Uncovering New Knowledge
As one of our core missions, research defines USC Dornsife. Here, a dynamic community of over 500 research-active scholars across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences uncovers new knowledge and offers new ways to make sense of the world. In the tradition of great American research universities, USC Dornsife upholds a social contract to produce innovations that underpin our modern way of living and solve problems of tremendous complexity.
By fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration, USC Dornsife also play a vital role in nurturing the next generation of scholars and leaders. Academic integrity, rigor, and inclusivity guide our pursuit, ensuring that new discoveries and insights are ethically obtained, thoroughly examined, and accessible to all — ultimately benefiting the greater good of humanity.
Public Exchange research finds food insecurity worsens among low-income Angelenos as CalFresh emergency boost expires
USC Dornsife Research Themes
Safeguarding the Planet for Future Generations
Humanity stands at a crossroads: Perpetuate our current practices that warm the planet, displace people, and drive species toward extinction; or, build a future powered by renewable energy and new ways of protecting natural resources. At USC Dornsife, our scientists develop innovative ways to harness and store this energy. But the clock is ticking. So we also focus on overcoming obstacles preventing the adoption of the many effective solutions already in-hand. By tapping our economists, political scientists, behavioral scientists, writers, and many others, we are finding ways to accelerate and scale sustainable actions while the window is still open.
Fixing a Broken Political System
The political divide is as stark as it’s been in modern memory. Inconvenient news is shouted down as “fake.” Facts are discounted. Rancor is at historic levels. Our nation is desperate for new tools to decontaminate the toxic political atmosphere.
Never before have research universities been more critical to reshaping the conversation. And USC Dornsife is leading the way. Our experts develop strategies to help decontaminate the toxic political atmosphere, create an environment for civil debate, and provide fact-based insights that inform solution to pressing policy issues.
Anticipating Impacts of Innovation
With technology developing at an accelerating pace, the question becomes: Will new technologies be used for good or ill, to unite us or divide us? And how can we do a better job of anticipating and preparing for the profound social, economic and ethical implications of technological innovations? Whether it’s developing a better grasp of targeted media to prevent election meddling or predicting how blockchain platforms will alter traditional institutions, USC Dornsife faculty shine a light into a future that will be profoundly changed by technological innovation.
Exploring Identity and Culture In a Changing World
From USC Dornsife’s location in the heart of L.A., our scholars study and understand how people of different backgrounds and beliefs unite or divide. How, for example, did Los Angeles, once known for its violence, corruption and racial animus, evolve into today’s far more tolerant and equitable metropolis? How will we continue to ensure that a certain group retains its identity while interacting productively and peacefully with those who look, speak or worship differently? As our faculty, students and community partners answer these kinds of questions, we are offering ways forward as similar challenges appear around the world.
Confronting Global Challenges
To solve 21st-century global challenges, we must understand their complex and compounding effects. How has climate change spurred migrations? How has social media led to new channels for human trafficking? These and other problems such as financial crises, pandemics, cybersecurity, and terrorism defy boundaries. We need to respond with an intrinsically global approach. USC Dornsife experts unravel the complexity of global challenges and provide insights that can help governments and the private sector better manage global issues of the future.
Advancing the Art and Science of Human Wellbeing
To develop a complete understanding of human health, we need more than breakthrough biomedicine. We also need to explore the environmental, cultural, and communication factors that contribute to our individual and collective wellbeing. Bridging research and scholarship across disciplines — and collaborating with practitioners — USC Dornsife looks beyond the treatment of disease to better predict and prevent it, and to build environments that promote robust physical and mental health for all.
Developing New Methods
At USC Dornsife, new methods are under development that could have significant, far-reaching impacts — enabling breakthrough technology and providing cross-cutting ways to explore problems. Advanced imaging techniques, self-report science, CRISPR and liquid biopsy, geospatial mapping, digital humanities, and more — at USC Dornsife, new methods are often the result of collaborative efforts to open new possibilities for discovery. Sometimes, they change the game entirely.
Curiosity at Work
Our modern way of living has been built on the work of scholars who pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge. At USC Dornsife, foundational scholarship is at the heart of our mission. While it often has no immediately obvious practical application and can be difficult to understand, this wellspring of ideas is not only valuable as the pursuit of human enlightenment. It is also the vital force behind the process of innovation. From string theory to experimental semantics to medieval dance, these esoteric pursuits of the moment will inform many of tomorrow’s technological, medical, and social breakthroughs.
Supporting and Promoting Scholarship
Research ResourcesThe research administration team at USC Dornsife assists faculty, staff, and students with administrative support involving externally funded projects. Learn about grant strategy, proposal preparation, funding opportunities, and more.
USC Dornsife News Briefs BlogThe USC Dornsife News Briefs blog highlights faculty research studies, newly published books, awards, grants, or other news showcasing faculty members’ work at USC Dornsife. All USC Dornsife faculty are eligible to submit content.
Corporate PartnershipsThe USC Dornsife Corporate Relations team offers strategic engagement opportunities for companies across all industries to collaborate with our expert researchers.
Faculty-Led Research InitiativeThe 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.
USC Dornsife Research Statistics
Annual Research Expenditures
USC Dornsife undergraduate students recently engineered microbes to quickly remove medicinal drugs from the water supply. Their inventive method of ensuring sustainably clean water was showcased at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Grand Jamboree, a global synthetic biology competition.
Public Exchange amplifies social impact by making academic expertise more easily accessible than ever before. The first-of-its-kind hub connects leaders in the public and private sectors with the right team of USC researchers and streamlines the collaborative process, providing project management from start to finish.
Defining the Future
USC Dornsife researchers work on the leading edge of emerging fields, where expertise is in extraordinary demand. They are not just contributing new knowledge, but anticipating and shaping the future.
A team of USC Dornsife economists design and model which incentives are most effective in motivating the free market and governments to work together to improve our environmental quality of life. Whether they’re using “green data” to inform carbon tax proposals or exploring how to make global supply chains more efficient, environmental economists are helping us adapt and succeed on a warmer planet.
Researchers at the Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology pioneer advanced computational and statistical techniques to understand how human genes express themselves in an individual. While interpreting this vast amount of data will have profound implications for the future of medicine, the department is also dedicated to expanding diversity among datasets to incorporate underrepresented groups and ensure that new discoveries benefit everyone.
USC Dornsife experts in visual anthropology pursue an immersive understanding of human cultures through visual media like photography, film, and digital technologies. By capturing the nuances of social interactions and practices, visual anthropology fosters cross-cultural comparison and deepens our appreciation of human diversity.
Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research Strategy and Development
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