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USC professor named among the world’s top innovators

In the concept art above, the building learns and responds to the individual preferences of its occupants (temperature, lighting, location, etc.) and uses smart phones and wall displays to give real-time feedback on their energy choices. (Graphic/Yang Liu)

Technology Review has recognized Burcin Becerik-Gerber of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering as one of the world’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35, it was announced on Aug. 21.

As an honoree on the magazine’s 2012 list, Becerik-Gerber joins 34 other scholars in energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, computer and electronics hardware and software, and other emerging fields.

An assistant professor in USC’s Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Becerik-Gerber is the sixth USC faculty member to receive the TR35 distinction in the last four years. The honor previously went to Jernej Barbič and Bhaskar Krishnamachari (2011), Michelle Povinelli (2010), and Andrea Armani and Ellis Meng (2009).

With a background in civil engineering and architecture, Becerik-Gerber seeks to reduce energy consumption in buildings and increase the comfort of occupants through solutions that assess the behavior of occupants and the systems of their buildings.

With degrees from Istanbul Technical University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University, Becerik-Gerber has worked as a construction manager, a technologist, an architect and a professor.

“Being both an architect and an engineer, Burcin perfectly understands both the context and the physics of buildings and uses this powerful platform to innovate,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of USC Viterbi. “We are very proud of her distinction.”

Lucio Soibelman, chair of the Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Becerik-Gerber’s mentor, added: “Burcin envisions an unprecedented ‘new world’ of fully integrated human-building systems where intelligence coordinates an occupant’s behavior and energy usage. She has taken her ideas for an energy-aware society to the lab and began to implement her vision for a hyperdynamic and learned energy-aware society.”

Becerik-Gerber will discuss her achievements with fellow honorees in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 24-26. This year’s TR35 winners will also be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review, which is published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and online at

“This year’s TR35 recipients are applying technology to some of our generation’s greatest challenges and innovating to improve the way we live and work,” said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review. “We look forward to watching these young technology leaders grow and advance over the coming years.”

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