Faculty symposium encourages collaboration under Folt

Experts from different schools shared their innovations with the new administration

Faculty from several schools at USC gathered to showcase their research and promote collaboration across campuses and departments.

Wednesday’s symposium at the Health Science campus was part of the weeklong events leading up to President Carol Folt’s inauguration ceremony on Friday. Seven professors presented in a TED talk style about their innovative work focusing on the themes of discovery, creativity and innovation.

The event featured David Armstrong and Lilyana Amezcua from the Keck School of Medicine, Julie Posselt from the Rossier School of Education, Stacey Finley from the Viterbi School of Engineering, Sook-Lei Liew and Beth Pyatak from the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and Erin Trish from The School of Pharmacy.

While professors all showcased their own work and research, the symposium brought together different ideas to encourage the collaboration of experts from multiple areas of study.

“It was really, in a way, an eye-opener for me because it’s one thing to say we want to collaborate and then it’s another thing completely to see what collaboration can do to advance ideas,” said Folt, who has a background in science.

Audience member Greg Harlan, pediatrician and director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine program, said he was inspired by the passion each professor had for their work and the potential partnerships he could build with others.

“As a faculty member here, just really seeing the possibilities of how I could collaborate with other schools, how to work more between the medical campus and the UPC,” Harlan said.

David Armstrong, a podiatrist from the Keck School of Medicine focused his presentation on his research on diabetic foot ulcers.

“Our group is dedicated to trying to eliminate preventable amputations over the next generation and so we talked about all of the work that we’re doing at the end of the body, at the foot,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong believes people from different schools get so caught up in their work that they go into their own little “silos.” He said working with colleagues from different disciplines will allow them to conduct more comprehensive research.

Professor Sook-Lei Lew from the Division of Occupational Science talked about how researching the brain can bring about new therapeutic value. She is focused on finding a cure for brain damage, and believes that working with other departments can help her to get closer to that goal.

“I think it was an amazing opportunity to be able to share what we’re doing across a wide number of people from different schools here,” Lew said.

Faculty and staff have expressed their high hope and excitement for this new era with Folt.

“We’re super excited to have President Folt as our new president,” Lew said. “And I love what she said at the end, which is just I’m excited for her leadership and her ability to enable us to just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully build capacity to do more of it.”

The faculty symposium on the UPC campus will take place on Thursday Sept. 19 and will include professors from The Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism, The Marshal School of Business, The Sol Price School of Public Policy.