BY YASMINE PEZESHKPOUR MCM ’16
USC Professor Francisco Valero-Cuevas will be awarded an honorary degree later this spring from his alma mater Swarthmore College for his contributions to science and engineering.
By earning the degree, the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy professor (with a dual appointment at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering) joins an elite club of more than a century’s worth of notables, including famed physicist Albert Einstein, acclaimed author James Michener and 36th President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson.
“I am very humbled and surprised by this recognition. I owe my academic career to Swarthmore,” Valero-Cuevas said.
“They believed in me and supported me with a very generous scholarship to pursue an engineering degree with a strong liberal arts emphasis – which in fact defined my intellectual development and subsequent work. For that, I will be forever thankful.”
Valero-Cuevas earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Swarthmore in 1988. Afterward, he lived in India and Nepal on a Watson Fellowship studying Sankhya yoga philosophy. He went on received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University in Ontario and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
He joined the division in 2007 and now serves as professor and director of the Brain-Body Dynamics Lab. His work is dedicated to understanding biomechanics, neuromuscular control and clinical rehabilitation of human mobility, with an emphasis on dexterous hand function. Valero-Cuevas and his team of investigators use this knowledge to improve the design and control of prosthetic and robotic systems.
Valero-Cuevas will officially receive the degree at Swarthmore’s commencement on May 27 alongside social justice advocate and attorney Edgar Cahn and activist poet Sonia Sanchez.