On March 7, Charles F. Zukosky, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, announced the newest faculty members to receive the highest academic honor that the university bestows — to be named a University Professor or a Distinguished Professor. Among the new Distinguished Professors is Caryn Lerman, PhD, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This distinction is awarded by USC President Carol Folt, PhD, to faculty members whose accomplishments have brought great respect and esteem to the university.

“President Folt and I are grateful for these faculty, whose contributions reflect USC’s mission to better humanity through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit,” said Zukosky in his announcement.

USC’s new University Professors

Lee Epstein, PhD, of the Gould School of Law at USC is also co-director of the Center for Empirical Research in the Law and a principal investigator in the United States Supreme Court Database. Her research and teaching interests center on legal institutions and the behavior of judges. A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation, Epstein has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles and essays and 18 books. Her work is frequently cited in the New York Times and other major news media.

Shaun Harper, PhD, is one of the nation’s most highly respected racial equity experts and a provost professor in the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Marshall School of Business. He also is the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership and founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center. Harper has been awarded over $18 million in grants and cited by all major media. He has provided testimonies to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government and served in multiple national committees and task forces.

Azad M. Madni, PhD, is a professor of astronautics, aerospace and mechanical engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering, where he holds the Northrop Grumman Foundation Fred O’Green Chair and is the executive director of USC’s Systems Architecting and Engineering Program. His research in autonomous systems safety has been sponsored by government agencies and major aerospace and automotive companies. He is the creator of model-based interactive storytelling, an approach that enhances collaboration, visualization and space exploration when addressing scientific and societal problems.

 USC’s new Distinguished Professors

Caryn Lerman, PhD, is the associate dean for cancer programs and the H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman Cancer Research Chair at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, as well as director of USC Norris. She is widely recognized for her long, award-winning career in research, which has integrated the fields of neuroscience, genomics, pharmacology and population science to develop groundbreaking methods of cancer prevention. A major unifying focus of her work is biology-driven science to reduce cancer risk behaviors. Lerman is the current vice president/president-elect of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and a past president of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Steven J. Ross, PhD is Dean’s Professor of History and the director of the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. He is also the co-founder and former co-director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at USC. He has written extensively in the areas of working-class history, social history, film history and political history. Each of his many books have received prestigious awards and honors. His most recent book, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2018.

— Kate Faye