University of Southern California


Featured Diversity Researchers

Meet some of our researchers doing work in diversity below.

Ann Hamilton, Keck School of Medicine

Hamilton is a cancer epidemiologist whose research has focused on breast, prostate, and testicular cancer, as well as Kaposi’s Sarcoma. She has studied cancers in twins and is currently involved with an investigation of the relationship of exercise to endogenous estrogen levels in healthy identical twins.

April Thames, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Dr. Thames is the director of the Social Neuroscience in Health Psychology Laboratory. She has developed a translational neuroscience research program that focuses on the impact of chronic disease, substance abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage, and lifetime stress on neurological, cognitive, and mental health outcomes on ethnic/racial minority groups.

Avelardo Valdez, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

A primary focus of his research has been on the relationship between substance abuse, violence and health issues among high-risk groups. His research projects have been among “hidden populations” such as youth and prison gang members, heroin users, sex workers, aging drug users, and crack users.

Brendesha Tynes, Rossier School of Education

Her research focuses on youth experiences with digital media, and how they are associated with academic and socio-emotional outcomes. She is also interested in equity in digital literacy, which includes empowering uses of digital tools for underrepresented youth.

Cleopatra Abdou, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Abdou’s interdisciplinary research investigates how cultural and psychosocial resources are reflected in the body, brain, and behavior to improve mental and physical health during critical lifespan developmental phases, thereby reducing social status-based health disparities within the U.S. and health inequity globally.

Concepcion Barrio, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Barrio’s work focuses on the cultural relevance of mental health services and on the development and cultural adaptation of interventions for Latino and other underserved and under-researched multicultural populations dealing with severe and persistent mental illness and co-morbid conditions.

Dana Goldman, Sol Price School of Public Policy

Goldman is the founding director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. His research lies at the intersection of health economics and health policy, with an emphasis on improving insurance design.

Estela Bensimon, Rossier School of Education

Bensimon is the Founder and Director of the Center for Urban Education. With a singular focus on increasing racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, she developed the Equity Scorecard—a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture.

Gary Painter, Sol Price School of Public Policy

Painter serves as the Director of the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation and the Homelessness Policy Research Institute. He is a leading figure in the field of social innovation and has extensive expertise in housing, urban economics, and education policy, which shapes his research on how the social innovation process can identify new models of social change within these complex policy areas.

Jennifer Unger, Keck School of Medicine

Her research focuses on the psychological, social, and cultural influences on health-risk and health-protective behaviors, including the role of acculturation and cultural values on adolescent substance use, with the ultimate goal of developing improved prevention programs to reduce health disparities.

Jeremy Goldbach, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Goldbach is Director of the Center for LGBT Health Equity. His research is broadly focused on the relationship between social stigma, stress and health among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and adults.

Jody Agius Vallejo, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Vallejo specializes in immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, and social stratification. Vallejo systematically address these issues with a mixed methodological approach, which combines the qualitative strengths of traditional sociological inquiry (in-depth interviews, participant observation, ethnography) with demographic analysis of representative statistics from the U.S. Census.

Kathleen Page, Keck School of Medicine

Page is a physician specializing in diabetes and childhood obesity. Page has an active research program that seeks to understand the causes of obesity and diabetes so that more effective strategies can be developed for reducing the number of people affected by these health conditions.

Manuel Pastor, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Pastor currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC and USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities.

Natalia Molina, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Professor Molina is a Professor of American Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of two award winning books. Her first book, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. In that work, which garnered an American Historical Association-PCB book prize, she argues that race must be understood relationally in order to see how the laws, practices, and attitudes directed at one racial group affected others.

Ricky Bluthenthal, Keck School of Medicine

Bluthenthal’s research has established the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs, tested novel interventions and strategies to reduce HIV risk and improve HIV testing among injection drug users and men who has sex with men, documented how community conditions contribute to health disparities, and examined health policy implementation.

Rob McConnell, Keck School of Medicine

McConnell directs the NIH/Environmental Protection Agency-supported Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center. He has studied the effects of air pollution on children’s health, including susceptibility to the effects of environmental exposures conferred by psychosocial stress and social factors, exercise, genetics and co-exposures associated with housing conditions.

Roseann Mulligan, Ostrow School of Dentistry

Mulligan is an expert in dental care for special needs patients, the elderly and persons with disabilities. The Special Care Dentistry Association recognized and honored her as the 2014 Saul Kamen Award winner for her exemplary leadership and contributions to the advancement of oral healthcare for persons with special needs.

Shaun R. Harper, Rossier School of Education

Dr. Harper is the founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center. His research focuses primarily on racial and gender equity and inclusion in educational, corporate, social, and organizational contexts. He also studies Black and Latino male student success in high schools and in higher education, college student engagement, and intercollegiate athletics.

Shrikanth Narayanan, Viterbi School of Engineering

Narayanan is a Professor at the Signal and Image Processing Institute, Director of the Ming Hsieh Institute and a Research Director for the Information Sciences Institute at USC. His research interests are in signals and systems modeling with an interdisciplinary emphasis on speech, audio, language, multimodal and biomedical problems and applications with direct societal relevance.

Stacy Smith, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Dr. Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Her research is focused on onscreen representation, employment patterns behind the camera, barriers and opportunities facing women and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, economic analyses examining correlates of box office performance and solutions to inequality in entertainment.

Steven Lopez, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Dr. López’s research provides a critical cultural perspective to the study of psychopathology, assessment, and intervention of Latinos and other ethnic minority groups. The overall goal of his research is to reduce disparities in mental health care for Latinos in the United States and Mexico.

Veronica W. Setiawan, Keck School of Medicine

Dr. Setiawan is a cancer epidemiologist focusing on understanding the determinants of ethnic differences in cancer incidence and mortality and identifying populations at highest risk because of genetic and biologic factors, environmental exposures, or a combination of both. Her research goal is to identify effective modalities for disease prevention for population at risk and ultimately reduce cancer health disparities.

Yasemin Copur-Gencturk, Rossier School of Education

Yasemin Copur-Gencturk is an Assistant Professor of Education in the Teacher Education concentration. Her research focuses on teacher knowledge, teaching practices and teacher development, and how these areas relate to student learning with a focus on minorities.