Press Release

Three USC Faculty Named 2021 AAAS Fellows

USC professors receive one of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s highest honors.

January 26, 2022
FROM LEFT: USC PROFESSORS ANDREA ARMANI, MARK HUMAYUN, AND YANNIS YORTSOS.
FROM LEFT: USC PROFESSORS ANDREA ARMANI, MARK HUMAYUN, AND YANNIS YORTSOS.

(Originally posted at ViterbiSchool.usc.edu.)

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has elected three USC professors to become AAAS fellows in 2021.

The council designates members with this distinction whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science, or its applications, are scientifically or socially distinguished.”

AAAS fellows are scientists, engineers, and innovators with notable accomplishments in research, technology, industry and government, teaching, communication and interpreting science to the public.

The tradition of electing AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Since then, the recognition has gone to thousands of distinguished scientists, such as inventor Thomas Edison, elected in 1878, sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois (1905), anthropologist Margaret Mead (1934), computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963), physicist Steven Chu (2000), and astronaut Ellen Ochoa (2012). 

In 2022, three Trojans joined their ranks: Yannis Yortsos, Andrea Armani and Mark Humayun. 

Andrea Armani

Andrea Armani is the vice dean of new initiatives at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Ray R. Irani Chair in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. She was awarded the distinction of 2021 AAAS fellow for “original, high-impact contributions to nanomaterial design and integrated photonics, contributions to science outreach, and mentorship to students.” 

Armani is a pioneer in combining chemistry, materials science, physics, and electrical engineering to create novel materials and integrated photonic devices wide ranging applications from biodetection to quantum cryptography. Among the key achievements are the generation of photon pairs and frequency combs with sub-microWatt thresholds, demonstration of a low-cost portable malaria diagnostic, and the creation of a new molecular probe for measuring bioelectric fields. The breadth and impact of her inventions was recognized by her induction into the National Academy of Inventors.

Recently, Armani led a joint industry-academic team to develop a UV light sterilization box to allow medical professionals to easily sterilize their personal protective equipment for safe reuse. In 2020, she also co-chaired the first ever Photonics Online Meetup (POM), a revolutionary online conference designed to address concerns from the scientific community regarding the carbon footprint of academic travel, the burden of travel on families, the rising cost of conferences, and challenges associated with visas. This free event gathered experts in optics from all around the world to share ideas and discuss research, and it has inspired the creation of a global POM series, hosted and organized by local institutions.

Armani’s laboratory is involved in PANTHER, a consortium of interdisciplinary researchers focused on understanding the development of traumatic brain injuries. Her group, housed at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, focuses on designing a sensor array to detect proteins produced as a response to cell stress

In addition to her work as a world class researcher in optics and medical diagnostics, Armani, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and PECASE recipient from President Obama, is no stranger to mentorship: her lab has been home to over 60 undergraduate researchers. She received the 2010 USC Mellon Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Mentoring and the 2016 Hanna Reisler Award for Mentoring.

Armani is a professor of chemical engineering and materials science, biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering-electrophysics, aerospace and mechanical engineering and chemistry. She received a B.A. in physics from the University of Chicago, as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the California Institute of Technology. 

Mark Humayun

Mark S. Humayun is the Cornelius J. Pings Chair in Biomedical Sciences and University Professor of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering and Cell and Neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; director of the USC Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics; and co-director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck Medicine of USC. 

Humayun was honored with the 2021 AAAS fellow distinction “for distinguished contributions to ophthalmology and to engineering, particularly in the invention of devices that can restore sight to the nearly blind.”

His innovative research in ophthalmology and bioengineering led to the development of the Argus II retinal implant, an artificial retina which allows an unprecedented degree of sight to those with complete retinal blindness. Approved by the FDA in 2013, the Argus II was named one of the top 10 inventions by Time magazine that year. He has more than 100 patents and patent applications.

Humayun’s innovations have led to numerous recognitions, including in 2016 where he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama for his development of the Argus II. His work in restoring sight also earned him induction into the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Inventors. He is a former president of the American Society of Retinal Specialists.

He was named top 1% of ophthalmologists by the U.S. News & World Report.

Yannis Yortsos

Yannis Yortsos is the dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Zohrab Kaprelian Chair in Engineering. He was awarded the distinction of 2021 AAAS fellow for his “leadership in engineering education and diversity initiatives, as well as research advances in the fields of fluid flow, transport and reactions in porous media.” 

Under Yortsos’ leadership, USC Viterbi has consistently pushed the boundaries of what an engineering degree can be and expanded its accessibility to underrepresented populations.

In 2008, Yortsos introduced the concept of Engineering+, which centers the engineering education around its interdisciplinary nature and potential to foster change. Alongside colleagues at Duke University and Olin College, he co-founded in 2009 the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP). Students at USC Viterbi and beyond enroll in the GCSP to tailor their educational experience towards exploring solutions to one of the NAE’s 14 Grand Challenges. As a result of this initiative, Yortsos received the 2022 Gordon Prize of the National Academy of Engineering. 

Yortsos has also overseen a push in recent years to ensure USC Viterbi is an equitable and welcoming space for all. In Fall 2019, Viterbi achieved gender parity in its undergraduate class for the first time in its history. In 2015, he led a national diversity pledge that more than 230 engineering schools have signed since. Most recently, USC Viterbi leadership sent out a call to action in 2020 to promote an inclusive and equitable environment for Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, faculty and staff. Yortsos has also served as the chair of the diversity committee of the Engineering Deans Council, and principal investigator for National Science Foundation’s Engineering Dean’s Gender Equity (EDGE) initiative. 

Yortsos has overseen decades of innovative research regarding fluid flow, chemical reactions and transport in porous media. In 2021, he contributed to groundbreaking research in the application of engineering modeling techniques to the spread of COVID-19.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an associate member of the Academy of Athens.