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Faculty Notes

Thorsten Becker, associate professor of earth sciences, co-authored “Shaping Mobile Belts by Small-scale Convection,” which appeared in the June 3, 2010, issue of the journal Nature. Becker has been appointed visiting associate professor at the University of Tokyo.

Percival Everett, Distinguished Professor of English, has won the 2010 Premio Vallombrosa - Gregor von Rezzori Prize for international fiction. Everett has also been awarded the 2010 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature from Longwood University.

Vicki Forman of English has won the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction for her memoir, This Lovely Life (Mariner Books, 2009).

Patrick James, professor of international relations, has been named an Eminent Scholar at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Robin D.G. Kelley, professor of American studies and ethnicity, and history, has received the following awards for his book Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Free Press, 2009): Best Book About Jazz, Jazz Journalists Association; Ambassador Award for Book of Special Distinction, English Speaking Union; a PEN Open Book Award, PEN American Center; and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Deems Taylor Award. Black, Brown and Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora (University of Texas Press, 2009), which Kelley co-edited with Franklin Rosemont, won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation

Lon Kurashige, associate professor of history, and American studies and ethnicity, was part of an Organization of American Historians’ Historical Studies delegation that traveled to South Africa in October.

Dan Lainer-Vos, Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies and assistant professor of sociology, won the Theda Skocpol Dissertation Award from the American Sociological Association’s Comparative and Historical Sociology Section.

Peter Mancall, professor of history and anthropology, has been elected a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

Susan McCabe, professor of English, was selected as one of the editors for the University of California Press’ New California Poetry series.

Brighde Mullins, director of the Master of Professional Writing Program and associate professor of the practice in English, has been accepted as a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.

Shana L. Redmond, assistant professor of American studies and ethnicity, was selected as a visiting scholar at Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies for the 2010–11 academic year.

Mark Schroeder, associate professor of philosophy, had his paper, “Hybrid Expressivism: Virtues and Vices,” published in Ethics, selected by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the 10 best philosophy papers published in 2009.

Thomas Seifrid, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, has been elected president of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

Kevin Starr, University Professor and professor of history, received the Native Daughters of the Golden West’s California Image Award.

Karen Sternheimer of sociology was given an honorable mention for the Pacific Sociological Association’s Dean S. Dorn Outstanding Contributions to Teaching Career Award.

Karen Tongson, assistant professor of English and gender studies, was named editor-in-chief of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

John Wilson, professor of geography and director of the Spatial Sciences Institute, was made a visiting professor for senior international scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Charles McKenna, professor and chair of chemistry, and Colin Keaveney, assistant teaching professor of French, were awarded the Provost’s Prize for Teaching with Technology. The prize recognizes faculty achievements in teaching and learning through the integration of technology into courses and curricula.


Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann Appointed Presidential Professor

Murray Gell-Mann, a renowned physicist and Nobel laureate, has been appointed Presidential Professor of Physics and Medicine at USC. A pioneer of quantum physics, Gell-Mann received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He is now the second Nobel Prize winner among the USC College faculty. The first is George Olah, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Chair in Organic Chemistry, who was recognized in 1994 for his pioneering research in superacids and hydrocarbon chemistry.


Leo Braudy, Scott Soames Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

University Professor Leo Braudy of English and Scott Soames, professor of philosophy, have been named fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Braudy, Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature, and Soames, director of the School of Philosophy, bring USC College’s academy fellows to 15.

A leading film critic and cultural historian, Braudy is an authority on the works of Jean Renoir and François Truffaut. Soames specializes in the philosophy of language and the history of analytical philosophy.


Larry Swanson Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Larry Swanson, Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences, and professor of biological sciences, neurology and psychology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his excellence in original scientific research. One of the nation’s leading neuroanatomists, Swanson’s work focuses on the organization of neural networks that control motivated behavior in mammals.


Antonio Damasio Wins Honda Prize

Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute in USC College, has been awarded the Honda Foundation of Japan’s Honda Prize, one of the most important international awards for scientific achievement. Damasio will become the 31st laureate of the Honda Prize at an award ceremony to be held Nov. 17 in Tokyo. In addition to a diploma and medal, the prize carries an award of 10 million yen (approximately $100,000). In its citation, the Honda Foundation said Damasio was chosen “for his pioneering efforts and remarkable contributions in the world of neuroscience.”


Institute, Center & Program News

After 23 years of extraordinary leadership of the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, George A. Olah, Nobel laureate, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Chair in Organic Chemistry, stepped away from the day-to-day leadership of the institute to further his groundbreaking research on hydrocarbon chemistry and to focus on mentoring the next generation of scientific leaders. Beginning on Sept. 1, Olah assumed the position of founding director of the institute. Having served as the institute’s scientific co-director since 2000, G. K. Surya Prakash, George A. and Judith A. Olah Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry, and professor of chemistry, has been named director of the institute.

The USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, founded in 2003 and directed by Professor of History and Anthropology Peter Mancall, will launch three new programs designed to ensure USC College’s international standing as a leading center for early modern studies in art history, history and literature. First, the institute will offer top-off and summer stipends to outstanding Ph.D. students whose work falls within the period from c. 1450 to c. 1800. These Ph.D. students will have the opportunity to teach small, summer tutorials to undergraduates in the College, especially those in the newly launched Early Modern Studies minor. Undergraduates in these non-credit courses will also receive stipends. Second, the institute will offer interdisciplinary summer seminars for Ph.D. students studying art history, history, literature and music. Third, the institute has launched “Inside the Renaissance,” a multidisciplinary program that will produce approximately 25 animated, five-minute podcasts on a wide range of early modern topics, including the work of three of the institute’s Mellon postdoctoral fellows.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, was appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as chairman of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Schnur will hold this position through the end of the governor’s term in January 2011 at which time he will resume the Unruh directorship. Ann Crigler, professor and chair of political science, was appointed the institute’s acting director for the Fall 2010 term. Crigler previously served as director of the institute from 1995 to 2005.

Mark Benthien, the Southern California Earthquake Center’s associate director for communication, education and outreach, spoke to Congressional staff about “Citizen Science and Earthquakes: Reducing the Risk Through People Power” at a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey in May.

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, directed by Dr. Stephen Smith, has been awarded $1,550,023.80 over three years from the Leichtag Family Foundation toward funding the institute’s Teacher Innovation Network including its annual Master Teacher Workshop.

The Center for Diversity and Democracy, directed by George Sanchez, vice dean for College diversity, and professor of American studies and ethnicity, and history, partnered with the California Council of Humanities to secure a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to promote the role of civility in a democratic society. 

Kenneth Geller was selected as the new director of the USC College- Keck School of Medicine Academic and Advising Program following a national search. He previously served as the co-director of the College’s Baccalaureate/MD program.




Read more articles from USC College Magazine's Fall 2010/Winter 2011 issue