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Michael Waterman

Last updated 10/11/2021

Michael Waterman, University Professor Emeritus, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Michael Waterman’s visionary scholarship has changed the landscape of science and technology. A brilliant mathematician and statistician, he is known as the founder of computational biology, a discipline that deepens our understanding of the natural world through the use of massive data-based algorithms and computer models. His discoveries continue to inspire students and colleagues to push the boundaries of scientific research at USC, and beyond.

Professor Waterman’s pioneering work in bioinformatics is central to many scientific advances. Several of his innovations involve the analysis of biological sequences – such as DNA – and have helped us begin to answer fundamental questions about the biology of human beings. As just one example, his ideas greatly influenced the Human Genome Project, a groundbreaking effort to map the entire human DNA sequence that unlocked information essential to modern medicine.

At USC, Professor Waterman established the first computational biology program in the nation, while mentoring generations of young scholars. Thanks in large part to his enthusiastic and determined work, he helped make our university a focal point of the bioinformatics revolution. In addition to his research leadership, Professor Waterman is a terrific advocate and role model for students. He served as resident faculty master at Parkside International Residential College, and earned USC’s highest honor, the Presidential Medallion, for his decades of compassionate service to our community.

For nearly 40 years, Professor Waterman has helped propel biological research at USC to great heights. With creativity and dedication, he has galvanized the sciences in ways that will guide future innovators for many years to come.

Read more about Professor Waterman here.

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In honor of his committed service to the USC community, and his foundational achievements in computational biology, the University of Southern California is proud to recognize Michael Waterman with the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award.