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3 USC Viterbi Faculty Make MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 List

George Ban-Weiss, Megan McCain and Maryam Shanechi are recognized on MIT Technology Review’s Annual Innovators Under 35 list
By: Regina Wu
August 19, 2014 —
George Ban-Weiss, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Megan McCain, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Maryam Shanechi, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Today, MIT Technology Review reveals its annual list of Innovators Under 35. For over a decade, the global media company has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. Three USC Viterbi School of Engineering faculty are honored on the list this year: Professor George Ban-Weiss has been recognized as a humanitarian for his work in the field of energy, and Professors Megan McCain and Maryam Shanechi have both been recognized as pioneers for their work in the fields of biotechnology and medicine.

“The Innovators Under 35 recognition of George, Megan and Maryam this year is a testament to their creativity, technological and engineering talent and their vision for transformative research,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “It is also an indication of the wonderful talent of all USC Viterbi junior faculty and of the culture of excellence and creativity in the school. I am very excited for the potential impact of their work.”

Ban-Weiss, McCain and Shanechi bring the total number of USC Viterbi faculty recognized on MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list to eleven, with ten receiving this recognition since 2009. Last year, Computer Science Assistant Professor Hao Li was included on the Innovators Under 35 list for his work in computer-generated visual effects, which focuses on capturing body and facial movements in real time.

Ban-Weiss was included on the list for his research on air pollution and climate change. He uses numerical models and field observations in concert to investigate local solutions for countering the impacts of climate change and reducing public exposure to air pollutants. His work has both informed environmental policy in California and contributed to the advancement of fundamental climate science.

“I am incredibly honored and blown away to have received this recognition from MIT Technology Review,” said Ban-Weiss, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

McCain's research uses tissue engineering to understand how diseases such as heart failure develop on the cell and tissue level. She also engineers micro-scale mimics of human tissues, known as “organs on chips,” that could one day be used to test new drugs in the pharmaceutical industry or be integrated with cells from patients to design personalized treatment strategies.

“I am thrilled to be included in this year’s list of Innovators Under 35,” said McCain, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Due to tremendous advances over the last couple decades in microfabrication, materials science, stem cell biology, and imaging, it is really an exciting time to be a tissue engineer.”

Shanechi works at the interface of systems theory, signal processing, and neuroscience. She develops brain-machine interfaces that may one day allow paralyzed patients to move external devices or their own limbs with mere thought, brain-machine interfaces that automatically control the state of the brain under anesthesia, and brain-machine interfaces for deep brain stimulation to treat neuropsychiatric disorders.

“It is a great honor to be a part of the Innovators Under 35 list,” said Shanechi, Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. “When I started this new interdisciplinary work, I knew it would be a risky endeavor; having my work recognized is an amazing reward for all the hard work.”

The new honorees join a long and impressive list of innovators from various fields.

“Over the years, we’ve had success in choosing young innovators whose work has been profoundly influential on the direction of human affairs,” says MIT Technology Review editor in chief and publisher Jason Pontin. “Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple; and David Karp, the creator of Tumblr. We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add George Ban-Weiss, Megan McCain and Maryam Shanechi to this prestigious list.”

This year’s honorees will be featured online at technologyreview.com starting today, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 2. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference from September 23–25 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (www.EmTechMIT.com).