USC researchers recognized for innovation

Two USC Viterbi researchers have been recognized in the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 on Tuesday.

Roboticist Nora Ayanian and environmental engineering scholar Kelly Sanders were named in the 16th annual review for leadership in their respective fields, according to USC News.

Ayanian’s research focuses on multi-robot coordination and finding real-life applications for those systems. Ayanian aims to eliminate poor coordination between robots working in a team.

Sanders, a sustainability expert, studies ways to enhance the relationship between energy and water, focusing on ways to provide safe and reliable water and energy supplies without using too much of either.

Those honored are placed in one of five categories: Inventors, Entrepreneurs, Visionaries, Humanitarians and Pioneers. Ayanian was named as a Visionary, while Sanders was listed under Humanitarian. Ayanian and Sanders are the 12th and 13th USC faculty members to be featured in the list. Eleven other Trojans have been featured since 2009.

“It is gratifying that the remarkable talent and promise of Nora Ayanian and Kelly Sanders were aptly recognized by MIT Technology Review,” Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos said in an interview with USC News. “Together with the other 11 USC Viterbi recognized in this list in the last seven years, they represent the new face of engineering — talented, innovative, charismatic, diverse and immensely promising. We could not be more proud of their achievements.”

Ayanian received the 2016 Okawa Foundation Research Grant in July, and won the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award in March. She taught an Introduction to Robotics Class at Viterbi in the spring semester as well.

Sanders was recognized in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 feature in 2012, and was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow for three years prior. Her Sustainable Systems Research Group is a part of the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Ayanian and Sanders, along with the other honorees, will be recognized at the annual EmTech MIT conference held in Massachusetts in October.