Institute Achievement Awards

ISI’s Institute Achievement Award was established in 2014, and since then it has been presented to members of the ISI community whose accomplishments and contributions are innovative, exemplary, and add greatly to the reputation and technological growth of ISI. Individuals are nominated for this award by their peers, and final selections are made by a specially formed committee.


Matt Binkley: 2020 Institute Achievement Award for his passionate work on process improvement, information sharing, and creating a positive and efficient work environment at ISI.

Matt Binkley is a Project Communications Assistant in the Networking and Cybersecurity Division at USC’s Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey, California. He is also the Networking and Cybersecurity Director’s Assistant. In this dual role, Matt is involved in various outreach and communication activities, supporting such notable research programs as The DETER Project and its DETERLab testbed. Since the onset of COVID-19, Matt’s endeavors to be a change agent have become more apparent than ever, working to leverage technology platforms to improve internal communication by centralizing and sharing information, encouraging collaboration, recommending process improvements, and implementing better ways to work. He looks at the virtual work experience as an opportunity to connect more broadly and it is Matt’s personal mission to humanize technology in the areas that he is able to make an impact.

Matt has been with ISI since 2012. Prior to joining ISI, he worked for an employee-owned systems planning and analysis research company in El Segundo. Matt’s introduction into the networking and security industry began in the early 2000’s at Network Associates, currently known as McAfee.


Rajiv Mayani: 2020 Institute Achievement Award for outstanding work on the data analysis, management tools, and the complete redesign of the website for the NIMH Repository and Genomics and Resource Center.

Rajiv Mayani is a Senior Research Programmer at Information Sciences Institute. Rajiv’s interests include systems development, distributed systems and works on projects funded by National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy. Rajiv is also a senior developer on Pegasus Workflow Management System.

Rajiv did his Master’s in Computer Science from University of Southern California in 2010.

Ryan Goodfellow: 2020 Institute Achievement Award for his leadership in formulating the architectural vision, implementing and testing the software, and designing, standing up and operating working testbeds.

Ryan is a Senior Computer Scientist at ISI and the creator of the Merge Testbed Platform. He leads a team of engineers and scientists in the design, development, and operation of testbed facilities for the research community. His focus over the last several years has been on building a testbed platform that can support experimental research at the intersection of cyber, physical, and social systems - at a scale and level of fidelity that can effectively address challenges in intrinsically complex cross-domain sectors such as critical infrastructure. The Merge testbed platform is deployed to several testbed facilities, some with thousands of compute platforms and provides the basis for testing and evaluation in several large research programs.


Wael Abd-Almageed: 2019 Institute Achievement Award for outstanding academic achievements and research leadership that established his group as a leader in biometrics, face recognition and visual misinformation detection and characterization.

Dr. Wael AbdAlmageed is a Research Associate Professor at Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a research Team Leader and Supervising Computer Scientist with Information Sciences Institute, both are units of USC Viterbi School of Engineering. His research interests include representation learning, debiasing and fair representations, multimedia forensics and visual misinformation (including deepfake and image manipulation detection) and biometrics. Prior to joining ISI, Dr. AbdAlmageed was a research scientist with the University of Maryland at College Park, where he led several research efforts for various NSF, DARPA and IARPA programs. He obtained his Ph.D. with Distinction from the University of New Mexico in 2003 where he was also awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student award. He has two patents and over 70 publications in top computer vision and high performance computing conferences and journals.

James Whalen: 2019 Institute Achievement Award for outstanding work in developing and executing a strategic plan to bring MOSIS back to the center stage of the semiconductor industry.

James has reorganized and reengineered the technical and business processes for MOSIS. These changes will permit MOSIS to support multiple foundries and the full range of advanced technical nodes in a secure, cloud hosted environment. MOSIS has moved to electronic document management with Docusign, and has configured and deployed the Synopsys Lynx workflow engine to provide reliability, repeatability and design support at scale.

James holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Management Studies from Oxford University and is Associate Director of ISI and Chief Financial Officer.

John Damoulakis: 2019 Institute Achievement Award for outstanding work in developing and executing a strategic plan to bring MOSIS back to the center stage of the semiconductor industry.

Dr. John N. Damoulakis is a Sr. Director and Director of Advanced Electronics at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California (USC) focusing to bring together ISI’s core technologies on information technology, micro-electronics, algorithms, and signal processing to an integrated framework of many electronic and information science applications. He holds a Ph.D. from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and a MS in EE and ME from the Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece. Read more here.


Greg Ver Steeg: 2018 Institute Achievement Award for developing scalable machine-learning methods that are both theoretically grounded and useful to practitioners in a variety of domains, such as cancer biology, neuroimaging, and social sciences.

Greg's primary research focus is unsupervised learning based on latent factor discovery. The main application for this work is understanding high-dimensional but under-sampled data coming from human biology and behavior. Greg holds a PhD from Caltech, is a research assistant professor in USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, and is currently a senior research lead in ISI’s Artificial Intelligence Division.


Pedro Szekely: 2016 Institute Achievement Award for tackling challenging research problems at scale with an unflinching commitment to success.

Pedro has been directing the Domain-Specific Insight Graphs (DIG) project, exhibiting outstanding leadership and management skills. His vision and courage in tackling challenging problems at scale, his ability to manage large, heterogeneous research teams, and his commitment to the success of the program are models for ISI researchers. The outcome of this effort is a computational platform (DIG) that enables novel approaches to collecting and exploiting digital information, with applications that range in scope from combating human trafficking to ensuring consumer protection and uncovering illegal e-commerce schemes.


Ewa Deelman: 2015 Institute Achievement Award for technical contributions and leadership in the field of scientific workflow systems for high-performance computing.

Ewa is an innovator in the area of scientific workflow management. She introduced the concept of decoupling the workflow description from the workflow execution, which enabled scientists to describe the workflows in an abstract, resource-independent way that a planner could map to available distributed resources. Ewa's work has made significant contributions to the research agenda of the Institute as well its external reputation, culminating in the 2015 High Performance Distributed Computing Achievement award "for her significant influence, contributions, and distinguished use of workflow systems in high-performance computing."

Ewa and her team have translated their research into a software product—the Pegasus Workflow Management System—that is being used by a number of influential science projects. Pegasus recently contributed to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s (LIGO) long-awaited detection of gravitational waves.

John Heidemann: 2015 Institute Achievement Award for pioneering work in mapping and understanding the Internet.

John’s pioneering work on Internet Censuses (a way of counting live machines on the Internet through probing) has helped establish active probing as a viable, reliable source of host and network liveness, and a signal of Internet outages. John was the first to perform regular, wide sweeps of the Internet to detect live hosts, something that had previously been thought not to be a viable way to measure the Internet population. His sharing of his active and passive Internet measurements has enabled wide research into Internet outages and Internet address usage by many, and has furthered the reputation of ISI as a leader in the Internet measurement field. Many in the Internet measurement field have since followed, replicated and extended this work.


Terry Benzel: 2014 Institute Achievement Award for advancing ISI’s reputation by creating and leading a vibrant, sustained, and influential program of research in experimental cybersecurity methodology and infrastructure.

Terry is the technical project lead for the Cyber Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER) testbed projects funded by DHS, NSF and DARPA. The projects are developing an experimental infrastructure network and rigorously testing frameworks and methodologies to support the development and demonstration of next-generation information security technologies for cyber defense. She is also an advisor to government and industry on R&D strategy, and holds a joint appointment at the Institute for Critical Information Infrastructure Protection, part of USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Kevin Knight: 2014 Institute Achievement Award for leadership in recruiting future generations of researchers to ISI.

Kevin is a renowned leader is the area of intelligent systems and natural language processing. In addition to heading up ISI’s Natural Language Technologies group, he is also one of the founders of Language Weaver, an ISI/USC spinout that provides statistical machine translation software (in 2010, Language Weaver was acquired by UK-based SDL).

Kevin currently leads the ELISA project whose goal is to anticipate natural or man-made disasters somewhere in the world that would naturally precipitate a flurry of Internet communication and news in the local language (just one of the world’s 4000+ languages). ELISA develops technologies to quickly field NLP tools for that local language, translating text, extracting important entities and their relationships, etc., with the overall goal of providing direction for humanitarian assistance.

In addition to guiding the NLP group, Kevin continues to make great contributions to the growth and reputation of ISI by ceaselessly working to attract multifaceted, innovative and talented people.