USC Trojan Family Magazine Spring 2021

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Labor of Love Who cares for you when you’re taking care of your loved ones?


The game goes on despite COVID-19, thanks to rigorous safety protocols. USC Athletics had to reimagine how studentathletes trained for competition under new county and conference rules and guidelines. This spring, 19 of the university’s 21 Division I teams are training and competing at the same time—a first for USC Athletics.



The magazine of the

University of Southern California ————————————— E DI TO R-I N- CHI EF

Alicia Di Rado


Jane Frey


Elisa Huang


Eric Lindberg


Mary Modina


K Selnick


Susanica Tam


Gus Ruelas


Rod Yabut ————————————— DE SI GN AND PRO DU CT IO N

Pentagram ————————————— CO NT RI BUTO RS

When I read Beth Newcomb’s article in this issue on caregiving during the pandemic (pg. 30), I was touched and inspired. Newcomb interviewed Jason Trujillo, a law school student and father of two who served as caregiver to his ailing 86-year-old father-inlaw. Trujillo’s daily juggling act resonated with me, and it will no doubt ring true to many of you. This winter, as I hunted down COVID-19 vaccination appointments for my aging parents, I gave thanks for the flexibility to drive across Los Angeles to take them to the doctor. Many Americans must balance similar duties with long hours as essential workers. Some also have to help children with homework. Others cook meals for mom or dad as they look for a job or try to keep their business afloat. Trujillo faced his own challenges and made a tough choice: He put his law education on hold to become a full-time caregiver. People like him get little attention for their sacrifices, but USC researchers and staff see them. That’s why these USC health advocates make it their mission to support caregivers, whether they’re recommending changes in health policy or working one-on-one with families in L.A. During this pandemic, USC Trojan Family Magazine salutes the alumni, faculty and staff who care for the most vulnerable—as well as those who care for these caregivers.

Russ Ono

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Alicia Di Rado Editor-in-Chief USC Trojan Family Magazine


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The Sandwich Generation

Steve Cimino

Zara Greenbaum


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Seen and Heard Stories of Trojan life from mail, email, social media and the news.

A suspected cancer cell detected in blood using “liquid biopsy” techniques

Five Things You Need to Know From aspirin to quinine, many medicines originally came from plants.





News Uncovering the impostor inside; mental health resources expand; and a pharmacy postdoc tackles traumatic brain injury. Changing Tides By Katharine Gammon Hormone therapy gets renewed attention for heart health. Road to Redemption By Alexandra Zarchy A former gang member gets a second chance with the help of USC law students—and rehabilitated dogs.





A Shot at a Future

To fight a pandemic, Keck Medicine doctors follow the science. By Candace Pearson

43 Alumni News

A community builder receives the alumni association’s top honor; a love of learning runs through the Shimada family; and reporter Rachel Scott (pictured) asks hard questions in the nation’s capitol.

64 Back in Time

Public transit keeps the University Park Campus connected to downtown and beyond.


Detective Work

Innovative tech and some bright ideas illuminate hidden diseases earlier than ever. By Constance Sommer


Labor of Love

Caregivers struggle to navigate pandemic life—and beyond. By Beth Newcomb


The Right to Thrive

Advocating for the vulnerable is their way of life. By Eric Lindberg usc trojan family


Musings about Trojan life and USC Trojan Family Magazine from mail, email and the online world.

The Professor Is In After four years as USC’s official wellness dog, Professor Beau Tirebiter retired to emeritus status last August, bidding farewell to the USC community via his Instagram page (@beau_usc). Beau broke ground as the country’s first full-time university wellness dog, quickly becoming a fixture around the University Park Campus. He dropped into classes and offered “office hours” for students in need of stress relief. Not long after Beau announced his retirement, clues appeared on his Instagram about a possible four-legged successor—and students started buzzing. USC Student Health soon revealed a new wellness dog: Professor Rumi Tirebiter. Rumi recently completed his positive reinforcement training through the Canine Good Citizen program. Once campus reopens, he’ll be ready to welcome back students with a friendly wag of his tail. When he’s not making friends in classrooms and on the quad, he’ll work with student health counselors to offer emotional support for Trojans experiencing anxiety, homesickness, stress and more.


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Helping Hands USC Marshall junior Troy Bonde and USC Price sophomore Winston Alfieri had an idea: Why not combine two of the most sought-after safety items during the COVID19 pandemic—hand sanitizer and infrared thermometers—into one product? They began selling their efficient, contactless design through their company, NextPace Ventures. The Thermo-Sanitizer displays a user’s body temperature as it dispenses a dose of liquid or gel. Featured on ABC7 (KABC-TV) Eyewitness News, the young entrepreneurs have sold more than 1,800 units and donated more than 500 gallons of sanitizer to schools and businesses across Los Angeles County.

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GIVING PEOPLE THEIR SHOT When mass vaccinations for COVID-19 began in Los Angeles County, Trojans jumped into action. Richard Dang, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, led an effort last fall for the USC School of Pharmacy to help administer 1,000 flu vaccines a day at Lincoln Park, located in a predominately Latino neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles hit hard by COVID-19. Then, in January, a mass vaccination site opened at Dodger Stadium, and many pharmacy school alumni volunteered to staff clinic booths. “There is a strong sense of Trojan spirit here,” says Dang, pictured, third from right. “We won’t rest until everybody is vaccinated.” Keck Medicine of USC also inoculated community members in a drive to combat disparities in COVID-19 prevention and care. Offering shots to nearly 500 people ages 65 and older on Los Angeles’ Eastside in February, Keck Medicine health professionals reached many Angelenos from Latino and Black communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. “This is only the first step,” says Felipe Osorno, executive administrator of continuum of care operations and value improvement. “We will continue to develop ways to tackle deeply rooted health care inequities.” The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and other media outlets featured the efforts by students, alumni and staff and faculty members.


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Nature’s Nurture

Plants can hurt us (we see you, poison oak), but they can also heal. Many of modern medicine’s powerful drugs, like aspirin, trace their roots back to leaves, bark and flowers. Here are five quick things you should know about the link between plants and health, with a hat tip to the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC School of Pharmacy.

Coffee could do you good. Drinking as little as a cup a day appears to reduce colon cancer risk, according to USC research, and a 2020 study found benefits for metastatic colon cancer patients, too. Decaf or high-octane? Either seems to work.



Eating foods high in potassium, like avocados, bananas and sweet potatoes, could be as critical to controlling high blood pressure as cutting back on table salt. “Eating a high-potassium diet is like taking a diuretic,” says Keck School of Medicine’s Alicia McDonough.




Resveratrol—found in blueberries, cranberries and grapes—might help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In lab tests, the chemical helps break down a substance called beta-amyloid in cells. Betaamyloid plaques are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Results in a lab don’t guarantee success in people, but USC scientists have been part of early clinical trials examining the compound.

Carrots contain ferulic acid, and green tea offers epigallocatechin-3-gallate. When combined, these ingredients reversed Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in lab models. The early results are spurring more research at USC. HERBAL HELPER

An over-thecounter herbal hangover cure may ease headaches and protect the liver. Dihydromyricetin, also known as ampelopsin, comes from the Japanese raisin tree. USC School of Pharmacy investigators have found it helps purge alcohol, reduces inflammation and more.

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USC student-athletes have a long tradition of service to the community. Water polo players Bayley Weber (left) and Verica Bakoc continue the commitment, filling gift bags for children in South Los Angeles.

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Life Guard Timely health advice protects a young cancer survivor’s hopes of starting a family. Aviana D’Souza remembers picking out names for her kids before she reached high school. That’s how much she wanted a family of her own one day. But in her early 20s, her doctor told the cancer survivor something that turned her dreams into doubts. D’Souza had completed eight rounds of chemotherapy and two weeks of radiation when she was 11 to send her stage

4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma into remission. She had no idea the treatment that saved her life might affect her ability to get pregnant. “It was not at all on my radar,” she says. “When he brought that up, it was a blow. There was some self-pity—here’s another thing I have to deal with because I had cancer.” D’Souza isn’t alone in facing unexpected challenges as a young cancer survivor. Each

year, more than 70,000 people in their teens, 20s or 30s are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. With advances in treatment, many of them recover. But the impact on their lives sometimes lingers, from delays in their education and career to ongoing health concerns, including infertility. Fortunately, D’Souza has an expert on her side: David Freyer, a pediatrics professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He’s part of a team of specialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center who help young people navigate life after surviving cancer in adolescence or young adulthood. As she grew up, D’Souza leaned on the team regularly for support with her physical and mental health and overall well-being. But she is especially grateful that Freyer encouraged her in 2012 to see a fertility specialist. She learned she might only have a few years left to become pregnant. She wasn’t ready for kids yet, and freezing her eggs came with an $11,000 price tag that was out of reach. Thankfully, her boyfriend at the time insisted on paying for the procedure. Now married, she and her husband, John, recently started trying for kids. D’Souza acknowledges the journey will be tough—after getting pregnant last year, she had a miscarriage. “The heartbreak is real and still pretty raw, but the good thing is I actually got pregnant naturally,” the 31-year-old says. “That was not expected. It also made me even more happy to have a backup plan.” She says they will try for a natural pregnancy again soon, but it brings them peace of mind to know her frozen eggs are available if needed, thanks to Freyer’s timely advice. “I cannot be more grateful for the care and help and attention that he and his team give me,” she says. “He is a part of my family and my heart. We are patient and doctor on paper, but the emotional weight and place he holds in my life is so much more.” ERIC LINDBERG

A Keck Medicine of USC doctor helped give Aviana and John D'Souza family planning options before it was too late.


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Mission Control An innovative satellite design propels USC Viterbi students to victory.

Right now, more than 2,600 satellites orbit Earth. Ranging from as big as a school bus to as tiny as a Rubik’s Cube, they’re used for research, communication, imaging and more. The smaller satellites are of growing interest to engineers, who see the benefits of using less fuel to launch light, easy-to-assemble equipment into space. But a major obstacle has been figuring out how to control them after launch. How do you equip something the size of a child’s toy with a propulsion system to move through space? A team of students from USC’s Laboratory for Exploration

and Astronautical Physics came up with a winning idea—literally. Their design for a small-scale propulsion system earned the USC Viterbi School of Engineering students first place in the 2020 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Small Satellite Poster Competition. Their proposed thrusters use innovative electrostatic technology and ionic liquid, a propellant that can withstand the extreme conditions of space without evaporating. With these lightweight, customizable thrusters, engineers could direct small satellites to the right orbit. Location matters: Orbit too low to the atmosphere and they could burn up, but going too high could render them space trash. The student team, which includes doctoral students and undergrads, works to optimize in-space propulsion devices in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory. AV N I S H A H

Small Wonder Scientists look for colorectal cancer cures on a postage stamp-size chip. Despite advances in early detection and treatment, colorectal cancer remains the third-leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women in the U.S. But promising new therapies might be on the horizon, thanks to innovative technology from USC scientists. Experts from the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC will use $2.74 million from the National Cancer Institute to develop a “cancer-on-a-chip” model. The approach creates a tiny 3D replica of living human colon cells on a flexible membrane, or chip, about the size of a postage stamp. Scientists could use those cells to study how

colorectal cancer spreads, determine why it might resist certain treatments and test ways to prevent or delay tumor growth—all without putting patients at risk. The researchers’ work is critical. About 4% of Americans will develop colorectal cancer at some point in their life, according to the American Cancer Society, and nearly 150,000 cases are diagnosed each year. The researchers include cancer cell biologist Shannon Mumenthaler; biostatistician Dan Ruderman; medical oncologist Heinz-Josef Lenz, co-director of the USC Norris Center for Cancer Drug Development, the J. Terrence Lanni Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer Research and codirector of the USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery; and biophysicist Scott E. Fraser, Provost Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering and director of science initiatives.

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Curious about the trial? Visit to learn more.

Changing Tides A new study may change views on hormone replacement therapy and its role in women’s health. Doctors used to routinely prescribe hormone replacement therapy to women to ease discomfort as they approach menopause, for problems ranging from night sweats to irritability. But in the early 2000s, its use plummeted. Today, USC medical researcher Howard Hodis is driven by a singular goal: to prove the benefits of hormone replacement therapy and undo the harm he says has been done to women’s health over the past 20 years. He runs a multimillion-dollar, National Institutes of Health-funded study to see how hormone replacement therapy affects women’s thinking and cardiovascular health. Hormone replacement therapy contains the female hormone estrogen, restoring some of women’s estrogen levels that decline as they age. Besides fighting hot flashes, it helps prevent bone loss and fractures. Over 20 years, though, large studies observing the health of women also noticed something else: Those on the therapy had fewer heart attacks, the leading killer of American women. “Hormone replacement therapy is linked to cutting the No. 1 cause of death by about half for the women who opted to take it,” says Hodis, who holds the Harry J. Bauer and Dorothy Bauer Rawlins Professorship in Cardiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Then came the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002. This randomized clinical trial made news when it suggested that participants who received hormone replacement therapy had an increased risk of breast cancer with no benefits to their heart health. Doctors began shying away from the therapy, as did many women.

SOONER IS BETTER The studies that found hormone therapy lowered the risk of heart attack involved tens of thousands of women between the ages of 35 and 55. They started to take the medication when they first began to feel uncomfortable or as they reached menopause. In the Women’s Health Initiative study, though, the investigators tested a much older population with an average age of 63. That’s more than a decade after women typically reach menopause. This led to a new idea: The therapy might protect heart health with less risk of breast cancer if women take it before they turn 60. For hormone therapy to slow down heart disease, a woman’s blood vessels need to be clean and healthy, Hodis says. If vessels are already diseased—which can happen once women are well beyond menopause—estrogen won’t help much. Hodis and his colleagues investigated this theory in a study that included hundreds of healthy postmenopausal women. Their results—published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016—showed promise. Women who started hormone therapy within six years of menopause had less hardening of their arteries, which translates to lower heart attack and stroke risk. But it didn’t help women in the study who were already 10 years past menopause. Researchers are still trying to understand why hormone therapy is more effective in women closer to menopause, but Hodis has a theory. Estrogen sends signals to cells by interacting with what are called receptors. Imagine that estrogen is a key and a receptor is a keyhole. “The further a woman gets

Researchers saw that women on the therapy had fewer heart attacks.

from menopause, the more the keyhole disappears,” he says. “You can have all the keys you want, but if they can’t get into the lock and turn it, the cells can’t respond to the estrogen.” SEARCH FOR TRUTH Hodis is conducting more studies into why hormones might fight brain fog, inflammation and other changes that happen alongside menopause. His newest investigation tests a combination of conjugated estrogen and bazedoxifene, which isn’t a hormone but works like one in the body. Hodis believes it could protect against uterine and possibly breast cancer. Participants in his Advancing Postmenopausal Preventive Therapy trial are women aged 40 to 59 within six years of menopause. Half will get the medication, and the other half will receive a placebo. The researchers will follow them for three years and see if the medication reduces artery hardening and cognitive decline. Hodis is hopeful that the results will back up his timing theory and change minds about the benefits of hormone replacement therapy for heart health. Before the Women’s Health Initiative study in 2002, 25% of U.S. women were on the treatment. Today, it’s only about 4%. That has implications for quality of life and longevity, given that 53% of U.S. women die from cardiovascular disease. Hormone therapy also helps prevent bone loss, which is critical for older women. One in 10 women who break their hip after age 70 die. “Hormone therapy has gotten a bad rap,” Hodis says. “It is important to appreciate that adverse outcomes reported from the Women’s Health Initiative for hormone replacement therapy—breast cancer, blood clotting—are rare events, especially when women start the therapy close to menopause. Without proper context, the misperceptions have far outpaced reality.” K AT H A R I N E G A M M O N

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The Impostor Inside What do you do when your biggest doubter is yourself?


Constant feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, along with downplaying successes and accomplishments. It’s obviously normal to experience these feelings occasionally, but impostor syndrome goes far beyond that. In the extreme, individuals may be paralyzed with debilitating fears and paranoia of being outed as a fraud.


Pay attention to how someone talks about themselves. They may be abnormally fatalistic and cynical about their successes, both current and future. When you suggest they’d be the perfect candidate for a job, for example, they’ll lament that they don’t fit every single requirement of the job description.


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For USC students, many of whom graduated at the top of their class, it can be jarring to meet so many new people who seem smarter and more accomplished. You start questioning your own success. Now, couple these insecurities with what we see on social media. All of this is exponentially worse for students who haven’t followed the traditional prescribed timeline: starting college after high school and graduating in four years. When you feel out of step with your peers, you feel left out, unworthy and unsuccessful.

compliment—literally say it out loud if you want—and remind yourself of everything you’re good at. Therapy has also helped me tremendously. It’s very important that faculty members and parents acknowledge that impostor syndrome is real and share their own examples if they can. We can’t just give them trite, empty platitudes like “chin up” or “you’ll get over it.” We also need to remind people that social media is a highlight reel and in no way representative of people’s real lives.

HOW CAN STUDENTS COMBAT THE FEELING? HOW CAN FACULTY MEMBERS OR PARENTS OFFER SUPPORT? Journal and try to notice your thinking patterns. When those feelings of selfdoubt creep in, pause. Then, pay yourself a

Jacqueline Liu

spring 2021


Jacqueline Liu ’03, MS ’11 holds three degrees, is vice president at marketing agency The Pollack Group and teaches classes at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. But she still struggles with “impostor syndrome”—selfdoubt and feelings that her achievements and skills aren’t good enough. People with this persistent anxiety often feel inadequate and undeserving of their accomplishments. It’s a common issue for today’s university students, especially those in the first generation of their family to go to college. For Liu, the fears surfaced during her first job after graduation: a highly competitive workplace that made her question her credentials. Although she has made great strides in the ensuing years, she confesses that scrolling LinkedIn can still make her feel overwhelmed by her peers’ successes. To help others grappling with similar feelings, Liu opened up about her experience at a recent USC Annenberg event, “Coffee Connects: Coping with Impostor Syndrome.” Many students and faculty colleagues reached out afterward to share their own stories. She spoke with USC writer Margaret Crable about why this type of anxiety is so prevalent today.

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Promising Development


A $10 million gift supports USC’s future real estate leaders. In the complex world of real estate, knowing how to do critical research, analyze market conditions, assess financial reports and negotiate deals is a must. Wil Smith MRED ’99 uses these skills and more every day as founder and principal of Greenlaw Partners, a real estate firm he established in 2003. He honed his expertise at the USC Price School of Public Policy, where he earned a master’s in real estate development. Now he is helping the next generation of USC students gain the knowledge that helped him lead his company to more than $5 billion in real estate transactions. Smith’s donation of $10 million creates the USC Price Wilbur H. Smith III Department of Real Estate Development, the school’s first departmental naming gift. Scholarships funded by the gift will go to undergraduate and graduate students who specialize in real estate. The donation will also ensure new professional development opportunities for students and support faculty research projects, helping the school attract top real estate scholars. Smith also shares his insights at USC as a frequent guest lecturer and mentor for graduate students. He is a member of the executive committee of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, the USC Price Board of Councilors and the USC Price School Real Estate Advisory Board.

Music Man

A Trojan alum steps up to lead The Spirit of Troy, the marching band that first inspired him. For years, Jacob Vogel MM ’11 has helped create memorable musical arrangements for the Trojan Marching Band’s performances and halftime shows. He also earned his master’s degree in music from the USC Thornton School of Music. But he credits his USC journey to his wife, Jessica Vogel ’10, MSW ’12. The two met at Chapman University as undergraduates before she transferred to USC and joined the Trojan Marching Band as an alto saxophone player. Vogel was creating an athletic band for Chapman University and she encouraged him to reach out to USC for tips on music arrangements. Anthony Fox, at that time the band’s associate director and arranger, became Vogel’s mentor. Vogel went on to become the director of Chapman University’s band before being accepted to graduate school at USC.

While studying, Vogel took the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and assistant arranger for the band. When Fox retired, Vogel stepped into his role for four years before being appointed as band director in January. Vogel plans to focus on developing a student-centered program that helps all band members have a fun and equitable experience while honoring many of the traditions the band has built over the last 140 years. “The Trojan Marching Band is essential to the culture of the university,” says Vogel, who also holds an academic appointment at USC Thornton. “It’s not just about performing for events and supporting our USC student-athletes. We are the heart and soul of USC, for the students and for the greater Trojan Family.” G R AY S O N S C H M I D T usc trojan family


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Road to Redemption A former gang member finds hope with the help of USC law students—and by training traumatized dogs. On the day he was denied release by the parole board, Charles was ready to surrender any hope of a life beyond his cell walls. Sentenced to life behind bars for a crime committed as a teen, he had already spent two decades in state prison in Lancaster, California. With no future, he felt alone, discouraged and forgotten. That’s when the dog wandered across the prison yard and began gently licking his ear. “The dog didn’t judge,” Charles says. “He loved me for who I was.” The canine was a visitor from Paws For Life, a program that seeks second chances for both animals in local shelters and people in prison. The small moment of unconditional love gave Charles hope that his life meant something. It put him on a road of reflection and healing. It also led him to his freedom. LAWS OF SURVIVAL Charles’ childhood was filled with violence, suffering and abuse. To support three younger siblings, he joined a gang and started selling drugs in South Los Angeles at age 12. “I was a person who could rationalize taking another person’s life,” he says.

“The dog didn’t judge. He loved me for who I was.” He did take a life. A drug deal gone wrong led to his murder conviction and a life sentence at 17. (USC Trojan Family is using only his first name for privacy.) In prison, he spent years fueled by anger and distrust and clung to gangs and violence. But as he grew older, Charles began to question if this was what he wanted for himself. He began to advise young men looking to


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escape a life of violence. They looked up to him, but he felt he was “steering them wrong” as long as he kept his gang affiliation. “The day that I walked away from the gang was the first time that I ever slept peacefully,” Charles says. One week later, he went to a workshop sponsored by the Post-Conviction Justice Project, or PCJP. The legal clinic run by the USC Gould School of Law works with people serving adult life sentences for crimes they committed as youths. Since 1981, the clinic—led by co-directors Heidi Rummel and Michael Brennan and staffed by USC law students and supporters—has helped more than 150 people with life sentences gain their freedom and assisted more than 4,000 clients with other legal challenges. A GLIMMER OF HOPE Anna Faircloth-Feingold, one of the clinic’s supervising attorneys, recalls Charles had a deep desire to change. “He was in a maximum-security yard, where it was very difficult to do the right thing,” she says. “And Charles had done that, despite the odds and despite his environment. His commitment to rehabilitation and the authentic nature of his change were very clear from the beginning.” Charles simply remembers the support he felt: “They saw in me what I didn’t see in myself.” PCJP accepted Charles for representation, and law students and professors began to prepare for an intense parole hearing. Until that day, his murder conviction was his only story. PCJP experts helped him show them the rest of his life—his upbringing, healing and humanity. He had to relive traumatic experiences to show the parole board, and himself, that he was worth releasing. During the hearing, he was honest, remorseful and vulnerable. The decision came back: parole denied. Returning to the prison yard, Charles felt defeated. His carefully nurtured hope had vanished. Then came the gentle licks at his ear.

HEALING ALL AROUND Charles felt kinship with the dogs in Paws For Life. Like him, they had fear-based aggression. They knew neglect and abandonment. They also craved respect and dared to trust in those who believed they could change. He became a dog trainer, helping rehabilitate many animals. Each adopted dog gave Charles a sense of pride and reminded him of the power of recovery and forgiveness. It also gave him a new perspective years later, when he was granted another parole hearing. “It’s God’s plan. If I hadn’t gotten denied the last time, I would have never gotten spring 2021


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involved in the dog program,” Charles recalls telling Faircloth-Feingold. “I would have never met all of these people who offered me jobs. I would have never realized that working with dogs was my true passion in life. It all comes full circle.” As Charles faced the parole board again, he had a new supporter: Ashley Smith, a second-year PCJP law student. “Charles is just such a special human,” Smith says. “He believed in me just as much as I believed in him.” Once again, they did their meticulous prep work, and Charles told the parole board his

story. He also reflected on the victim’s loved ones. “I deprived them of so much,” Charles told the panel. “Despite how authentic and heartfelt my expression of sorrow may be, it won’t undo the atrocities of my actions.” The decision this time: parole granted. Last May, Charles walked through the prison gate, where Smith waited with a welcoming smile. “The air was so different just 20 feet outside the gate that contained me for 27 years,” he says. Today, he’s a trainer with Paws For Life, fulfilling his dream to be “the best dog trainer out there.” He always picks the toughest dogs.

He can see the goodness in them, just like his friends saw in him. “One word that I don’t use lightly ever in life is the word ‘friend.’ Those are my friends. Heidi, Ashley, Anna, Mike,” he says, naming the PCJP advocates who helped him earn his freedom. “They just have a way of seeing what you don’t see in yourself and helping you bring it out.” ALE X ANDR A Z ARCHY Editor’s note: Writer Alexandra Zarchy is a student at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. usc trojan family


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Peace of Mind

USC adds dozens of mental health experts to help students cope with anxiety and stress.


USC students have more access than ever to mental health services through the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

85 psychiatrists, therapists and other experts


new faculty members in counseling and mental health services

18 new experts in psychiatric and behavioral health care

Mental health experts across the country have seen a steady rise in anxiety, loneliness and mental health issues among college students in recent years. The pandemic has only intensified stress and depression for many young people already struggling with academic and social pressure. “While so many of our students have been resilient and led by example during this past year, they have also shared with us the kinds of reactions they are having: a sense of grief, loss and frustration,” says Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer for USC Student Health. The university has focused efforts on strengthening its student support resources to meet the growing need, including doubling the size of its mental health staff over the last three years. Programs like one-on-one “Let’s Talk” drop-in sessions and specialized workshops about sleeplessness, relationships and anxiety have moved online. Students seeking group and individual counseling services can make appointments for short-term visits and arrange for recommendations for open-ended therapy, available through the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services


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unit and other insurance-based practices. To help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation during the pandemic, the university’s Experience USC website connects students around the world to campus clubs, events, performances and one another. “We’re all here to make sure that our students and USC community are supported,” says Broderick Leaks, vice chair for student mental health in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. If you know any USC students who are struggling, tell them that resources are available to them, says Leaks, who also directs counseling and mental health services for USC Student Health. The specialists are there to listen during a challenging time “as we all try to figure this out together.”

23 weekly group counseling sessions on topics like bipolar disorder, social anxiety and eating disorders

To learn more about USC Student Health mental health services, go to studenthealth.usc. edu online. spring 2021

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Light Work Can sunlight break down a greenhouse gas into useful materials?

Face Time


A USC student’s top-selling book encourages kids to wear masks—and have fun. Though face masks have become part of our everyday lives, it can still be scary for children to see hidden faces—even familiar ones—everywhere they go. Kaitlyn Chu wanted to help ease their fears. The senior at the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation wrote Smiling From Ear to Ear, a children’s book that follows friendly animal buddies as they go about their day wearing masks out-

Carbon dioxide is an extremely sturdy molecule. That’s a problem for scientists who want to break apart the troublesome greenhouse gas and slow climate change. But USC researchers—along with a high school science enthusiast—might have discovered a promising, energy-efficient tool to do just that: the sun. Chemical engineers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering found that ultraviolet light can excite a molecule called oligophenylene. Exposing carbon dioxide to the excited molecule could make it much easier to convert the gas into useful plastics, medicines and more. Doctoral student Kareesa Kron led the research project, with supervision by Shaama Sharada, a WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professor who teaches chemistry and chemical engineering. One of the co-authors on their published research was Samantha J. Gomez, a senior at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. Gomez was part of the USC Young Researchers Program, which recruits high school students from underrepresented areas to participate in scientific research. Their research is timely, given the rising levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

We expel carbon dioxide when we breathe. It also forms in many other ways, like when plants rot, beer ferments and wood burns. As our population grows, we produce more of the gas, which contributes to the warming of our planet. “Carbon dioxide is notoriously hard to reduce, which is why it lives for decades in the atmosphere,” Sharada says. The team used high-powered computers for the study, a new approach to understanding the best way to weaken carbon dioxide. Gomez says it opened her eyes to a different side of science that rarely receives much public attention. “Traditionally, we are shown that research comes from labs where you have to wear lab coats and work with hazardous chemicals,” Gomez says. “I enjoyed that every day I was always learning new things about research that I didn’t know could be done simply through computer programs. “The firsthand experience that I gained was simply the best that I could’ve asked for, since it allowed me to explore my interest in the chemical engineering field and see the many ways that life-saving research can be achieved.” G R E TA H A R R I S O N

Chu’s book is “made with love.”

side, at school, in stores and more. “It’s made with love” for anyone who wants to make masks fun and inviting for young children, Chu says. She also offers a free virtual storytime reading for teachers who want to share the book’s message in their classrooms. All proceeds from the book benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign, Black Women in Visual Art and other youth organizations.

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Mind Matters Inspired by her father’s past, a USC postdoc seeks new treatments for traumatic brain injury. Caroline Black PhD ’20 scoots her chair in, straining to hear her dad speak from across the restaurant table. But even if they were outside the noisy eatery, she would still struggle to catch his words. Her dad suffers from vocal problems stemming from a decadesold head injury. “My dad is a pretty funny guy and likes to make people smile and laugh, so it’s hard to see him unable to fully express himself in these types of situations,” Black says. “And I know this has been a big struggle for him as well.” A former high school football player, Black’s father suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury, or TBI, when he was 17. He spent five weeks in a coma. It marked the end of his football career and the beginning of health issues that have spanned his life. “While I’m incredibly grateful my dad survived his TBI and is able to lead a relatively normal life—albeit with some lasting


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effects from the trauma—many of those who suffer moderate to severe brain injuries are not as fortunate,” Black says. Black can’t turn back the clock on her dad’s health problems. But her research as a USC doctoral student may offer treatment options for others. A TBI is a head injury that disrupts normal functions of the brain. It’s responsible for 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Side effects can be temporary or lifelong. They include impaired thinking or memory; vision, hearing or speech problems; personality changes and depression. To minimize the damage, it’s important for doctors to diagnose and treat patients within the first 60 minutes after the injury—the “golden hour.” But administering care in such a tight window is challenging, says Black, who is completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie in partnership with the USC School of Pharmacy. Cyclosporine A, an FDA-approved immunosuppressant used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, has shown promise in treating TBI. But it causes severe

side effects in other parts of the body. Black joined colleagues in USC’s chemistry department, the USC School of Pharmacy and the USC Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics to address this problem. They developed a two-part treatment. First, they linked cyclosporine A to another molecule that acts as a “molecular cage.” Inside this cage, the drug safely circulates in the body without causing side effects. Next, they developed an LED light system that could be put on a patient’s head. Imagine a rubber swim cap studded with LED lights, enabling doctors to shine near-infrared light into the brain. This low-energy light breaks down the molecular cage that encases the drug, releasing cyclosporine A where it is needed. Although it’s early days for this technology, Black says a portable version of the system could treat patients during the golden hour. “As an undergraduate, I was excited about the idea of making new drugs,” she says. “But at USC, I learned that drug discovery and drug delivery go hand in hand. You can have the most potent drug in the world, but if you can’t get it where you need it, it’s useless.” SAR AH NIGHTING ALE spring 2021


During her doctoral studies, Black was active in USC’s Women in Chemistry program. She also serves as co-president of the L.A. chapter of Graduate Women in Science. Both enabled her to grow as a scientist and mentor others in a supportive network.

Your Health Is Not On Hold Your health and safety matters most. If you’ve been putting off scheduling a medical visit, there is no reason to delay. To ensure your safety, we offer various ways to connect with our top doctors. From phone calls and video visits to in-office appointments, we’ll work with you to determine what’s best. That’s the Keck Effect.

(800) USC-CARE

© 2021 Keck Medicine of USC

KECK MEDICINE OF USC CONFRONTS THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC WITH A GUIDING MANTRA: TRUST THE SCIENCE. By Candace Pearson Illustrations by Johanna Goodman If there is one constant in the COVID-19 health crisis, it’s change. “The biggest challenge all along has been the unknowns—managing the many manifestations of this disease as it was spreading rapidly,” says Hugo R. Rosen, the Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Chair in Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “As a medical community, no one was really prepared for the scope of the problem or the natural history of the disease; for example, how long patients would need ventilatory support. However, we’ve learned from colleagues around the world and have a much greater grasp of the best clinical management.” Forced to make high-stakes decisions with rapidly evolving and often conflicting information, medical professionals at Keck Medicine of USC followed a simple rule: Trust the science and follow the data. It kept them grounded and optimistic at a difficult time. Although their work is far from done, here’s a look at how USC’s health experts tackled one of the biggest threats faced by modern medicine.

A STRICTER STANDARD It took scientists less than 12 months to speed from identifying the new coronavirus to developing and testing an effective vaccine. That smashes the previous record of four years, the time it took to create a vaccine against the mumps in the 1960s. The feat merits the often-used word “unprecedented.” But the appearance of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was “neither unprecedented nor unexpected,” says Edward Jones-López, a Keck School of Medicine infectious disease expert. “We’ve been waiting for the next pandemic for 30 to 40 years.” As soon as news broke in December 2019 that a potentially deadly virus had emerged in

Wuhan, China, scientists recognized the seriousness of the threat and scrambled to respond. “Two decades of research into developing robust vaccines safely—identifying the best targets, delivery methods, what we needed to do and how—crystallized in this moment in history,” Jones-López says. Neha Nanda was charged with drawing up protocols that would enable Keck Medicine to treat patients during the pandemic and ensure employees could work safely. As medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship, she embraced a guiding principle: “Whatever we do has to be based in scientific evidence.” She knew the situation would evolve as USC health experts figured out more about the virus. “We were learning things by the hour in the early days,” Nanda says. “This put to the test our nimbleness as a health system.” USC was one of the first medical centers in Los Angeles County to mandate face masks for everyone, whether in its clinics or offices. It was also among the first centers nationwide to implement COVID-19 testing for all people admitted or transferred to its hospitals. Nanda oversaw detailed battle plans that designated specific operating rooms, elevators and treatment areas for virus-positive patients and included buffer zones between COVID-19 and nonCOVID-19 sections. A team ensured a medical evaluation tent quickly rose outside Keck Hospital of USC to triage patients. Rod Hanners, Keck Medicine’s interim CEO, emphasized how seriously the health system viewed the situation: “Since the beginning, the safety of our staff, physicians and patients drove all our decisions. We were far more conservative with our health and safety protocols than required by regulatory and advisory organizations. A perfect example was maintaining a higher level of protection with the use of N95 respirators.” Keck Medicine faced the same shortages of personal protective equipment that initially plagued many medical centers. USC health officials also recognized the need to ramp up COVID-19 testing capabilities early on. The leadership team convened daily to develop strategies for these issues and others. Complicating decision-making, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on COVID-19 transmission fluctuated weekly. At one point, the federal agency said the virus was transmitted only by respiratory droplets that quickly fell to the ground. “We did not back off our belief this virus could be airborne and travel much usc trojan family


farther distances,” Nanda says. Later, the agency amended its advice. By spring 2020, with community infection rates rising, Nanda’s team tested more than 2,900 USC health workers in four weeks. Only 0.17% tested positive, compared to the average community rate of 5% to 8%. The safety measures were working. The team replicated its safety protocols at all Keck Medicine facilities. To further protect its front-line staff, Keck Medicine offered free temporary housing for employees who wanted to stay away from home to safeguard loved ones from possible exposure. It’s part of Keck Medicine’s Care for the Caregivers program, which also offers emotional and family support. Every day, health professionals could debrief with therapists and talk with counselors over the phone. “Our true north in all of this,” Hanners says, “has been the safety of our staff.” At the same time, Keck Medicine patients needed to continue seeking care for other medical issues. Keck Medicine ramped up telemedicine visits so patients could safely meet with doctors remotely. USC health professionals expect to complete more than 150,000 video visits with patients in the 2020-21 fiscal year, up from about 53,000 last year—and a dramatic increase from the nearly 300 such visits in 2018-19.


IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL As health administrators focused on staff and patient safety, finding a vaccine for COVID-19 became the holy grail for researchers. In late summer 2020, USC began enrolling volunteers in a multicenter clinical trial to test an experimental vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, a biopharmaceutical company. To bring the vaccine’s potential benefit to those most at risk of infection and complications, the team especially sought out participants who were “essential workers,” such as people in factories, meat-packing plants and warehouses. Before Oxford-AstraZeneca completed its clinical trial, two other vaccine makers— Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech—gained emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both vaccines started being administered in the U.S. But because they needed to be kept at supercold temperatures, their availability was limited. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at warmer temperatures, and the

United Kingdom began using it in December. Jones-López, co-principal investigator of the Oxford-AstraZeneca trial at USC, is concerned that the success of the initial vaccines will dampen interest in others, both in funding and participation. “It’s clear we’re going to need more vaccines and simpler vaccines if we’re going to get out of this pandemic,” he says. “This problem has to be addressed on a global basis.” One lesson Keck Medicine doctors have learned is that COVID-19 is more complex and can affect people much longer than originally thought. To make sure we have the best options to defeat the virus, they also continue to advance research on treatments. Last fall, USC recruited participants for a nationwide clinical trial of bamlanivimab, an experimental antibody drug for adults and children older than 12 at high risk of going to the hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic versions of natural antibodies—infection-fighting proteins made by the immune system that bind to viruses and prevent them from infecting cells. In early testing, the drug reduced hospitalization by 70%. It’s the first treatment to show promise for these high-risk patients.

ABOUT 1 OUT OF EVERY 10 COVID-19 PATIENTS AT KECK MEDICINE OF USC IS A LONG HAULER. Also of growing concern to doctors are “long haulers”—often people who have mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 but can’t shake the symptoms months after falling ill. Experts are puzzled as to why this virus hits previously healthy adults so hard. Patients might go from running a marathon one day to feeling too exhausted to get out of bed a few weeks later. “One theory is that their immune system went into overdrive to protect them from the virus,” says Rosen, who studies human immunology. “But once it has been eliminated, the immune system remains activated, and this causes problems.”

Mirroring nationwide stats, about 10% of the COVID-19 patients at Keck Medicine are long haulers, and most are between 20 and 40 years old. To help them, Keck Medicine launched L.A.’s first multidisciplinary recovery clinic in January. It’s open to patients whose symptoms linger past six weeks. A core team of a primary care physician, pulmonologist and physical therapist assesses each long hauler and develops an individual plan of care. Because lingering symptoms range from joint pain to brain fog, a navigator arranges appointments with specialists in areas such as cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, neurology, rheumatology, behavioral health, physical therapy and social work—all to treat the whole patient.

TOWARD A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD Even as Nanda directed hospitalwide safety efforts, she began treating people hospitalized with COVID-19. She remembers one early patient, a man in his 60s who grew sicker and sicker over five days, eventually ending up in the intensive care unit. Though his breathing became weak and ragged, after a week he began to get better. “I watched him leave the hospital to rejoin his family,” she says. That memory became a beacon of hope for Nanda through the dark days to come. Too many of her patients—on ventilators, separated from loved ones—had no happy ending. By December, however, it seemed like health care workers finally reached a turning point. Keck Medicine’s first Pfizer vaccine doses arrived. They brought with them optimism and relief for front-line employees, alongside detailed plans to roll out vaccinations for highrisk patients and community members. Other vaccine candidates are coming. More research will address unanswered questions about COVID-19. And as vaccinations, masks and other public health measures persist, infection rates will go down. Jones-López predicts more innovation throughout this year, fueled by a shared goal. Scientists are collaborative by nature, he says, and the unwavering global teamwork around COVID-19 has been inspiring to see. Fresh challenges will undoubtedly emerge. Keck Medicine officials plan to respond as they always do, Hanners says, “with a unified vision.” But experts warn that COVID-19 won’t be our last pandemic. “We may not live in a COVID-free world, but we might get to live in a COVID-reduced world,” Nanda says. “This is our opportunity to be better prepared for the next one.” usc trojan family






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An imaging technique called tractography can illuminate how signals move in the brain’s corticospinal tract.

lot has changed for Rachel Moayedi in two years. She has lost 20 pounds. Her “chipmunk cheeks,” as she calls them, have melted away. Oh, and the 33-year-old has a baby. Her sweet little girl, Sadie, arrived last autumn. The transformations in Moayedi’s life are thanks in large part to a cutting-edge machine that spotted a tumor in her brain. It took the powerful 7T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine at the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute to help radiologists pinpoint the small mass that other imaging scans hadn’t seen. Ever-stronger scanners like the one at USC represent the latest step toward a long-standing dream for doctors and scientists alike: being able to detect the earliest signs of disease from outside the body. In addition to MRI, USC physician-scientists are experimenting with technology that can spot single cancer cells in the bloodstream, sense the first signs of an impending heart attack and more. It’s all meant to keep people happy, healthy and whole. Just ask Rachel Moayedi.



SPOT TING DISEASES HIDING IN THE BRAIN Despite years of infertility treatments, Moayedi couldn’t get pregnant and no one was sure why. But looking back, she says, that wasn’t the only thing wrong with her body. “I had these cheeks, like chipmunk cheeks, that were always red,” she says. “I had this pouch on my belly that was always soft and wouldn’t go away.” No matter how carefully she ate, she gained weight. She bruised surprisingly easily. And she always felt tired. Then one day in 2019, her acupuncturist asked if anyone had checked her thyroid levels. So began an odyssey that had Moayedi zigzagging among doctors, laboratories and MRI scanners. She learned her thyroid levels were irregular. Her cortisol—a stress hormone—was sky high. Her own internet research led her to believe she might have Cushing’s disease. The condition can occur when a benign tumor in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ in the brain, causes the gland to secrete too much adrenocorticotropic hormone. That, in turn, triggers the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol, which can lead to many of the symptoms Moayedi experienced. But in April 2019 when she underwent an MRI scan in San Diego, where she lives, the results were inconclusive. “Tiny pituitary microadenoma cannot be excluded,” read the report. In other words, the existing imaging technology wasn’t powerful enough to see a small mass—or rule it out. Her husband refused to accept that ambivalent result and began researching other options. “He said: ‘We want you to be seen by a specialist, people who see this [condition] all day, every day and know what they are doing,’” Moayedi recalls. Then he spotted a mention of USC’s 7T MRI scanner. The “T” stands for tesla—not the car brand but rather a unit of measurement used to quantify the strength of a magnetic field. The average MRI strength is three teslas, or 3T. The 7T MRI “is a leap forward in terms of resolution,” says brain scientist Arthur W. Toga, director of the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, Provost Professor and the Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience. The new scanner, acquired four years ago, has allowed Toga and his colleagues to see into the living brain in ways that weren’t possible before.

For instance, one focus of Toga’s research is Alzheimer’s disease and how it changes the brain’s structure. His team looks at a part of the brain called the hippocampus—which plays a major role in learning and memory—to see how much it shrinks under the burden of the disease. With standard scanners, Toga can see the hippocampus but can’t delve into its many features. “At 7T, I can,” he says. “I can begin to tease apart what part of the hippocampus is being affected.” Thanks to 7T MRI, Toga and his colleagues can also see changes happening in the spaces around the brain’s blood vessels as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. “Without this powerful scanner,” he says, “it’s hard to quantify what is happening.” To scan a part of the body, the machine needs an antenna, or coil, to collect data from that area. So far, this 7T scanner has a coil for the head and another for the knees. That’s more than enough to spark the imagination of Vishal Patel, an assistant professor of radiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “You immediately look at a 7T MRI scan and realize it’s something you haven’t seen before,” he says. As a neuroradiologist, he learned about the intricacies of brain structure by studying images from scanners and consulting with pathologists, who examine tissue under the microscope. But their descriptions feel like a blurry jumble now that he has seen the qualwas ity of images from the 7T scanner. “It’s fantastic to be able to see the anatomy in such great detail,” he says. a He also sees exciting progress with patients like Moayedi, who have pituitary tumors so small they can’t be detected with 3T MRI. In a study Patel published in the journal Neuroradiology in April 2020, radiologists detected a previously unseen lesion in nine of 10 patients who underwent a scan. Of those nine, Patel changer. says, eight then underwent surgery that relieved their symptoms and changed their lives. Moayedi is among them. Her tumor was removed in June 2019 by a USC team that included neurosurgeon Gabriel Zada and endocrinologist John Carmichael. But Patel isn’t ready to stop there. He ticks off a list of vexing brain diseases and conditions that might be treated more precisely using the 7T scanner: multiple sclerosis, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease and seizure disorders. These high-powered scanners, Toga adds, hold immense promise for the field of neuroimaging. “By allowing us to visualize increasingly small regions of the brain,” he says, “it brings us one step closer to understanding structure and function at the cellular level.”



FINDING CANCER BEFORE IT SPREADS A malignant tumor in a breast isn’t necessarily lethal. But it could become deadly when it starts spreading. Technology developed at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience aims to detect when that happens, spotting cancer cells as they move around the body hunting for places to spread and multiply. So-called liquid biopsies look for those cells in the bloodstream, spinal fluid and bone marrow—anywhere cancer might try to hitch a ride. usc trojan family


That’s where Peter Kuhn comes in. “There’s a very basic question: Can we diagnose cancer with a blood draw?” says Kuhn, a founding member of the USC Michelson Center and director of the center’s Convergent Science Institute in Cancer. “If we can do that, we could make life as a patient so much easier. We could make the job of our health care system so much more effective and efficient.” It’s no simple matter for malignant cells to survive away from their source, says Kuhn, Dean’s Professor of Biological Sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The cancer cell has to somehow get from that primary location, through the blood, to some other destination, settle down and start growing,” he says. “That means the cancer has to overcome so many challenges. When it manages to do that, it is a really bad cancer. It has trained up to survive.” For nearly two decades, Kuhn has led the effort to figure out how to detect the most tenacious, metasIt tasizing cancers. In 2009, his lab launched a startup company, Epic Sciences, to license its technologies and develop clinical studies to prove their utility. That company received regulatory approval for a liquid biopsy test designed to detect cancerous cells that have broken away from a prostate with tumor. These cells—which circulate in the bloodstream and resist certain drugs—are a sign that the cancer is aggressive and requires a new treatment approach. The company is testing a similar technology for breast cancer. “The blood is the superhighway that connects the body,” Kuhn says. “I can draw blood much more easily than I can do a biopsy by sticking a long needle through the rib cage to an organ.” If doctors can spot these metastasizing cancer cells before they grow and show up as a tumor on a scan, they could potentially deliver chemotherapy sooner and give patients a better chance of recovering from the disease.



A COLORFUL SOLUTION TO DETECT TUMORS A love of Disney animation led engineer Cristina Zavaleta to rethink the tools physicians use to pinpoint tumors. One of her hobbies is art, so she signed up for a workshop led by Pixar animators. “I was exposed to all these different paints, and they were vibrant colors,” says Zavaleta, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Michelson Center. “At the same time, I was working on my research and thinking about imaging and new contrast agents. I started thinking about what pigments are being used in humans already.” Tattoo inks came to mind. So did snacks and drinks with food coloring. Drugs contain dyes. Cosmetics like lipstick and eyeliner come in every shade imaginable. She wondered: Could any of these dyes also be injected or ingested for a medical procedure? And if so, what could they illuminate that current contrast agents cannot? So began her quest to help diagnose and treat cancer by bringing together common household dyes with tiny specks of matter—what scientists call nanoparticles. (To understand how small a nanoparticle is, Zavaleta says, picture a chocolate-covered donut about 4


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inches across. Now imagine it with little, round rainbow sprinkles. In terms of size, a donut is to a sprinkle as a cell is to a nanoparticle.) Here’s how cancer detection often works today: A physician suspects a patient has cancer in part of her body but wants to know more before recommending treatment or surgery. That patient receives an injection (or swallows a liquid) that contains a contrast agent, or dye. If a tumor exists, it can be illuminated by the agent so that it shows up on an imaging scan. Zavaleta wants to make the dyes even more powerful so that tumors show up more clearly on scans than they do now. When scientists chemically hook up the dyes to nanoparticles, the resulting contrast agent could make its way into a tumor and light it up brighter and for longer than current contrast agents. The agents could also illuminate other conditions in the body, like plaque on artery walls or inflammation triggered by arthritis. The nanoparticle-encapsulated dyes, Zavaleta explains, “can be targeted to anything you want to glow for you.” At the moment, her dye technology exists only in the lab. Human trials are years off, pending federal approval. But Zavaleta and her fellow scientists already believe that dye-infused nanoparticles have the potential to spotlight cancer more accurately. HEART AT TACKS STOPPED BEFORE THEY HAPPEN The hallmark of high cholesterol is the fat deposits it coats along your artery walls, forming plaque. When a chunk of this plaque buildup ruptures, it can trigger bleeding and blood clots. One of those clots could lodge in a spot that blocks a key artery, causing a heart attack or stroke. But what if doctors could spot the bits of plaque in your body that might be about to break open and stabilize them with a protective coating? USC doctoral student Deborah Chin has come up with nanoparticles that could help them do just that. Chin’s idea is to find potentially dangerous plaque on artery walls—what’s called atherosclerosis. Physicians today focus on slowing down the progress of atherosclerosis to prevent heart attack and stroke. They do that by cutting levels of the dangerous form of cholesterol in the blood. Patients often take statin drugs to reduce high cholesterol levels. But sometimes those drugs aren’t enough to prevent plaque from building up and rupturing. The nanoparticle Chin developed could identify any existing plaque that is inflamed and poses a danger. It would carry materials that bind the nanoparticle to the inflamed area, strengthening the damaged tissue. And because a contrast agent can also be paired with the particle, the worrisome plaque could show up on an MRI scan. So far, Chin says, the method has worked successfully in animal models. Human trials remain about 10 years away for her technology, but science will steadily march on. Other lifesaving methods of early disease detection that were once major advances, like mammography and colon cancer screening tools, are now commonplace. Imaging technology is constantly improving. Rachel Moayedi can vouch for that. The 7T MRI technology that enabled USC doctors to see the mass on her pituitary gland was unheard of only a decade ago—and even more powerful MRI scanners are in development. Six months after Moayedi benefited from the 7T scanner at the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, she was feeling better, looking better and best of all, pregnant with her daughter. “The 7T MRI was a game changer for our family,” Moayedi says. “We owe the researchers, Dr. Zada and Dr. Carmichael, my life.” spring 2021

Diffusion MRI can map white matter structure and connectivity. Physicians are starting to use it to plan treatment for tumors and other brain problems.

Labor Love of

Caregiving was already in crisis before COVID-19. As the pandemic kept

kids home from school and upended the workplace, Americans who care for aging family members came under even more pressure. BY B E T H NE WC OM B • ILLU STRATION S BY KE ITH N E G LE Y

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, life was plenty busy for Jason Trujillo and his family. He and his wife, Sherrie Jong, had two children, ages 4 and 1. Jong—a civil engineer—was the family’s breadwinner as Trujillo completed his first year at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. As the couple raised their family and juggled work and school, Jong’s parents, Engie and Monty, were getting older; 82-year-old Monty especially struggled to see and hear. When they found out Monty had Alzheimer’s disease, the family knew he needed someone to care for him. That job fell to Trujillo. At first, he resented the stressful and unexpected role. But his mother helped him put things in perspective. “She said, ‘I didn’t raise you to leave an old man that needs help. Take care of this,’” he recalls. “She was 100% right.”


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Trujillo paused law school and became his father-in-law’s main caregiver, making sure Monty saw his doctors, got his medication and stayed connected to the family. When his condition worsened, Monty moved to an assisted living facility and Trujillo visited him every day. Then came COVID-19. Around the world, the pandemic abruptly separated residents of assisted living facilities from their loved ones. Caregivers like Trujillo face an increasingly difficult and isolating task as they try to offer support from afar while taking care of kids at home. Even with video calls and other technology, staying in touch—especially with people who have dementia and may not fully understand the situation—has been tough. The devastating impact on seniors has pushed caregiving to a crisis point. But according

to USC researchers, the pandemic isn’t the cause of this societywide problem—it’s only amplifying challenges that have been there all along. And for these experts in aging, it has never been more urgent to address the social, racial and economic inequities behind these issues and pave a way forward. Now is the time to care for caregivers.

An Overlooked Community Caregiving is a huge yet relatively underdiscussed aspect of society, says Donna Benton, research associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. One in 5 Americans provided unpaid assistance with daily living or medical needs to an adult or a child with special needs last year, according to a 2020 National Alliance on Caregiving report. Those 53 million spring 2021

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caregivers, nearly 10 million more than reported in 2015, are needed in large part because of the rapidly aging U.S. population. Raising children while also caring for an older family member puts Trujillo in the “sandwich generation”—adults who find themselves between multiple generations in need of caregiving and support. About 12% of all U.S. parents with children under 18 also care for an adult, according to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center. It’s a tough balancing act even in the best of times. Though many cherish the sense of fulfillment and purpose that comes from caring for loved ones, it can lead to physical, mental and financial strain as well. For Trujillo, it meant withdrawing from law school and waiting more than two years before he could start classes again, this time at the University of West Los Angeles. During the pandemic, many families lost critical support systems as adult day health care centers closed and professional in-home visits stopped. They took over daily errands and other responsibilities for otherwise independent seniors now being urged to stay home. With these changes, it’s no surprise that caregivers have fared much worse than non-caregivers during the pandemic. They report worse psychological distress and physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, body aches and stomach discomfort, according to a Harvard-led data analysis of USC’s Understanding America Study. In a Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving survey, 83% of caregivers reported that the pandemic has increased their stress. Nearly half said it’s much harder to find other caregivers to help relieve the burden. Feelings of loneliness and exhaustion are also on the rise among caregivers. One survey noted that 1 of every 5 caregivers reported feeling alone, even if they lived with the person for whom they cared. COVID-19’s impact has been devastating. It’s also been unevenly distributed. Two months after the first stay-at-home order began in Los Angeles, the USC Family Caregiver Support Center checked in with more than 800 client families throughout the county. Latino and Black families were

about twice as likely as white families to experience financial strain or difficulties getting adequate resources, including food. The pandemic has also been particularly hard on women, who make up 61% of the Americans who are caring for someone over 18. Gema Zamarro, an adjunct senior economist with the Center for Economic and Social Research at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, analyzed data from the Understanding America Study and found that women, particularly those without a college degree, have suffered more job losses, took on more responsibility for child care and experienced much more psychological distress than their male partners. “We’ve never had a crisis like this that affects child care so drastically,” Zamarro says. With school closures and virtual learning putting increased pressure on parents, women in the sandwich generation may feel especially pressured to leave the workforce. When coupled with the higher proportion of women who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, she says, it could prove to be a huge setback for gender equality. “Once they are out of the labor force for a while, it’s often very hard for them to come back.”

Connections Count The isolation caused by pandemic lockdowns in senior living facilities is extremely tough for both older adults and their caregivers, says Anne Katz, a clinical professor of social work at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. “People might think, ‘Oh, you placed your loved one in a facility. That’s the end. You can finally have a life,’” she says. “No, they’re constantly thinking about their loved one. There’s often a lot of guilt.” Trujillo, for one, never wavered in his commitment to helping his father-in-law, even as Monty moved into assisted living. Prior to the pandemic, Trujillo visited daily, making sure Monty showered and ate. He ensured Monty calmed down after episodes of fear or confusion, had clean clothes and other supplies, and felt updated on everything happening with the family. The visits

1 of every 5 caregivers reported feeling alone.

5 Ways to Care for Caregivers Donna Benton, director of the USC Family Caregiver Support Center and a research associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, shares suggestions for how people can advocate for caregivers’ well-being.


Support respite care

“We need policies that help relieve some of that care when we’re not able to do the caregiving so that we don’t always have to make a choice between a paycheck and caring for someone, or between being able to sleep and caring for our relative.”


Tackle social disparities “The pandemic has

really removed that very thin veil that was covering up the disparities in health and in the social determinants of health. … Racism has always pushed our African American, Latino and other ethnic and racial groups to the margins.”


Address mental health needs “Almost

50% of family caregivers express some form of depression or anxiety, and they could really benefit from being with somebody who understands caregiving and who can talk to them and help them with their depression or anxiety.”


Encourage caregivers to embrace the title

“Many people say, ‘I’m the mother,’ ‘I’m the daughter,’ or ‘I’m the spouse,’ but they don’t say ‘and I’m a caregiver.’ Once caregivers identify themselves, then they can ask for things like, ‘If I’m caring for someone, can I be eligible for respite so that I can take a break and have somebody else come in for safety, so that I can go to my own doctor’s appointments?’”


Share stories with policymakers “People

get scared about talking to a legislator or their elected official, but you don’t have to come up with the policy wording. What you can do is tell your struggle and why you do what you do.”

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About 3 of every 5 Americans caring for an adult are women. provided reassurance and a familiar face for his father-in-law. The family is lucky, Trujillo says, because his wife went to college with Yvonne Kuo, a family care navigator with the USC Family Caregiver Support Center. Kuo and her colleagues connect Los Angeles County residents with information and training, counseling and wellness services, support groups, and legal and financial support. They also offer respite care for loved ones so caregivers can take a break. After Monty’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the family reached out to Kuo, who helped them research assisted living and memory care facilities. She also enrolled Trujillo in a support group that has offered everything from practical advice to a sympathetic ear during tough times. The support group has been invaluable even as it has gone virtual, he says. “All of these things have come from people’s experiences that went before me,” Trujillo says. “We’re paying this knowledge forward and we’re helping others.” During the pandemic, USC’s caregiver support center and similar organizations have made a dramatic pivot, not only bringing their operations online but also helping families connect with emergency resources, find personal protective equipment and enroll in delivery services for meals, medications and supplies. Benton, the USC Leonard Davis School professor who directs the center, takes pride in how quickly her staff changed their operations for the families they serve. “We were trying to address the need as quickly as we could,” she says. “The USC community really stepped forward to help with the program.” USC’s outreach to caregivers in its neighborhoods includes the Community Resource Center for Aging at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Funded by a grant from the Navigage Foundation, the center opened in October 2020 to connect older adults and their caregivers with a broad array of homeand community-based resources. The center has helped people sign up for meal and medication deliveries, find safe transportation and even learn how to use Zoom and other popular software and technology.


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“As a social worker and gerontologist, I’ve never put technology on a care plan the way I have now,” says Program Manager Adria Navarro PhD ’11. “Embracing tech, from telehealth services to food delivery apps, is a necessity in the current situation.” At USC, the Center for Work and Family Life also has turned to virtual services to help the university’s staff and faculty cope with the pressures of caregiving during the pandemic. The center provides confidential phone and Zoom counseling appointments for USC employees, along with virtual wellness classes and drop-in Zoom support groups for parents. Program Manager Angela DiBlasi is based on the USC Health Sciences Campus, and her counseling clients include Keck Medicine of USC front-line health care professionals working amid COVID-19. Many struggle with heightened stress and the pandemic’s impact on the health care system. Before vaccines were available, they also had to consider whether to fulfill their family caregiving responsibilities—and risk carrying the virus home—or leave these responsibilities to their loved ones, she says. DiBlasi often asks her clients to acknowledge that the situation is tough and focus on what they can control. Try to find creative ways to bring joy, she suggests. Simple acts like holding physically distanced or drive-by gatherings and sharing thoughtful gifts with isolated loved ones can be mood boosters. She is heartened to see her clients take care of their patients’ physical health while also providing emotional support, like helping them make video calls to stay in touch with worried family members who can’t visit. “These people go over and beyond, and they care so much,” DiBlasi says. “Not only are they putting their health on the line but they’re making that connection for everybody.”

Building a Community of Care Many experts agree that the pandemic has magnified caregiving-related challenges that have existed for years. But there is one difference now, says Kathleen Wilber, professor of gerontology and holder of the

Mary Pickford Foundation Chair at the USC Leonard Davis School. COVID-19 has made these problems all but impossible for policymakers to ignore. The gerontology school’s Secure Old Age Laboratory, led by Wilber, provided administrative support for the California Task Force on Family Caregiving, established in 2015 by the state legislature. The task force featured two other USC experts: Benton, who served as chair, and Karen Lincoln, associate professor of social work. The recommendations they published in 2018 bolstered a $30 million increase in funding for caregiver resource centers throughout California. Task force recommendations were also included in the state’s first-ever Master Plan for Aging, a policy blueprint that included recommendations for more aging-oriented housing, health and care programs. The goal is to help seniors like Monty and caregivers like his son-in-law thrive. As the pandemic went on, Trujillo had to tightly manage his time. Helping his kids with virtual schooling, reading cases for his own classes and checking in with his older in-laws ate up his daylight hours. His law school courses took up the evenings. It was a tough schedule, but he and his wife, who also balanced professional and child care duties, made it work. Sadly, Monty succumbed to COVID-19 in December 2020, just weeks after his 87th birthday. Trujillo had to keep up his grueling time management even as he grieved: Monty’s passing happened during final exams. Despite the sadness of his father-in-law’s death, Trujillo says he chooses to focus on the happy memories. He’s also sharing the lessons he learned about caregiving with others, because too few people know about caregiving until they’re thrust into it themselves. And as he nears the end of law school, he’s preparing to specialize in elder care law. “I’m going to miss him forever, but it’s OK because I got time with him,” Trujillo says. “There were a lot of things that I didn’t get to do because I was his caregiver, but there are a lot of things that I would have never experienced if I wasn’t.” spring 2021

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Thrive These Trojans fight for the safety, dignity and well-being of the world’s most

vulnerable, and they’ll come back tomorrow to do it all over again.

Physician Parveen Parmar studies health and human rights violations among refugees and displaced people.





he trudged through the emergency room doors. The man’s splitting headache stabbed him so deeply that it sent him to Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. He waited to see a doctor, any doctor, in hope of relief. ¶ Physician Parveen Parmar listened to him carefully and put him through a methodical battery of tests. Smile, she asked him—and he did. Could he squeeze her hands and then lift and lower his feet? Again, he did. She held her index finger up and moved it from side to side, then up and down, as she watched the man’s eyes. No sign of a serious condition, like bleeding in the brain, appeared. ¶ None of the tests found anything. ¶ But Parmar noticed something else: fear and sadness in her patient’s eyes. So, she tried another tack. Had anything, she asked, been bothering him lately? ¶ That’s how she unearthed a source of pain no physician could cure.

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Parmar understands that the practice of medicine goes beyond running tests and studying symptoms. It’s about digging for stories that may otherwise go unspoken. She knows that because she has seen humanity at its best and its worst, whether in marginalized America or the Middle East. She is one of the members of the Trojan Family who have dedicated themselves to the crusade for human dignity. An associate professor of clinical emergency medicine and chief of the Division of Global Emergency Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Parmar has witnessed the powerful link between human rights and well-being countless times in areas of strife abroad. During her 20-year career, she has listened to Central African Republic refugees in Cameroon describe the sexual violence they suffered and provided her findings to health officials to guide support and resources. She investigated accusations of genocide against the Rohingya people in Myanmar and sent reports to the United Nations to strengthen criminal proceedings. She helped advise community health providers for Syrian refugees with diabetes and high blood pressure in Jordan. She also advocates for human rights close to home in Los Angeles. The traumas and tribulations of the city’s most vulnerable land on her doorstep in the LAC+USC emergency room. Every day brings a march of undocumented immigrants who fled crippling poverty and danger in their home countries in search of a better

“It’s a reminder that things that seem so far away are affecting our community in very real ways.” life. They are joined by people struggling with homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues and violence. Although Parmar has seen the same problems for years, she remains as disturbed by them as she did as a young doctor—and in some ways, maybe more so. “Things are happening in the United States today that I never thought possible,” she says, referencing the treatment of asylum seekers and detained immigrants. Many of her patients bring troubles that are too hard for one doctor to solve, but she listens to them gently and does what she can. The man who came to LAC+USC with a throbbing headache turned out to be an immigrant from Central America. He had recently spoken with family members back home who feared for their lives due to ongoing violence and civil unrest. His pain came not from a damaged nerve nor migraines, Parmar says. “He had the worst headache of his life because he was terrified of what was happening to his family.” She prescribed headache medicine to ease his symptoms. But she also sat with him and listened to his story. She asked if he had friends or family who could support him and bring him comfort. And she referred him to a nearby clinic that offers help with stress and anxiety. “Our population is so diverse and comes from so many places,” she says. “It’s a reminder that things that seem so far away are affecting our community in very real ways.”


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Parmar’s work as an ER doctor can be hectic and tiring—she treats dozens of patients for eight hours straight each shift—so she is often asked why she gets involved in human rights advocacy. But she can’t separate the two, and her family is a big reason. Her Punjabi grandparents fled from newly formed Pakistan in 1947, and she grew up hearing their stories of persecution. Though her family managed to escape, it took them decades to build new lives in India. Their experiences inspired Parmar to join letter-writing campaigns with Amnesty International by age 15. They drove her to become the first woman in her family to go to college, then the first female doctor. And her passion for advocacy still burns strong. “For me, public health advocacy is an essential complement to practicing emergency medicine,” she says. “One requires the other. It is far too difficult to see the impact of social, economic and political factors on the health of our community without attempting to address the root causes.”



Sofia Gruskin left the University of California, Santa Cruz in the 1980s armed with a degree in ethnomethodology and an interest in human rights advocacy. She had little idea that an emerging epidemic—HIV/AIDS—would propel her into public health. As she saw many of her friends and acquaintances in San Francisco and elsewhere fall ill, she also saw how laws directed toward them and their disease deepened their suffering. Fear and myths related to the virus spurred stigmas. Hospitals could block gay people from visiting their partners in the hospital, even in their last days, because they weren’t legally recognized as family members. People with HIV faced travel restrictions, some of which remain in place in other countries today. Gruskin had found her calling in the fight for human rights within public health. Now a professor of law and preventive medicine and director of the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, she dedicates herself to bridging the two worlds through education, research, policy and advocacy. Antiviral cocktails eventually turned HIV into a more controllable, chronic infection, but issues remain. Gruskin remembers how some governments used fear of AIDS as a reason to criminalize homosexuality and restrict the rights of other marginalized groups. She believes similar misuse of law and policy is happening during the current pandemic. Some leaders around the world have used COVID-19 lockdowns as an opportunity to discriminate against LGBT populations or restrict access to family planning clinics, deeming them nonessential services. That has prevented millions of people from getting wellness exams, birth control, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and other important health resources. Even the good news of vaccines against the coronavirus comes with human rights implications that few have discussed or considered. The early days of COVID-19 vaccine distribution brought to light issues over fundamental rights. Wealthy countries snapped up vaccine supplies, leaving poorer nations behind. And when doses were first provided to health care workers, who decided what constitutes a health professional? “Does that mean only a physician or nurse?” Gruskin asks. “Or does it include the person working for minimum wage who is serving food at the hospital?” spring 2021

Sofia Gruskin’s career in public health grew out of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and society’s response to it.

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As an emergency medicine physician, Todd Schneberk knows trauma. He documents evidence of abuse among people seeking asylum, such as broken bones.


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spring 2021

Even after more than three decades engaged in human rights advocacy, Gruskin remains an optimist. She is convinced that if people recognize human rights abuses justified in the name of health, they’ll work to change them. “We need to raise awareness—not just about the problems, but what can be done.”



Every year, thousands of people flee violence and danger in search of a better life in the United States. To receive asylum, they must prove to a U.S. immigration official or judge that their safety—even their life—is at risk back home. USC physician Todd Schneberk helps them make their case. Working alongside medical students as faculty co-director of the student-run USC-Keck Human Rights Clinic, he examines and interviews asylum seekers to gather evidence they can use in their asylum applications. The findings are sobering. He records every scar from a bullet or stab wound and every symptom of stress, shock and psychological trauma in his notes. “They correlate with their story of being beaten, raped, tortured,” he says. “They provide credibility and increase the chances of the asylum case being taken seriously.” Changes to the asylum system under the prior presidential administration require clients to wait in Mexico until their case is heard. The delay often means more psychological distress—and more danger, he says. Many wait indefinitely in Tijuana. One family he met traveled north from Central America. The father had been a police officer who refused to take bribes, Schneberk


“We need to raise awareness— not just about the problems, but also what can be done.” says. Gang members shot at his house and threatened his relatives. The family fled to Mexico, where they await their asylum proceedings. Every day, the father travels three hours for work, leaving his wife and children alone. “Strangers have tried to physically and sexually assault his wife while she takes care of her two kids,” Schneberk says. “I’ve talked to many families like this. It’s in direct violation of their human right, their international treaty-derived right to seek asylum. It’s a tragedy.” He tries to focus on the positives, such as families that are granted asylum or his opportunity in 2019 to testify before Congress against dangerous asylum conditions. He knows the people he helps have a shot at a better life, and it gives him hope even as he documents the next human rights violation. The assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the Keck School of Medicine also draws inspiration from the medical students, nurses, doctors and other colleagues across USC who fight alongside him for health and human rights. “Some of these access issues and inequalities are things we can’t necessarily reverse as just one person,” he says. “But being able to stand in solidarity with people and hear their stories and treat them with dignity is one of the most useful things we can do.” usc trojan family


The USC Alumni Association proudly announces the

Saturday, April 24, 2021 Presented Virtually Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award David C. Bohnett ’78 USC Trustee, Technology Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Alumni Merit Awards Patsy Dewey ’58 CEO, Dewey Pest Control Dianne Kwock PharmD ’74 and Lunny Ronnie Jung PharmD ’72 Co-founders, Fox Drug Store, Inc. Young Alumni Merit Award Rachel Morford ’07, MS ’07 Principal Director, The Aerospace Corporation Alumni Service Awards Kathleen Burns Campos ’83 Former President, Trojan League of Los Angeles and longtime university volunteer Richard Flores ’83 USC Dornsife Board of Councilors and longtime university volunteer

To RSVP or for more information, visit




Trojans raced together (while apart) for the USC Alumni Association’s first virtual 5K run in November. Finishers included (clockwise from top left): Christian Gunning ’90, Tracy Berliner Smith ’83, Marissa Borjon ’10 and Thomas Haire ’94.

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family news

Stronger Together Whether he was building one of the internet’s earliest social networks or championing equal rights, David Bohnett has made community a priority.


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social justice and philanthropy. Since 2017, the David C. Bohnett Residential College, supported by his $15 million pledge, has been home to students passionate about solving pressing issues like gun violence and homelessness. “I wanted to ensure we had a theme of philanthropy and social justice that included an endowment for annual grant-making,” he says. “Every year, students in the residential college have funds to contribute to the local community.” His commitment to USC and lifelong dedication to advancing social issues have earned him recognition as this year’s winner of the Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award, the USC Alumni Association’s highest honor. The award is given to a Trojan who has demonstrated exceptional leadership, generosity and community service. Asked if he had advice for current USC students and others seeking to find their place in the world, Bohnett keeps it simple and true to his nature: Reach out for help when needed but also figure out how to help others. “I heard a saying once that there’s no problem you can’t give your way out of,” he says. “It creates this great feedback loop and sense of satisfaction that you’re making a contribution.” ERIC LINDBERG


When he talks about his lifelong passion for creating communities, USC Trustee David Bohnett ’78 likes to borrow a metaphor from Gustavo Dudamel, the famed conductor he helped recruit to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Playing in an orchestra teaches you everything you need to know about how to get along in the world,” Bohnett says. “You play an individual instrument, but you play it as a community of musicians. That’s a good analogy for how we ought to operate as a society: You do the best you can as an individual, but you do that in concert with the community around you.” Growing up in a tight-knit family in the Chicago suburbs, Bohnett learned that lesson early on by watching his parents and grandparents help neighbors and build bonds through church and social programs. He carried that sentiment into his undergrad years at the USC Marshall School of Business, where he earned his business administration degree. He developed strong ties with his fraternity brothers at Alpha Tau Omega as they helped raise funds for Troy Camp through Songfest. After college, Bohnett founded, one of the internet’s first community-based social networks that allowed users to create personal websites and connect with others. The site was a huge hit, and its success enabled him to establish the David Bohnett Foundation, which supports numerous causes, including social justice and performing arts organizations in Los Angeles and elsewhere, LGBT advocacy, public policy scholarships and fellowships, and voting rights. “I’ve gained so much by living in Los Angeles and building my professional career and personal life here. And just like my parents, I feel a responsibility to give back to my community,” says Bohnett, who has served in leadership roles with the L.A. Phil and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “My way to contribute is to stay involved in the institutions that are important in that community, and USC is among them.” When USC leaders approached him about an opportunity to endow and name a new residential college at USC Village, Bohnett readily agreed—as long as it centered on

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With eight USC degrees among them (and counting), the Shimadas have a love for learning—and for the Trojan Family. When she was 11, Charlene Shimada ’91, EdD ’19 knew that she wanted to attend USC. “My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Stewart, was a graduate of USC. She was a Song Girl, and she married a Trojan,” she says. “Because of her, I wanted to go to USC, and I wanted to be a teacher.” Just like Mrs. Stewart, Charlene graduated from USC, becoming the first in her family to complete a four-year degree. She also pursued

a career in education and married a Trojan, Tommy Shimada ’88. The couple attended the same church and schools in the L.A. Unified School District, but they didn’t start dating until he was a USC freshman. Both worked part-time jobs to pay for college, so they bonded as they carpooled to school together. “It was our dream to attend USC,” Thomas says. “It was a good investment in our lives and in ourselves, and the education paid off.”

After graduating, Thomas went into accounting, working for Ernst & Young, Countrywide/Bank of America and others. Charlene taught at Glendale Unified for five years and was a substitute teacher while raising their children, Philip and Elisa. Through the years, the family went to the occasional football game, and the siblings grew up hearing about their parents’ positive college experiences. But they made a vow: Don’t attend USC. “We promised ourselves we wouldn’t go because our parents went,” Philip says. “We wanted to rebel.” That rebellious phase didn’t last long. Philip received a full scholarship to USC and graduated in 2017 with bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology. He returned two years later to earn a Master of Social Work. Elisa, who is a year younger than Philip, followed him with bachelor’s degrees in sociology and social sciences and is pursuing her doctorate in sociology at USC. Charlene headed back to the university herself, earning a doctorate in education. “It was very impactful to be there for her graduation ceremony,” Elisa says. “I’ve never seen someone who looks like me in academia with a doctoral degree. The fact that it was my mom was really special.” Reflecting on the differences between her college experience and her children’s, Charlene marvels at how much the demographics have shifted in the last two decades. “Back then, we came from one of the most diverse high schools in L.A. When we arrived at USC, we felt like a minority,” says Charlene, who is Native Hawaiian. Today, more than 40% of USC students are from a community of color and more than 20% are international. “For students in our generation, we were accepting of diversity,” says Charlene, a principal at Alameda Elementary School in Downey, California, and member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors. “Now I think it’s more of an invitation where we’re not just accepting you, we’re inviting you. We want you.” Elisa, who teaches undergraduate sociology courses, agrees. “What I like about our student body is that they’re advocating for their education,” she says. “They want more representation of people in color in research.” For the Shimadas, that passion for education and pushing what’s possible isn’t just relatable. It’s a family tradition. R ACHEL NG usc trojan family


family news

The Truth Seeker Dogged determination takes an alumna to the heart of American political power. Last year, Rachel Scott ’15 reached a career milestone that few journalists attain: As a White House correspondent, she asked a direct question of the president of the United States. Newly minted in the role with ABC News, she pressed President Donald Trump repeatedly about economic relief for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s her duty, she says, to ask tough questions of those in power. “We’re there on behalf of the American people,” says Scott, an alumna of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “There’s such value in not only having a seat inside that press briefing room and being able to ask the president questions but also to be out on the other side of the White House gates, talking to Americans who are being affected by the economic turmoil, by the pandemic, by the racial strife in America.”


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with Dean Willow Bay. As he was leaving, she worked up the courage to ask him about an entry-level job. “Those opportunities are rare for student journalists,” Scott says. “Annenberg gives you that face-to-face time with movers and shakers, with innovators, with leaders in this industry.” Her bold move paid off, but her early days as a production associate in New York City were less than glamorous. She made copies, ordered meals, created graphics and kept the coffee pot full. To gain on-camera experience, she volunteered as a reporter at an ABC affiliate in Connecticut. She worked weekdays as a producer for Good Morning America Digital in New York, then commuted by train to New Haven every weekend. That hunger and drive earned her a reporter position at the network. Soon, Scott was covering major national events, including the 2018 midterm elections, Hurricane Irma, nationwide protests against police brutality

and the 2020 presidential race. She was promoted to White House correspondent as America first grappled with the pandemic. “It is remarkable for me every day that I, as a Black woman, have a press badge to report

“We’re there on behalf of the American people.” from a White House that was built by slaves,” she says. “To be in that briefing room, to be able to pose questions for the American people, is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.” Now focusing on Capitol Hill, Scott plans to continue delivering tough questions to those who are shaping our future. TED B. KISSELL spring 2021


REPORTING FOR DUTY Scott grew up in Los Angeles and credits her family for inspiring an interest in history and journalism. Her grandparents told her stories about marching for civil rights in Washington in the 1960s and the struggles of their elders born into slavery. In the evenings, she watched news shows with her father, who often quizzed her on current events. “I always wanted to learn more about civil rights, about communities that were fighting for equality—and to be able to pose questions about those issues to people who are in power,” Scott says. “That’s how I realized that I wanted to be a journalist.” USC Annenberg felt like the perfect place to develop as a broadcast reporter and storyteller. She learned to deliver a newscast, shoot video, write online content and record radio stories while earning her journalism degree. During her senior year, she spotted James Goldston, president of ABC News, while he toured USC Annenberg’s Media Center

If you’re a USC alum, visit on the web to update your profile.

Welcome Page A new online gathering place helps Trojan alumni connect, share and stay in touch. When you picture the last time thousands of Trojan alumni gathered together, you probably think of the packed stands at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Galen Center. Now you can also think of FightOnline. Since its launch last year, the official website for USC alumni has welcomed more than 28,000 users and counting. Designed for alumni to stay in touch and update career information, the site also allows users to choose their preferences for receiving university communications. “This is almost like a digital living room for alumni,” says Patrick Auerbach, associate senior vice president for alumni relations. “We want Trojans to be able to visit us anytime and customize their experience with USC.”


On many social media platforms, it’s hard to tell if users are being honest about their identity—or worse, are just a bot. On FightOnline, all users are confirmed USC alumni. “This is not an open platform,” says Teresa Verbeck, executive director of alumni relations. “This is a service available to alumni only. You can’t join if you’re not in the university’s database.” Users can search and message other alumni to reconnect with old friends or build new ties. They can also join message boards—several regional groups are based on where alumni live, for example—with each moderated by a manager. Beyond location, alumni can personalize their profiles with their USC affiliations, including fraternities and sororities, student groups and athletic teams like rugby and soccer. As the site grows, it will be easier to find other alumni who shared these unique USC student experiences and request even more specialized groups, like former tour guides or Trojans whose children also attended USC.


The USC Alumni Association is hard at work to expand the platform and plans to offer more ways for alumni to stay informed about official USC events and networking opportunities. Right now, users can check a calendar of events to keep updated on university activities. And as more Trojans share information about their interests and involvements, the USCAA wants to keep customizing and enhancing the user experience. For example, when a USC Marshall School of Business alumna logs on soon, she will have access to parts of the site set aside just for USC Marshall alumni with content tailored to their interests and community. For now, personalizing your relationship with USC is at the heart of the FightOnline platform. You can update your mail, phone and text messaging preferences and control how the university contacts you. “We’ve made it so that alumni can tell us about their interests,” Verbeck says. “This is an opportunity for us to then tailor future developments to the site based on what alumni want.” ELISA HUANG

TROJAN NETWORK The Trojan Network is an online mentoring platform for alumni to help USC students gather career and industry information and launch their careers. The FightOnline platform links to the Trojan Network (go to in your web browser) so that alumni can easily create an account and serve as mentors to current students. Both the Trojan Network and FightOnline are part of the university’s Trojans to Trojans initiative, which seeks to harness the power of the Trojan Family to help alumni excel. usc trojan family


What a Difference a Day Makes. Make May 4 Your Day to Give Each year, on the USC Day of SCupport, USC alumni, parents and friends come together to demonstrate the power and generosity of the Trojan Family. On Monday, May 4, 2021, we invite you to join us by making a gift of any size to the USC school, program or initiative most meaningful to you. With your support, we are #TrojansTogether, and a family like no other.

family class notes 1 9 5 0 s Michael Halperin ’55 (SCJ) published his eighth book, My Name Is David: Search for Identity, a true post-Holocaust story that recounts a young boy’s rescue from the Warsaw ghetto by Polish Christians. 1 9 6 0 s James M. Taggart ’64 (LAS), MS ’66 (GRD) published The Rain Gods’ Rebellion: The Cultural Basis of a Nahua Insurgency, which discusses oral narratives about the 1977-1984 rebellion by indigenous people in Huitzilan de Serdán, Mexico. Gail Kenna ’65 (LAS) won two first-place and three second-place honors in five categories in the 50th Biennial Letters Awards of the National League of American Pen Women. Kirby Timmons ’68 (LAS) wrote an essay on the pandemic experience—“Is This America’s Valley Forge Moment?”—in Communal News. Cary D. Lowe ’69, MA ’70 (LAS), JD ’74 (LAW), PhD ’80 (SPP) published a political memoir, Becoming American. 1 9 7 0 s


Carol (Edmonston) Ross ’70 (LAS), CRT ’71 (BKT) is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Healing Power of Doodling: Mindfulness Therapy to Deal with Stress, Fear & Life Challenges. Tim Twomey ’72 (ARC), senior vice president and deputy general counsel for CallisonRTKL, a global architecture, planning and design firm, retired after more than 43 years as an architect and attorney. George Pla MPA ’74 (SPP) received a Maestro Award for Entrepreneurship from Latino Leaders Magazine. He is founder and CEO of Cordoba Corporation, an engineering firm specializing in transportation, education, water and energy.



G. Denman Hammond G. Denman Hammond (right), emeritus professor of pediatrics, had a distinguished career as the founding director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. With a specialty in childhood leukemia and other pediatric malignancies, he first joined the faculty at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1957 as an assistant professor. Hammond was instrumental in directing the final phases of the cancer center’s planning and construction and assisted in developing its research and care programs. He died in September 2020 at the age of 97.

Stephen Ralls DDS ’74 (DEN), PhD ’79 (EDU) is president of the American College of Dentists after serving as its executive director for more than 20 years. Salpi Ghazarian ’75 (LAS) is an Aurora Forum Goodwill Ambassador, part of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in Armenia. Donald LaPlante ’76 (LAS/SCJ) is president of the Board of Education for the Downey Unified School District in Downey, California. This is his seventh term on the board. Russell C. Elmayan ’77 (BUS) has served the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, since 1990 in roles such as chancellor, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief administrative officer. John E. Karayan JD ’77 (LAW) co-authored the third edition of State and Local Taxation: Principles and Planning. Ron Maines ’77 MS (ENG) received the 2019 FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award,

which recognizes 50 years of exemplary aviation flight experience, distinguished professionalism and a commitment to aviation safety. Dean G. Rallis Jr. ’77 (BUS), JD ’80 (LAW) heads Hahn & Hahn LLP’s bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice group. Stanley Taubman DSW ’77 (SSW), the former director of Medi-Cal Behavioral Health in Alameda, California, received the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). He is a consultant for the NASW Continuing Education Program and California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions and the author of the Berkeley Training Associates Treatment Plan Library, designed for use in electronic health records. Maureen A. Flanagan ’78 (BUS), managing director and wealth manager at First Republic Investment Management in Newport Beach, California, has been named to the Forbes 2020 list of Top Women Wealth Advisors. usc trojan family


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John H. Daly III MS ’79 (ENG), director of transportation infrastructure for Flint, Michigan, has been reappointed to the Michigan Infrastructure Council, which implements statewide asset management strategy for public infrastructure. Bruce Furniss ’79 (SCJ), a six-time NCAA swimming champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was inducted to the College Sports Information Directors of America’s Academic All-America Hall of Fame. Conrad Mallett Jr. JD ’79 (LAW), MPA ’79 (SPP), a former Michigan Supreme Court justice, is deputy mayor of Detroit and sits on the board of directors of Lear Corporation in Southfield, Michigan. 1 9 8 0 s

work, KABOOMER: Thriving and Striving into your Nineties. Mark B. Frazier JD ’82 (LAW) is managing partner at Rutan & Tucker LLP after serving as the firm’s trial department section head and chairperson of its finance and recruiting committees. Gregory Gandrud ’82 (BUS) is treasurer of the California Republican Party. Sharon Marchisello ’82 (LAS) published her second novel, Secrets of the Galapagos. Dasha C. Nisula PhD ’82 (LAS) translated the second edition of You with Hands More Innocent by Vesna Parun. Matthew Airey ’84 (SCJ) published a book, Steadfast Awareness: Reflections and Life’s Takeaways. Joseph Arleth ’84 (LAS) completed his PhD at George Washington University, where he wrote his thesis, “Improving Federal Employee Engagement Through First-Level Supervisors.”

Kristy Williams Fercho ’88 (BUS) leads the home lending division for Wells Fargo. Karen (Combs) McClintock MBA ’88 (BUS) is the first woman to serve as president and CEO of LSIA, an investment management firm.

Christopher Gopal PhD ’84 (BUS) has been appointed to the Defense Business Board in Washington, D.C.

John Goldman ’89 (LAS) published The Arlington Orders, a historical fiction thriller, under his pen name, Elliot Mason.

Charles Smith ’84 (BUS), MPL ’90 (SPP), a member of the USC Price Alumni Association Board of Directors, is a business group leader in impact investment for GHD, an engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services firm.

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Christianne Kerns JD ’85 (LAW) is the fifth managing partner in Hahn & Hahn LLP’s history and the first woman to hold the position. She was named one of the most influential women attorneys by the Los Angeles Business Journal for a third consecutive year.

David Frost MS ’81 (ENG) is a master fitness trainer. He published his first nonfiction

Paul D. Lippe MS ’85 (ENG) is the director of cost estimating for Fincantieri Marine Group.

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▲ Robert DeLaurentis ’88 (ACC) completed a flight around the globe in a plane he dubbed Citizen of the World, carrying experimental equipment for NASA and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography while using biofuels for the first time over the poles. During the ninemonth journey, he met thousands of people and interviewed many about what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Paul Barton ’84 (LAS) was promoted to regional sales manager for HP Specialty Printing Systems, where he is responsible for clients in North, Central and South America.

▲ Sandra J. Evers-Manly ’81 (SPP) joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after more than 25 years in the film industry, including serving as president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP for 12 years and overseeing the NAACP Image Awards, NAACP Theater Awards and reports on diversity in the film and television industry. She has testified in front of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Congressional Black Caucus and the California Assembly about Black images and employment of Blacks in the film and television industry.


Roger Neill ’86 (MUS) joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is known for his work on the Amazon television show Mozart in the Jungle and films such as 20th Century Women and Don’t Think Twice.

Aric Ackerman ’90 (BUS) is CEO and managing partner of Jump Global Technology Advisors, an L.A.-based telecommunications services company. Steven Atlee JD ’90 (LAW) is deputy general counsel at Caltech, where he manages litigation, supervises the office’s practice groups and oversees daily operations at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Adam Smith ’90 (ARC) serves on the National Park System Advisory Board’s National Historic Landmarks Committee. spring 2021


Regina Birdsell ’79 (SCJ), MSW ’88 (SSW) was appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to the Coronavirus Economic Resiliency Task Force to develop recommendations for shaping public policy and spurring economic recovery.




Seeding Change


Jose Miguel Ruiz inspires sustainable thinking and renewal through urban gardens, one empty lot at a time. Some 600 years ago, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan —now modern-day Mexico City—kept its 200,000 or so inhabitants fed through the use of “chinampas.” These small, elevated gardens wound through neighborhoods in a thread of green islands, providing enough tomatoes, beans and other sustenance to keep everyone nourished. If Jose Miguel Ruiz MSW ’17 could have his way, Los Angeles may someday mirror Tenochtitlan. “There’s 59,000 acres of unused space across the city. If we scratch 5% or 10% of that and turn it into growing land, that’s an impact,” he says. He’s the mind behind CultivaLA, a nonprofit transforming urban agriculture through gardens scattered in tiny, ignored corners of Los Angeles’ sprawl. Its members are working-class residents. Ruiz calls them “cultivadores”—meaning farmers or growers in Spanish—to honor how they cultivate




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both the earth and their community. These gardeners grow nutritious produce for themselves and neighbors on land maintained by CultivaLA.


Ruiz’s grandparents were farmers in Puebla, Mexico, and his father picked peaches in California’s Central Valley as he dreamt of tending his own small plot of land. The family immigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles when Ruiz was 2 years old, without documentation. Ruiz was one of many whose lives hang in the balance without citizenship. Luckily, as Ruiz prepared for college, he connected with a nonprofit organization that found him a pathway to legal status through his father’s work experience as a field laborer. Ruiz enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he majored in psychology and took courses in agroecology and sustainable food systems. He spent most of his time in the university’s extensive gardens and campus research areas. Walking among the California redwoods, he pondered how to bring the joy of gardening into urban life.


After graduation, he headed to the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work for a master’s in social work. He met Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, the Florence Everline Professor of Sociology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and

Sciences, who enthusiastically supported Ruiz’s vision of creating an urban, community-building agricultural model. “She just said: ‘Here’s $1,000. Let’s make it happen,’” Ruiz says. “It was that seed money that really made me believe that we could build a nonprofit here to drive change.” Working with L.A. City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, they identified their first piece of land: a 0.16-acre patch wedged in front of the Rampart Division police station and facing a U-Haul office. In 2019, CultivaLA sprang to life. Now the garden boxes at this Westlake location overflow with herbs and produce, some of which originate from the homeland of the many immigrant cultivadores. Even a pandemic couldn’t stop the garden from thriving. Participants grow Swiss chard, onions, celery and more to fill grab-and-go bags for families hit hard by COVID-19. Watering days continue, with Ruiz’s mom pitching in to douse beds of cilantro. Working with civic leaders across L.A., CultivaLA has renovations underway at its second site: Union Avenue/Cesar Chavez Community Garden, located south of MacArthur Park. A 4.5-acre farm will soon break ground in South El Monte. As the island chain of urban greenery emerges like the chinampas of Tenochtitlan, Ruiz is on his way to bringing people closer to the land—and to one another. MARGARET CRABLE

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extent and circumstances of the exposure. A lot of our knowledge comes from studying people who have been exposed to high levels of harmful chemicals through their work. For example, we know from occupational health studies that asbestos exposure causes a type of cancer called mesothelioma and that vinyl chloride, used to manufacture PVC plastics, causes liver cancer. Even more of what we know comes from animal studies that test vast numbers of chemicals used as pharmaceuticals or food additives and in household products. Unfortunately, animal models are not necessarily good predictors of chemical-induced diseases in humans, especially when it comes to cancer and other complex, genetically driven diseases. What happens is that some chemicals are mislabeled as toxic to humans when they aren’t, and more worryingly, we are missing some that are. The lack of good toxicity models is the biggest problem facing the field. The good news is that toxicologists have made great discoveries concerning the health effects of chemicals we encounter in our daily lives, and the application of this knowledge for public health benefits has been successful in many areas.

and how some of them are linked to climate change.

When it comes to the effects of air pollution, the application of our knowledge has been inadequate. The production and use of fossil fuels, for example, still exposes workers to disease-causing agents and still results in air pollution that leads to heart and lung disease, cancer and stroke. In this case, the problem is a lack of political motivation to control exposure to these chemicals rather than a lack of knowledge.

As consumers, we often hear that certain chemicals are toxic or cause cancer. How do toxicologists determine if that’s true?

Have the health risks of fossil fuels been overshadowed by the conversation on climate change?

This is a complicated process that involves studying people who have been exposed to a certain chemical, as well as animal studies and other laboratory tests. There may be a simple relationship, such as chemical X causes disease Y, or it may be more complex. A chemical can cause several types of toxic effects depending on the dose and the

Yes. The health problems associated with burning fossil fuels, which are immediate and happen on a personal level, share a common cause with global climate change. As a toxicologist, I think we should place the emphasis for cleaning up our air on the immediate health benefits. That would also solve the global warming problem.

Toxic Relationships A prominent toxicologist talks about dangerous chemicals—and reframing the burning of fossil fuels as a public health threat. We’re surrounded by manmade chemicals, from bits of dust in the air we breathe to the fabrics we wear. Not all are dangerous, though. Toxicologists like John Whysner MD ’70, PhD ’70 have the difficult task of determining which ones might be. The author of The Alchemy of Disease: How Chemicals and Toxins Cause Cancer and Other Illnesses got his start in toxicology studying the venom of poisonous snails at USC, home of a leading center for developing anti-venom in the 1950s. He talks with writer Sarah Nightingale about the science behind harmful chemicals


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spring 2021


About 7 million people die prematurely each year from polluted air. Why is that still happening?

family class notes John Bautista ’91 (BUS), who holds an MBA from Columbia University, is managing director of UHY LLP, overseeing the firm’s business valuation services practice. Shawn Marie Boyne JD ’91 (LAW) joined Iowa State University as director of academic quality and undergraduate education. James O. Fraioli ’91 (BUS), a James Beard Award-winning culinary author, will soon publish Sammy Hagar’s Greatest Cocktail Hits with a foreword by Guy Fieri. Noreen Green DMA ’91 (MUS) was featured in a documentary by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music exploring her decades-long career as a conductor. Timothy Omundson ’91 (DRA) starred in Psych 2: Lassie Come Home on NBC.


David Orenstein ’92 (LAS), MS ’12 (GRN) published his memoir, Love Songs To My Brain, a story about coming of age after having pediatric brain cancer. Dominic Choi ’93 (ACC) was recognized by the L.A. City Council for his accomplishments as deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, the first Korean American to reach that rank. After graduating from USC with a degree in accounting, he began his career as a police officer and served in many roles, including sergeant, captain, commander and homeless coordinator. Currently chief of staff for LAPD Chief Michel Moore, he received the promotion after 25 years in the department.

president of DLY Marketing Group, a marketing and branding consultancy in L.A. Tim Spence ’94 (ARC), president of BSA LifeStructures, a national architecture, engineering, interior design and planning firm, serves on its board of directors and is a registered architect in Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida. Greg Suess ’94 (BUS), a partner at Glaser Weil LLP, was appointed an independent director for Zedge, a worldwide mobile publishing and content platform provider. Brian David Goldberg MA ’96, PhD ’03 (LAS) received his second master’s degree in health and behavioral science from Columbia University. Liz Kern ’96 (SCJ) was awarded a Golden Mike Award as news anchor and reporter at KMJ-AM in Fresno, California.

Kristen C. Vine JD ’96 (LAW) is a director at Jackson & Campbell PC in Washington, D.C., where she focuses on complex insurance coverage litigation related to environmental and toxic tort claims. Ben Ammerman ’97 (LAS) joined Fisher Phillips, a national employment and labor firm. Rebeca Andrade ’97 (LAS), EdD ’16 (EDU) is superintendent of Salinas City Elementary School District in Salinas, California. Sean Callahan ’97 (SCA), a Directors Guild of America stage manager, was elected to the guild’s Western AD/SM/PA Council, representing associate directors, stage managers and production associates.

Kurt Patino ’96 (LAS) owns Patino Management Company and presented the TEDx Talk “How Fear Can Be a Four-Letter Word for Success.”

Renée Goldsberry MM ’97 (MUS), a Tony Award-winning artist, was interviewed in the Los Angeles Times about her role as Angelica Schuyler in the stage and film versions of Hamilton. She was nominated for a Grammy for her performance in the hit musical, which was released on Disney+ last year.

Anthony Turner MBA ’96 (BUS) was named global commercial banking market executive for Bank of America, leading a team of 17 commercial bankers covering L.A. and Ventura counties and the Inland Empire.

Jeff Hegedus JD ’97 (LAW) is executive vice president for business and legal affairs at Skydance Television, where he oversees deals for the company’s live-action television group.

Kimberly Kane ’93 (LAS/SCJ) received a 2020 Bravo! Entrepreneur/I.Q. Award from BizTimes Media in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She graduated from the Small Business Association’s Emerging Leaders program and her company, Kane Communications Group, earned national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise. Doug Yates ’93 (MBA) is the founder and

USC Thornton graduate Renée Goldsberry is known for her starring role in Hamilton.

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family class notes

Brent Rupnow ’97 (ARC) earned the Certified Exit Planning Advisor designation, joining the Exit Planning Institute’s international community of advisors who assist business owners and their families through an ownership transition. Maria Aristigueta DPA ’98 (SPP) is the inaugural dean of the Joseph R. Biden Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Delaware. After serving as president of the American Society for Public Administration, she was elected to the National Academy of Public Administration. She has served on the executive council of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

Mark Foster ’95 (LAS), JD ’98 (LAW), partner at Snell & Wilmer, has been in the firm’s real estate practice group since 2016. Justin M. Goldstein JD ’98 (LAW), chair of the litigation practice group at Sklar Kirsh LLP, received the LA500 Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Marisa Reichardt MPW ’98 (LAS) published a young adult novel, Aftershocks, about a young woman’s determination to survive a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Southern California. Edward H. Chyun ’99 (LAS) is co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Council in the Cleveland office of Littler, an employment and labor law practice.

Limor Toren-Immerman MM ’99, DMA ’04 (MUS), Garik Terzian MM ’02 (MUS) and Nora Chiang Wrobel MM ’04 (MUS) are in the group Trio Accento and released a classical contemporary album, Extent Blues.


Mike Gillespie Mike Gillespie ’62, MS ’64 (EDU) coached the Trojan baseball team from 1987 to 2006, guiding the program to five Pac-10 titles, 14 NCAA Regional appearances, four College World Series berths and the 1998 College World Series crown. In his 31-year Division I coaching career, he won 1,156 games and twice was the National Coach of the Year. He was UC Irvine’s head coach from 20082018 and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018. During his college years, he was an infielder and outfielder on USC’s 1961 College World Series championship team. Gillespie died on July 29, 2020, at the age of 80.


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Aaron Brown MFA ’02 (SCA) is creative director of Taft Communications, a New Jersey-based consultancy firm, where he leads the company’s creative strategy and oversees design functions.

Matt Morse ’98 (ACC) is chief financial officer of Ethic Wealth Advisors LLC at Ethic, A Wealth Bank, headquartered in Boston.

Andrew Stein JD ’99 (LAW) is partner of Hersh Mannis LLP. He joined the firm in 2016, bringing more than 15 years of knowledge and experience representing high-profile, high-asset individuals in family law cases.


along with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam.

▲ Tyler Evans ’02 (GRN) is chief medical officer overseeing the COVID-19 response for the New York City Department of Emergency Management, where he led quarantine coordination efforts that included tending to patients at a makeshift hospital built at the U.S. Open tennis complex in Queens. Previously, he completed several humanitarian missions with Doctors without Borders and Partners in Health and helped found the NYC Refugee and Asylee Health Coalition. Amber Finch JD ’02 (LAW) is the partner chair of Reed Smith LLP’s African American Business Inclusion Group, STAARS.

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Jen Malia MA ’02, PhD ’09 (LAS) wrote the book Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism.

Ilan Ben-Hanan ’00 (SCJ) was promoted to ESPN senior vice president of programming and acquisitions, primarily overseeing ESPN’s college networks business.

Sean Mulvihill ’02 (DRA) teamed up with improv comedian Colin Mochrie for the documentary feature film Act Social.

Nicole Vick ’00 (SPP), MPH ’05 (MED) published a memoir, Pushing Through: Finding the Light in Every Lesson, that chronicles her experience as a teen mother who pursued a life of public service.

FredAnthony Smith ’02 (SCA), a senior producer for the NFL, received a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Trans-Media Sports Coverage for his work on NFL 100 Greatest and All-Time Team.

Raul Ramirez ’01 (LAS), EdD ’14 (EDU) is superintendent of Mesa Union School District in Somis, California.

Bill Stephenson ’02 (BUS) is a senior sales executive at SAP America, consulting with Southern California businesses on business analytics and customer experience.

Cody Westheimer ’01 (MUS) scored the award-winning documentary The Story of Plastic

Esmeralda Bermudez ’03 (SCJ) received the Sí Se Puede Award at the 2020 convention spring 2021


Ayano Ichida JD ’97 (LAW) joined Miramax as executive vice president of compliance. Previously, she was general counsel at WDI International Inc.

family news hearing the tale throughout childhood. His late father, Garry Short ’59, the sports editor of the Daily Trojan in 1958, pulled off the prank ahead of the annual crosstown football matchup. His fellow colluders included the late Joe Jares ’59, Daily Trojan managing editor, and Larry Lichty ’59, a student senator. Lichty roped in his roommate, Ken Ballard ’60, JD ’67, to pose as the delivery driver. “He made it clear that if I didn’t do it, no one else would be dumb enough,” Ballard jokes. The two staked out the printer and followed the UCLA driver to learn his delivery route. Meanwhile, Jares, Short and Lichty wrote articles for the phony paper. Their headlines included “Trojans Get Slight Nod in Bruin Poll” and “Student Quits School in Huff Over Facilities.” The back page quoted the UCLA coach proclaiming he “couldn’t see any hope” for the team.


In 1958, a crew of Trojans devised a bold plan to embarrass their crosstown rivals. Could they pull it off? Nothing unusual stood out about the newspaper delivery driver, aside from looking unfamiliar. Dressed in a workman’s tan shirt and slacks, he pulled up to the UCLA entrance just like any other morning. Stacks of the Daily Bruin were bundled in the back of his truck. The guard waved him through after he explained that the regular driver was sick. No one paid much attention to the truck as it dutifully dropped off newspapers across the Westwood campus—or so it seemed. In fact, Trojan conspirators had been covertly watching the truck’s progress. By the time UCLA students realized that fake copies of

their school paper were all over campus, it was too late. The driver—a USC student— was already headed back downtown, armed with a story destined for Trojan Family lore.

“We didn’t want to be accused of kidnapping ... ” “My dad loved telling the story,” says Steve Short ’91, who fondly remembers

THE ELABORATE PLOT UNFOLDS At about 6 a.m. on Nov. 21, 1958, the UCLA delivery driver showed up at the press to pick up his papers. A group of Trojan Squires intercepted him. “We didn’t want to be accused of kidnapping, but it was clear to the driver that the 20 or so people surrounding him felt really strongly that he should have a good meal before setting out on a crosstown journey,” Lichty says. The driver was escorted to a hearty breakfast, and Ballard headed to Westwood with his own special delivery. Lichty served as lookout at the last stop and remembers watching with glee as an angry Bruin threw their bogus papers into a trash can. Two other students immediately retrieved them and passed them out to a curious crowd. The pranksters had pulled it off. The caper made national news and the Daily Trojan printed a jubilant account the following Monday, with a quote from Dean of Students Robert Gordon admitting, “Even students and administration at UCLA agree that this was a real coup.” “A few people said we should be more serious and spend our efforts on better things,” Lichty says. “And yes, if we got caught or sued or arrested, it would have been awful. But I think we just loved a good joke.” The only disappointment that year might have been the result of the football game itself: a 15-15 tie. ELISA HUANG usc trojan family


Tap into the Power of the Trojan Family Alums, sign up for The Trojan Network, USC’s free online professional networking platform, where you can: • Connect with thousands of fellow alumni from a wide range of industries and geographic locations to give or receive valuable career advice. • Build your professional network. • Serve as a mentor and advisor to new grads and current students who reach out to you. • Participate as much or as little as you wish—whether it’s answering one question per month or establishing an ongoing connection with a student or fellow alum. Sign up today at


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family class notes hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. Araba Nayena Blankson MA ’03, PhD ’07 (LAS) was promoted to full professor at Spelman College. Eli Brueggemann MM ’03 (MUS), the musical director for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Music Direction for the episode “SNL At Home #1.” Carlton G. Davis JD ’03 (LAW) is a Sacramento County Superior Court judge. He previously served as a court commissioner at the Sacramento County Superior Court, deputy district attorney in the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and deputy district attorney in the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Jeremy Gimbel MBA ’03 (BUS) joined Donor Network West as chief financial officer.

Darryl H. Ng ’04 (BUS) was profiled in Forbes as one of the 2019 Best-in-State Next Gen Wealth Advisors in Northern California and spotlighted for his work in the special needs and disability community. Maegan Poland ’04 (SCA) received the 2020 Bakwin Award for her debut story collection, What Makes You Think You’re Awake. Mark Prior ’04 (BUS) helped lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series victory as the team’s pitching coach. At USC, he played in two College World Series runs and won the Golden Spikes Award as the country’s top amateur player in 2001. A 20-year pitching veteran of Major League Baseball, he was a Dodgers bullpen coach for two seasons before being promoted in December 2019. Patrick Sommers ’04 (BUS) is the assistant vice president of sponsorships and events at

Northwell Health, which was featured on 60 Minutes for helping lead the COVID19 fight in New York City. Matthew Strugar JD ’04 (LAW) was honored by the National Lawyers Guild for his work with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s litigation team, which won a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department for harmful policing activities. Maurice Turner MPA ’04 (SPP) is senior advisor to the executive director at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which supports local, state and federal partners in administering elections fairly and securely. Kimberly White-Smith EdD ’04 (EDU), dean of the University of La Verne’s LaFetra College of Education, is a vice president of the California Council on Teacher Education.

Tim Stowe EdD ’03 (EDU) is interim superintendent of Torrance Unified School District in Torrance, California. Michael Werwie ’03 (BUS) wrote the Netflix original movie Lost Girls. Jill Baker EdD ’04 (EDU) is superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, California.


Joshua Chu MS ’04 (ENG) is managing partner of Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s California offices, specializing in intellectual property with a focus on the prosecution of U.S. and foreign patent applications. Uri Fleming JD ’04 (LAW), MBA ’04 (BUS) is head of business affairs for unscripted television at Amazon Studios. Kathleen Grace MM ’04 (MUS) released the songs “Where Or When” and “Everywhere” from her album Tie Me To You, a collaboration with pianist Larry Goldings. Siria Martinez ME ’04 (EDU) is assistant vice chancellor of student equity and success at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento, California.

Mark Prior coaches the pitching staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers, World Series winners in 2020.

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family class notes help entertainment workers find new opportunities during the pandemic.

Erik Hammer ’05 (MUS) played guitar with Shakira during the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show. He was previously a guitarist for rapper Lupe Fiasco.

Veronica Arteaga MSW ’07 (SSW) is chief program officer for L.A.-based Wayfinder Family Services, which provides temporary shelter care for children, group homes for people who are medically fragile or severely disabled, and residential therapeutic programs for foster teens.

Brian Kendrella ’05 (BUS) published The Trojan Alphabet, a USC football-themed children’s book about the ABCs. Sarah Peyre MS ’05, EdD ’08 (EDU) is dean of the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester. Dominique Samario ’05 (SCJ), MPA ’18, GCRT ’18 (SPP), the first public information officer for Menifee, California, oversees the city’s communications, governmental relations and community engagement efforts. She previously served as a public information officer for the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta, working on a variety of programs such as special events, economic development initiatives, community grants and the Goleta’s Homelessness Strategic Plan. Theodore “Teddy” Chadwick ’06 (LAS) co-founded Chadwick & Crouse LLC, an immigration law firm in Milwaukee,Wisconsin.

Melissa Farrar MA ’07 (SCJ) is director of communications at Fairmont Austin in Austin, Texas. Andrew Green ’07 (MUS), MAT ’08 (EDU) was selected as District of Columbia Public Schools Music Teacher of the Year for the 2019-20 school year. A former tuba player in the Trojan Marching Band, he has taught music at Phelps ACE High School for 12 years. David A. Romero ’07 (LAS) published his third full-length poetry book, My Name is Romero. Tracey Chenoweth JD ’08 (LAW) is partner in the banking practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York City. Miya Williams Fayne ’08 (SCJ) became a Knight News Innovation Fellow, which will assist with her research on the digital Black press.

Mike Gallegos ’06 (LAS) joined HFO Investment Real Estate in Portland, Oregon, as a managing director.

Monisha Coelho MCL ’09 (LAW) is partner in the L.A. office of AlvaradoSmith, where she focuses on business and commercial litigation, real estate litigation and U.S.-India legal matters.

Glen Golightly MPW ’06 (LAS) launched Sofia Bella, a bridal salon in Torrance, California.

Anne Hsu ’09 (SCJ) is a senior producer at CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Jaime Lee ’06 (LAS), JD ’09 (LAW), a USC trustee, was a featured panelist on the Asia Society’s webcast COVID-19: The Implications for Real Estate on Both Sides of the Pacific.

Michael Pierce ’09 (MUS) is a live sound engineer and recording artist based in Austin, Texas, where he created a socially distanced outdoor studio during the pandemic.

Dan Rib ’06 (DRA) is the technical director of Mizel Arts and Culture Center in Denver, Colorado.

Madhuri Shekar MA ’09 (SCJ), MFA ’13 (DRA) received the Dramatists Guild of America’s Lanford Wilson Award, which is presented annually to a dramatist based primarily on their work as an early career playwright.

Jennifer Sarvas ’06 (DRA) founded a resume coaching business called At Your Sarvas to


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Coby Marie Turner JD ’09 (LAW) is a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP in the labor and employment department, where she represents employers in state and federal courts. Peter Vack ’09 (DRA) is a series regular on the HBO Max series Love Life. 2 0 1 0 s Nick Cabraloff ’10 (SPP) completed his MBA at the Harvard Business School and is an investment analyst at Boston-based hedge fund Whale Rock Capital Management. Sarah Gibson MM ’10, DMA ’15 (MUS) and Thomas Kotcheff MM ’12, DMA ’19 (MUS), who form piano duo HOCKET, launched #What2020SoundsLike, a social media series featuring newly commissioned works from 50 composers. Steffi Gascón Hafen JD ’10 (LAW), a partner at Snell & Wilmer, was included in Super Lawyers’ 2020 Southern California Rising Stars list for estate planning and probate. Jason Issokson MA ’11 (SCJ), MM ’11 (MUS) was introduced by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as one of its newest members in a video interview, during which he performed Brahms’ “Sonatensatz in C minor.” Michael Lewis MPA ’11 (SPP) was elected chairperson of the board of directors of the Torrance Community Credit Union in Torrance, California. He has served the credit union since 2011 as a member of the supervisory committee, and in 2013 he joined the board of directors, where he served as treasurer and vice chairperson. Rosezetta Upshaw JD ’11 (LAW), president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, was named to the National Bar Association’s 40 Under 40 list. Angela Vázquez MSW ’11 (SSW) is on the leadership team for Body Politic, a global COVID-19 support group to increase public awareness and secure public investment to address the long-term impacts of the novel coronavirus. She was also appointed to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. spring 2021


Molly Claflin ’05 (LAS) won the 2020 Stevens Award presented by the Truman Foundation.

To read more Class Notes and submit an update, visit on the web. Your news may appear in a future issue.

categories at the 2020 Grammy Awards (album, song, record and best new artist) for only the second time in the history of the awards. Kevin Del Principe MFA ’13 (SCA) and Nikki Del Principe MFA ’13 (SCA), who married in August 2019, co-created the feature film Up on the Glass. T R O J A N


Gayle Garner Roski A USC alumna, plein-air watercolorist and longtime philanthropist, Gayle Garner Roski ’62 was a driving force in the Los Angeles art community. Over a career that spanned more than half a century, Roski illustrated seven books and held numerous solo shows. Her art career coincided with her civic dedication. She headed public art projects throughout Los Angeles, including the Community of Angels Sculptural Project and at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels. She also served on the executive board of the California Art Club. In 2006, she and her husband, USC Trustee Edward P. Roski ’62, pledged $23 million to USC’s art school, which was renamed in her honor. In 2016, the Roskis made a landmark $25 million gift to endow and name the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute at Keck Medicine of USC, which helped solidify the institute’s position as one of the nation’s leading centers for advanced vision care, research and education. The donation had a deep personal meaning for Roski, who received cataract treatment at the institute. After the surgery, Roski’s ability to see color and light values dramatically improved and she realized how cataracts had affected her paintings and changed how she used color. Roski died on Oct. 21, 2020, at the age of 79.

Michael Zobel ’11 (LAS), MD ’15 (MED) completed the Pediatric Surgery Research Fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he investigated the benefit of neoadjuvant immunotherapy in treating children with a high-risk type of cancer. He is completing his residency in general surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. Maxim Dorbushin ’12 (LAS) founded and serves as president of Quantum Logos, a marketing agency. Alfonso Jimenez EdD ’12 (EDU) was named superintendent of Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in the City of Industry, California. Justin Lubliner ’12 (MUS), founder of Darkroom Records, signed Billie Eilish as the label’s second artist. Eilish swept the four main

Tonantzin Oseguera EdD ’13 (EDU) was appointed vice president for student affairs at California State University, Fullerton. Alison Spirito ’13 (LAS), JD ’17 (LAW) published the article “The ‘Collaborative Generation’ Will Make Good Family Lawyers” in the June 2020 issue of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine. She is an associate at McGaughey & Spirito in Redondo Beach, California, and serves on the executive committee of the Barristers/Young Attorneys Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Dan Arriola JD ’14 (LAW), a city councilmember for Tracy, California, was highlighted in the Young Elected Officials Network’s 35 Under 35 list. He was elected to the city council in 2018 at age 29, becoming the youngest council member in city history and Tracy’s first openly LGBTQ elected official. Justin Berry PhD ’14 (LAS) earned tenure and promotion to associate professor at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, where he has been an assistant professor of political science since 2014. Jessica Burns JD ’14 (LAW) joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, specializing in commercial leases, loan documents, real estate purchase and sale agreements, and governance documents. James Morosini ’14 (DRA) received the 2020 ScreenCraft Comedy Screenplay Competition grand prize for his short film I Love My Dad. Brooke Mulligan ’14 (BUS), JD ’19 (LAW), Mane Hakobyan JD ’18 (LAW) and Mane Khachatryan JD ’19 (LAW) were featured on EXHIBIT A: From a Big Law School to a Small Firm, a webcast series by the Pasadena, California, law firm of Donald P. Schweitzer. Eric Hoyeon Song ’14 (LAS) received a 2020 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Madigan Stehly ’14 (DRA), a two-time Emmy Award winner, was nominated in 2020 for two Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special for his work on the 62nd Grammy Awards and Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Colin Woodell ’14 (DRA) is a series regular on the HBO Max series The Flight Attendant. Karine Akopchikyan JD ’15 (LAW), a litigator at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and vice president of the USC Gould Alumni Association, was named to the 2020 Southern California Super Lawyers’ 2020 Rising Stars list. Alissa Gwynn ’15 (SCJ) started a new position as senior manager of culture programming at Red Bull Media House. Liz Lopez ’15 (SCJ) is an associate partner manager for creators at Spotify. Kalyn Norwood ’15 (SCJ) joined KOATTV’s Action 7 News team in New Mexico. Taniko “Nickey” Woods EdD ’15 (EDU) is assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and admissions in UCLA’s graduate division. Molly Zive MSW ’15 (SSW) started her own clinical practice, Therapy with Molly, working with clients who are experiencing life transitions, work-life balance issues, depression, anxiety and more. Milan L. Brandon II JD ’16 (LAW), an associate at LiMandri & Jonna, published articles in the California Insurance Law and Regulation Reporter and the Insurance Litigation Reporter discussing commercial property insurance claims during the pandemic. Scott Felix ’16 (DRA) directed five shows for Shia LaBeouf ’s Slauson Rec Theater School. He also created the production company Sunflower Pictures, which focuses on independent short films, and published a poetry book, Mediocre Sunflower. Jason C. Harter ’16 (BUS) is an associate at L.A. real estate private equity firm Pacific Coast Capital Partners. usc trojan family


Scholarships change lives. “I am a first-generation American and a first-generation college graduate. It is no exaggeration to say that this scholarship impacted the trajectory of my life and the lives of all of my family.” Edgar Bustos Dr. Homira Firoozeh Kioumher and Dr. Fariba Firozeh Bagheri Endowed Scholar USC Marshall School of Business USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Class of 2020

Every gift counts.

family class notes



Alan Kreditor


Alan Kreditor had a 50-year career at USC, including serving as a longtime administrator and chief fundraiser. During his time at the university, Kreditor launched the Master of Real Estate Development degree and helped establish what is now known as the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He became the first dean of the USC School of Urban and Regional Planning, which later merged with the USC School of Public Administration to form what is now the USC Price School of Public Policy. As senior vice president for university advancement, he set a new bar for fundraising, helping raise $2.85 billion in what was then the most successful campaign in the history of higher education. During Kreditor’s 16-year tenure as USC’s chief fundraiser, the university raised more than $5.5 billion in gifts and pledges. He returned to the USC Price faculty as a professor emeritus in 2008. He also served on numerous national and international boards and commissions and advised corporations, foreign governments, international organizations and other universities. He also served as chairman of the California Building Foundation and the Los Angeles Urban Design Committee. He died Oct. 7, 2020, at age 84.

Nicole S. Houman JD ’16 (LAW) founded The Property People, a Miami law firm specializing in protecting the personal and financial investment of property ownership. Reid Silverman ’16 (SCJ) was promoted to director of brand at Mayweather Boxing + Fitness. Dario Avila LLM ’17 (LAW) is leading a campaign to deliver 3D-printed face shields to health care workers in Quito, Ecuador. Claudia Buccio ’17, MS ’18 (SCJ) received her first Emmy Award for Luz Sin Fronteras/A Light Across the Border, a documentary about a blind vendor in Tijuana who raises money for underserved people with special needs. Eli Goodstein ’17 (SCJ) started a new position as associate producer of digital video news at CNN.

Nicole Skinner MSW ’17 (SSW), a mental health counselor at McKinley Children’s Center in San Dimas, California, received the Outstanding Field Supervisor Award from Azusa Pacific University.

fourth generation to serve Prescott, Arizona, through their practice, Hicks Dental Group.

Raja Venkatapathy Mani MCG ’18 (SCJ) works in digital media communications for the United Nations Development Programme in New Delhi, India.

Jaimie Pangan MM ’19 (MUS) was invited to join the Recording Academy as a voting member.

Casey McEuin MSW ’18 (SSW) has helped more than 4,000 veterans find work through Project RELO, his nonprofit organization dedicated to educating business executives on the benefits of hiring military veterans. Waverly Middleton ’18 (LAS) was awarded second place and named fan favorite in the Goldman Sachs Gives Analyst Impact Fund competition. Joy Ofodu ’18 (SCJ) was promoted to associate brand marketing manager at Instagram. Drew Schwendiman ’18 (SCJ) joined REFORM Alliance, a criminal justice reform organization led by Meek Mill, Jay-Z and Van Jones, as its first social media strategist. Alexander Blake DMA ’19 (MUS) leads the choral ensemble Tonality, which received the 2020 Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for choruses committed to new music. Landon Brand ’19 (IYA), Ben Stanfield ’19 (IYA) and Mimi Tran Zambetti ’20 (IYA) are co-founders of Wren, an app that calculates ways to offset your carbon footprint.They were recently named to the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for 2021 in the Consumer Technology category. Braden Hicks DDS ’19 (DEN) is the latest in his family to graduate from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, following in the footsteps of father Paul W. Hicks DDS ’88, uncle Scott Hicks DDS ’93, grandfather Paul H. Hicks DDS ’63, great-uncle Taylor Hicks DDS ’62 and great-grandfather Taylor T. Hicks DDS ’33. He joins his father and uncle as the

Mirabella McDowell MA ’19 (SCJ) is social media associate at Group SJR, a public relations agency.

2 0 2 0 s Matāpuna Levenson MSW ’20 (SSW) is director of training and technical assistance for the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Maahir Shah ’20 (MUS) won the Independent Music Award for Best Music Producer in the Dance/Electronica category for Electric, the first full-length album released under his moniker, 5önik. M A R R I A G E S Kazuma Kitagaito ’09 (ENG) and Nikki Ryu ’11 (BUS) Cheryl Madamba ’12 (ENG) and Jeff Collins Elisabeth M. Davis MAT ’18 (EDU) and Glenn Hakes B I R T H S James O. Fraioli ’91 (BUS) and Tiffany Fraioli, a daughter, Bianca Alessandra Beaumont Shapiro ’06 (LAS) and Ashley L. Shapiro, a son, Simon Harris Andrew Green ’07 (MUS), MAT ’08 (EDU) and Elizabeth Kuhn ’07 (LAS), a son, Anthony Paul Nagem Annie (Faulkner) Wagner ’11 (LAS) and Brian Wagner ’12 (SCJ), a daughter, Bridget Catherine “Cat” Karyan Wilbur JD ’11 (LAW) and Greg Wilbur,a son,Henry “Harry”Augustus Justine Safar Leach MAT ’15 (EDU) and Kyle Leach, a son, Anderson Koguma usc trojan family


family class notes M E M O R I A M

A L U M N I Marilyn Johnson Kizziah ’43 (SCJ) of Santa Monica, California; Feb. 20, 2020, at age 96 Betty Fullerton ’46 (LAS) of Scottsdale, Arizona; Feb. 10, 2020, at the age of 94 Lowell Dabbs ’48 (LAS), MS ’54 (GRD) of Bakersfield, California; May 25, 2020, at the age of 95 Baxter Hallaian ’48 (LAS) of Encino, California; June 30, 2020, at the age of 97 George E. Myers ’48, MA ’50 (LAS) of Portland, Oregon; Feb. 24, 2020, at the age of 93 Joan Johnson Follis ’49 (BUS) of Ventura, California; Dec. 30, 2018, at the age of 91 Jerry D. Boyd ’50 (SCJ) of Reston, Virginia; Sept. 24, 2019, at the age of 91 John Caminiti ’50 (BUS) of Newport Beach, California; Jan. 13, 2013, at the age of 93 John Creighton Bodle MD ’51 (MED) of Santa Rosa, California; Sept. 1, 2020, at the age of 94 James L. Perzik ’51 (BUS), JD ’62 (LAW) of Los Angeles; Nov. 11, 2020, at the age of 91 T R O J A N T R I B U T E Rev. Bernard J. Coughlin MSW ’59 (SSW) was posthumously honored as a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers Foundation last year. Coughlin, who died in January 2020, was a civic leader, university president, social work administrator and scholar, along with being an advocate of human rights, service and social responsibility. He was the longest-serving president of Gonzaga University, and though the Jesuit priest had taken a vow of poverty, he proved to be the biggest fundraiser in the school’s history. He received many awards for his contributions to society and authored two books and dozens of scholarly articles about social change and action.


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Ralph H. Zeledon ’52 (LAS), MSW ’56 (SSW); March 1, 2020

Russell Vogel MS ’63 (EDU) of Newbury Park, California; Feb. 25, 2016 at the age of 91

Margaret Akita ’53 (LAS) of Sierra Madre, California; May 6, 2020, at the age of 89

Mel Hein, Jr. ’64, MS ’66 (EDU) of Reno, Nevada; July 8, 2020, at the age of 79

James Patrick Fitzgerald ’54 (LAS), MS ’58 (EDU) of Lakewood, California; March 5, 2020, at the age of 90

Robert R. Rigg ’64 (LAS), LLB ’67 (LAW) of Newport Beach, California; April 10, 2020, at the age of 78

Robert A. Krauch ’54 (SCJ) of Playa del Rey, California; Jan. 24, 2020, at the age of 92

Eugenia Behar PharmD ’65 (PHM) of Coral Gables, Florida; Sept. 8, 2020, at the age of 88

Albert Solnit ’54 (LAS), DDS ’56 (DEN) of Solvang, California; Feb. 18, 2020, at age 90

Takeshi Tokiyama MS ’65 (ENG) of Los Angeles; Oct. 16, 2019, at age 84

Theodore C. Carothers ’55 (LAS), MS ’61 (EDU) of Pasadena, California; March 2020, at the age of 90

Carlton Penn MS ’66 (ENG) of Lancaster, California; Dec. 6, 2019, at the age of 80

Donald Daves ’55 (LAS) of Newport Beach, California; June 7, 2020, at the age of 89 George Talcott Root PharmD ’56 (PHM) of Corvallis, Oregon; Aug. 12, 2020, at age 87

Mary Elizabeth Zola ’66 (LAS) of Monrovia, California; April 14, 2020, at the age of 77 Damon Clinton Bame ’67 (LAS) of Riverside, California; June 26, 2020, at the age of 77

Fred Caso ’57 (BUS) of Laguna Woods, California; April 12, 2020, at the age of 84

Vincent H. Okamoto ’67 (LAS), JD ’73 (LAW) of Inglewood, California; Sept. 29, 2020, at the age of 76

Lawrence J. Warner DDS ’58 (DEN), MLA ’82 (LAS) of Sherman Oaks, California; April 23, 2020, at the age of 89

Patrick G. Young ’67, MBA ’70 (BUS) of Newport Beach, California; Nov. 17, 2019, at the age of 74

Robert A. Johnson ’60 (ENG) of Ironwood, Michigan; April 23, 2020, at the age of 91

Farokh Shad Afsahi MA ’68, PhD ’79 (LAS) of Laguna Niguel, California; Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 84

Antonio Juan Mendez ’60, MA ’65, PhD ’68 (LAS) of El Segundo, California; May 22, 2020, at the age of 81 Michael John Cloran ’61 (LAS) of Carmel, California; June 7, 2020, at the age of 82 Leslie Geyer ’61 (LAS), MS ’63, MS ’77 (GRD) of Carmel, California; May 18, 2020 Judy Primrose McKeever Gannon ’61 (EDU) of Valley Center, California; Sept. 8, 2019, at the age of 79 Robert W. Mannon MS ’61, PhD ’71 (ENG) of Santa Barbara, California; March 10, 2020, at the age of 92

Ryle Sonduck MS ’68 (EDU) of Cathedral City, California; May 16, 2020, at the age of 89 Steve Hammond Watson ’71 (LAS) of Hagatana, Guam; Nov. 23, 2019, at the age of 70 Edwin M. Todd MLA ’72 (LAS) of Boulder, Colorado; July 6, 2019, at the age of 71 Thomas Charles Somerville DMA ’73 (MUS) of Aliso Viejo, California; Feb. 25, 2020, at the age of 85 Robert M. Bogle MBA ’74 (BUS) of Westlake Village, California; Jan. 6, 2020, at age 76 spring 2021



Trojan Family obituaries appear on the web at, where you can also find a link to submit obituaries online.




Ira Kalb of Santa Monica, California; August 2020, at the age of 72 David Lewis of Tampa Bay, Florida; July 14, 2020, at the age of 65 Max Tuerk of Trabuco Canyon, California; June 20, 2020, at the age of 26






Tom Seaver, the legendary pitcher known for his fastball, spent more than 20 years pitching for major leagues teams, including the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. “Tom Terrific,” USC’s first member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, died on Aug. 31, 2020, at the age of 75.

James E. Fernandes MS ’74 (ENG) of Seattle, Washington; Feb. 8, 2020, at the age of 93 Timothy McReynolds ’74 (LAS) of Cumming, Georgia; Sept. 26, 2019, at the age of 67


John Zander Gallie ’75 (BUS) of Santa Ana, California; Aug. 12, 2019, at the age of 75 Lee Dreyfuss ’76 (LAS) of La Cañada, California; March 25, 2020, at the age of 65 Kathleen N. Holmes MSW ’78 (SSW) of Phoenix, Arizona; Dec. 23, 2018 Shirley Elaine Ostler MA ’81 (LAS), PhD ’87 (EDU) of Logan, Utah; Jan. 22, 2020, at the age of 89

Steven G. Tripodes MBA ’82 (BUS) of San Marino, California; Feb. 19, 2020, at the age of 87 David Elias Lutfi ’83 (LAS) of Yorba Linda, California; Nov. 19, 2019, at the age of 57 Grant Imahara ’93 (ENG); July 13, 2020, at the age of 49 James M. Carrick ’00 (LAS) of San Diego, California; Jan. 4, 2019, at the age of 48 Ruben Zepeda II EdD ’05 (EDU) of Palmdale, California; March 6, 2020, at the age of 59


USC Leventhal School of Accounting USC School of Architecture USC Roski School of Art and Design Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy USC Marshall School of Business Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC USC Kaufman School of Dance USC School of Dramatic Arts USC Rossier School of Education USC Viterbi School of Engineering USC Graduate School USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology USC Iovine and Young Academy USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences USC Gould School of Law Keck School of Medicine of USC USC Thornton School of Music USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy USC School of Pharmacy USC School of Cinematic Arts USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism USC Price School of Public Policy USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Amanda Decker, Matt DeGrushe, Edmundo Diaz, Leticia Lozoya, Kristy Ly, Alex Rast, Stacey Wang Rizzo, Nicole Stark, Julie Tilsner and Deann Webb contributed to this section.

Joshua S. Markovitz ’16 (SCJ) of Seattle; Feb. 11, 2021, at the age of 27 usc trojan family


back in time

Have an idea for a story on USC history? Email it to

Ticket to Ride On May 20, 2016, Los Angeles celebrated a milestone in public transit: the opening of Los Angeles Metro Rail’s E Line to Santa Monica. The much-anticipated 6.6-mile light rail extension connects downtown Los Angeles to the beach. On opening day, hundreds flocked to the line’s 19 stations to experience a traffic jam-free ride between downtown and the Westside— a rare experience for many Angelenos. Though maybe not for some. Older locals might recall Pacific Electric’s Santa Monica Air Line, a predecessor to today’s E Line train that operated until 1953. It carried passengers between Santa Monica and its station at the corner of Sixth and Main streets in downtown L.A. Today’s E Line runs along much of the Air Line’s original route, which included a tunnel under the 405 freeway and stops near the University Park Campus.


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In this picture from 1953—the year the Air Line closed for good—a rail car cruises down Exposition Boulevard. The Mudd Hall of Philosophy’s distinct brick facade and 146-foot clock tower are unmistakable in the background. Midcentury Angelenos could take this route through South L.A., Culver City, Palms and West L.A. to the end of the line, which was within walking distance of the Santa Monica sand. Low ridership led to the Air Line’s closure, but 63 years later, Metro rail lines revived regional interest in public transit. The E Line alone ferried 18 million passengers in 2019. The line has three stations adjacent to the University Park Campus, making train cars once again a fixture along Exposition. Running past Mudd Hall every few minutes on weekdays, they keep the campus community linked to the city after more than a half century. ELISA HUANG spring 2021


Before Metro E Line trains zipped down Exposition Boulevard, there was the Santa Monica Air Line.

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