Appointment of New University and Distinguished Professors

Tommy Trojan

Dear USC Community,

We are pleased to honor exceptional members of our faculty with University and Distinguished professorships, USC’s highest academic honors. We present these annually to faculty who have brought great distinction to our university through their work, which enlightens collective understandings and contributes to the advancement of society.

It is my pleasure to announce that this year we have appointed Thomas Buchanan, Akira Mizuta Lippit, and Mark E. Thompson as University Professors, and Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Pinchas Cohen, Genevieve Giuliano, Peter C. Mancall, and Jong-Shi Pang as Distinguished Professors.

Please join President Folt and me in congratulating these extraordinary faculty on this well-deserved recognition. We look forward to celebrating their achievements at the annual Academic Honors Convocation in April.

As we do every year, we will seek nominations from the USC community for next year’s honorees at the start of the Fall semester. For an updated list of all USC University and Distinguished Professors, please visit:

Elizabeth Graddy
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

University Professors

Thomas Buchanan is Professor of Medicine, Vice Dean for Research, and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes in the Department of Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine at USC. He is also the founding director of the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) and the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute.

Dr. Buchanan conducts research into the etiology, pathogenesis, genetics, and prevention of gestational and type 2 diabetes. He leads an interdisciplinary translational team whose groundbreaking research has helped define mechanisms and clinical approaches for prevention and treatment of gestational and type 2 diabetes in Latinos. As a champion for the development of clinical and translational research at USC, he first directed the General Clinical Research Center from 1996 to 2010 and, since then, he has been director and principal investigator at the SC CTSI. During his career, Dr. Buchanan has brought more than $278 million in extramural research funding to USC and the Keck School. He has been ranked as highly as 1st at USC and 53rd worldwide in annual NIH funding. Select honors include the Norbert Freinkel Award and a Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the American Diabetes Association, as well as election to the Association of American Physicians.

Akira Mizuta Lippit is Vice Dean of Faculty in the USC School of Cinematic Arts, T.C. Wang Family Endowed Chair in Cinematic Arts, and Professor in the Division of Cinema and Media Studies; he is also Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Comparative Literature, in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. His interests are in world cinemas, critical theory, Japanese film and culture, experimental film and video, and visual studies. Dr. Lippit is author of four books, Cinema without Reflection: Jacques Derrida’s Echopoiesis and Narcissism Adrift; Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video; Atomic Light (Shadow Optics); and Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife.

His work appears widely in journals and anthologies and has been translated into at least eight languages. He is past recipient of the Academy of Korean Studies, Japan Foundation, and Fulbright-Hays awards. Dr. Lippit is Senior Editor of the journal Discourse and is active in the independent film community where he programs events, serves on festival juries, and interviews filmmakers. He regularly teaches, lectures, and publishes in Japan, where he is a founding editor of the visual culture journal Ecce.

Mark E. Thompson is Professor and Ray R. Irani, Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Chair in Chemistry in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Dr. Thompson’s expertise focuses on the energy inefficiency of existing light-generating sources. For almost three decades at USC, Dr. Thompson’s interdisciplinary research has employed chemistry and engineering towards understanding optical and electronic properties of molecular materials and developing solar cells. Thompson was ranked 12th on Thomson Reuters’ Top 100 ScienceWatch list of the world’s highest-impact chemists. He has over 360 publications which have been cited approximately 100,000 times; he is also associated with over 180 U.S. patents.

In service to the university, Dr. Thompson has chaired the Department of Chemistry twice and received the USC Mellon Mentoring Award. He performs educational outreach to California community colleges with a special focus on underserved student populations. Among numerous recognitions, he is an elected member of both the National Academy of Inventors and the National Academy of Engineering, and his work been honored by the American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, the Materials Research Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Distinguished Professors

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati is Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences; Associate Dean for Community Initiatives; and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement for the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati is a public health scholar whose focus is on social determinants and health disparities, particularly the role of culture in Hispanic/Latino community health. At USC since 1997, she has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and has mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. She is also a member of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center where she is co-Director and Project Leader of the Patient Education and Community Outreach Center. She serves as co-director of the NIH-funded Southern California Center for Chronic Health Disparities in Latino Children and Families, a multi-institutional center for the entire southern California region.

Among many other awards and recognitions, Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati has received the NIH 10 Year Common Fund Award and the American Public Health Association Health Education and Health Promotion Award. She continues to develop and test creative and effective interventions and communication methods via outreach activities, community engagement, and partnership development to enhance public health.

Pinchas Cohen is an internationally recognized expert on healthy aging and longevity.  He has been the Dean of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology since 2012. As dean at USC, Dr. Cohen is driving several new initiatives focusing on: Technology and Innovation for Longevity; Precision Aging; Alternative approaches to Mental Health in Aging; and the establishment of a Southern California Aging Research Consortium.

Dr. Cohen pioneered the field of mitochondrial microproteins, that are newly discovered therapeutic targets for diseases of aging. Dr. Cohen graduated in 1986 with highest honors from the Technion Medical School in Israel and trained at Stanford University.  He held faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania, and UCLA where he led the Diabetes Research Center. He received numerous awards through his career, including a National Institute of Aging “EUREKA”-Award and the NIH-Director-Transformative RO1-Grant. He also received the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging and the American Federation for Aging Research Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction. Dr. Cohen published over 350 papers in top scientific journals focusing on aging, dementia, cancer, diabetes, and the emerging science of microproteins with an h-index is 101. His most recent discoveries include the microproteins MOTS-c, SHLP2, SHMOOSE, and MENTSH; that are novel drug development targets for frailty, Parkinson, Alzheimer, and diabetes, which represent precision medicine approaches in unique populations including Hispanics, Asians and African Americans. 

Genevieve Giuliano is Professor of Public Policy and the Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government at the USC Price School of Public Policy. At USC for 35 years, Dr. Giuliano’s research spans relationships between land use and transportation, transportation policy analysis, travel behavior, information technology applications in transportation, and climate change. She has published over 200 papers. She has been an innovator in her field. She was among the first to study gender differences in travel behavior and later to partner with computer science and engineering to explore land use and freight transportation relationships.

She directed and built the METRANS Consortium into a primary center for multi-year research projects. As the first Price School associate dean for research, she established crucial school infrastructure including the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

Professor Giuliano is a past Chair of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and of the Council of University Transportation Centers. She is a RSAI Fellow in Regional Science, former president of the Western Regional Science Association, and current president of the North America Regional Science Council. She has received multiple distinguished scholarship awards, as well as the USC Distinguished Faculty Service Award. She has served on several National Academy of Sciences policy studies, including the NAS Committee on Global Climate Change. She participated in the first study of impacts of global climate change on the U.S. transportation system. At the state level, she is working with Caltrans and CARB on the implementation of the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan and subsequent legislation to reduce GHGs associated with California’s freight industry.

Peter C. Mancall is Professor of History, Anthropology, and Economics; Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities; and the Linda and Harlan Martens Director of the Early Modern Studies Institute (EMSI) at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, where he also serves as Divisional Dean for the Social Sciences.

Dr. Mancall specializes in early modern history and the early modern Atlantic world. In leadership of the EMSI, he has advanced its mission of supporting research and scholarship on human societies between 1450 and 1850. He has authored eight books, including The Trials of Thomas Morton: An Anglican Lawyer, His Puritan Foes, And the Battle for a New England, and a recently finished volume which will be the first in the prestigious Oxford History of the United States series. He is an elected fellow of the Society of American Historians and the Royal Historical Society and served for a year as the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University. His extensive work with postdoctoral fellows led to a USC Mellon Mentoring award. He has been on the board of 12 academic journals.

Jong-Shi Pang is Epstein Family Chair and Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and has been with USC for a decade. An elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Pang specializes in mathematical and algorithmic theories for constrained multi-agent systems with applications in communication, power, economics, and transportation systems. His field-shaping research has garnered tens of thousands of citations and millions of dollars in funding; he has given numerous distinguished lectures at universities worldwide as well as plenary lectures at international conferences. His most recent book was Modern Nonconvex Nondifferentiable Optimization.

Pang has received numerous awards including the John von Neumann Theory Prize for fundamental and sustained contributions to advancing his field, and the George B. Dantzig Prize, the highest award given jointly by the Mathematical Programming Society and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the SIAM Journal of Optimization. At the national level, Dr. Pang he has served as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act Program Director for three years at the National Science Foundation.