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Two Viterbi Faculty Win Okawa Research Awards

Signal and Image Processing director and robotics specialist latest recipients of the prestigious honor

August 21, 2007 —

Engineers C.C. Jay Kuo and Stefan Schaal have won 2007 Okawa Foundation research grants, carrying on an unbroken string of Viterbi recipients of the honor stretching back many years.

Kuo, a professor in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, will use his grant to study  "Efficient Video Multicast over IP Networks with Network Coding (NC)."

C.C. Jay Kuo

Kuo received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from MIT in 1987, and joined the USC faculty in 1989. He is internationally known as one of the creators of the widely used MPEG video compression system, among other achievements. He became director of the USC Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI), one of the pre-eminent centers in its subject, in 2006.

He is Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation, Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio Processing and Editor for the Journal of Information Science and Engineering and the RURASIP Journal of Applied Signal Processing.
“He is known for outstanding research accomplishments in image and video processing and analysis, and in multimedia data compression, communication, networking and database management,” said Sandy Sawchuk, systems chair of the Hsieh Department. “I know I join our entire department and school in congratulating him."

Schaal, an associate professor in the Viterbi School Department of Computer Science, will continue his robotics research aimed at developing “human centered machines.” He is also an Invited Researcher at the ATR Human Information Sciences Laboratory in Japan, where he held an appointment as Head of the Computational Learning Group during an international ERATO project, the Kawato Dynamic Brain Project (ERATO/JST).

Before joining USC in 2000, Schaal was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, an Invited Researcher at the ATR Human Information Processing Research Laboratories in Japan, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at the Department of Kinesiology of the Pennsylvania State University.

Stefan Schaal
Schaal's research interests include topics of statistical and machine learning, neural networks, computational neuroscience, functional brain imaging, nonlinear dynamics, nonlinear control theory, and biomimetic robotics. He applies his research to problems of artificial and biological motor control and motor learning, focusing on both theoretical investigations and experiments with human subjects and anthropomorphic robot equipment.

Schaal’s recent work on robot four-legged animation has attacted worldwide attention.

"This award reflects Stefan's exemplary work and not only continues the Viterbi School's long tradition of Okawa's, but also its long tradition of cutting edge robotics research," said Computer Science Chair Ramesh Govindan.
The Okawa Foundation, established in 1986 by the late Isao Okawa, subsidizes studies in information technology and telecommunications.  Each year, the foundation awards $10,000 grants to individual researchers whose work shows promise of advancing the field.

Kuo and Schaal will receive their awards at a ceremony Oct. 3 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco.