Research Initiatives

Viterbi Initiatives & Enabling Programs

The Vertex Center

The Vertex Center, lead by Urbashi Mitra with Antonio Ortega and Bhaskar Krishnamachari, will focus on the interworking of large-scale, heterogeneous systems with the ability to sense, communicate and control. The networks under design and analysis will be heterogeneous with respect to: complexity, cost, computational ability, size, actuation ability and energy resources. The Center exploits natural existing strengths in communications, networks and robotics as well as emerging strengths in data sciences.

Center activities will include the development of demonstration testbeds, a seminar series and the expansion of educational programs aligned with center activities in addition to core research activities.

Research will focus on novel methods in the areas of: data analytics, behavioral signal processing, social networks, actuation and control, distributed systems, RF circuits, propagation, sensor networks, wireless systems, protocols, and physical layer, optimization. The aim of Vertex is the creation of the next generation network which will enable unprecedented communications, sensing and control.

The key participating faculty include:

Murali Annavaram (EE), Salman Avestimehr (EE), Nora Ayanian (CS), Mike Chen (EE), Keith Chugg (EE), Ramesh Govindan (CS), John Heidemann (CS), Rahul Jain (EE), David Kempe (CS), Kristina Lerman (CS), Yan Liu (CS),Andy Molisch (EE), Shri Narayanan (EE), Ashutosh Nayyar (EE), Kostas Psounis (EE), Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (EE), Gaurav Sukhatme (CS), and Milind Tambe (CS).

The Arid Climate and Water Research (AWARE)

The AWARE center, led by Mahta Moghaddam with Amy Childress and Essam Heggy, focuses on developing technologies for characterizing and monitoring water resources, adapting to water scarcity, and understanding climatic variability in water-scarce regions.

Center activities will include technology development, education, and outreach. The technology development efforts will focus on (1) developing state of the art remote sensing techniques from airborne and robotic platforms, (2) investigating the relationship between energy, water, and land use management practices in water-scarce environments using remote-sensing, and (3) developing groundwater models in water-scarce areas.

The Center will have a strong commitment to education related to these technologies through offering new classroom and online courses, degree and certificate programs, international exchange programs, and hands-on training. The Center aims to address severe technological deficiencies in understanding and adapting to water scarcity, which impact more than one-fifth of the Earth’s population including the population of southern California, the largest water-scarce urban center in the world.

Participating Viterbi faculty include:

Kelly Sanders (CEE), Hossein Hashemi (EE), Bhaskar Krishnamachari (EE), Nora Ayanian (CS), George Ban-Weiss (CEE), and Felipe De Barros (CEE). Other participating faculty includes Hilda Blanco (Public Policy), Antonio Bento (Public Policy), and Sarah Feakins (Earth Science). The Center will also have several US and international government and educational partnering agencies.

The USC Center for Peptide and Protein Engineering (CPPE)

The CPPE aims to advance research at USC by creating functional peptides and proteins as imaging agents, diagnostics and therapies. The center is led by Prof. Rich Roberts (VSoE, DCLAS) and Prof. Terry Takahashi (DCLAS) and funding and support from VSoE will directly promote bioengineering research, federal grant applications, and fundraising.

Peptides and proteins are the cornerstones of our existing technology in biological recognition, diagnostics and human therapies. While many of these tools are extremely valuable and useful, the challenge is that their construction is often labor intensive, slow, and requires large quantities of target protein.

The center will work to develop both peptide and protein reagents for VSoE and collaborating faculty projects as well as and explore new approaches to speed the production of these reagents. The resulting molecules will provide new tools for systems and synthetic biology, new imaging agents, assist analytical measurements via nanotechnology and nano devices, provide routes for translational medicine and new compositions of matter for patenting and licensing.

Participating/collaborating faculty include:

Noah Malmstadt (MFD), Pin Wang (MFD), Andrea Armani (MFD), Nicholas Graham (MFD),Scott Fraser, (MCB, BME), and Ray Stevens (MCB, CHEM, CHE).

The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center (RASC)

The RASC, led by Gaurav Sukhatme, Nora Ayanian, Maja Mataric and Stefan Schaal, provides collaborative expertise and thought leadership for research in all major areas of robotics and autonomous systems, an area that crosscuts several major related national research priorities, including the Robotics Initiative, Cyber-Physical Systems, Technologies for Medicine and Health and the BRAIN initiative.

RASC facilitates interdisciplinary interactions and collaboration through its robotics faculty and its large team of interdisciplinary affiliates and serves as a lynch pin for strategic research areas at USC.

Principal center activities include concurrent pursuit of external visibility, external cohesion and collaboration, and large-scale external funding. In addition, the center will organize a seminar series, a K-12 outreach program, an industrial outreach program; design joint educational programs; advise departments and the Dean on coordinated faculty hiring and mentor junior faculty.

RASC aims to make these advances possible through sustained research excellence and further thought leadership that will bring significantly more recognition to the Viterbi School.

Participating faculty include:

Nora Ayanian (CS), Mark Bolas (ICT/SCA), SK Gupta (AME), Laurent Itti (CS), Behrokh Khoshnevis (ISE), Sven Koenig (CS), Gerald Loeb (BME), Maja Mataric (CS), Nestor Perez-Arancibia (AME), Ketan Savla (CEE), Stefan Schaal (CS), Wei-Min Shen (CS/ISI), Gaurav Sukhatme (CS), and Francisco Valero-Cuevas (BME).

The Center for Sleep Health using Bioengineering (“SleepHuB”)
  • SleepHuB aims to position USC as the leading institution in sleep bioengineering and medicine. It will be led by Viterbi investigators Michael Khoo (BME) and Krishna Nayak (EE/BME), and Keck investigators Sally Ward (CHLA Pediatrics), Terese Hammond (Medicine), Eric Kezirian (Orolaryngology) and Tomas Konecny (Medicine).

    The center will promote interdisciplinary research that includes but is not limited to: the quantitative physiology of normal and abnormal breathing during sleep; the development & application of state-of-the-art predictive models and imaging methodologies; and diagnostics and therapeutics for pediatric through adult forms of sleep related breathing disorders.

    While other peer institutions have strong leadership positions in clinical sleep medicine, SleepHuB will be unique in focusing on sleep health, diagnostics, and therapeutics with significant technological and methodological contributions from bioengineering.

  • The center will provide a nucleus for seeding new interdisciplinary research projects and cores, and potentially give USC a competitive edge over other groups in attracting research funding.

    Center activities will be aimed at identifying areas of common interest and expertise, expanding the membership base to include USC faculty from other schools, seeking input from external experts, promoting the center’s national/international visibility, facilitating the mentoring of trainees in the field of sleep, and identifying opportunities for external large-scale funding.

    Other participating/collaborating Viterbi faculty includes:

    Shri Narayanan, Justin Haldar and Georgiou Panayiotis.