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5 USC Viterbi Junior Faculty Win the Prestigious NSF Career Award

2014 is the largest class yet of National Science Foundation CAREER award winners in recent school history
By: Rosalie Murphy
April 23, 2014 —

Five USC Viterbi Assistant Professors received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2014. This year’s winners include Burcin Becerik-Gerber in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Mike Chen and Justin Haldar in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering; and Shaddin Dughmi and Ethan Katz-Basset in the Department of Computer Science. The Career Award consists of a five-year grant from the NSF to support their research and teaching, as well as to enhance community outreach efforts in order to explain their research to K-12 students and other constituencies.

 The 5 Career Awards this year represents the highest ever in the history of the Viterbi School and ranks among the top in awards across the nation for any engineering school in 2014. Here is how the respective winners plan to use their award. 

Ethan Katz-Basset

, who joined the USC Viterbi School in 2012, works to improve Internet performance. His work focuses on bettering Internet performance in a variety of ways, from 
understanding how Google delivers results to searchers to pioneering the development of metrics for measuring Internet use. He runs a network systems research group.

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Burcin Becerik-Gerber

, a leading expert on the relationship between buildings and the humans who use them, will use her grant to understand and quantify the impact human activity has on energy use in buildings. Ultimately, she imagines transforming buildings into self-learning entities that can adapt to humans.

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Mike Chen

Chen seeks a new way to convert analog signals to digital ones, which will reduce distortion and allow users to send a wider range of signals. The electrical engineer, who joined the department in 2010, will also use asynchronous signaling to make devices more efficient. Ultimately, he hopes to use his award to begin transforming the electronic systems behind communications and biomedical equipment.

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Shaddin Dughmi

Dughmi, an assistant professor in computer science, will use his grant to study the behavior of participants in human systems, like auctions for advertising space and GPS trackers that recognize congestion. By modifying the available incentives and information players have, Dughmi wants to see how he can influence player behavior. Then, he’ll optimize the system using existing algorithmic techniques for incentives, and for information revealed to players, which he hasn’t created yet.

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Justin Haldar

And Haldar's grant will support his research on magnetic resonance neuroimaging. The electrical engineer, who holds a joint apointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, seeks ways to maximize the amount of information neuroimaging can provide. Magnetic resonance technology is powerful, but because it takes a long time to acquire noisy data, its use in medicine is limited. Haldar plans to address, and eventually eradicate, those limits. 

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Becerik-Gerber, Chen, Dughmi, Haldar and Katz-Bassett join three USC Viterbi winners from 2013, bringing the USC Viterbi School’s total to 60 faculty members.