January 2014 / Vol. 25, No.1
Arrive USC Times marks its 25th year by honoring 25 members of the Carolina community, one year at a time. Âť page 4 Whatâ€™s inside On Display
Are We Dead Yet?
Mapping the Ultimate Network
McMaster Gallery hosts Margaret Curtis exhibition, page 2
An alumnus, a professor and a student journalist discuss the future of print media, page 10
John Richards and Jane Roberts use MRI to peer into the human brain, page 12
USC TIMES / STAFF
USC Times is published 10 times a year for the faculty and staff of the University of South Carolina by the Division of Communications. Managing editor Craig Brandhorst Designers Philip Caoile Michelle Hindle Riley Contributors Peggy Binette Frenché Brewer Glenn Hare Thom Harman Chris Horn Page Ivey Steven Powell Megan Sexton Jeff Stensland Liz McCarthy Photographer Kim Truett Campus correspondents Patti McGrath, Aiken Candace Brasseur, Beaufort Cortney Easterling, Greenville Shana Dry, Lancaster Jane Brewer, Salkehatchie Misty Hatfield, Sumter Annie Smith, Union Tammy Whaley, Upstate Jay Darby, Palmetto College Submissions Did you know you can submit photos, stories or ideas for future issues of USC Times? Share your story by emailing or calling Craig Brandhorst at email@example.com, 803-777-3681.
The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation or veteran status.
from the editor
The Times we are a-changing This is not an anniversary issue. Let’s clear that up right away. We did the math, checked the dictionary and finally concluded that, no, we can’t technically claim our silver anniversary for another 12 months. So save the cards until this time next year. January 2014 does represent a significant milestone, though — at least we think so here at the Division of Communications. Twenty-five years ago this month USC Times debuted as the university’s official newspaper of record. And what a difference a quarter-century makes. We’re still kicking, but we’ve gone through plenty of changes since Times first rolled off the presses back in 1990, and we’ve got plenty more changes on the way, beginning with the issue in your hands. You’ll notice we’ve switched to a new format and overall design. Without going into too much shoptalk, the idea is to provide richer stories without sacrificing artwork or design. We’ve also gone from biweekly to monthly, though we’ve simultaneously pumped up the page count. The biggest difference, though, is in our editorial approach. Each month going forward USC Times will tackle a different theme. This month, for example, we offer the photo essay “25 Arrive” (page 10) to honor 25 members of the Carolina community who have joined our ranks since USC Times began. Our not-quite-anniversary celebration continues with the debut of a new department called Meet & Three — a semi-regular lunchtime roundtable, this time featuring a fascinating conversation about, ahem, the future of print. Turn to page 10 to find out — “Are We Dead Yet?” Flipping through this issue you’ll also find several other new features and departments, including an events preview (“Coming Attractions,” pages 2-3), a new science department (“Breakthrough Breakout,” page 12), news from around the USC system (page 13) and, finally, on the back cover, “Overheard @UofSC,” which provides a quotable digest of other Carolina stories published in USC publications over the past few weeks. Anyway, we hope you like the new USC Times — and that you’ll grab the next issue early next month, when we’ll serve up another batch of new departments and honor another round of the folks who make Carolina great. We’re not saying what the theme is just yet, but here’s a hint: come hungry.
Craig Brandhorst Managing editor
Vol. 25, No.1 1
Greene Street gets streetscaped Crush your butts
Pedestrian-friendly fixes are being made to the 1500 block of Greene Street, near the Women’s Quad, which is currently undergoing its own renovation. Work on Greene Street began over the holidays and will continue through August. To reduce vehicle traffic and improve pedestrian routes around Russell House, the library and area residence halls, more of Greene Street will be closed to through traffic, while bike lanes and wider sidewalks will be added. A roundabout on Bull Street near Russell House will allow traffic to come up the hill from Blossom without needing to exit on Greene. That also should make it easier for walkers to get to the Gibbes Green area between the Horseshoe and the Pickens Street Bridge.
The USC Columbia campus is now tobacco-free. The university has banned tobacco use within 25 feet of buildings and outdoor seating areas since 2006. But the new ban expands to all of campus, including campus-owned parking lots for sporting events. The university is offering a number of free and lowcost programs to help you kick the habit. Check out sa.sc.edu/shs/cw/ tobacco/ on the Student Health Services website for the program that is right for you.
Breaking new legal ground USC’s new School of Law building is still a few years away, but the groundbreaking ceremony will be this year. The 187,000-square-foot building will sit across Gervais Street from USC’s Children’s Law Center and just a few blocks from the National Advocacy Center, the state Supreme Court and the South Carolina State House. Construction should begin in late summer and conclude before the School of Law’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
Assembly Street turns the corner Moore closer to completion The new Darla Moore School of Business building will open later this year with an eye toward becoming LEED Platinum-certified and Net-Zero rated, meaning it would generate as much energy as it uses. The goal
Work is nearly done on the Assembly Street improvements that will make the road safer for pedestrians. Workers are putting the finishing touches on landscaping, lighting, pavement markings and fencing, and hanging USC banners along the road. Left turns are now prohibited at Greene and Assembly streets and drivers cannot turn right on red at the intersections of Assembly with Greene and College streets.
is for the Moore School
For your safety, avoid crossing midblock
to be among the greenest
and use crosswalks. A median fence will
facilities in the Southeast.
prohibit pedestrians from crossing Assembly at Devine Street. » in the meantime...
2 usctimes / January 2014
On display: Margaret Curtis by Chris Horn
If you go… What: Margaret Curtis exhibit Where: McMaster Gallery, 1615 Senate St. When: Jan. 15-Feb. 15; M-F 9-4:30 Free (for more info call 803-777-7480)
An exhibition of Tryon, N.C.-based artist Margaret Curtis’ paintings opens at the Department of Art’s McMaster Gallery Jan. 15. Curtis has exhibited her work for more than 20 years at venues including P.P.O.W. in New York City, the Nexus Contemporary Art Gallery in Atlanta, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art on Staten Island, the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Your work has been described as “ribald,” “whimsical,” and “smart and sophisticated, yet wacky and offbeat.” What sort of reaction do you want your art to elicit?
In these newer paintings, there are specific emotions that underlie the narratives. In “Proof,” for example, I was trying to capture a feel for the world I was born into — the power dynamics of principal players and some of the social tensions of that time. But I also wanted to capture a distinct feeling of bewilderment I often felt as a child. The grown-up world I witnessed as a girl made very little sense to me. Other pieces, like “Loaded,” are more overtly political in tone but also funny, I hope. I also try to keep the work open and ambiguous enough for the viewer’s own experience to play a role in the reading.
Writers are often asked the origin of their fictional characters or plots — what has been the inspiration or genesis of your art?
These pieces have started from specific memories and feelings. But there is a very active process of evolution from the initial seed of narrative to the final image. “Salon” (above) started from thinking about several different events over the course of my life, from the birth of my first child to events in high school. To be honest, if I were to detail those events, I think it would rob the painting of some of its force. My obligation in the end is to the painting, not to my memories or feelings, or any notion of allegiance to external “reality.” I try to keep a distance from “realism,” which is of very little interest to me. Are you content to let the viewer’s imagination fill in the gaps? Or is there a more overt message you want to convey?
I really believe an artwork should be able to stand on its own. A viewer should be able to come to it cold and have a valid, meaningful reaction. Of course, we see things differently when we have greater knowledge of the artist’s concerns and process and that knowledge should add to and deepen a viewer’s reactions to the work, but not necessarily invalidate them.
Vol. 25, No.1 3
LET’S Get Hitch’d By Glenn Hare
Hit the high notes!
If you go… What: “The 39 Steps”
The School of Music presents performances by winners of the USC ConcertoAria Competition, accompanied by the USC Symphony Orchestra The program will include performances of Johannes Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” Felix Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides,” Giuseppe Verdi’s overture from “Nabucco” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Marche Slave.”
Where: Longstreet Theatre, 1300 Greene St. When: Feb. 21-March 1; W-F 8 p.m.; Sat. 7 p.m.; Sun. 3 p.m. Tickets: $18 general public; $16 USC faculty/ staff, military and seniors (60 and older); $12 students; 803-777-2551 (box office); cas.sc.edu/THEA.
If you Go...
Asked if he was a class clown, Jim Helsinger admits that he was. “But only for good causes, mainly my own,” he says. “When I was a kid, I learned making people laugh would keep bullies from beating me up, and it was a way to try to impress girls.” Now the Florida-based theater director is bringing his love of laughter, slapstick and wordplay to USC as guest director of Theatre South Carolina’s production of “The 39 Steps.” A master of comic timing, Helsinger is the artistic director of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, where he directs many of the Bard’s best-known comedies as well as other farcical productions, such as “The Taming of the Shrew” and “A Tuna Christmas.” “Making an audience laugh is more technical than most people realize,” he says. “It requires two important elements. The first is a good story with fully developed characters that people find interesting. The second is precision timing. If you don’t have both, then people don’t laugh. And you know what that’s like? It’s tragic.”
Adapted from the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name, “The 39 Steps” is a juicy combination of World War II espionage and Hitchcock suspense peppered with Monty Python absurdity. It follows Richard Hanney, a dapper English gentleman who leads a very boring life until he meets the very beautiful and very blond Annabella Schmidt, an international spy. As Helsinger explains, the film was Hitchcock’s first leading man movie where the main character finds himself out of his element, trying to survive, and was the prototype for the Hitchcock classics “North by Northwest” and “Vertigo.” The play, which was a hit in New York and London and which Helsinger has previously directed in Orlando, makes reference to every Hitchcock movie and even includes a silhouetted cameo by the famous film director. “As much as people like popular icons — like Hitchcock and Shakespeare — they like poking fun at them,” says Helsinger. “I think it’s going to be a blast.” For more campus events, visit calendar.sc.edu.
Where Koger Center for the Arts When Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $30 general public; $25 USC faculty and staff; $8 students; 803-251-2222 (box office); online at capitoltickets.com.
4 usctimes / January 2014
Across the fold
twenty five arrive This month, USC Times begins its twenty-fifth year. To celebrate, we found 25 people who joined the USC community since the presses started rolling, one for each year. Then we asked them to share their first impressions of Carolina, their accomplishments since they arrived and any advice they would give those who come next.
Vol. 25, No.1 5
1990 Abbas Tavakoli: director, statistics labor atory, College of Nursing
Advice for new faculty: It’s important to make an effort to know the people you are working with. If you need help, do not hesitate to ask someone. You will be surprised at how eager people are to assist you.
1992 Virginia Scotchie: professor, studio art
The conversation when you arrived: People were talking about the need for more female faculty — I am the first woman in studio art to become a full professor — and the new efforts the university would be making to include more minorities and quality students.
Ed Madden: associate professor, English; interim director, Women’s & Gender Studies
When I first arrived, I was urged by a colleague not to propose a course on gay and lesbian literature until after getting tenure. There had been some controversy about a course on sexuality in the College of Education just before I arrived, a controversy that reached to the state legislature. So the colleague was probably trying to protect me from what was then a very reactionary culture — off and on campus, I suspect — when it came to addressing gay and lesbian issues. I can’t imagine anyone saying something like that now. The gay and lesbian student group was mostly juniors and seniors, or grad students, and existed mostly for support — for students who were coming out during their college years. Now there are lots of first-year students in the organization, suggesting they were out before they arrived on campus, and the organization seems much more culturally and politically engaged in the life of the university, and in helping to shape what our university community can and should be. The culture has really changed. We have the Safe Zone program, we have explicit outreach through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and sexual orientation is now in the university’s non-discrimination policy. But there’s still a long way to go.
1991 John Weidner: professor, chemical engineering
Best Moment: When I received tenure, although I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time. I tell new faculty to enjoy the process. Don’t stress out about all the demands put on your time. Work hard, don’t forget that students are the reason we are here, but go home at the end of the day and be with your family. Being a professor is the best job in the world if you don’t let external forces get you down.
1993 Marilee Birchfield: reference libr arian, Thomas Cooper Libr ary
Best moment: I helped an older student who was a novice library user find sources for an English paper. I explained how call numbers worked and she went down to the stacks. She came back and said she couldn’t find the article. When I showed her how it all worked, I could see the light bulb go off in her head. She burst out in a huge smile and gave me a big hug. It’s the only time I’ve ever been hugged by a patron.
6 usctimes / January 2014
1995 Chappell Wilson: director of development, South Carolina Honors College
Why USC? I feel like I am giving back in a way. I loved being a student here at USC and in the Honors College, and now I have the opportunity to help others have that same experience. Also, it’s exciting working on a college campus. Not every business has a mascot, a band and sporting events!
Valinda Littlefield: associate professor, history; director, African-American Studies Progr am
When I left Columbia in February after my interview, Urbana had 16 inches of snow. I had a box that Walter Edgar and his wife had given me and told me not to open until I got home. I was dying to open this box. So I get in the house, put my luggage down and immediately rip the paper off. It was two beautiful flowers that they had plucked out of their backyard — camellias, absolutely gorgeous. With 16 inches of snow outside and two fresh camellias in my hand, I figured, “Oh, this is a no-brainer.”
1996 Victor Giurgiutiu: professor, mechanical engineering
How Carolina has changed you: The wife of a professor here helped me find my first house in South Carolina. She told me, “Once you move here, your blood is going to get thinner, and you are not going to be able to move up north again.” And that’s true. I enjoy the weather so much.
The history department was growing then and it certainly grew that year because they hired three people — me, my husband, Dan, and Bobby Donaldson — researching African-American experiences. Dan Carter came shortly thereafter. There was a flurry of reenergizing.
1998 Harris Pastides: president
The conversation when you arrived: Some things don’t change, just like today; people were talking about the upcoming Gamecock football season. Unfortunately, they went 1-10 and 0-11 during my first two years! Proudest accomplishment: I’m too busy to think about my legacy. I will leave that answer to others.
Currently, I am director of the African American Studies Program, and moving that program in a direction people see as positive — that’s probably my proudest accomplishment. We’ve had very strong support from the College of Arts and Sciences and the provost’s and president’s offices. We have an impressive group of the brightest and most congenial faculty members of any university, and USC is stronger because of them.
1999 Sar a Wilcox: professor, exercise science , Arnold School of Public Health; director, Prevention Research Center
Why USC? I like the atmosphere here. My colleagues are collaborative, and I really enjoy collaborative and community-based research. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented students. Both accomplishments and effort are rewarded and appreciated at USC. These factors are not a given in academia.
Vol. 25, No.1 7
2000 Archie “Tripp” Sightler: electrician, facilities
Best part of your job: Being able to take part in managing the power supply for the entire campus and working with a group of people who always comes together as a team. The most surprising thing about USC is that it is almost its own little city. USC provides and maintains its own power system, cable TV system, phone service and Internet.
Scott Verzyl: associate vice president for enrollment management
When I came over for my interview, I had the same kind of reaction to USC that so many high school seniors have when they first step on the Horseshoe — this place is fantastic! I want to be here! It has been easy for me to spread the Gamecock gospel.
2001 Erik a Blanck: assistant professor, cell biology and anatomy, School of Medicine
Why USC: I am so fortunate that the School of Medicine gave me a chance to teach first-year students. I thought I was coming here to do physical therapy, but I fell in love with teaching in graduate school. I loved working with the students. I loved seeing the light bulb come on. Being in the classroom every day — that’s what’s kept me here. And I love Columbia. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
The thing about Carolina that I found to be surprising and attractive is still true today: USC is a big school with a small school feel. We are a big-time school with a national draw, but not so big that strangers won’t smile at you or hold the door. I would encourage new faculty and staff — and students — to have an entrepreneurial attitude. Constantly seek out ways to make USC better, work collaboratively with your colleagues to make it happen. We will all be better for it.
Rosemarie Booze: professor, Psychology
Qian Wang: professor, chemistry
Biggest surprise: How essential the university is to the state and the role USC plays in intellectual property and economic development.
Best moment: The champagne time we have after every Ph.D. student of mine successfully completes their dissertation defense — I have collected 12 bottles so far.
8 usctimes / January 2014
2005 Mary Anne Fitzpatrick: dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Most pleasant surprise: How open to change our faculty and staff are and how resilient they are. People in this college had to rethink everything as we created the new College of Arts and Sciences in 2005, and then had to deal with the terrible budget crisis of 2008. We’ve persevered together, and I think we’re creating the future of the university.
Marcia A . Yablon-Zug: associate professor, School of Law
One of my best moments was getting invited by the National Indian Child Welfare Association to be one of the plenary speakers at its annual meeting, recognizing the work I did on a highprofile American Indian child case.
2006 Dale Morris: administr ative assistant, Social Work
Best moment: I recently had lunch on the Horseshoe and heard someone calling my name. I turned around and it was my youngest son who is currently a student here at the university. This really made my day.
Speaking in an auditorium for 700 people on this I realized that my work doesn’t have just academic importance, but that it can also have real-world importance without having to sacrifice either one. I don’t like that dichotomy where either you’re an ivory tower academic or you’re a practical academic. If you don’t worry about those labels, you can be both. Your work can be theoretical and practical, and I have found that certainly with my Indian law scholarship.
Dawn Staley: Head coach, women’s basketball
Tanya Wideman-Davis: assistant professor, contempor ary dance and ballet
Biggest surprise: That I so quickly embraced the culture, because it’s a lot different than what I’m used to. I find myself enjoying it a lot more: the lifestyle, the pace of it. When I was in Philadelphia, I thought that was the only way to live. Then you come down here and you just have a different appreciation for family, time that you get to spend with family. It helps me give more as a coach because I do take time to enjoy life outside of my passion.
Proudest accomplishment: Getting my master’s. I came here as an adjunct and then became an instructor. Having an advanced degree, I was able to move into an assistant professor position. Getting my master’s also changed the way that I teach. I’m better able to express myself and my art to my students so that they can figure out their own artistic purpose.
Vol. 25, No.1 9
2010 Far aign Smith: Patrolman, USC Police
Biggest professional challenge: The people I come into day-to-day contact with are still in the learning process and are still creating their opinion about the world and the people in it. It’s important to me to build and create a positive image, not only for USC but for all law enforcement officers — to represent humanity, integrity, excellence and accountability.
Pavel Ortinski: assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience
Two of the most important factors in my job search were a collaborative research environment and a supportive department. The Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience at USC’s School of Medicine ranked very high on the list with respect to both of those issues.
2011 Lemuel Watson: dean, College of Education
Best moment: When you’re working with faculty and everything just clicks and you realize together that you’re all moving in the same direction — that’s what it’s all about. At a recent retreat with language and literacy faculty, after asking ourselves some hard questions we all felt inspired and were glad that we had a common vision for the future.
One of the things that struck me during my interviews for the position was how the faculty in the department would show me their labs and then walk me through the labs of other faculty without much of a second thought. This would have been construed as an intrusion and an offense in some of the other places I’ve been.
2012 David Leggett: sophomore , Carolina Scholar
Advice for new students: First, try sweet tea — it’s a beautiful thing. Secondly, know that Carolina has a spot for everyone. While our size may be intimidating at first, it truly allows for members of our community to find others just like them and to thrive. The only way you’ll find those niches is to put yourself out there and dive into the community available at the university.
Also, Columbia is a great town, the department is very welcoming, the people in general are very friendly, and coming from Philadelphia, where it’s in the 20s right now, I can’t complain about the South Carolina weather, either.
2013 Jancy Houck: vice president for development and alumni relations
Why USC? It was that personal warmth that I felt from everybody here and the enthusiasm that everyone displayed for the university. It’s more than just that school spirit. It’s that positive vibe that I felt from everybody that the university was in a great place and getting better all the time. This is a great time to be at the university. That made it irresistible.
10 usctimes / January 2014
Soup & Salad Describe your own media consumption — do you prefer print or online? KRF: If we’re talking about news media,
I read mostly online. I think magazines are mainly where it’s at in print. Newsweek may have folded, and Time is suffering, but we still have many high-end news magazines that provide informative long-form analytical narratives or investigative work. AP: Definitely more online than print, especially with Twitter — you get a lot of news that way. With magazines, I read the Atlantic and Wired in print. But my demographic, students — we tend to read online.
Are We Dead Yet?
Newsprint has been in trouble since the dawn of the Digital Age. Now, with the advent of social media, tablets and the ubiquitous smartphone — any of which can plug us into a universe of multimedia content instantaneously and typically for free — the future of print appears blurrier than ever. But could newsprint disappear altogether? And should we let it? And if it ever did disappear, what might disappear with it? USC Times invited three of Carolina’s best and brightest — a media historian, a news editor alumnus and a student journalist — to explore exactly those questions over lunch at McCutchen House. What follows is a small taste of that conversation. By Craig Brandhorst
My own habits for news media are pretty aggressively online and Twitter-driven. However, for local issues that’s not always the case.
This month’s three
Dan Cook, ’90 political science Editor, Free Times
Kathy Roberts Forde Associate professor and media historian, School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Austin Price, ’14 visual Communications Online editor, The Daily Gamecock
Vol. 25, No.1 11
Coffee & Dessert If online can do everything print does and then some, is print even worth saving?
Online writing is about keeping people’s attention. Attention spans are so short, and online it’s so easy to click on something else and move on. With print, you’re already dedicated to what’s inside.
Main Course Is there something wrong with print? AP: It’s just so much cheaper to publish online. And as a consumer, it’s so much easier to follow Twitter and go to the stories you want to read. But I don’t think there will cease to be print publications for a long time, especially magazines. DC: The 800-pound gorilla is daily publishing. At Free Times our circulation has not been hurt by the Internet — I think a lot of people still prefer to read us in print — but daily newspapers are in trouble. You’re going to see more and more cut back to something less than daily. I don’t see them going away entirely, but they have to evolve. A smaller and smaller segment of people will pick up a print publication every day when they can find a lot of what’s in it elsewhere, online. KRF: And some newspapers will die in the
years ahead. But actually, newspapers have been dying and expanding and contracting since the founding of the republic. I think what’s often lost in these conversations is a sense of historical perspective. What concerns me is that newspapers, historically, have been our best platforms for watchdog journalism, investigative reporting and reporting on global affairs. Now that the business model has been re-formed dramatically, there’s been a profound retrenchment. I’m worried less about print going away than this kind of reporting going away. That’s something important that we’ve got to work out.
So has online media changed how journalists write or how readers read?
DC: Online, I like the freshness, the immediacy, the amount of information I get in exchange for not much time. With print, you can delve in. You’re entering this selfcontained world of a particular publication without the thousand distractions in your feed. You pick up the Economist and you’re like, “Okay, this is the Economist’s take on the world this week. I’m just going to absorb it for the next thirty minutes.” That’s what I like about print — absorbing one product, one perspective, something that holds your attention and has a unique value.
DC: The way headlines are written and the way Tweets are composed can drive a lot of traffic, but I’m kind of resistant to overhauling what we do based on those metrics. I’ve found that ultimately, if you put out quality content, whether it’s 100 words or 3,000 words, people will read it, even online.
Our ‘strong mayor’ piece was comprehensive reporting on a local issue that you would not find anywhere other than a local publication. The time-on-page was something like six or seven minutes, which is off the charts in terms of analytics. A normal visitor to our site is there for about two minutes, about double the industry average. So the quality and uniqueness of the content can be a countervailing trend against a dominant trend.
Print’s not dead, and it’s not going to die. Publications may become niche, sometimes very niche, maybe so much so that you feel like print’s dead, but it won’t be dead. History tells us that’s very unlikely.
KRF: Online, I can read a conversation
across different outlets. If there’s a topic that I’m deeply interested in, I’ll start one place and with hyperlinks read across a whole curriculum. With print — and Dan said it so well — I love that it’s this self-contained, curated material. I also like the comfort of holding a magazine, holding a newspaper. It’s a different aesthetic experience. I think there’s something there that we don’t quite understand.
Got a taste for intelligent conversation? Want a free lunch for yourself and two colleagues? RSVP with your Meet & Three idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 usctimes / January 2014
Mapping the ultimate network By Steven Powell
two images, one brain MRI images of an infant’s brain at different stages of development. White matter, which transmits information much more efficiently than gray matter, grows rapidly in babies. Orientation lines and data are in blue.
e’re on the threshold of a new era in understanding the human mind. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which doctors use to examine twisted knees, is revolutionizing the study of the brain. MRI maps the inner structures of brains in living people. That’s a distinct departure from even the recent past, when autopsies and guesswork were the order of the day. Compared to millimeter-level-resolution maps now possible with MRI, earlier approximations of a living person’s brain structure are crude indeed. A recent undertaking by John Richards and Jane Roberts, psychology professors who are among two of 20 faculty members in USC’s multidisciplinary Institute for Mind and Brain, illustrates the technology’s promise, particularly with autism. Richards, who for more than more than 35 years has studied attention in young children, has harnessed MRI technology to precisely track brain development in infants. Using structural MRI, he’s now able to pinpoint areas of the brain that are changing and infer how they contribute to an infant’s attention devoted to a face, object or sound. Richards and Roberts are working together to follow brain growth and behavioral development in infants with older siblings who have been diagnosed with autism. The younger siblings have an increased risk of a similar diagnosis later. They are thus preparing a database of detailed, individualized maps of developing infant brains — some of which may eventually contribute to an autism diagnosis. This basic research will help address the question of how brain structure might be associated with autism and related disorders. Depending on the results, it might lay the groundwork for a physical diagnosis of autism, rather than highly subjective behavioral tests. It might also provide the means of predicting the disorder, which is an important step in trying to prevent it. And this project is just a part of a wider spectrum of similar research. Highly detailed maps of brain structure in living individuals, recorded before and after injury, disease or even simply aging, should tell us a lot about how the brain operates — and where to start when we need to fix it.
The Institute for Mind and Brain comprises 20 faculty members from across campus, all focused on the study of the human brain. A new facility at 1600 Gervais St. houses several faculty offices, laboratory space and gathering areas for both organized and spontaneous discussions. The institute, directed by John Henderson, unifies the efforts of USC researchers addressing one of the most fundamental questions of human existence: How does the brain give rise to the mind?
For more information, visit mindandbrain.sc.edu.
Vol. 25, No.1 13
Q&A with Renee J. LeClair, clinical associate professor of biomedical sciences at USC School of Medicine Greenville
Why did you decide to become a professor? Teaching has not always been at the forefront of my career, but it is at the forefront of my personal passions.
You’ve been involved with the school’s Lifestyle Medicine Initiative. What led you to get involved? I am many things: educated, creative, athletic, mildly sarcastic and marginally stubborn; I am not passive. So when presented with the opportunity to teach in a method that is anything but passive, I reveled in it.
Why is this kind of teaching important? Sitting in my classroom are people with former educations or careers as nurses, political science majors, mothers/fathers, artists, engineers and pharmacists. Student-centered integrated teaching allows for the class and myself to benefit from each other’s expertise. For them to be good positive role models they have to reflect this in their lives.
How do you incorporate this into your curriculum? I initially helped students plant a garden here on campus. We have our first set of plants in the ground. In the classroom setting, I have integrated a long-term project for the M1 students that asked them to do a threeday dietary and exercise journal and evaluate this for deficiencies. This exercise is important to help them understand what they are asking patients to do when they ask them to make a lifestyle shift.
What do you like most about working at the Greenville medical school? I like that it is new — this brings both challenges and frustrations, but above all it gives an opportunity for you to make a difference on something small that has the potential to be something larger.
Around the System USC Aiken welcomes Brian Enter as senior university facilities director. Enter most recently served as supervisor for mechanical and civil design at Georgia Power. USC Beaufort has been awarded $40,000 to study toxic effects of rainfall in South Carolina’s coastal waters. School of Medicine Greenville teamed with Greenville Health System to open the nation’s first Human Performance Lab to be fully embedded into a cancer research and treatment program. USC Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center averaged 650 visitors per month in 2013. The center houses 1,300 pieces of Catawba, Cherokee and Paumunkey pottery. USC Salkehatchie basketball heats up in January as they begin region play. Visit USCSalkathletics.com for the schedule. USC Sumter will follow Columbia’s lead by promoting a Tobacco-Free Campus beginning in January. USC Union will open the doors to a new bookstore on Main Street in January and USC Union at Laurens will begin holding classes at its new campus location. USC Upstate artistic director and coordinator of music Tish Oney performed a holiday pops concert produced in conjunction with the Syracuse Symphoria in December 2013.
To learn more about the USC system, visit sc.edu/about/system_and_campuses.
“While it’s still in development, we’ve been given the opportunity by USC senior leadership to renovate the USC Law Center when it’s vacated. We’re currently moving forward with space planning sessions within the college for this exciting project.” — Brian J. Mihalik, dean of the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. (HRSM magazine, fall 2013)
“There are parts of our lives that are directly influenced by the native people that we might not even be aware of. For example, the universally loved Southern tradition of barbecue can trace its roots back to Native Americans.” — Stephen Criswell, director of Native American Studies at USC Lancaster.” (@UofSC)
“Some thought that our increased enrollment and climbing SAT scores were just good luck. But I know my team of administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni would agree with the old adage, ‘I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder we work, the more we have of it.’” — President Harris Pastides (Leading in an Era of Change: A Report to the Carolina Community, fall 2013)
“In a perfect world, children would never have to see the inside of the courtroom. But it happens all too frequently…We believe that, through this program, our graduates will be well prepared to handle these important cases and fight for the best possible outcome for each child.” — Danielle Holley-Walker, associate dean of academic affairs at USC’s School of Law, on the new Children’s Law Certificate program. (The Fine Print magazine, fall 2013)
“When kids repeat ninth grade, that’s a huge risk indicator for dropout. And when kids drop out, we know there can be serious long-term consequences such as unemployment and entry into the criminal justice system. So what can we do to intervene?” — Aidyn Iachini, assistant professor of social work (Breakthrough magazine, winter 2014)
“It was somewhat surprising to me, but my business, statistics, is absolutely center stage in the battle against health care fraud.” — Don Edwards, professor of statistics (Breakthrough magazine, winter 2014)
“Whenever we’re doing fundraising or anything, I always ask myself, ‘Are you doing this for some kind of reward? Are you doing this to advance your own career? Or are you doing this for the students?’” — Scott Price, professor of piano pedagogy, on his work with autistic children (Carolinian magazine, winter 2014)
“My experience at USC shaped me, it made me the man I am right now. The way I perceive the world, the way I treat others and the way I want to be treated came from my experience at USC as a student.” — Xi “Joe” Chen, ’13, Ph.D. political science, political affairs officer for the United Nations mission in Kosovo.” (@UofSC)
“The hardest part of building Cocky is getting the scale right. Cocky’s a little out of proportion from a sculpting standpoint. I know how big a person’s head and hands and feet should be. Cocky’s head is 36 inches in circumference. It’s ridiculous.” — Robert Allison, ’78, ’82, the sculptor commissioned to design USC’s new Cocky sculpture. (@UofSC)
“Our goal is to have a diverse tree population so that everything won’t be wiped out if something strikes. We wouldn’t want to repeat what happened in the early 1900s when Dutch elm disease wiped out a large portion of the trees on the Horseshoe.” — USC arborist Kevin Curtis. (@UofSC)
“You’re given an item and you’ve got to put all that information in a catalogue so other people can understand it. It’s a great job for people who like putting things in order.” — Kathleen McCallister, librarian, on cataloging the newly acquired W. Graham Arader III Collection of natural history watercolors, woodcuts, engravings, lithographs and maps. (@UofSC)
“One of our earlier projects had almost a 17to-1 return on investment — and that’s just over the duration of the research. Going forward, the cost avoidance will really add up.” — Travis Edwards, mechanical engineering graduate student working as a research assistant in USC’s Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) Laboratory. (@UofSC)
“I am a first-generation college student, from a blue-collar background, but knowledge and art were always something that were taken very seriously. My parents and both sets of my grandparents drove me to (music) lessons and attended every performance, from middle school band on up.” — recent doctoral graduate Andrew Allen, the first participant in Carolina’s Presidential Fellows program to complete his degree. (@UofSC)
“I guess if the site were not so chopped up it would be a daunting task to dig it all, but because it’s so chopped up, it’s going to be a daunting task to figure out where to dig. There may only be 30 percent of the site that’s remained untouched, but we have to find that 30 percent.” — Archaeologist Chester DePratter discussing the excavation of a Civil War-era prisoner of war camp on the grounds of the South Carolina State Hospital. (@UofSC)
“I don’t think you have to produce to be an artist. For me, it has more to do with the way one looks at the world, relates to it and feels the desire for expression.” — Kirkland Smith, ’90, artist (Carolinian magazine, winter 2014)