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Viterbi School's Tom Katsouleas Named Duke University Dean of Engineering

March 06, 2008 — Thomas Katsouleas, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and has been named dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering.  He begins his new position on July 1.

Katsouleas will succeed Kristina Johnson, who became provost and vice president of academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University on Sept. 1, 2007, after eight years at Duke. Robert L. Clark, Thomas Lord Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has served as Pratt’s interim dean since Johnson’s departure.
Thomas Katsouleas

Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos praised Katsouleas for his innovative work in high-performance computing and plasma physics.  Katsouleas has worked through the years to improve and miniaturize particle accelerators -- devices that accelerate subatomic particles at high speeds in a controlled fashion.  These devices have many applications, from providing information of what happens within atoms to unlocking clues on the origins of the universe.

“Tom has certainly distinguished himself in the field of plasma physics, but he’s also earned a stellar reputation for leadership and service to the university,” Yortsos said.  ““He has served at all levels, as associate dean in engineering, president of the Academic Senate and vice-provost for information technology. It’s difficult to see him go, but we wish him every success at Duke. I am looking forward to working with him as a fellow Dean in important nation-wide issues of engineering education, research and innovation.”

USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias, former dean of the Viterbi School and a fellow engineer, called Katsouleas “one of the most versatile and dynamic leaders I have ever been around.”

“His research in areas such as electromagnetics and plasma have been absolutely cutting-edge,” Nikias said. “Yet he has earned as much distinction for his gift in teaching general-education courses as for his more advanced courses in physics and electrical engineering.  His leadership and service within the university have also been exemplary, as a vice provost and in numerous other capacities.”

Katsouleas joined the faculty of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 1991 as an associate professor of electrical engineering-electrophysics. He rose steadily through the academic ranks and became a full professor in 1997.

As an expert in high-performance computing, Katsouleas’ primary research focus is on miniaturizing particle accelerators.  In 2007, a research group formed and led by Katsouleas, along with Stanford University and UCLA, demonstrated that plasmas can be used to reduce the size of large particle accelerators to the point where they could fit on top of a table.  These advances in miniaturization could benefit many fields, particularly medicine, where compact accelerators are leading to new cancer therapies and diagnostic approaches.
Katsouleas talks with students in USC's high performance supercomputing and visualization facility, the Collaboratory for Advanced Computing and Simulation (CACS), which is a joint venture of the Viterbi School and the USC College.
“My family and I are tremendously excited to join the Duke family and to be associated with one of the most dynamic and rapidly rising schools of engineering in the world today,” Katsouleas said.  “The higher education community in engineering is increasingly coming to recognize the need for engineering students who are not only technically sound but broadly educated in the liberal arts. It is through liberal arts education that students will develop the breadth to be the leaders, and the creativity to be the innovators, of the 21st-century global workforce.”

During his tenure at USC, Katsouleas served in a variety of administrative and academic leadership capacities. While serving as president of the USC Academic Senate, and then as interim vice provost for information services, he led an initiative to overhaul computing and information services across campus. That effort led to a major enhancement of wireless and classroom academic infrastructure, as well as a dramatic increase in USC’s research supercomputing, which boosted USC to second among U.S. universities in computing capacity.  These and other efforts resulted in USC’s first entry into PC magazine’s annual Top 10 “wired campus” list in 2006, where it remains today.

As associate dean of research (2000-2001), Katsouleas co-wrote the Viterbi School’s strategic plan, which provided new opportunities for research collaborations, funding and faculty recruitment. As associate dean of student affairs (1995-2000),  he worked to enhance student educational experiences, including the creation of a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program and the implementation of one of the largest mentoring programs for engineering students at a major research university.

Katsouleas is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  He serves as associate editor of the journals IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science and Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, has written more than 130 journal articles, and has been editor of four books.  He currently chairs a National Academy of Sciences panel assessing free electron laser technology.

“It is always difficult to say goodbye to talented faculty members," said USC President Steven B. Sample.  "Tom Katsouleas has advanced the University of Southern California as an outstanding professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, as vice provost for information services, and as president of our Academic Senate. While I am very sorry to see him leave, as a member of the National Academy of Engineering I am delighted that he will have the opportunity to use his exceptional skills to advance the field of engineering, and I wish him great success.”