“When it comes to the strength of our Ph.D. students, we are continuously awed by your excellence,” said Yannis Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, in his opening remarks at the 2021 Viterbi Ph.D. Awards.
“We are proud of the way many of you have already risen to the unique challenges of this moment,” he continued.
The award ceremonies, hosted through Zoom on May 6, 2021, celebrated the accomplishments of doctoral students throughout the engineering school.
Dean Yortsos also thanked William F. Ballhaus Jr. and Yang Zhang, sponsors of some of the major awards. He cited their experiences and gratitude for the teaching assistants and graduate mentors in their academic careers, inspiring them to give back in the form of awards.
The awards highlighted students’ strengths throughout various facets of a Ph.D.’s duties, including research, mentorship and teaching.
The Best Research Assistant Award was shared among recipients throughout USC Viterbi departments, including Robert Antypas of the Department of Aerospace Engineering; Ali Marjaninejad and Jonathan Wang of the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Ali Zarei-Baygi and Runhe Zhu of the Sonny Asanti Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Emily Chen and Jiaoyang Li of the Department of Computer Science; Shantanu Thakar of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Serveh Kamrava of the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Hang Qiu of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Yannick Bliesner of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Danielle White received the Outstanding Mentor Award, for her work with Viterbi Admission and Student Engagement, or VASE.
Traci Thomas-Navarro, head of the Center for Engineering Diversity, presented Emmanuel Johnson with a special Leadership and Service Award, for the work he has done towards the center’s diversity efforts.
The Viterbi Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award went to Victor Ardulov, Jayson Sia, and Thomas Grochel.
Recipients of the Jenny Wang Excellence in Teaching Award were Ali Marjaninejad of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Patricia Chaffey of the Department of Computer Science, Nathan Decker of the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Allyson McGaughey of the Sonny Astani Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Fernando Valladares Monteiro of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Jingyi Liu of the Department of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Parv Patel of the Department of Astronautical Engineering, and Alireza Delfarah of the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science.
The Viterbi Graduate Student Association granted the Leadership and Service Award for Advocacy in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to five students: Bianca Costa, Nripsuta Saxena, Nina Maxey, Harper Stewart, and Armando Urbina. They also presented the Leadership Award to Farbod Amirghasemi.
The final award of the night was the William F. Ballhaus, Jr. Prize for Excellence in Graduate Engineering Research. Although a robust number of finalists were selected, the award ultimately went to Omid G. Sani for his work in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.