Meet Richard Watanabe, PhD, Vice Chair for Education


Department of Population and Public Health Sciences

Publish date

January 21, 2020


Meet Richard Watanabe, PhD, Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences and professor of biostatistics. Meet our other directors on YouTube.

What is your history with USC?

“I have a very long association with USC. I did all three of my degrees here – starting with my bachelor’s – and I actually did my master’s degree back when the department used to have the applied biometry program. So, I got my master’s in preventive medicine. I then left USC to go do my post-doc at the University of Michigan, and I came back to join the faculty in [the year] 2000. I’ve been on the faculty in the Division of Biostatistics ever since.”

What do you enjoy most about directing the education programs?

“I took the job as Vice Chair for Education because I enjoy interacting with the students. In particular, I like that one-on-one aspect of mentoring students and talking to them. I tell the students all the time – whether it’s orientation or any other forum – I tell them, you know, your educational problems are my educational problems. So, in that sense, I really enjoy that aspect of the job. I also like the fact that this department has a very wide breadth of educational programs and different educational challenges, which makes the job relatively interesting.”

What do you like to do outside of work?

“Outside of work I do a lot of volunteer work. I am a Volunteer Docent at the Japanese American National Museum, which I do on Sundays. I am also a photographer for them, so I will shoot museum events of various kinds. I also am a member of the Japanese American Optimist Club. The club, for those who don’t know, actually tries to support children to build better lives and get better education, etc. So we basically go out to Los Angeles Elementary School, which is an elementary school in downtown LA, and we do various programs like Career Day [where we] introduce them to careers; we have a reading day, we read books to them; we do other fun things like Halloween parties and Christmas parties and things like that. I also like going to concerts. I listen to all kinds of stuff, but primarily I like blues and jazz. And every once in a while, I grab my camera and go hiking.”

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