Directors

Eric Rice

CAIS Co-Founder; Associate Professor in USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Rice is an expert in social network science and theory, and community-based research. His main focus is on youth homelessness and social network influence on risk-taking behaviors and resilience. He cofounded CAIS with Dr. Tambe as a new home for AI and social work to create novel solutions to major social problems. Dr. Rice earned his PhD in Sociology from Stanford University.

Associate Directors

Jordan P. Davis

Assistant Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Davis is an assistant professor in the department of Children, Youth and Families. He has devoted much of his career to interdisciplinary research that addresses substance use and developmental needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations. Dr. Davis also focuses on the utility and development of longitudinal data analyses in the structural equation modeling framework.

Bistra Dilkina

Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Dilkina’s work focuses on challenging computational problems in sustainability and sustainable development, particularly decision and optimization problems. She is interested in network design problems as they arise in large-scale wildlife conservation planning and urban planning. Dr. Dilkina received her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.

Phebe Vayanos

Assistant Professor in Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Vayanos’ current research interests focus on the intersection of optimization and analytics, and using data to improve the way practitioners make decisions in healthcare, education, and energy. She earned her PhD in Operations Research at the Imperial College in London.

Advisory Board

Stephanie Berzin

Dean, College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice, Simmons University

Dr. Berzin is interested in social entrepreneurship, organizational change, foster care experience, and leadership among transition aged youth. She is the co-lead for the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare’s Grand Challenge to Harness Technology for Social Good. Dr. Berzin earned her PhD in Social Work from UC, Berkeley and her MSW in Social Work at Columbia University.

Barbara Grosz

Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Grosz is interested in natural language processing, multi-agent systems, and human-computer collaboration. She was elected as a fellow to the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She earned her PhD in Computer Science at UC, Berkeley.

Eric Horvitz

Technical Fellow and Managing Director at Microsoft Research

Dr. Horvitz is interested in machine learning, natural language understanding, decision making, and reasoning; he is passionate about the intersection of AI and society and how AI can help people. He was elected as a fellow to the National Academy of Engineering, the Association for the Advancement of AI, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Horvitz earned his PhD and MD at Stanford.

Paula Nurius

Grace Beals-Ferguson Scholar and Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work

Dr. Nurius’s work is on mental health, stress from a life course perspective, violence victimization and perpetration, resilience, prevention, and translational research. She is a thought leader regarding transdisciplinary education at the doctoral level. Dr. Nurius earned a joint PhD in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan, and earned her MSW from the University of Hawaii.

Milind Tambe

Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Tambe’s primary research interests lie in using AI for social good. He has contributed several foundational papers in AI in areas such as multiagent systems and security games. Dr. Tambe earned his PhD from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard.

Faculty

Nora Ayanian

WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Ayanian directs the Automatic Coordination of Teams Laboratory. Prior to joining USC, she was a postdoctoral associate in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Her research focuses on creating end-to-end solutions for coordinating teams of robots. Dr. Ayanian earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Burcin Becerik-Gerber

Stephen Schrank Early Career Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Becerik-Gerber’s research is on acquisition, modeling, and analysis of data for user-centered built environments; development of frameworks and visualization techniques to improve built environment efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency while increasing user satisfaction. Dr. Becerik-Gerber earned her Doctor of Design in Project Management and Information Systems from Harvard University.

Carl Castro

Associate Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; Director of the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families

Dr. Castro is retired from the Army after 30 years, where he obtained the rank of colonel. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado. His current research efforts focus on assessing the effects of combat and operations tempo on soldier, family, and unit readiness, and evaluating the process of service members’ transition into the military, as well as from military back to civilian life.

Julie Cederbaum

Associate Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Cederbaum earned her MSW at UCLA and her MPH and PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cederbaum’s expertise lies in design and utilization of mixed methods research, family process, and risk prevention with vulnerable populations. She teaches generalist practice, direct social work practice with children and families, and social work practice in healthcare settings.

Kayla de la Haye

Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine in the USC Keck School of Medicine

Dr. de la Haye specializes in applying social network analysis and systems science to health promotion and disease prevention; specifically, developing interventions to enhance social networks to increase healthy behaviors (e.g., diet, physical activity, substance use) and reduce disease among at-risk populations. She holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Emilio Ferrara

Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; Research Leader at the USC Information Sciences Institute

Dr. Ferrara’s research interests include computational social sciences, data science, network science, and AI for social good. He is a recipient of the 2016 Complex System Society Junior Scientific Award for outstanding contributions to computational social sciences. Dr. Ferrara earned his PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Messina in Italy.

Jonathan Gratch

Research Full Professor of Computer Science and Psychology in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; Co-Director of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Dr. Gratch completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urban-Champaign. His research focuses on the relationship between cognition and emotion, influence of emotion on decision making and physical behavior, and computational models of human cognitive and social processes, and explores these models’ role in shaping human-computer interactions in virtual environments.

Vishal Gupta

Assistant Professor of Data Sciences and Operations, USC Marshall School of Business

Dr. Gupta is interested in data-driven decision making and optimization, particularly in settings where data are so scarce, so high-dimensional or so noisy that high-quality estimation is impossible. He creates methods tailored to these environments. He has worked on applications in risk management, healthcare and business analytics. Dr. Gupta earned his PhD in Operations Research at MIT.

Daniel Hackman

Assistant Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Hackman studies effects of early stressors (e.g., socioeconomic, neighborhood disadvantage) on psychological and biological factors contributing to health and well-being disparities. He earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, and a RWJF Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Benjamin Henwood

Assistant Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Henwood is an expert in mental health and housing services research whose work connects clinical interventions with social policy. His proposal to end homelessness was adopted by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare as a grand challenge. Dr. Henwood earned his MSW and PhD in Social Work at New York University, and a MA in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Seth Kurzban

Clinical Associate Professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Seth Kurzban specializes in improving social integration for individuals facing severe marginalization as a result of serious and chronic mental illness, homelessness, hospitalization, and incarceration. He has been working on interventions to improve social integration and overall wellness and health. He holds a PhD in Social Work from Columbia University.

Yan Liu

Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering-Systems; Philip and Cayley MacDonald Endowed Early Career Chair; Director of the USC Machine Learning Center in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Liu earned her MS and PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests are developing scalable machine learning models for time series data and structured data with applications to social media analysis, computational biology, climate modeling, and healthcare. Before joining USC, Dr. Liu was a research staff member at IBM Research.

Larry Palinkas

Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health and Chair of the Department of Children, Youth and Families in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Dr. Palinkas holds secondary appointments as Professor in Anthropology and Preventive Medicine at USC. He is interested in global health, health disparities, implementation science, community-based participatory research, and sociocultural and environmental determinants of health and related behavior on disease prevention and health promotion. He earned his MA and PhD in Anthropology from UCSD.

Barath Raghavan

Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Raghavan is interested in networked systems, security and applied cryptography, and sustainable computing. His work comprises congestion control, rural Internet access, computing for sustainable agriculture, etc. He received his PhD in Computer Science at UC San Diego and his BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley in 2002.

Xiang Ren

Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Ren works on machine learning and natural language processing. He is interested in computational methods and systems that extract machine-actionable knowledge from text data, specifically modeling sequence and graph data under weak/indirect supervision. He received his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Dr. Ren is also affiliated with USC ISI.

Suvrajeet Sen

Professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Dr. Sen’s research is devoted to optimization models, algorithms, and applications of Stochastic Programming problems. He earned his PhD in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (OR) from Virginia Tech. Prior to joining USC, Dr. Sen was a Professor at Ohio State University and the University of Arizona. He served as the Program Director of OR and Service Enterprise Systems at NSF.

Peng Shi

Assistant Professor of Data Sciences and Operations at the USC Marshall School of Business

Dr. Shi is interested in developing quantitative methodologies for the betterment of society. His current research focuses on optimization in matching markets, with applications in school choice, public housing, and online marketplaces. Prior to joining USC, he completed a PhD in operations research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research.

Marvin Southard

Professor of Practice and the Director of the Doctor of Social Work program in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; CEO of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at USC

Dr. Southard is an expert in mental health, homelessness, and substance abuse. He was the director of the LA County Department of Mental Health, focusing on developing community-based partnerships, veterans’ specific programs, and initiating children’s mental health programs. He received his BA from St. John’s College, Camarillo; his MSW from UC Berkeley, and his Doctor of Social Work from UCLA.

Sze-chuan Suen

Assistant Professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Faculty Member in the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Dr. Suen earned her PhD in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford. She is interested in developing applied mathematical models to identify epidemiological trends and evaluate health policies to support informed decision-making using simulation, dynamic systems modeling, cost-effectiveness analysis, and decision analysis (e.g., controlling tuberculosis in resource-constrained settings).

Shinyi Wu

Associate Professor in USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; Associate Director of Social and Health Services at USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging; Assistant Professor in USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Wu uses engineering and social work to identify, develop, and analyze real-world approaches and applications to amplify humanity in healthcare delivery systems and improve quality, efficiency, and equity of services for disadvantaged populations with chronic illnesses. Dr. Wu earned her PhD in Industrial Engineering, Health Systems specialization at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Affiliated Faculty

Anamika Barman-Adhikari

Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver

Dr. Barman-Adhikari’s research interests are centered on understanding social-contextual determinants of risk and protective behaviors among vulnerable youth populations (e.g., homeless and minority youth). She uses social network analysis to guide intervention design. She earned her MA in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, her MSW at CSU, Fresno, and her PhD in Social Work at USC.

Fei Fang

Assistant Professor in the Institute for Software Research in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Fang received her PhD in Computer Science at USC. Her research lies in computational game theory for security and sustainability (e.g. protecting the Staten Island Ferry by the US Coast Guard, combatting illegal tiger poaching in a Southeast Asia conservation area).

Anthony Fulginiti

Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver

Dr. Fulginiti earned his BA in Psychology at the University of Tampa and his MSW at the University of South Florida. Before receiving his PhD in Social Work from USC, he worked in mental health and healthcare settings. Dr. Fulginiti’s interests are identifying suicide risk factors among vulnerable populations in the context of community-based research and the implementation of suicide prevention.

Hsun-Ta Hsu

Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri

Dr. Hsu’s research focuses on health promotion among individuals experiencing homelessness. His recent research interest centers on the application of technology in developing/adapting sexual risk reduction interventions targeting youth experiencing homelessness. He earned his MSW at the University of Michigan, and his PhD in Social Work at the University of Southern California.

Milind Tambe

Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Tambe’s primary research interests lie in using AI for social good. He has contributed several foundational papers in AI in areas such as multiagent systems and security games. Dr. Tambe earned his PhD from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard.

Darlene Woo

Assistant Director of Clinical Education in the Department of Social Work at California State University, Northridge

Ms. Woo is involved with research projects related to homelessness. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from USC. During her career, Ms. Woo has helped homeless/runaway youth, HIV-positive youth, probation youth, and transitional youth; and has worked with community-based health centers, home health care businesses, academic research departments, and various non-profit organizations.

Amulya Yadav

Assistant Professor at College of Information Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Yadav focuses on developing theoretically grounded computational approaches to real-world problems that can have an impact in the field. His research interests include Artificial Intelligence, Multi-Agent Systems, Computational Game-Theory and Applied Machine Learning. His algorithms have been deployed in the real-world, particularly in the field of public health and social justice.

Staff

Tye Hines

Administrative Budget Assistant

Over the course of her 12-year career at USC, Ms. Tye Hines brings Administrative, Budget Management, Human Resources, Event Planning and Payroll experience to her role as the Administrative Budget Assistant for USC CAIS. In addition, she is responsible for the analysis of budget accounts, making purchases, and administering many of the University processes to assist USC CAIS.

Laura Onasch-Vera

Project Specialist

Ms. Onasch-Vera graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. She works as a project coordinator for a community based research project that utilizes artificial intelligence to enhance the impact of a HIV prevention intervention for youth experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Hailey Winetrobe Nadel

Center Operations Coordinator

Ms. Winetrobe Nadel earned her MPH from UCLA and her BS in Health Sciences: Community Health from Northern Arizona University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Her public health work centers on homelessness, HIV risk and preventive behavior including sexual health and substance use, and social networks.

PhD Students

Sina Aghaei

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Aghaei obtained his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Computer Engineering at Sharif University of Technology where he conducted research in application of data analytics in marketing. He is interested in machine learning, data analytics and decision making.

Sarah Cooney

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Cooney earned her BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She previously worked on mathematics research in graph theory, Ramsey theory, and algebraic topology and has been a computer science intern for the Department of Defense. Her current research interests include artificial intelligence and behavioral game theory.

Graham DiGuiseppi

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Graham DiGuiseppi is interested in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, mindfulness interventions, and health promotion in high risk social networks. He received his BS in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and ScM in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences from Brown University.

Aaron Ferber

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Amrita Gupta

Affiliated PhD student in Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Gupta is a PhD student advised by Prof. Bistra Dilkina. She develops tools and algorithms for efficient resource use in conservation planning and climate adaptation. Her research interests include network design, influence maximization, and active learning.

Chyna Hill

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Ms. Hill’s research focuses on family disruption and adult wealth accumulation, among homeless youth with foster care experience. Ms. Hill obtained a MSW from the University of Southern California in 2018 and an MA from Clark Atlanta University in 2016. Ms. Hill is currently working with Dr. Eric Rice.

Monique Holguin

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Ms. Holguin’s research focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities among youth experiencing homelessness and utilizing social network theory and analysis to identify barriers to service use and access to care for marginalized transition age youth. Currently, she is working with Dr. Rice to assess social supports that facilitate service engagement and racial/ethnic discriminatory experiences associated with barriers to care. She earned her BA in Psychology from UCLA and her MSW from California State University, Los Angeles.

Taoan Huang

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Huang obtained his bachelor’s degree in computer science at Tsinghua University in China. He previously worked on artificial intelligence and computational game theory for wildlife conservation. He is interested in decision making in multi-agent system and computational sustainability.

Qing Jin

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Jin obtained her bachelor’s degree in Control Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University in China, where she conducted research in the optimization of an industrial ecological park. She is interested in optimization and machine learning.

Caroline Johnston

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Johnston received her bachelor’s degree in the Mathematical Sciences from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. There she conducted research on optimally scheduling and routing foster care visitations for an agency in Upstate New York. She is generally interested in optimization and machine learning, focusing on applications for social good.

Ravi Lanka

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Lanka is a Research Technologist in the Machine Learning and Instrument Autonomy group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He received his M.S. in Computer Science at New York University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, India. His research interests lie in developing scalable approaches to combinatorial optimization problems.

Ying Peng

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Peng obtained her bachelor’s degree in Construction Management at Tianjin University and her master’s degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering at USC. Previously she studied optimizing 3D printer use to minimize the overlap scanning area. Currently, she is learning drivers’ preferences to minimize traffic congestion. Ms. Peng is interested in machine learning and optimization.

Laura Petry

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Ms. Petry’s research centers on young people experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Her areas of interest include youth voice, housing interventions, coordinated entry systems, population estimation, and public policy. She earned her BA in English from the University of California, Los Angeles and her MSW in Management and Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Aida Rahmattalabi

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Rahmattalabi completed her M.Sc in Robotics at Oregon State University where her research focused primarily on learning based control of tightly coupled multiagent systems. At USC, she is working on negative influence minimization in social networks, particularly with strategic group formation to prevent drug use among youth. Her research interests are AI, optimization, and decision making.

Caleb Robinson

Affiliated PhD student in Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Robinson is a PhD student advised by Prof. Dilkina. He focuses on large scale problems in the field of computational sustainability, e.g. predicting land cover from continental wide high-resolution satellite imagery. His research interests include application driven model design, domain adaptation, and unsupervised feature learning.

Joshua Rusow

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Mr. Rusow’s research interests involve the use of technology as a risk or resiliency factor for sexual and gender minority youth. To date, his work has primarily focused on sexual health behaviors of sexual and gender minority populations. Mr. Rusow earned his BA in Psychology from UCLA, and his MSW at USC.

Shaddy Saba

PhD student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Mr. Saba plans to study the etiology and treatment of developmental trauma, substance use disorders, and chronic pain conditions. He is particularly interested in mindfulness-based interventions, and he is fascinated by technology’s potential role in improving behavioral health outcomes and fostering social connectedness. He holds an MA in social work from the University of Chicago.

Omkar Thakoor

PhD student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Thakoor completed his MS in Computer Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a part of the Teamcore Research Group. He is broadly interested in AI and theoretical computer science, particularly Algorithmic and Computational Game Theory. His past and current work includes UAV routing, learning in markets, and cyber security, all employing game-theoretic modelling.

Yingxiao Ye

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Ye obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at the Nanjing University, and his master’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he conducted research in stochastic optimization in power system and automated vehicle. He is interested in optimization, machine learning and data science.

Han Yu

PhD student in Industrial & Systems Engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Ms. Yu obtained her bachelor’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at Tianjin University, and obtained her master’s degree in Industrial and Operation Engineering at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, where she conducted research in large-scale optimization in power system. She is interested in machine learning, and optimization.

Masters Students

Aditya Chandupatla

MS Student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Chandupatla is working with Dr. Vayanos on the preference elicitation for housing allocation project. He earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from JNTUH College of Engineering, Hyderabad, India, graduating with a gold medal. His research interests include natural language processing, computer vision, and more generally, machine learning.

Shuo Feng

MS Student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Feng is working with Prof. Dilkina on the leveraging AI for disaster response project–specifically on deciding which flooded roads should be fortified within a limited budget, for an improved whole road network system in areas that are prone to flooding. His research interests include combinatorial optimization and machine learning. Mr. Feng received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

Laksh Matai

MS Student in Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Laksh Matai works as a software developer. His primary role is to develop websites and mobile applications and integrate them with machine learning models developed by PhD students. He is also working on reproducing machine learning models developed by fellow PhD students and finding their accuracy on different datasets.

Undergraduate Students

Christopher Doehring

BS Student in Industrial and System Engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Mr. Doehring is an undergraduate student from Indianapolis, Indiana. He is working with Associate Director Phebe Vayanos on the NSF-funded project “Preserving Biodiversity Via Robust Optimization.” Mr. Doehring’s tasks include creating presentations, running machine learning models, and analyzing geographical data.