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Viterbi Departments Establish Endowed Keynote Lectures

January 05, 2007 —
The University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering will mark the opening of its second century by establishing endowed keynote lectures in all its academic departments. The lectures will honor the school’s past while providing incisive looks at the frontiers of science and technology. 
The lectures, named to honor key figures in the school's history, will cover a broad range of engineering topics, honor,  and draw eminent scholars to the Viterbi community.  Each of the school’s academic departments will hold an annual keynote lecture, the lecture named for an individual who helped transform the school or the discipline.

William Spitzer
The first lecture in the series, the Spitzer Lecture, will be hosted by the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science on February 21. William G. Spitzer, a former chair of the USC department of materials science, did outstanding work in solid-state physics, particularly as it affects the optical and electronic properties of semiconductor materials. He was also an influential academic administrator, with lasting impact on USC as a department chair, dean and provost. A university committee he headed produced the “Spitzer Profile,” a widely copied procedure for determining faculty load.

The inaugural Spitzer Lecturer will be Jim Heath, the Gilloon Professor of Chemistry at Caltech. To many, Heath is responsible for the most important work to date in molecular electronics.  He created the first molecular circuit, using molecules called rotaxanes to create molecular transistors, then building a 16-bit memory circuit from rotaxane molecules that bridged semiconductor crossbars. His work has provided the tools and fundamental units that most researchers in molecular electronics use today, and his focus is on the applications of nanotechnology to biological systems.
Andrew Viterbi
The Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering will hold two keynote lectures, one hosted by the Systems Division and the other hosted by the Electrophysics Division.  Systems has already established the Viterbi Lecture  and it will serve as its keynote lecture. It is named for Andrew J. Viterbi, the legendary communications figure whose name graces the school. Viterbi helped open the doors to the digital age with the Viterbi Algorithm, an original mathematical formula for eliminating signal interference. Today, his algorithm is used in all four international standards for digital cellular telephones, as well as in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers and deep space telemetry.
This year’s Viterbi Lecturer will be Robert J. McEliece, a renowned information theorist who is the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech and the 2004 Shannon Lecturer of the IEEE. He has done novel mathematical work relating to the reliable storage and faster transmission of information. The Viterbi Lecture will be held on March 22, 2007.
Jack Munushian
Steven Chu
The keynote lecture for the Electrophysics Division of the Hsieh Department will be named for the late Jack Munushian, a long-time USC professor of electrical engineering and the right-hand man of Zohrab Kaprielian, a storied engineering dean and provost at USC. Munushian was a leading distance education pioneer in his own right, and the Viterbi School bears the stamp of his many contributions to this day.
The inaugural Munushian Lecture will be given by Steven Chu, a Nobel Laureate in Physics (1997) for the "development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." His work enables researchers to study fundamental phenomena and measure important physical quantities with unprecedented precision.

Chu is currently the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a professor of Physics and Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

His research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics include tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser cool and trap atoms, atom interferometry, and the manipulation and study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level.

The Munushian Lecture will be given April 10, 2007.

George Bekey
The Computer Science department will hold an annual keynote lecture named for George Bekey, the roboticist known for the extraordinary versatility and exceptional quality of his work during his long career at the Viterbi School. Bekey is the 2005 winner of the IEEE Technical Field Award in Robotics and Automation, the highest technical award in its area. He was one of the founders of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the first editor of its Transactions. Bekey was the chair of electrical engineering/systems at USC when the department was first formed, and a  former
chair of the computer science department. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Viterbi School’s biomedical engineering department.
The first Bekey Lecture will be given by Ed Lazowska, the Bill and Melinda Gates Chair of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Lazowska has done landmark work in high-performance computing and communication systems and in the design and implementation of distributed and parallel computer systems. Lazowska is also known as an outstanding academic leader and public servant. In 2005 he received both the Computing Research Association Distinguished Service Award and the Presidential Award of the Association for Computing Machinery "for showing us how to advocate effectively for IT research and advanced education."
Eberhardt Rechtin
The Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering has named its keynote lecture for the late Eberhardt Rechtin, a former Viterbi School professor and a founding father of systems architecting engineering as a distinct discipline. He played a key role in the development of U.S. space technologies and had a storied career in government and industry before coming to USC. He headed JPL’s Communications Group in the 60s, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (later to become DARPA) soon after, and was named CEO of the Aerospace Corporation subsequent to that.

The Viterbi School’s Biomedical Engineering Department has named its keynote lecture for the late Fred S. Grodins the department’s founding chair. His 1963 publication, “Control Theory and Biological Systems,” is a landmark document on the earliest applications of engineering control theory to physiological systems.

The first annual keynote lecture of the Viterbi School’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering department will be given by Anatol Roshko, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics (Emeritus) at Caltech. Roshko is well known for his fundamental contributions to gas dynamics, especially in the areas of separated flow problems, bluff-body aerodynamics and the structure of turbulent shear flow. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

The Viterbi School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department and its Aerospace and Space Technology Division will be announcing their keynote lectures shortly.