Logo: University of Southern California

Two Promising Young Faculty Named to Viterbi School Early Career Chairs

September 26, 2007 —

Two promising young engineers — David Kempe, assistant professor of computer science, and Ellis Meng, assistant professor of biomedical engineering -- have been named to early career chairs for their exceptional research contributions.

“These two individuals show exceptional distinction and promise as junior faculty members,” said Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos.  “The early career chair awards recognize and support research that has distinguished young faculty and could lead to significant advances in their respective fields.

David Kempe

“We are very pleased to have these individuals as chair holders,” Yortsos added. 

Kempe becomes the second holder of the Robert G. and Mary G. Lane Early Career Chair, succeeding Tzung Hsiai, who has been promoted to associate professor of biomedical engineering. Kempe, who joined the USC Department of Computer Science in 2004, will hold the chair as long as he remains in the assistant professor rank.

His primary research interests are in computer science theory and the design and analysis of algorithms, with a particular emphasis on social networks, distributed network algorithms, and game theoretic and pricing questions.

Kempe was the recipient of a 2006 National Science Foundation Early Career Award for his work to model and algorithmically address ways of minimizing or maximizing the spread of network epidemics, such as computer viruses.  He is also a recipient of the Viterbi School Junior Research Award and, with computer science colleague Sven Koenig, is one of the organizers of the USC Programming Context, an ongoing effort to identify and support programming talent for competition in Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) contests.

Kempe received his Ph.D. in 2003 from Cornell University and worked as a post-doctorate at the University of Washington before joining USC.

The Robert G. and Mary G. Lane Early Career Chair he holds was established in 2005 with a generous contribution from David and Grayson Lane.

Meng, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has been named to the Viterbi Early Career Chair, held previously by Elaine Chew of the Epstein Industrial Systems and Engineering Department and the Ming Hsieh Department, who was promoted to associate professor.  The appointment recognizes Meng’s exceptional contributions to the field and will remain in effect as long as she remains in the assistant professor rank.
Ellis Meng

Meng’s research focuses on developing novel micro- and nanotechnologies for biomedical applications. Areas of research include novel hybrid neural interfaces and the development of advanced medical implants for glaucoma management, intraocular drug delivery and retinal prostheses.  

She holds the position of thrust leader for interface technology and is also associate director of education and student diversity in the Biomimetic Microeletronic Systems NSF-funded Engineering Research Center.  Like Kempe, she has also received an NSF Early Career Award.

Meng joined the Viterbi School Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2004, after earning all three of her degrees, including a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, from the California Institute of Technology. While at Caltech, she was a recipient of the Intel Women in Science and Engineering Scholarship, the Caltech Alumni Association Donald S. Clark Award, and a Caltech Special Institute Fellowship. She joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2004.  

The Viterbi Early Career Chair she holds was established with support from Andrew J. and Erna Viterbi, for whom the school is named.