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MIT lauds Trojans whose innovations could change the world

USC Viterbi’s Ban-Weiss, McCain and Shanechi appear on this year’s list of Innovators Under 35

by Regina Wu
USC innovators under 35 for 2014
George Ban-Weiss, Maryam Shanechi and Megan McCain, from left (Photos/courtesy of USC Viterbi)

The annual MIT Technology Review list of 35 Innovators Under 35 includes three USC Viterbi School of Engineering faculty members.

Professor George Ban-Weiss has been recognized as a humanitarian for his work in the field of energy, while professors Megan McCain and Maryam Shanechi were honored for their work in the fields of biotechnology and medicine.

The recognition of George, Megan and Maryam this year is a testament to their creativity, technological and engineering talent.

Yannis C. Yortsos

For more than a decade, the magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recognized exceptionally talented technologists whose work has the potential to transform the world.

“The 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 USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “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.”

Transformative research projects

Ban-Weiss, McCain and Shanechi bring the total number of USC Viterbi faculty honorees to 11. Last year, Assistant Professor Hao Li appeared on the list for his work in computer-generated visual effects, which focuses on capturing body and facial movements in real time.

Ban-Weiss conducts research on air pollution and climate change. He uses numerical models and field observations to investigate solutions for countering the local impact 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 to have received this recognition,” said Ban-Weiss, assistant professor in the 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,” said McCain, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Due to tremendous advances over the last couple of 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, interfaces that automatically control the brain state under anesthesia, and 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 the 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 2014 honorees join a long 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,” said MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief and publisher Jason Pontin. “Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder 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.”

This year’s honorees will be showcased online at technologyreview.com and in the September/October magazine, which will be available on newsstands on Sept. 2. The Trojans will attend the EmTech MIT conference from Sept. 23–25 in Massachusetts.

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