Burcin Becerik-Gerber

Dean’s Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering 
Doctor of Design, Harvard University
M.S., Engineering, University of California-Berkeley
Master’s Degree, Architecture, Istanbul Technical University
B.A., Architecture, Istanbul Technical University

Dr. Becerik-Gerber’s work is at the intersection of the built environment, machine intelligence, and systems thinking. Specifically, her work focuses on the acquisition, modeling, and analysis of the data needed for user-centered built environments, and the development of novel frameworks and visualization techniques to improve built-environment efficiency, while increasing user satisfaction.  Her work, which has received support worth over 5 million dollars from a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Department of Transportation, brings together a variety of disciplines, such as engineering, design, computer science, psychology, and architecture. She is currently advising six Ph.D. students, several masters and undergraduate students in the Informatics for Intelligent Built Environments focus area. She is the recipient of MIT Technology Review’s TR35 Recognition (2012), NSF CAREER Award (2014), Viterbi Junior Research Award (2016), Mellon Mentoring Award (2017), Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation Award (CETI) from FIATECH (2018) and the Rutherford Visiting Fellowship at the Alan Turing Institute (2018).

Brad Cracchiola

Lecturer, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Associate Director, Global Program Management Designworks, a BMW Company
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California
B.S., Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering, University of Southern California

Brad Cracchiola started his career with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and eventually transitioned into the product design/development industry with Richard Holbrook Design in Pasadena. In 2004 Brad joined BMW Designworks, a global creative consultancy, where he is currently an associate director overseeing global project management and leads technical projects. In his career, Brad has collaborated with clients including Microsoft, Disney, Herman Miller, HP as well as several startups. He has led the development of products across various industries including consumer electronics, wearable technology, medical devices, sporting equipment, furniture, and more. Brad also has experience developing software products. His “Green Genie” iPhone app was named a top 10 sustainability app by Techcrunch, Forbes among other publications, and Apple named it an “App Store Essential”.  Brad also lead the team that designed the United States Paralympic racing wheelchair, which debuted at the Rio de Janerio 2016 Summer Paralympics, helped athletes win 7 medals, and is currently on display at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Brad has been interviewed by NBC, USA Today, Wired, Fast Company, Popular Mechanics, Business Insider, and others.

David Gerber

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Practice and of Architecture
Director, Civil Engineering Building Science Program
Director, Masters of Science in Advanced Design and Construction Technologies Program
Associate Director, Office of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Doctor of Design, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Master of Design Studies, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Master of Architecture, Architectural Association DRL in London
B.A., Architecture, University of California – Berkeley

David Gerber’s professional experience includes working in architectural, engineering, research, and technology practices in the United States, Europe, India, and Asia for Zaha Hadid Architects in London; for Gehry Technologies in Los Angeles; for Moshe Safdie Architects in Massachusetts; The Steinberg Group Architects in California; and for Arup as the Global Research Manager. His research has won multiple awards from industry, fellowships, and the National Science Foundation and is focused on the development of innovative systems, tools, methods for the design of the built environment. He currently advises, and co advises multi-disciplinary student teams on topics that integrate design, architecture, engineering, and computation in pursuit of design and engineering solutions to global crises. David’s research and entrepreneurial focus are on the development of computational tools to automate the management and sustainability of complex design and engineering projects.

Gisele Ragusa

Professor of Engineering Education Practice
Ph.D., Education, University of Southern California
M.S., Education, University of Southern California
B.A., Liberal Arts, University of Southern California
B.S., Business Administration, University of Southern California

Dr. Gisele Ragusa is a professor at the University of Southern California (USC) in the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Division of Engineering Education. She co-chairs and directs USC’s STEM Education Consortium. She serves in the School of Engineering’s Division of Engineering Education and is also on the University’s Academic Senate (faculty governance) as chair as the University’s Library Committee. She has led the Viterbi School of Engineering Dean’s Engaged Learning Initiative for three years.

Her research interests and areas of expertise include: STEM and in particular engineering education, engineering innovation and global preparedness, college access for first generation college students and students from diverse backgrounds, STEM PK-12 education and teacher education, STEM literacy education, as well as assessment and measurement in STEM. She teaches courses in applied research design, measurement theory, advanced statistical analyses, critical pedagogy in STEM and courses in learning and instructional theory. Dr. Ragusa extensive expertise in multimodal research design, assessment, psychometrics, advanced quantitative analyses, and impact focused pedagogy in STEM. She is active in many professional associations in the engineering and science education, teacher education, distance learning, program evaluation and special education fields. She has been principal investigator on more than 30 federal grants through the US Department of Education, the National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation. She has greater than 100 publications of varying types.

Daniel Druhora

Lecturer and Director of New Initiatives, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Co-Founder and Executive Producer, Safe Passage Films (U.K.)
USC Coordinator, U.S. State Department Diplomacy Lab
M.F.A., Film & Television Production, USC School of Cinematic Arts
B.A., Social Sciences and International Relations, University of Washington

Daniel is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. He has worked on the development and post-production of films for Warner Brothers Studios including a number of international co-productions. His Emmy-winning documentary “Lives Not Grades” about the journey of this course can be found on PBS.  Daniel is directing and producing the feature length film “Cloudwalkers” about the history of the internet and the emergence of the Age of AI. He is also producing the highly anticipated documentary “Freischwimmer” for European networks ARD and ARTE. His screenplay “Climbers” about Rwanda’s first cycling team was optioned by Paris-based Forecast Features. He is currently writing “Miracles In War” about the fight to bring ISIS to justice for the genocide committed in Iraq. His screenplay “Marjan,” about a girl living through the Syrian civil war, was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowship. In addition to filmmaking and teaching, Daniel has managed international logistics as an operations supervisor for UPS Supply Chain Solutions and has led humanitarian relief projects in partnership with several NGOs in several countries.  In 2007, he co-founded AgRenova, a biotech startup in the agriculture space.

Kelly Sanders

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ph.D., Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering, University of Texas – Austin
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas – Austin

B.S.E., Bioengineering, Penn State University

Dr. Kelly Sanders’s research aims to ease tensions between human and natural systems, with particular emphasis on reducing the environmental impacts of providing energy and water, analyzing tensions between climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and anticipating the effects of climate change on energy systems. She has authored more than two dozen publications and has given dozens of invited talks on topics at the intersection of engineering, science, and policy. Sanders has been recognized in Forbes’ 30 under 30: Today’s disruptors and tomorrow’s brightest stars and MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 for her contributions to the energy field. In 2019, she was granted an NSF Early CAREER award.

Her research and commentary have been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, WIRED magazine, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Scientific American. Sanders received her B.S. in Bioengineering from the Pennsylvania State University, as well M.S.E and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. She teaches classes related to energy and the environment.

Najmedin Meshkati

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Industrial Systems Engineering, and International Relations
Ph.D., Industrial Engineering, University of Southern California
M.S., Engineering Management, University of Southern California

B.S., Industrial Engineering, Sharif University Of Technology
B.S., International Relations and Political Economy, National University of Iran

Dr. Najmedin Meshkati is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Industrial & Systems Engineering; and International Relations at the University of Southern California (USC); an Associate (ex-Research Fellow) with the Project on Managing the Atom at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School; and has been an Associate with the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard (2018-2020).

He is a Commissioner of The Joint Commission and a member of the Board on Human-Systems Integration (BOHSI) of the National Academies (Sciences, Engineering and Medicine). Between 2009-2010, he was a Jefferson Science Fellow and a Senior Science and Engineering Advisor to the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser of the U.S. Secretary of State. His current interests include nuclear safety, environmental sustainability, and developing cooperative regional approaches to nuclear fuel cycle management.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Meshkati has been teaching and conducting research on human factors, safety culture, and risk reduction of complex, large-scale technological systems, including nuclear power, aviation, refining, and petrochemical industries. As an expert on systems engineering, human factors and safety culture, Meshkati was selected by the National Academies to be a member on two national panels investigating two recent catastrophic events at Fukushima and Deepwater Horizon. He has inspected many nuclear power plants around the world, including Chernobyl (1997), Fukushima Daiichi and Daini (2012).

Dr. Meshkati is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the 2015 recipient of the organization’s highest honor, the Arnold M. Small President’s Distinguished Service Award. He is also a certified professional ergonomist.

Entrepreneur In Residence

Michael Cesar

B.S. Business Administration, University of Southern California

CEO, Duet

Michael is the co-founder and CEO of Duet, a tech nonprofit that supports refugees in Greece by allowing families to request specific items from their local stores, which are donated by individuals online anywhere in the world. He is also the Entrepreneur in Residence of USC’s Innovation in Engineering and Design for Global Crises program. This past June, he was featured in Los Angeles Business Journal’s annual ‘20 in their 20s.’ Michael graduated from USC with a degree in Business and International Relations. On campus, he was President of his Fraternity, Captain of the USC Men’s Rugby Team, Cochair of the USC Sexual and Personal Misconduct Committee, and a Warren Bennis Scholar. He represented USC at the Association of Pacific Rim Universities program on world challenges in Vladivostok, Russia. Professionally, he gained experience as the head of sales for a small tech startup, interned at UBS in private wealth management, and worked as Interim Director of Fellows at Helena, a non-profit in downtown LA.

Teaching Assistant

Zoia Comarova

Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California
M.S. Hydrology, G.I.S., Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis, Georgia State University
B.S. Environmental Engineering, Moldova Technical University

Zoia was born and raised in Moldova. Her firsthand experience of lacking energy and water resources served her lifelong commitment to addressing emerging global pressures at the nexus of energy and water. After completing undergraduate studies in Environmental Engineering in Moldova, she performed research in the field of energy efficiency and resource management in Eastern Europe. She pursued a Master’s degree in Hydrology in the U.S., focusing on how geospatial technologies can assist in improving runoff estimation in data-poor environments. After graduate school, she gained consulting experience in the water resources management industry with leading engineering companies in the US. She worked on a number of groundbreaking projects for federal, state, and municipal clients in the areas of watershed modeling, stormwater practices, and Clean Water Act regulatory support. The need for research-based approaches to water management challenges motivated her to resume studies in environmental sciences at the Ph.D. level. Her interdisciplinary research at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering spans water resources management, energy efficiency, big data management, and engineering. Part of Zoia’s family also comes from Ukraine and she has been involved in various crisis response efforts since the beginning of the War in Ukraine.

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