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Two poems by USC College professor and California’s Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes appeared on the Web site of California first lady Maria Shriver in celebration of National Poetry Month.

Muske-Dukes submitted “Twin Cities,” which appeared in The New Yorker on July 6, 2009, and “Boy,” which ran in The Atlantic in August 2009.

She has published 13 books, seven of which are volumes of poetry. She also oversees the Magic Poetry Bus, a statewide project aimed at getting young people involved with poetry.

Alumna Named Woman of the Year

Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana Ph.D. ’95 was named 2010 Woman of the Year by Hispanic Business magazine.

Formerly the superintendent of Pomona Unified School District, Melendez de Santa Ana holds the post of U.S. assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. In this post, she serves as the chief adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on all matters related to preschool, elementary and secondary education.

Melendez de Santa Ana was the guest speaker at the USC Rossier School of Education’s centennial celebration launch last June and has spoken of the transformative years she spent as a USC student.

Marsella, Gratch Honored for Virtual Breakthroughs

Stacy Marsella and Jonathan Gratch, computer scientists at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, have been recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence.

Marsella and Gratch will receive the 2010 Autonomous Agents Research Award, an annual honor given to researchers who have influenced the field of autonomous agents.

Gratch is ICT’s associate director for virtual human research and Marsella is associate director for social simulation. The two are developing a computational model of appraisal theory – the idea that emotions come from evaluations of events and cause specific reactions in different people – as well as developing conversational virtual humans that can model the influences of emotion in the ways they think and behave.

Gratch and Marsella are also research associate professors in the Department of Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School. They will receive their awards and present lectures at the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems in Toronto in early May.

First Holder of Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair Named

Jae Jung, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biochemistry and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was installed as the first Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology during a reception at the Harlyne J. Norris Research Tower on March 15.

The Fletcher Jones Foundation, a grant-making organization that supports private, higher-educational institutions, created the endowed chair with a gift of $1 million last year.

The foundation was created by the estate of Jones, the co-founder of Computer Sciences Corp., in 1969.

Bensimon Wins Wisconsin Education Award

The University of Wisconsin system presented Estela Mara Bensimon of the USC Rossier School of Education with a 2010 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award on April 17.

The accolade recognizes her contributions to equity and commitment to educational excellence in the Wisconsin system.

Fifteen other women received the award, but Bensimon, co-director of the Center for Urban Education, is the first woman outside the state of Wisconsin to earn the honor.

Eleven University of Wisconsin institutions are using Bensimon’s equity scorecard, a tool designed to identify and examine gaps in educational outcomes between majority students and students of color.

University of Wisconsin institutions submit nominations for the awards, which highlight each recipient’s contributions to diversity, women’s studies scholarship or activism or to improving the status and climate for women, particularly women of color.

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