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Faculty Research News

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…

Identity-based motivation helps students see their difficulties with school as signs that schoolwork is important, which in turn can improve academic performance, according to USC Dornsife researchers.

Digital game aims to motivate students

January 22, 2016

A USC professor’s program to motivate children to achieve success in school and at work will soon be translated into a digital game to help more students succeed academically. USC Dean’s Professor of Psychology…

Matthew Kahn is currently a visiting professor of economics and spatial sciences at USC Dornsife but will come onboard full-time in August 2016. Photo courtesy of Matthew Kahn.

New faculty member brings passion for environmental economics

January 21, 2016

When Matthew Kahn was nine years old, in the early 1970s, he wrote a letter to then-President Gerald Ford to inquire about the details of Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” economic program. “At a very young…

Clifford Johnson, professor of physics and astronomy, is using graphic novel storytelling to explain the nature of the universe. The process, shown above, begins with rough work as depicted in blue on the bottom and develops into a detailed finished sequence as shown on top. Image courtesy of Clifford Johnson.

A physicist gets graphic about the nature of the universe

January 15, 2016

Clifford Johnson is a champion of making the sciences accessible to all.  When he’s not teaching at USC or working on his research, the USC Dornsife professor of physics and astronomy lectures, blogs and even…

Legendary rock star David Bowie was a restless innovator and creative genius whose inspired songwriting and mesmerizing performances changed popular music forever. Here he is shown performing on NBC’s <em>Today</em> show at Rockefeller Plaza on Sept. 18, 2003, in New York City. Photo by J. Stone.

David Bowie: Life and Death of an Icon

January 13, 2016

David Bowie, rock’s greatest chameleon, passed away on Jan. 10 from liver cancer. His death, like the many transformations in persona he so skillfully executed during his lifetime, came without warning, shocking fans and…

The default-mode network of the brain shows increased activity when subjects read stories that deal with their core values. Image courtesy of Sarah Gimbel/USC.

Deep thinking in the brain may be spurred by stories with moral quandaries

January 11, 2016

Everyone has at least a few non-negotiable values. These are the things that, no matter what the circumstance, you’d never compromise for any reason — such as “I’d never hurt a child,” or…

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…

Herzliya is located on the central coast of Israel, one of the world's most rapidly aging nations.

Psychology’s Mara Mather to teach course in new partnership with Israeli institute

January 6, 2016

Come spring, students will have an opportunity to study gerontology subjects in the home of one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations: Israel. Professor Mara Mather, who holds joint appointments at USC Dornsife…

Emily Liman: Sparkling Study

Neurobiology scientists discover new mechanism for detecting sour taste

January 4, 2016

Researchers have discovered a new way that taste cells detect sourness, a sensation that is linked to acidity. Of the five basic tastes, sour remains the most mysterious — to the point that the tongue’s sour…

USC Dornsife’s writers pick their favorite stories from 2015

USC Dornsife’s writers pick their favorite stories from 2015

December 31, 2015

The writing staff in the USC Dornsife Communication department has the privilege of working with some of the most brilliant and inspiring students, faculty members and alumni on the planet and telling their stories. Reflecting…