Berislav Zlokovic was one of three USC faculty members to be appointed as University Professors, USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski announced in an April 5 memo. John Brooks Slaughter, PhDHanna Reisler, PhD, and Berislav Zlokovic, MD, PhD, were named as University Professors and Natalia Molina, PhD, and Alan E. Willner, PhD, were named as Distinguished Professors.

“These exceptional faculty members have brought great distinction to the University,” Zukoski wrote in the memo. “Recognizing each of them is an honor for President (Carol L.) Folt and me. We look forward to celebrating their achievements at the annual Academic Honors Convocation this month.”

Both recognitions are awarded very selectively. The University Professor distinction is awarded by the president based on multidisciplinary interests and significant accomplishments in several disciplines. The Distinguished Professor distinction is awarded by the president to those whose accomplishments have brought special renown to USC.

New University Professors

John Brooks Slaughter is Dean’s Professor of Education and Engineering in the Rossier School of Education and the Viterbi School of Engineering. His distinguished career includes leading two universities and heading the National Science Foundation (NSF) as its first African American director, among many other accomplishments. His education research is in higher education leadership, diversity, and inclusion in higher education, underrepresented minorities in STEM, and access and affordability. 

He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Hall of Fame of the American Society for Engineering Education. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering Society. He is the founding editor of the international journal, Computers & Electrical Engineering.

Hanna Reisler is the Lloyd Armstrong Jr. Chair in Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemistry in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. An internationally recognized chemist, she studies detailed mechanisms of chemical reactions in the gas and condensed phases by using laser and molecular-beam techniques, research which is relevant to environmental, atmospheric and combustion chemistry as well as to the fundamental chemistry of new energy sources.

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. She has received numerous awards and honors, including an NSF CAREER Award, an NSF Faculty Award for Women Scientists, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Max Planck Research Award, and the American Physical Society Herbert P. Broida Prize. She helped found the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program at USC.

Berislav Zlokovic is the director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and holds the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research; he is a Professor in the Department of Physiology & Neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and a Professor of Biological Sciences at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. His research surrounds the role of brain microcirculation, particularly the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in health and disease in the adult brain and during brain aging. He has made major contributions to our understanding of the role of BBB in the pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Thomson Reuters and Clarivate Analytics have listed him as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for 18 consecutive years (2002-2020) for ranking in the top 1% of the most-cited authors in the field of neurosciences and behavioral sciences. Among many honors, he has received the MetLife Award for Medical Research, the Potamkin Prize from the American Academy of Neurology, the Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Academy of Sciences, and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiative. For the last five years, he has been asked by the Nobel Committee to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. 

New Distinguished Professors

Natalia Molina is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She is the author of two award winning books, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939, and How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts, in which she coins the term “racial scripts” to demonstrate how ideas about race are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racialized groups. Her research continues to explore the themes of race, space, labor, immigration, gender, and urban history.

In 2020, she was named a MacArthur Fellow. Her work has further been supported by various organizations including the Ford, Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations; she has received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Huntington Library. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and in 2018 was the Organization of American Historians China Residency scholar. She has also been the recipient of various awards for her diversity work, including by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Alan E. Willner is the Steven and Kathryn Sample Chair in Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering. His research is in optical technologies and he has over 1450 publications to his name. He is a Member of the U.S. Army Science Board and was a Member of the Defense Sciences Research Council.

Among a multitude of honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an International Fellow of the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the IEEE, the National Academy of Inventors, the Optical Society (OSA), and SPIE. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the IEEE Eric Sumner Award, and a Presidential Faculty Fellows Award from the White House. He served as President of OSA and editor in chief of several of their publications.