Viterbi Internal Center Incubator (VICI)

The VICI aims to empower and facilitate cohesion and development of areas of through leadership, enhance research strength and national and international recognition, sustain momentum, and enable focus and growth in strategic research areas.

The following are current VICI-supported centers:

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.

    Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI)

    The CCI Center, led by Bhaskar Krishnamachari, aims to develop fundamental understanding and innovative technologies to bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds through the seamless connectivity provided by the Internet of Things (IoT). Research focus areas for the center include IoT platforms and testbeds, blockchain technology and applications, theoretical foundations for CPS, cyber-physical security, and connected and autonomous vehicles.

    The Center organizes various events including seminar series, workshops, industry meetups, and symposia. It is playing a leading role in a collaboration with the City of LA and industry teams to develop I3, a new community marketplace platform for IoT in smart cities. It is leading an effort to develop novel protocols and solutions for blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, particularly aimed at improving trust and enabling microtransactions in IoT systems. It is developing an outdoor IoT testbed at the USC campus for researchers working across different areas of technology. Center faculty are also helping to revitalize the undergraduate and graduate curriculum at USC Viterbi through new courses to position it at the leading edge of education in CPS and IoT.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Murali Annavaram, Salman Avestimehr, Nora Ayanian, George Ban-Weiss, Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Peter Beerel, Paul Bogdan, Young Cho, Jyo Deshmukh, Dina El-Damak, Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, Ramesh Govindan, S.K. Gupta, G.J. Halfond, Hossein Hashemi, Alefiya Hussain, Rahul Jain, Mihailo Jovanovic, Aleksandra Korolova, Yan Liu, Azad Madni, Nenad Medvidovic, Andreas Molisch, Mahta Moghaddam, Muhammad Naveed, Cliff Neuman, Pierluigi Nuzzo, Antonio Ortega, Don Paul, Viktor Prasanna, Konstantinos Psounis, Niel Seigel, Cyrus Shahabi, Gaurav Sukhatme,  Mahdi Soltanolkotabi.

    Center of Machine Learning (MaSCle)

    The USC Center of Machine Learning (MaSCle)

    The MaSCle Center, under the leadership of Dr. Yan Liu, aims to provide breakthrough solutions to world challenges via an interdisciplinary approach involving machine learning research and that of its related fields across both Viterbi and USC as a whole. As machine learning is quickly becoming the core of all data-based research activities, the Center hopes to utilize the faculty’s respective backgrounds to not only develop machine learning, but to use those developments to help answer some of the world’s most pressing questions. Some of the current topics being addressed by the Center include advanced health informatics, how to reverse-engineer the brain, and how to engineer better medicines, all of which have been named by the National Academy of Engineering to be Grand Challenges for engineering in the 21st century.

    Alongside trying to find solutions to these dilemmas, the Center also hopes to grow the machine learning community at USC by providing an environment that fosters machine learning research through their education and outreach activities. The Center faculty will have a large part in the spread of machine learning education as new classroom courses are being developed as parts of both the data science program in the Computer Science department and the Informatics program in the Viterbi School of Engineering. As a part of outreach, the Center also hosts several speaking events every year featuring prominent figures in both machine learning and its related fields. Through this, the Center hopes to not only answer current problems, but to help create researchers that will answer tomorrow’s problems as well.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Ilias Diakonikolas (CS), Aram Galstyan (CS), Meisam Razaviyayn (ISE), Xiang (Sean) Ren (CS), Fei Sha (CS), Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (EE), Shang-Hua Teng (CS), Haipeng Luo (CS), Rahul Jain (EE), and Joseph Lim (CS).

    Other participating faculty include:

    Gareth James (Data Science and Operations), Jason D. Lee (Data Science and Operations), Stanislav Minsker (Mathematics), Jinchi Lv (Data Science and Operations), and Yingying Fan (Data Science and Operations).

    Center for Intelligent Environments, Technology and Society (CENTIENTS)

    CENTIENTS led by Burcin Becerik-Gerber and Gale Lucas, facilitates a broad, far-reaching conversation and research about how to design, introduce, and oversee user-centered  solutions in ways that make built environments not only more supportive of personal and organizational goals but also safer, healthier, more humane, and capable of producing joy and well-being in the humans that use them. CENTIENTS supports groundbreaking research and brings together scholars, innovators and leaders to tackle some of the most challenging questions brought about by the fast pace of technology implementation, including security and privacy challenges, how intelligent environments should support the future of work and how to build trust in automation.

    CENTIENT’s activities will focus on research, education, and outreach. The research efforts will focus on

    1. How to design, construct, maintain intelligent built environments
    2. How to build, maintain and increase trust between intelligent built environments and their human users
    3. How intelligent environments will augment user performance and shape the future of work, and
    4. How to design novel interactions in buildings and how they will change human and building behavior.

    CENTIENTS will have a strong commitment to education and outreach related to these research topics through offering new classroom and online courses, scholar exchange programs, workshops, hackathons, and seminar series.

    CENTIENTS aims to contribute to the fundamental understanding of how intelligent environments will shape the future of work, within and across diverse disciplines, including behavioral science, cognitive science, building science, and engineering, creating an unprecedented built environment that transforms the way we live and work.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Lucio Soibelman (CEE), Azad Madni (Astronautical Eng), Shri Narayanan (ECE/CS), Bhaskar Krishnamachari (EE/CS), Jonathan Gratch (ICT) and George Ban-Weiss (CEE).   Other participating faculty includes Erroll Southers (Public Policy), Wendy Wood (Psychology & Business), and Nathanael Fast (Business).

    The Center will also have several US and international government and educational partnering agencies.

    Healthcare and Medical Engineering (HealME) Center

    The overarching vision of the HealME Center is the innovation of new technologies and engineering solutions for critical healthcare problems. Whereas the centuries old paradigm in medicine involves a reliance on pharmaceutical or surgical interventions, new advances will be driven by the convergence of engineering and medicine, particularly in the development of medical devices and information processing/data analytics. These and new combination approaches will drive improvements in diagnostics, monitoring, and therapy that will underpin future advances in personalized and precision medicine.

    The founding pillar of the center focuses on the intersection of neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, neural engineering, and biomedical device engineering; Engineering+Neuro will address development and dissemination of devices and tools, brain machine interfaces, and modeling methods.  These areas are the focus of national and international funding initiatives and tremendous venture capital and entrepreneurial activity.  We strategically choose to focus on this center first because engineering advances are poised to enable significant advances clinical care and we have a network of experts across units at USC but lack of coordination among these individuals.  There is no better timing than now to bring these groups together.

    This center is led by Ellis Meng, Hossein Hashemi, and Dong Song.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Ted Berger (BME), Jean-Marie Bouteiller (BME), Justin Haldar (EE), Eun Sok Kim (EE), Gianluca Lazzi (Keck/EE), Richard Leahy (EE), Jerry Loeb (BME), Vasilis Marmarelis (BME), Bartlett Mel (BME), Terry Sanger (BME/Keck/BKN), Fei Sha (CS), Maryam Shanechi (EE), Francisco Valero-Cuevas (BME/BKN), Jesse Yen (BME), and Qifa Zhou (BME/Keck)

    Other participating faculty include:

    Andrew Hires (Dornsife), Helena Chui (Neurology, Christi Heck (Neurology), Pat Levitt (Neurogenetics), William Mack (Neurosurgery), Charles Liu (Neurosurgery), Brian Lee (Neurosurgery), Mark Krieger (Neurosurgeyr), J. Gordon McComb (Neurosurgery), and Mark Liker (Neurosurgery)

    Center for Smart Omni-Functional Textiles (SOFT)

    The Center for Smart Omni-Functional Textiles (SOFT) aims to innovate next-generation smart textiles that can chemically, optically, and electrically respond to various environmental stimuli. These types of smart textiles can be used for a variety of applications including wearable sensors that can be used to detect bodily functions, performance enhancement fabrics that can harness energy such as heat or vibrations or sound, clothing that can repel water when it rains but attract water in dry climates, and light-sensitive fabrics that can regulate temperature to allow for less energy use in buildings.

    A convergent approach is necessary to design omni-functional textiles that are able to store and convert energy for a variety of sensing and activating functions, yet remain soft, comfortable, and pleasant for the end-user. The center is led by Malancha Gupta and the team includes multidisciplinary researchers who can integrate fundamental knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mechanics to allow for the development of light-weight, comfortable wearable materials. The team aims to develop process-structure-property relationships to establish the link between molecular and macroscopic properties.

    The center activities include the synthesis, functionalization, analysis, modeling, and scale-up of the multi-functional materials. The societal impact for these textiles is broad because smart wearable technologies have uses in a range of applications from personal health monitoring to robotics.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Michelle Povinelli (EE), Ellis Meng (BME), Heather Culberston (CS), Theodore Tsotsis (CHE), Muhammad Sahimi (CHE), Adam Smith (CEE), Jayakanth Ravichandran (CHE)

    Center for Integrated Electronics and Biological Organisms (CIEBOrg)

    The goal of CIEBORg, led by Rehan Kapadia, Megan McCain, and Leonardo Morsut, is to integrate semiconductor, cell/tissue engineering, and synthetic biology technologies to develop new platforms for multi-modal sensing and actuating of cells and tissues at relatively high spatiotemporal resolution. The long-term goal is to engineer biological-electronic hybrid systems that enable closed-loop, dynamic control of cellular or sub-cellular behaviors within complex multi-cellular tissues. These hybrid systems would have many applications in human health and beyond, including precision tissue engineering, “smarter” implantable devices, and enhanced biological robots.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Constantine Sideris, Noah Malmstadt, Jerry Loeb, Francisco Valero-Cuevas

    Machine and Process Intelligence (MPI) Center

    The Machine and Process Intelligence (MPI) Center led by S. Joe Qin focuses on fundamental development of the next generation intelligent manufacturing and processing technologies at the levels of machine intelligence, process intelligence, systems intelligence, and decision-making intelligence. Material processing and manufacturing industries are entering a new era of revolutionary technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, machine learning, cloud computing, and cyber-physical systems (CPS). The mission of this center is to merge machine learning, data science, and physical process knowledge for intelligent operations, control, and diagnostics technologies. Cloud-based systems, autonomous systems and high-level decision-support systems are envisioned with predictive, prescriptive, human-centered, and interactive functions. The focused manufacturing areas are continuous material processing and nano/additive manufacturing, which include: 1) batch and continuous bioprocess/pharma manufacturing, 2) CPS for additive manufacturing, 3) intelligent chemical processing, and 4) smart semiconductor manufacturing. The MPI Center aims to be an academia-industry coalition to develop intelligent data analytics and decision-making systems for machines, processes, and manufacturing systems.

    Participating Viterbi faculty include:

    Joe Qin (CHE, EE), Qiang Huang (ISE), SK Gupta (ME), Fei Sha (CS), Noah Malmstadt (CHE), Malancha Gupta (CHE), and Ketan Savla (CEE).