Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, newly arrived faculties jumped straight into teaching and research. [3½ min read]

New social science professors joined the USC Dornsife Department of Arts and Sciences during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing information on topics such as the legacy of colonialism, the economic impact of human productivity, and anthropological film production.

Joseph Sirota | Dana and David Dornsev President and teacher psychologySunt dyrektor USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies

Focus academic: My research focuses on how people – the general public, technical experts, business leaders and policy makers – misuse and misuse information when making judgments and making decisions. I also see that people make trade-offs between different types of risk, cost and benefit, rather than doing so.

My group also researches and develops tools that people can use to improve their decision-making skills. Most of the topics I look at in my research revolve around sustainability and the environment, but I’m also interested in other topics.

If you could invite someone to dinner, dead or alive, who would you choose? What will be on the list? Lots of options! If I had to pick one now, it would be Bill Murray. We met for coffee and cakes in Trejo, on Santa Monica Boulevard. Enjoy China!

Favorite book you’ve read recently? The fifth work by Robertson Davies.

What food or spices can we always find in your kitchen?? Lukrecja I ketchup.

Alison Hartnett | reader Political science and international relations

Focus academic: I am researching the causes of inequality in authoritarian colonial and postcolonial regimes, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia and North Africa (Middle East and North Africa). A draft book examines when and why decolonization produces feedback (anti-poor, pro-elite) after land redistribution in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

What do you like about this in your free time? During the pandemic, it began to lift the Olympic weights. I try to be happy to be in California as much as possible.

What is your favorite place to travel? I like to spend time with my friends and family in southern Poland, especially during the holidays. Jordan is my favorite research destination.

What dishes or spices will we always find in your kitchen? Zaatar and oil.

Robert Metcalfe | Co-professor Economy

Focus academic: My research aims to better understand how people, companies and public policies interact and affect the environment. I also focus on the human factors that affect productivity in many markets.

What inspires you? People who work in adversity.

What do you like about this in your free time? Watch British football and get active.

What food or spices can we always find in your kitchen?? banana.

Miguel Pereira | Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations

Focus academic: I study inequality in political representation and how politicians make decisions. I do this mainly from the experience of the political elite.

What is your favorite place to travel? Wherever my friends are, but if they are anywhere near the Mediterranean or in Brazil, it is much better.

What do you like about this in your free time? I like to watch birds and I like to buy old records.

If you could invite someone to dinner, dead or alive, who would you choose? What will be on the list? I’d like to call Louis Ferdinand Céline. The main dish is a Portuguese goat stew called xenvana, served with boiled potatoes.

Stephanie Spray | Co-professor anthropologist And the art of cinema

Focus academic: I’ve produced Manakamana movies as long as you breathe monsoon reflections, and Cali are Cali. My current project, Snow River, in video and audio format, shows how climate change is changing traditional practices and attitudes towards the land and life in general in the Nepalese Himalayas.

Jonathan Stang | Assistant Professor of Psychology

Focus academic: My lab focuses on identifying the mechanisms and influences of cognitive and emotional processes that underlie mood disorders. Our current paper aims to determine how disordered interactions between cognitive and emotional processes can underlie the maladaptive regulation of influences in people at risk for problems such as depression and suicide.

Find out about other colleges joining USC Dornsife in the 2020-21 academic year >>

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