University of Southern California

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Biological Sciences

Hancock Foundation Building 107
(213) 740-2777
FAX: (213) 740-8123
Email (undergraduate programs):
Email (graduate programs):

Chair: Douglas Capone, Ph.D.


Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences, Neurology, Physiology and Biophysics: Steve A. Kay, Ph.D., D.Sc.

University Professor and ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging: Caleb E. Finch, Ph.D.

University Professor and Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences: Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D.

University Professor and USC Associates Chair in Natural Sciences: Michael S. Waterman, Ph.D.

University Professor, Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair in Computer Science, and Professor of Computer Science, Biological Sciences, and Psychology: Michael Arbib, Ph.D. (Computer Science)

Distinguished Professor and Ester Dornsife Chair in Biological Sciences: Norman Arnheim, Ph.D.*

McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology: Jed A. Fuhrman, Ph.D.*

William and Julie Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies: Douglas G. Capone, Ph.D.

Provost Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Physiology and Biophysics, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology and Ophthalmology: Scott Fraser, Ph.D.

Provost Professor of Biological Sciences: Ray Stevens, Ph.D.

W. M. Keck Provost Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and Biological Sciences: Andrew McMahon, Ph.D.

Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies and Professor of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences: Kenneth Nealson, Ph.D. (Earth Sciences)

Paxson H. Offield Professor of Fisheries Ecology: Dennis Hedgecock, Ph.D.

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences: Irene Chiolo, Ph.D.

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences: Naomi Levine, Ph.D.

Professors: Jan P. Amend, Ph.D. (Earth Sciences); Oscar M. Aparicio, Ph.D.; Donald Arnold, Ph.D.; Robert F. Baker, Ph.D.; Gerald Bakus, Ph.D.; Christopher Boehm, Ph.D.; David Bottjer, Ph.D. (Earth Sciences); Sarah Bottjer, Ph.D.; David Caron, Ph.D.*; Lin Chen, Ph.D.; Ting Chen, Ph.D.; Xiaojiang Chen, Ph.D.; Pinchas Cohen, Ph.D. (Gerontology); Casey Donovan, Ph.D.; Suzanne Edmands, Ph.D.; Katrina Edwards, Ph.D.; Tuck Finch (Gerontology); Steven Finkel, Ph.D.; Henryk Flashner, Ph.D. (Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering); Susan Forsburg, Ph.D.; Myron F. Goodman, Ph.D.; Zach Hall, Ph.D. (Cell and Neurobiology); Franz Hefti, Ph.D. (Gerontology); Albert A. Herrera, Ph.D.*(Vice Chair); Judith Hirsch, Ph.D.; David Hutchins, Ph.D.; Dale Kiefer, Ph.D.; Chien-Ping Ko, Ph.D.; Peter Kuhn, Ph.D.; Emily R. Liman, Ph.D.; Donal T. Manahan, Ph.D.; Jill McNitt-Gray, Ph.D.; James W. Moffett, Ph.D.; Ken Nealson, Ph.D. (Earth Sciences); Sergey Nuzhdin, Ph.D.; John A. Petruska, Ph.D.; Michael Quick, Ph.D.; Richard Roberts, Ph.D. (Chemistry); Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, Ph.D; Richard Simerly, Ph.D. (Medicine); Craig Stanford, Ph.D.; Cornelius W. Sullivan, Ph.D.; Fengzhu Sun, Ph.D.; John Tower, Ph.D.; Lorraine Turcotte, Ph.D.; Alan Watts, Ph.D.; Xianghong Zhou, Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Frank Alber, Ph.D.; John Callaghan, Ph.D.; Liang Chen, Ph.D.; Robert Girandola, Ph.D.; Andrew Gracey, Ph.D.; Joe Hacia, Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology); John F. Heidelberg, Ph.D.; David D. McKemy, Ph.D.*; Matthew Michael, Ph.D.; Peter Qin, Ph.D. (Chemistry); Andrew Smith, Ph.D.; Eric A. Webb, Ph.D.; Wiebke Ziebis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Sean Curran, Ph.D. (Gerontology); Matthew Dean, Ph.D.; Dion Dickman, Ph.D.; Ian Ehrenreich, Ph.D.; Samuel Andrew Hires, Ph.D.; Scott Kanoski, Ph.D.; Vsevolod Katritch, Ph.D.; Fabien Pinaud, Ph.D.; Matthew Pratt, Ph.D. (Chemistry); Peter Ralph, Ph.D.; Remo Rohs, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professors: Luis Chiappe, Ph.D.; Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.; Gordon Hendler, Ph.D.; Roberta Marinelli, Ph.D.; Joel W. Martin, Ph.D.; Tony Michaels, Ph.D.; Xiaoming Wang, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor: Rodolfo Iturriaga, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Rahul Jandial, Ph.D.; Arshad Khan, Ph.D.; Witaya Maythiykom, Ph.D.; Beth Orcutt, Ph.D.

Professor (Research): Simon Tavaré, Ph.D.

Associate Professors (Research): Mihail Bota, Ph.D.; Linda Duguay, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors (Research): Peter Calabrese, Ph.D.; Fei-Xue Fu, Ph.D.; Juliette Hart, Ph.D.; Joel Hahn, Ph.D.; Myrna Jacobson, Ph.D.; Wenyuan Li, Ph.D.; Phuong Pham, Ph.D.; Jason Sylvan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor (Teaching): Karla B. Heidelberg, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor (Teaching): Erik Kolb, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer: Gudrun Floyd, M.S.

Lecturers: Christa Bancroft, Ph.D.; Tamara Espinet, M.S.; Laura Held, B.S.; Helaine Lopes, Ph.D.; Oliver Rizk, Ph.D.; Bruce Yazejian, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professors: Michael Appleman, Ph.D.; Richard Deonier, Ph.D.; Arnold S. Dunn, Ph.D.; William O. McClure, Ph.D.*; Russel Zimmer, Ph.D.

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Academic Program Staff

Instructional Laboratory Managers: Gorjana Bezmalinovic, M.S.; Mary Ann Bohland-Matveyenko, Ph.D.; Celeste Chong-Cerrillo, Ph.D.; Michael Moore, Ph.D.; Angel Tabancay, Ph.D.


The Department of Biological Sciences has research faculty with specialties in four disciplines: human and evolutionary biology, marine environmental biology, molecular and computational biology, and neurobiology. A diversity of upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses permits biology majors to choose an emphasis in any of these three disciplines.

The department offers both B.A. and B.S. degrees in biological sciences and an honors program in which a student can earn either a B.A. or a B.S. degree in biological sciences with honors. The department also offers both B.A. and B.S. degrees in human biology. The B.S. in biochemistry is offered as a joint program with the Department of Chemistry. The honors program is available to students who maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the sciences and who have completed their freshman year. The honors program includes research opportunities, seminars and thesis preparation courses. Applications for the Honors Program are available in Allan Hancock Foundation (AHF), Room 105.

Undergraduates in biological sciences have the opportunity to become involved in laboratory or field research by taking research courses for some of their elective units.

At the graduate level, the department offers challenging degree programs that lead to a Ph.D. in: biology with an option in neurobiology; integrative and evolutionary biology; marine biology and biological oceanography; molecular biology; and computational biology and bioinformatics. The department also offers an M.S. in marine and environmental biology and an M.S. in molecular genetics and biochemistry.

Honor Society

The Department of Biological Sciences offers membership in Phi Sigma, a national honor society, to selected biology majors (Alpha Alpha Chapter at USC.) Phi Sigma is devoted to the promotion of research and academic excellence in the biological sciences. Students with a GPA above 3.0 who have interest in research and have completed core requirements for the first two years in biological sciences are eligible. Major activities range from presentation of papers by members and lectures by outside speakers to field trips, laboratory demonstrations and joint research projects. The adviser is Professor Robert Baker, Ph.D., RRI 104A, (213) 740-5189.

Catalina Semester

The Biological Sciences Department in ­conjunction with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (WIES) sponsors month-long programs at USC’s Phillip K. Wrigley Marine Sciences Center (WMSC) on Santa Catalina Island. The Catalina Semester focuses on population biology and animal physiology, and the fall semester on microbial ecology and the interactions of microbes and the global environment. The program is open to all biology majors as well as students in other departments and other institutions with a strong biology background. Students are primarily in their junior or senior years and may participate in any of the courses offered.

All the courses are taught by USC faculty and supported by USC graduate student teaching assistants. The classes are specialized to take advantage of the unique facilities and setting of Santa Catalina Island.

Students live on Catalina Island for the entire length of the course. Rates for room and board at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center are comparable to those on campus. For those wishing to return to the mainland on the weekend — free transportation is provided each Friday to leave and each Monday to return.

For more information, students should ­contact Dr. Linda Duguay, program coordinator, AHF 209F, or or Joqueeta Holmes, program assistant, or (213) 740-6780 in the Wrigley Offices on the fourth floor of AHF. Additional infor­mation can also be found at