Family Matters

Lauds Laurels

Leading the Pack

Li Zhang, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics in the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has been awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which provides $625,000, distributed over five years.

The award is restricted to 16 winners, with only 50 universities invited to nominate candidates.

In addition to USC, this year’s list of participating schools included Harvard, Caltech and MIT.

Frank Markland, associate dean of scientific affairs and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, said the prestigious award is given to select investigators from the natural sciences and engineering each year. He said it was fitting that Zhang was honored, since his work “is at the forefront of neuroscience research.”

Zhang, whose lab is located in the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, studies the circuitry of the auditory cortex in mice to understand how neurons are connected together.
Established in 1988, the fellowships are designed to support faculty in the first three years of their careers.

Zhang said the fellowship is especially welcome because of the current federal funding climate.

Fighting for Second

Ron Avi Astor, a professor who holds joint positions in the USC School of Social Work and the USC Rossier School of Education, placed second in the American Psychological Association’s Division One 2006 William James Book Award.

The accolade, which honors outstanding scientific volumes in general psychology across specialty areas, was awarded to Astor along with co-author Rami Benbenishty of Hebrew University for their book “School Violence in Context: Neighborhood, Family, School and Gender” (Oxford University Press, 2005).

The William James Book Award is given to a recent book that integrates material across psychological and interdisciplinary subfields. The works are required to provide a coherent framework that stands as a creative synthesis of theory and fact from disparate areas.

Normally, only one first place prize is given. However, this year the award committee stated they were so impressed by “School Violence” that they created, for the first time, a second place “honorable mention” category to recognize their work.

The book presents original data and analyses from 8,750 students in American schools and 15,000 in Israel, while integrating diverse theories and research from several disciplines.

In Memoriam

Jose Luis Rodriguez, 54

Jose Luis Rodriguez, a longtime USC employee, died in an automobile accident Sept. 1. He was 54 years old.

Rodriguez worked in the University Club as a banquet and catering server for 27 years.

He is survived by daughters Maria and Dinora; sister Marie Elena; brother-in-law David; and three nephews.