Ariel Vaughn

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemsitry

Department: Chemistry
Office Address: Keck 104D
Office Phone: (909) 78310
Personal Website:
Ariel Vaughn

Academic History

  • Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, June 2021
  • B.S. in Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of California - Davis, June 2014

Areas of Expertise

Spectroscopy, nonlinear spectroscopy, chemical education research

Personal Interests

Hiking, camping, backpacking, reading

Awards and Honors

  • 2019 Oral Presentation Award for Chemistry | 2019 SACNAS The National Diversity in STEM Conference | October 2019 Honolulu, HI
  • 2018 2nd Place in the Technical Presentation Competition | The GEM 2018 Annual Board Meeting and Conference | September 2018 Los Angeles, CA
  • 2018 Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellow, National Science Foundation
  • 2018 Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship
  • 2018 GEM Fellow, The National GEM Consortium
  • 2017 45th Annual John Stauffer Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching in General Chemistry, Department of Chemistry at the University of Southern California
  • 2016 Chemistry Diversity Graduate Fellowship, University of Southern California
  • 2016 Women in Science and Engineering Top-Off, University of Southern California
  • 2016 Merit Scholar, University of Southern California


Ariel Vaughn grew up in a town of less than 5,000 people in Northern California. She attended the local community college where she served as the supplemental instructor for the general chemistry course, working in an active learning classroom with students from a diverse group of ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Ariel transferred to UC Davis where she worked with Professor Casey studying mineral formation in an environmental geochemistry laboratory. In 2014, she received her B.S. in Chemistry and began working at Genentech in Vacaville. After a year, she moved to Los Angeles and worked at Ventura Community College and El Camino Community College in the stock rooms.

In 2016, Ariel returned to graduate school at the University of Southern California where she worked with Professor Benderskii and Professor Melot. Her research focused on understanding the relationship between the structure of a material and its properties at the interface. To do this, she used an ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy technique called Vibrational Sum Frequency Generation spectroscopy. Ariel was a 2018 NSF GRFP Fellow and a 2018 GEM Fellow. She was a board member of USC's SACNAS chapter throughout her graduate school career. In Spring of 2021, she started a chemical education project with Dr. Jessica Parr to study how students view chemistry in the world around them. In June 2021, Ariel completed her Ph.D.

Ariel started as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Keck in July 2021. She is teaching the general chemistry and advanced laboratory classes.

Courses Taught

  • Basic Principles of Chemistry
  • Advanced Laboratory in Chemistry