Attend the Fall 2012 Mixer and Networking Session for USC Graduate, Postdoc, and Undergraduate students

The Fall 2012 Mixer and Networking Session for USC Graduate, Postdoc, and Undergraduate students is quickly approaching. This event is sponsored by the USC Graduate School, Diversity & Academic Professional Development; USC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; and USC McNair Scholars Program, Office of Undergraduate Programs. The networking session will take place on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 from 3-5 PM in the Doheny Library Lecture Hall. Come get to know and chat with fellow USC Ph.D. students, postdocs, and undergraduates engaged in research! Refreshments and food provided! An RSVP, to, with your name and department is appreciated but not required. We hope to see you there!

Grad Student Writes about the Road to the Olympics

Samantha McDonald

Samantha McDonald

USC sent 36 athletes to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, which began July 27th. As we celebrate their achievements,we must also recognize the hard work and perseverance that has carried them this far.

Samantha McDonald, who earned her Master of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism this past May has done just that. For her thesis, “Training for the Olympic Trials,” Samantha followed three USC Olympic hopefuls, Bryshon Nellum, Brysun Stately, and Reggie Wyatt, on their journeys to the Olympic Trials for track and field. Samantha takes a unique perspective in her piece, shifting focus from athletic prowess to the obstacles the athletes hurdled to reach their goals.

A runner in middle school, Samantha’s interest in track and field and the experience of competitive athletes peaked watching her brother become a member of the USC Track team as a pole vaulter, despite battling Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. Further investigation revealed that many other USC team members have also overcome hardships to pursue their dreams.

In her broadcast journalism thesis, Samantha weaves a narrative of suffering and redemption, saluting not only the athletes themselves, but also the coach, team masseuse, and teammates who helped them along the way. She tells the story of Bryshon Nellum, a redshirt senior and 400 meter runner, who made a remarkable come-back after suffering three gunshot wounds to his legs in 2008. Bryshon earned his place on the US Olympic team at the Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Samantha also followed 2009 USC graduate, Brysun Stately, who fought to compete for a second time at the Olympic Trials in pole vaulting, and Sophomore Reggie Wyatt, who runs the 400 meter hurdles. Wyatt, a sophomore at USC, suffered a great personal loss with the death of his grandparents, but fought through to make the Olympic Trials. Although all three overcame obstacles to qualify for the Olympic Trials, a great accomplishment in the career of any athlete, only Nellum ultimately made the US Olympic team.

Samantha’s compelling narrative illuminates the dedication and grit in the face of struggle that so many competitive athletes exhibit. As we watch the best of the best compete on the world stage, Samantha’s thesis provides a glimpse into the athletes’ personal journeys, helping us to more fully empathize with their triumphs and disappointments.

To continue her excellent work in the field of broadcast journalism, Samantha has joined Fox 40 News in Binghamton, New York. She is enjoying watching the Trojan athletes compete on the Olympic stage, and hopes to continue supporting and reporting on such individuals in her budding professional career.


Save the Date: Fall Reception for Incoming PhD, Graduate School Fellows and Provost Post Doctoral Scholars in the Humanities

Join USC Provost, Dr. Elizabeth Garrett and approximately 400 of your closest friends at the Natural History Museum on Thursday, October 4. The 2012 Fall Reception will welcome incoming PhD students, graduate school fellows and Provost Post-Doctoral Scholars in the Humanities. Invitations will be emailed in early September.

Marguerite DeLiema Examines Elder Abuse

Marguerite DeLiema

Marguerite DeLiema

By Lynn Maleh

Los Angeles may be the epicenter of plastic surgery, anti-aging campaigns, and a Peter-Pan mentality, but USC student, Marti DeLiema, is not afraid to face our fears.  As the baby-boom generation reaches maturity and life-expectancy climbs, it’s comforting to know there are strong-willed scientists, like Marti, looking out for our older population.

A natural inquisitor, Marti excelled in sciences from a young age and chose to further her studies in Psychological Biology at UCLA. While completing her Bachelors of Science, Marti enrolled in Frontiers in Human Aging, a year-long course, which she admits “planted the seed” for her interest in gerontology.

Upon graduating, Marti began working as a research coordinator, in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, at the UCLA Medical Center. Her work focused on the potential health benefits, of Tai Chi and Kundalini Yoga, on the depression and stress of caregivers, for patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

It was opportune for Marti, that USC’s Davis School of Gerontology offered her a nationally ranked doctoral program, with a generous Provost Scholarship, in her immediate location. But despite the geographic and financial convenience, Marti’s studies pit her against a new challenge – public policy.

Though she began her doctorate studies with a focus in psychological biology, Marti has become more concerned with public policy, particularly in the field of elder abuse. She is now learning to balance her time in the lab with political discourse and writing policy briefs.

Marti was recently featured on USC’s front page for her honors at the Gerontological Society of America’s 64th annual scientific meeting in Boston, where she was awarded The Task Force for Minority Issues in Gerontology Paper Award and an honorable mention for the Carroll E. Estes Student Paper Award, for her studies in elder abuse in low income Latino communities, led by her faculty mentor Kate Wilber. She credits Kate and the team, immeasurably, for her success.

Marti’s current research project, and a potential basis for her dissertation, involves organizing a multidisciplinary team in a case study of the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensics Center. Under the guidance of Kate Wilber, the team will investigate the effectiveness of the center’s interventions on elder abuse, on a case-by-case basis.

Marti’s primary goals are to raise awareness of elder abuse and improve the quality of life for older adults. She encourages increased government and media attention, examining the gap between gerontological theory and practice (i.e., between researchers, like Marti, and actual caregivers), and revisiting society’s perceptions of older adults/aging. Upon completing USC, Marti plans to continue towards a postdoctoral degree, with the intention of a career in academia and research – “where the work has a significant human impact.”

As for the anti-aging creams, Marti says to toss ‘em. Improved aging starts with regular cognitive and physical exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and keeping an open dialogue with loved ones, about end-of-life care preferences.

Link to!/article/37867/usc-study-examines-abuse-of-low-income-latino-elders/