Fall 2017 Recipients

*These awards were granted for travel during the months of January to May 2018. *

Andrew Bertoli, Ph.D. Dr. Bertoli completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at UC Berkeley in August 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at USC’s Center for International Studies. His research focuses on the domestic sources of international conflict. He will be attending the International Studies Association’s annual conference in Baltimore, where he will present three papers. These papers look at how nationalism, partisan politics, and reckless leaders affect state aggression. The following week, he will give a talk at the University of Pennsylvania on the recent resurgence of nationalism across the globe and what it means for international relations.

Hillary Plummer, Ph.D. Dr. Plummer received her Ph.D in Kinesiology from Auburn University and her educational background is in athletic training and biomechanics. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Clinical Biomechanics, Orthopaedic and Sports Outcomes Research Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Lori Michener. Dr. Plummer’s research interests include investigating upper extremity injury mechanisms as well as developing and implementing training protocols for injury prevention and performance optimization in athletes. She will be co-leading a workshop on The Overhead Athlete: Fatigue & Injury Prevention. The goal of this workshop is to provide an overview of the effects of localized fatigue on overhead throwing mechanics as well as evidence-based exercises that can be incorporated into injury prevention protocols.

Sanjay Purushotham, Ph.D. Dr. Purushotham is a Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California (USC). He obtained his MS and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from USC. His research interests are in machine learning, data mining, statistics and its applications to health care & bioinformatics, computer vision and social networks analysis. Recently, he has been developing deep learning solutions for Big Data and Healthcare Analytics.

Panagiotis Tsilifis, Ph.D. Dr. Tsilifis received his B.Sc. and M.Sc in Applied Mathematics in ’09 and ’11 from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in ’14 and ’16 respectively from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Southern California. Dr. Tsilifis is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate at the Department of Civil Engineering at USC. His latest work focuses on Polynomial Chaos basis adaptation techniques with applications to efficient computation in contaminant transport in the subsurface.

Stephanie Shishido, Ph.D. Dr. Shishido is a molecular oncologist currently focusing on the identification and characterization of circulating tumor cells from the liquid biopsy received from clinical trial patients. She is interested in the interactions between the neoplastic cell and its microenvironment, specifically in relation to adhesion and intracellular communication. Dr. Shishido’s personal research centers on cellular imaging and molecular analysis of cancer cells. She is pursuing a career in biomedical research in conjunction with teaching responsibilities at an academic institution, ultimately contributing to the scientific community by performing innovative, high-impact cancer research throughout my career and ideally improve the quality of life for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Jonathan Eyer, Ph.D. Dr. Eyer is a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. He received his Ph.D. in economics from North Carolina State University in 2015. His research is focused on energy and environmental economics. Dr. Eyer presented one of his current research papers at the American Economic Association meetings in Chicago. His paper, joint with USC Economics Professor Matthew Kahn, titled “Prolonging Coal’s Sunset: The Causes and Consequences of Local Protectionism for a Declining Polluting Industry”, examined the effort of utilities to support local coal mines by disproportionately purchasing locally-mined coal. This research is aimed at understanding the rate at which coal consumption in the United States is declining, as well as understanding the environmental impacts associated with protecting “dirty” jobs.

Justin Schaal, Ph.D. Dr. Schaal graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences from UC Irvine and in 2016 he completed his doctorate in Medical Biology at USC Keck School of Medicine. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar in Michael Selsted’s lab. As both an undergraduate and graduate student he focused his research on defensins, a class of antimicrobial peptides associated with the innate immune system. His doctoral thesis focused on determining the immune modulating properties of theta defensins in the context of infection and autoimmunity. The goal of Dr. Schaal’s research is to utilize defensins in the treatment of human diseases such as bacterial sepsis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lily FitzGibbon, Ph.D. Dr. FitzGibbon is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar working in the USC Minds in Development Lab directed by Dr. Henrike Moll. Her research investigates the development of counterfactual reasoning, thinking about “what might have been,” in young children. In her latest studies, she has been investigating the role that curiosity about what might have been plays in adaptive decision making in 4- and 5-year-old children. Dr. FitzGibbon presented this work at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Counterfactual Thinking in Toronto in November 2016. The work was very well received by experts in the field and she was awarded the prize for the best poster.

Daniel Garijo Verdejo, Ph.D. Dr. Garijo is a postdoctoral researcher at the Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California. He also collaborates with the Ontology Engineering Group at the Artificial Intelligence Department of the Computer Science Faculty of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain). Dr. Garijo’s research activities focus on e-Science and the Semantic Web, specifically on how to increase the understandability of scientific workflows using their outputs, inputs, provenance, metadata, etc. and exposing them as Linked Data on the Web.

Kelly McWilliams, Ph.D. Dr. McWilliams is a postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Thomas Lyon in the Gould School of Law. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2014 from the University of California, Davis under the guidance of Dr. Gail S. Goodman. Dr. McWilliams utilizes a multimethod approach to examine theoretically and applied research questions that sit at the intersection of psychology and the law. Her research largely examines children’s cognitive and social development with a focus on children’s recall of stressful and traumatic events.

Monica Steinberg, Ph.D.
 Dr. Steinberg is the Doheny Postdoctoral Fellow at The Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West (ICW). She earned a Ph.D. in Art History from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2016. Her research examines how artists in Southern California (working in the shadow of Hollywood’s fiction and invention) used humorous and alternative forms of authorship to creatively disrupt the socio-political climate of the Cold War and the Vietnam War. By highlighting the phenomena of assumed names, aliases, pseudonyms, alter egos, and heteronyms, Steinberg considers the role fictional artist-authors, and pseudonymous artworks and publications, have played in catalyzing events ranging from censorship and protest to laugh-ins and even legal cases. Steinberg presented a portion of her research at the College Art Association Conference in New York.

Michelle Hall, Ph.D. Dr. Hall’s research focuses on the politics of education with a specific focus on equity, community engagement, expanding accountability reforms, and governance. Her research grows out of her past work in workforce investment policy and as a public school and university educator and examines the ways in which power and politics affect and are affected by education reform policies. Dr. Hall’s current work is focusing on how leaders interpret equity and coherence mandates when implementing an equity-based decentralizing policy reform in California, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). She is also involved in a study that is identifying the role of multilevel governance actions that promote Social Emotional Learning by Latinx and African-American students in middle schools. Dr. Hall’s most recent publication The Point of No Return? Interest Groups, School Board Elections and the Sustainment of the Portfolio Management Model in Post-Katrina New Orleans is forthcoming in Teachers College Record.

Kaori Noridomi, Ph.D. Dr. Noridomi is a postdoctoral scholar working with Dr. Richard Roberts at Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Southern California. Dr. Noridomi studied the molecular basis of Myasthenia gravis (MG) in her Ph.D. by solving structures of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) bound by a myasthenia gravis autoantibody. From the structures she solved during her Ph.D., she learned that autoantibodies from myasthenia gravis patients bind a common core region on the nAChR through a largely conserved mechanism. She will be attending the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor 2017 Conference held in Greece and will present possible therapeutic molecules for myasthenia gravis.

Yi Zhang, Ph.D. Dr. Zhang is a postdoctoral research associate in Roski Eye Institute at USC. He is working on the projects of developing medical implants for the retinal prosthesis. He intends to visit the group of Professor John Rogers at the Northwestern University to discuss and collaborate: fundamental approaches and the processes of design for fabricating stretchable and foldable electrodes, sensors and silicon integrated circuits on plastic substrates, which could be used to develop next generation retinal prosthesis.

Hans Oh, Ph.D. Dr. Hans Oh received his doctorate from Columbia School of Social Work. His current research focuses on mental health disparities, particularly the causes and consequences of psychotic experiences. Dr. Oh will be presenting at the Society for Social Work Research conference in Washington DC, serving as a panelist for a symposium on the topic of police discrimination and mental health among African-Americans.

David Hauser, Ph.D. Dr. Hauser completed his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Michigan. He is a postdoctoral research associate at the Dornsife Mind and Society Center. He researches judgment/social cognition, namely how communication guides our inferences, preferences, and reasoning. He will be chairing a symposium and presenting at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Atlanta, Georgia. His symposium explores the positive and negative impacts of war metaphors for cancer in popular discourse. His presentation discusses how war metaphors cause people to i) infer that cancer treatment is more difficult and ii) believe that they have less control over their health.

Maryam Abolfath-Beygi, Ph.D. Dr.Abolfath-Beygi finished her bachelors and masters in electrical engineering at the University of Tehran, Iran. After a successful masters thesis, she was inspired to continue towards her PhD. She finished her PhD at the University of British Columbia. As a postdoctoral scholar, she will be using her mathematical background and will be expanding her research expertise in the field of computational neuroscience. At SFN, she is presenting a novel neural connectivity method she has been developing using a neural-based control mathematical framework and extra-cellular neural stimulation.

Mahua Roy, Ph.D. Dr. Roy is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Professor Stacey Finley in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She began working in Dr. Finley’s group in September 2015, and the focus of her research project is developing computational models to study pancreatic cancer metabolism. She received her PhD in Computational Biophysics from University of California, Irvine under the supervision of Professor Ioan Andricioaei. Her research as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Finley’s laboratory involves constructing a suite of novel computational models which can be used as a tool to investigate the metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells and to identify the optimal metabolic enzymes to target and impede cell growth.She will be presenting their work and have collaborated with Dr. Heather Christofk’s group at UCLA to collect quantitative metabolomics data for pancreatic cancer cell lines.  

Sara Gallant, Ph.D. Dr. Gallant is a postdoctoral research fellow working with Mara Mather in the Davis School of Gerontology. Her research examines the impact of emotional arousal on memory selectivity and its underlying neural mechanisms in young and older adults. In March 2018, she will be attending the meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in Boston, Massachusetts, which brings together researchers from around the world to share their latest findings in cognitive neuroscience research. At the CNS conference, she will be presenting results from a series of experiments, which sought to examine how the ability to strategically control learning and memory for emotional information changes as we get older.

James Dewey, Ph.D. Dr. Dewey completed a PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University, where he examined the characteristics and diagnostic utility of sounds emitted by the ear, termed otoacoustic emissions. He then joined the lab of Dr. John Oghalai in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University, which recently moved to USC. In Dr. Oghalai’s lab, he performs in vivo studies in mice to study how the structures of the inner ear vibrate in response to sound, with one of the goals being to better understand the origins of otoacoustic emissions.He will be attending the 175th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Minneapolis, MN in May 2018. There he will give an invited talk as part of a special session honoring Dr. David Kemp, who discovered that the ear emits sound in 1978. His talk will describe fluctuations in the amplitudes of otoacoustic emissions with small changes in the evoking stimulus frequency.

Gali Weissberger, Ph.D. Dr. Gali Weissberger is a first-year postdoctoral fellow in the Han Research Lab. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology from the San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego, Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Weissberger is interested in understanding protective and deleterious factors that moderate an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease utilizing neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and behavioral techniques. Dr. Weissberger will be presenting two posters at the International Neuropsychological Society meeting, February 2018, in Washington D.C. that are related to improving early detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Improving the early detection of AD is predicated on key findings that neurodegeneration occurs years prior to the onset of clinical features of AD, and disease-modifying interventions would be most effective if implemented prior to the onset of clinical symptoms. Findings from the studies to be presented highlight the sensitivity of cognitive testing in identifying individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Chih-Hsiang Yang,Ph.D. Dr. Yang completed his Ph.D. in Kinesiology at Penn State in August 2017 with a special focus on exercise and health psychology. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate working in the Real Time Eating Activity and Children’s Health Laboratory (REACH Lab) of the preventive medicine department. Under the mentorship of Dr. Genevieve Dunton, his work primarily focuses on studying the affective antecedents and consequences of physical activity and sedentary behavior using intensive longitudinal data from different populations. In the coming annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, he will participate in a symposium titled “Novel Analytic Approaches to Modeling Variance in Ecological Momentary Assessment Studies of Physical Activity”. His study applies a novel statistical model to investigate the association between overall levels or variations of negative affect and time spent in daily activities in college students. Findings from this study have important implication in understanding the role of everyday affect in regulating physical activity, as well as developing interventions to promote health and well-being among the college student population.

Sangpil Yoon, Ph.D. Dr. Sangpil Yoon is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He will travel to Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Conference in Key Largo, Florida on January 2018. Dr. Yoon was awarded a Postdoctoral Shooting Star Award administered by CMBE conference and he will present mechanotransduction ion channel activation using high frequency ultrasound. Dr. Yoon was also awarded NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) and will become an independent investigator at a world-renowned research university soon.

Nagore Marin-Ramos, Ph.D. Dr. Marin-Ramos received her PharmD at University of Granada (Spain) in 2011 and her PhD in Oncology at Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) in 2015. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Neurosurgery at Keck School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the study of the mechanisms underlying brain arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and temozolomide-resistant gliomas, with the ultimate goal of developing novel non-invasive treatments for this diseases. Dr. Marin-Ramos will be attending the BioTech 23 hands-on training workshop offered by FAES (NIH), which will cover various applications of flow cytometry in basic research that she is willing to apply to her current research.

Jeremy Mason, Ph.D. Dr. Mason is a computational biologist in the Kuhn-Hicks lab at The Bridge, building forecasting models of metastatic cancer progression. Both his doctoral and postdoctoral work have been aligned with producing these types of models in an effort to improve patient care. Dr. Mason will be attending the American Association for Cancer Research’s 2018 Annual Meeting to present his work derived from a longitudinal dataset of primary bladder cancer.

Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, Ph.D. Dr. Ycaza Herrera is a postdoctoral research scholar working in the Emotion and Cognition Lab directed by Mara Mather. Her research examines how hormone states and hormone fluctuations across the female lifespan affect the stress response and subsequent effects of stress on memory. She will be presenting her current work investigating the effects of hormonal contraception (e.g. the oral birth control pill) on the stress response and the subsequent effects of stress on brain activation while engaging in a working memory task at the Winter Conference on Brain Research in Whistler, B.C., Canada.

Mary Keeling, Ph.D. Dr. Keeling is a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Trainee at the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Dr. Keeling received her PhD in Psychological Medicine from King’s College London in 2014. Dr. Keeling’s PhD was a mixed methods study of the romantic relationships of UK Military Personnel with a specific focus on the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her current work at USC investigates military to civilian transition with a focus on employment. At the Society of Industrial and Organisational Psychology (SIOP) Conference, Dr. Keeling will contribute to a panel presentation. Dr. Keeling will be presenting key results from three qualitative studies conducted over the past two years which investigated veteran employment and transition to civilian life. The results highlight three consistent themes: the need for planning, preparations and personal agency; the possible impact of veteran stereotypes and discrimination; and, the role of shifting identities in adjustment to civilian life. These themes have implications for programs designed to support and assist veterans as they transition to civilian life and inform Dr. Keeling’s future research agenda.

Hanliang Guo, Ph.D. Dr. Guo is currently working as a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at USC, supervised by Professor Eva Kanso, who also supervised his PhD study.His current project focuses on developing a quantitative framework of modeling ciliary transport in health and disease. This framework applies quantitative measures that link cilia mechanics to function in both healthy and diseased states, and tries to bridge the gap between biologists and physicists.Hanliang will be visiting the Center for Computational Biology of Flatiron Institute in Simons Foundation in New York for a training on fast multipole methods (FMM). FMM is an advanced numerical method that drastically reduces the computational cost for large scale simulations. Hanliang will be using FMM to study the synchronizations between cilia by interacting closely with applied mathematicians who are experts in FMM and other advanced numerical methods.

Jae Kyun Kim, Ph.D. Jae Kyun Kim received his PhD in Sociology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Korean Studies Institute. His research interests include Race and Ethnicity, Sociology of Empire, Sociological Theory, Social Movements, Comparative-Historical Sociology, Globalization, and Race, Gender, and Class. He will be presenting his newly embarked research titled “Make Korea with America Great Again”? Encountering TrumpAmerica in Pro-Park Geun-hye Rallies in South Korea” at the Southern Sociological Society 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. The paper demonstrates how the racial schemas of TrumpAmerica is transposed to motivate seemingly aracial right-wing rallies in South Korea beyond the borders of the United States.