone
Faculty Lead: Will Berelson
The Urban Critical Zone conducts research and teaches students about urban system complexity using novel measurements, data harvesting and modeling, and empirical behavioral analysis.
Faculty Lead: Bill Deverell
The West On Fire places western wildfire in historical context to learn from dozens of disciplinary and other sets of fire knowledge, and to broaden public awareness of the the American west’s relationship with fire in the past, present, and future.
Summary of Seed-Funded Initiatives
Current Phase 1 Initiatives
|Music, Brain and Society Working Group||Assal Habibi||Natural Sciences||2022||$10,000|
|Center for New Technologies in Drug Discovery & Development (CNT3D)||Vsevolod Katritch||Natural Sciences||2022||$10,000|
|Working Group for Quantum Entanglement Science||Susumu Takahashi||Natural Sciences||2022||$10,000|
|Center for Synthetic Living Systems||Ian Ehrenreich||Natural Sciences||2022||$10,000|
|Religious Ecologies Project||David Albertson||Humanities||2022||$10,000|
|USC Center for Social Medicine: Transforming Health and Society||Andy Lakoff||Social Sciences||2022||$10,000|
|Prediction Science Initiative Working Group||Tom Jordan||Natural Sciences||2021||$10,000|
|Taking carbon from the sky: Scope and consequences of negative emissions technologies||Josh West||Natural Sciences||2020||$10,000|
|Defusing Polarization in Diverse Democracy through Strategic Communications||Morris Levy||Social Sciences||2020||$10,000|
Past Phase 1 Initiatives
|The Urban Critical Zone||Will Berelson||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|The West on Fire||Bill Deverell||Humanities||2019||$10,000|
|New Microbes For New Beneficial Natural Products||Jan Amend||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Center for Integrated Microbial Systems||Eric Webb||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Center for the Changing Family||Darby Saxbe||Social Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Center for Leadership by Women of Color||Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro||Social Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Center for Global South Studies||Rhacel Parrenas||Social Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Global Change Initiative A Cross-Center Program for Environmental Politics and Action||John Heidelberg||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Living Lab SC/LA||Karla Heidelberg||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Global Human Rights||Alison Renteln||Social Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Humanities and Arts in Public||Daniela Bleichmar||Humanities||2019||$10,000|
|Global Legal Studies||Jessica Marglin/Nathan Perl-Rosenthal||Humanities||2019||$10,000|
|Data, Society, and Technology||Juan De Lara||Humanities||2019||$10,000|
|Applied Quantum Computing||Rosa Di Felice||Natural Sciences||2019||$10,000|
|Confronting Global Challenges: the Plastics Problem||Travis Williams||Natural Sciences||2020||$10,000|
|Conceptual Foundations of Conflict Project||Mark Schroeder||Humanities||2020||$10,000|
|Consortium on Gender, Sexuality & Race in Popular Culture||Karen Tongson||Humanities||2020||$10,000|
Questions about the Dornsife Faculty-led Initiatives program can be addressed to Stephen Bradforth or your divisional dean:
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Moh El Naggar