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USC People What they’ve been doing for us lately (8/13/01)

Trojan scientific fixer to advise Bush

The July 23 Los Angeles Times profiled John Marburger III, longtime Trojan, head of Brookhaven National Laboratory and President Bush’s choice for White House science adviser. In the 1970s, the story noted, Marburger was a professor of physics and electrical engineering at USC and co-founder of USC’s center for laser studies. He served as chairman of USC’s physics department and dean of its College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Marburger left USC in 1980 to become president of State University of New York, Stony Brook. When radioactive leaks from Brookhaven National Laboratory came to light, resulting in a serious loss of public trust, “The Energy Department fired the management team that was running the lab, bringing Marburger in as its director,” said the Times. Marburger, a Democrat who will help the Bush administration develop policies on stem-cell research, energy and missile defense, declined to be interviewed until he was confirmed. “I think Jack is someone who sees potentially negative situations as opportunities. He was very excited about this when I talked to him,” said colleague John Shanklin, a biochemist at Brookhaven.

Cornell returns to the fold

Dennis Cornell,

who served as executive director of University Events before taking a position last winter as executive director of BalletMet Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, has returned to USC. On July 1 he rejoined the university with a promotion to assistant vice president and chief of protocol for University Events.

Redmon to direct Emeriti Center

Elizabeth “Betty” Redmon

has been appointed executive director of the USC Emeriti Center. Her appointment becomes effective Sept. 1, when she will replace Paul Hadley, who is retiring. Redmon joined USC in 1977 and most recently served as senior clinical administrator for the department of pathology and managing editor for University Pathology Consortium. She has been president of the USC Staff Assembly and the USC Staff Club.

Oliver to lead regional business officers association

Patricia T. Oliver

, associate vice president for administrative services in the Division of Business Affairs, was elected president of the Western Association of College and University Business Officers for 2001-02. As president, she will also be on the board of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Oliver has been with the university 28 years, and in administrative services since 1985.

Another honor for dentistry’s Snead

Malcolm Snead

, professor of dentistry and researcher at the USC School of Dentistry’s Craniofacial Center for Molecular Biology, received the 2001 Research in Oral Biology Award from the International Association for Dental Research. He was recognized for contributions to understanding the molecular aspects of tooth formation and for applying molecular biology to enamel biomimetics. The award was made by the International Association for Dental Research in June during opening ceremonies for the group’s 79th General Session in Chiba, Japan.

USC alum Gast leads research at MIT

Alice Gast

, who was USC’s 1980 valedictorian, has been named research vice president and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She had been associate chair of the department of chemical engineering at Stanford, where she had been since 1985. After receiving her B.S. in chemical engineering at USC, she earned a master’s and Ph.D. from Princeton.

Microbiologist is med school’s first Pew Scholar

Ebrahim Zandi

, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, has been named one of 20 2001 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. He is the first Pew Scholar to be named at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Administered by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the award aims to “nurture outstanding young scientists to become leading investigators at the forefront of their fields.” Zandi will receive $240,000 over four years for his research. His work focuses primarily on signal transduction, the cascade of events that is set off when an enzyme or hormone or other chemical messenger docks in a receptor on the outside of a cell.

Tolo elected to Johns Hopkins society

Vernon T. Tolo

, professor of pediatrics and vice chair for pediatric orthopaedics, has been elected to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars. Tolo and 14 other scientists and clinicians were honored during the society’s induction ceremony in May and again at the university’s commencement. Currently vice president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, he will serve as that organization’s president in 2002–2003. Tolo earned his medical degree from John Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1968. He also served his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins.

A.J. Langguth, Journalism Teacher of the Year

The Freedom Forum named journalism professor A.J. “Jack” Langguth one of three Journalism Teachers of the Year. He received a medal and $10,000. The awards honor outstanding teaching and leadership in the core areas of print and broadcast journalism instruction, such as reporting, editing, journalism history, media law and ethics. The Freedom Forum awards luncheon was held Aug. 5 in Washington, D.C.

Davis appoints Geoffrey Cowan to state commission

Gov. Gray Davis has appointed Annenberg School for Communication Dean Geoffrey Cowan as a member of the Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices. The commission examines the issues posed by campaign activity on the Internet and makes recommendations for appropriate legislative action.

Scholar award for ophthalmology professor

Jeannie Chen

, assistant professor of ophthalmology, has received the James S. Adams Scholar Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support study of the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases. The $50,000 award is part of RPB’s Special Scholar Program, designed to support outstanding young scientists who are conducting research of “unusual significance and promise.” Chen, who also received an RPB Career Development Award in 1995, is investigating the causes of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 65.

Regulation FD and the markets

A new USC-Purdue study concludes that the highly criticized Securities and Exchange Commission rule “Regulation FD” has not adversely affected the flow of information to markets. K.R Subramanyam and Yuan Zhang of USC’s Marshall School of Business and Frank Heflin of Purdue researched the controversial rule prohibiting companies from releasing information to analysts ahead of the investing public. Their results contradict allegations that Regulation FD causes greater price shocks when firm performance is revealed.

Greeks get high-speed links

Twenty-six fraternity and sorority houses on and near USC’s 28th Street Greek Row will have new, high-speed wireless USC network links when classes begin. The technology used is a combination of fiber-optic cable coupled with a modern wireless networking hub, which will allow students to connect to the Web by attaching a wireless radio card to their computers. The installation will serve about 600 students.

USC’s former pitcher scores big

Pitcher Mark Prior recently won the Rotary Smith Award as the nation’s top college baseball player. He is USC’s first winner of the Smith Award in its 14-year history. The first player selected in the recent Major League Baseball draft, he was also named Player of the Year in separate honors by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, American Baseball Coaches Association, The Sporting News and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (Dick Howser Trophy). Prior finished the 2001 season 15-1 with a 1.69 ERA and an NCAA-leading and school record 202 strikeouts.

Black Alumni Programs relocates to Widney Alumni House

In mid-August, the Office of Black Alumni Programs relocated to the Widney Alumni House. Lura Ball, director of Black Alumni Programs, will report to Judith Blumenthal, associate vice president for alumni relations.

USC School of Law: 100 years of diversity

The June 21 Los Angeles Daily Journal celebrated the USC law school’s centennial with an alumni tribute to diversity in the legal profession. Ten reflections were featured, one by a woman or minority graduate from each decade of the last 100 years. “One of the unique aspects of USC,” wrote Phyllis Norton Cooper, J.D. ’38, “was its reputation for admitting and graduating women. … Being one of the largest classes of women in the post-war era, we had a sense of ourselves as invincible – our sheer numbers protected us from some of the bias that was surely out there.”

Can silicon chips communicate with the brain?

In a June 26 article in the Boston Globe, psychobiologist and neuropharmacologist Roberta Brinton talked about USC’s efforts to develop silicon chips that can communicate with and even stand in for brain and nerve cells. The same technology might one day be extended, she said, beyond repairing lost function and lead to superhuman bionics and even “mind control.” She added that the public should begin to debate these issues now.

Celebrities make the news

Leo Braudy,

an expert on fame, said in a July 9 New York Times story that celebrities will always grab news headlines, no matter how small the story. “If a celebrity is involved, it’s news,” he said. “It’s the idea that such people are paid attention to more than people are, that celebrities have some kind of larger human nature.”

Ethnic media and communities

In a July 9 Los Angeles Times article, community and technologies expert Sandra Ball-Rokeach said local and ethnic media are critical to strong communities. Ball-Rokeach’s Metamorphosis project, a study of how communication helps create a sense of community, was featured June 13 in a variety of news outlets, including the Times, Pasadena Star News, KCAL, KCBS and KNBC-TV; KFWB, KFI and KNX-AM and KPCC-FM

Sprawl in the Twin Cities

In a July 10 Minneapolis Star Tribune story, planning expert William Fulton, lead author of a new report on city growth, explained several of the reasons for the atypical pattern of development in the Twin Cities area during the 1990s.

Camelot goes Hollywood

In a July 10 feature in the New York Daily News, English professor Robert Dilligan commented on TNT’s effort to create a picture of Camelot that is truer than usual. That’s rarely done successfully, he said. “’Excalibur’ is right out of Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King,’” said Dilligan, referring to the fantastic retelling of the Arthurian legend. “That’s what gets into Hollywood.”

Bilingual nursery school is for everyone

Bilingual specialist Michael Genzuk said the popularity of bilingual preschool can be attributed to parents who believe children will have an advantage knowing a second language. In the July 11 Seattle Times, Genzuk said studies show that students have a better chance of correctly pronouncing words if they start learning languages at a young age.

Consumers and California’s electricity crisis

“This is a basic economic lesson that applies to electricity, water,” said economist Alec Levenson in a July 14 Los Angeles Times story on Californians’ significant conservation of electricity. “When you provide something at a low price, people will use a lot of it. When prices go up, they use less.” He and other experts added that an earlier price hike might have tempered, if not averted, the crisis altogether.

Of mice and GM pets

Bioethicist Alexander Capron allayed fears raised by Transgenic Pets’ announcement that the company would genetically engineer non-allergenic cats. “Because someone feels comfortable controlling their Siamese cat’s genes,” Capron told the July 14 New Scientist, “that doesn’t mean that they will approve of doing the same thing to a child.” In July Capron was also quoted by the Los Angeles Times on stem-cell research and on the NBC Nightly News” on the dangers to medical research volunteers.

Gay parenting study still making news

Sociologists Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz’s study on gay parenting was featured in the July 17 New York Times and the July 10 Newsday. Stacey was a guest on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” on July 17.

Katharine Graham remembered

In a July 18 Los Angeles Times obituary for Katharine Graham of the Washington Post, journalism ethics expert Edwin O. Guthman said Graham set an example for publishers everywhere because she put covering the news first, “not the bottom line.”

Commerce narrows the Taiwan Strait

In a July 19 Los Angeles Times op-ed, foreign policy expert Murray Fromson wrote that the China-Taiwan relationship seems to be shaping up rather differently than official American or Chinese reports tend to portray. “Taiwan has managed to invade the mainland successfully with money and not missiles,” he wrote.

Policies precede Kissinger and Pinochet

In a July 15 Los Angeles Times op-ed, political reporting expert A.J. Langguth wrote about the U.S.-engineered overthrow of Brazil’s democratically elected government in the 1960s, pointing out that the war crimes of Kissinger and Pinochet were merely part of a much broader pattern.

Race on screen and in song

A July 21 San Diego Union-Tribune story on the rise of interracial couples on the silver screen sought the commentary of culture critic Todd Boyd. “I don’t think that Hollywood has an interest in [diversity] except that it potentially expands your audience,” he said. “It’s all about money, and if Hollywood thinks that they can make money by marketing interracial couples, then the trend will continue.” Boyd was also quoted in a July 29 San Francisco Chronicle story and was a featured guest on the July 19 edition of CNN’s “Talkback Live” – both about Jennifer Lopez’s use of the “n word” in a song.

Disease no match for this USC grad

The July 22 Los Angeles Times profiled USC alumna Kristin Price and her determination to succeed despite cystic fibrosis, a terminal genetic disease that kills many before their 30s. “In a lot of ways I see my disease as a vehicle for pushing me to do what I was meant to do,” she said. “You’ve got to live. You can’t live your life like you’re going to die.” Price, who will pursue doctoral studies at Concordia University in Montreal, received an Order of Troy award when she graduated from USC in May. “This is a woman who, even in her reduced life span, is going to make a difference,” said Price’s faculty mentor, Warren Bennis. “She already has made a difference.”

Putting more minorities into the mix

In a July 23 Electronic Media article, local and network news expert, Terry Anzur said that KABC-TV was one of the most diverse stations in the broadcast market. Anzur was also a guest host on KPCC’s “Air Talk” on July 31.

Disclosure rule not hurting stock market

An article in the July 24 Los Angeles Times cited a study by financial markets expert K.R. Subramanyam, USC graduate student Yuan Zhang and a Purdue University accounting professor. The study concluded that a federal rule barring companies from selectively disclosing information to favored Wall Street analysts has not hurt the stock market as critics have claimed.

Art censorship, Clinton’s move to Harlem and cloning

In a July 24 Los Angeles Times op-ed, Madison Shockley, a writer in residence at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, criticized censorship of public art at Los Angeles International Airport. In the Aug. 1 Times, Shockley – who lived in Harlem in the mid-1980s – commented on questions raised by former President Clinton’s move to the neighborhood. And in the Aug. 8 Times, Shockley, who is also a minister, commented on the cloning controversy. Without technology, he wrote, premature babies would likely die and heart patients would have no hopes of transplants: “The progress of human technology is a gift from God and not an assault on God’s divinity.”

Auctioning naming rights – for a baby

In a July 26 PRI “Marketplace” broadcast, politics of culture expert Martin H. Kaplan said a New York couple’s auction for rights to name their baby was an example of the penetration of marketing and branding into every conceivable space of American life.

Philip Morris’ public relations fiasco

In a July 27 Fox News broadcast, political slogans expert James Beniger commented on miscalculations made by tobacco company Philip Morris in distributing a report in the Czech Republic. The report calculated that smokers save the Czech government millions annually through early deaths. Beniger was also quoted in a July 9 Ventura County Star article about the importance of electricity to a high-technology society.

Putting teeth into nursing home care

In a July 30 story in the Omaha World-Herald, dean of dentistry Harold Slavkin shed some light on the hidden problem of the inadequate dental care received by nursing home residents. . “We know that oral infection is associated with cardiovascular disease,” he said, noting that oral care for seniors isn’t always considered important and that many believe that dentures and loss of teeth is part of the aging process.

Tube worm boogie

Biologist Donal Manahan’s exotic research on the travel of giant tube worms, denizens of the hot sulfurous vents thousands of feet deep in the ocean, was described in words and pictures in the July 31 Newsday. “We’ve proved that the tube worm larvae can live long enough for the underwater highways that run deep in the ocean to take them from one vent to another,” said Manahan.

Life imitates art

Novelist and poet Carol Muske-Dukes was featured in the July 31 Los Angeles Times discussing the “traumatic coincidence” of the death of her husband, actor David Dukes in October, and the death in her latest novel, “Life After Death.” “I had written many poems about [death], had just finished a whole novel about it, for heaven’s sake,” she said. “Now I ‘get it’ in a way I couldn’t have before.” Muske-Dukes was also interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s July 5 “Fresh Air.” The novel has been reviewed by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Seattle Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, among others.

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