Forum Staff

Prem Natarajan, PhD

Founding Executive Director, USC Computing Forum 
Michael Keston Executive Director and Research Professor, USC Information Sciences Institute
Senior Vice Dean, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Research Professor of Computer Science with Distinction

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Premkumar (Prem) Natarajan, founder of the USC Computing Forum, is Michael Keston Executive Director of ISI, a vice dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and a professor of computer science. At ISI, he leads managerial and technical directions Institute-wide, including research, development and the MOSIS electronic chip brokerage. He also heads teams in his areas of expertise: novel approaches to face, speech, handwriting and optical character recognition (OCR), along with other deep learning and natural language processing directions.

As ISI’s chief executive, Natarajan oversees nearly 300 faculty and staff researchers, post-doctoral and graduate students, and others across the Institute’s diverse scientific and technical spectrum. Primary research groups include advanced electronics, computational systems and technology, informatics systems, intelligent systems, internet and networked systems, and space technology and systems.

Natarajan joined ISI from Raytheon BBN Technologies, where he served as an executive vice president and principal scientist. As head of BBN’s speech, language, and multimedia business, he founded highly successful computer vision, speech-to-speech translation, and document image processing groups. Natarajan also launched foundational research efforts in computational social science and predictive analytics, along with initiatives that commercialized BBN research into marketable products.

His other leadership roles include serving as organizing chair, co-chair and committee member for major conferences in speech, biometrics and document image processing. His latest involvements include the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Biometrics Theory, Applications and Systems (BTAS), Interspeech, and the International Conference on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition.

Lori E. Weiss, MBA

Director of Operations, USC Computing Forum, USC Information Sciences Institute

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Lori Weiss is director of operations for the USC Computing Forum and manages research projects at USC’s Information Sciences Institute. Weiss joined ISI from the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), where she served as director of operations and external relations from 2007 to 2013. She first joined ICT in 2003 as a project manager for the virtual human integration project.

Weiss has extensive experience facilitating and transitioning technology research to improve training and education. Her career in technology and education began in 1985 when she joined Apple Computer’s advanced technology group, working with computer pioneer Alan Kay. For over a decade, Weiss served as program manager for several of Alan’s educational research projects. She was also the business manager for the Technology Reinvestment Project in Apple’s authoring tools group funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

Following her time at Apple, Weiss joined Walt Disney Imagineering’s research and development group as director of business management. She went on to work with two strategic consulting firms in marketing and strategy and was vice president of program development for the Technology Transfer Institute’s Vanguard program. Weiss has also served as a consultant for several start-up companies.

She has served on advisory boards for UC Santa Cruz Life Lab Science Program, Marlboro College’s Education and Technology graduate program, board member and vice president of finance for American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), LA Chapter, and was elected to the Board of Directors of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce by the members of the community.

Weiss earned her an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and her bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.

Caitlin Dawson

Communications Specialist, USC Computing Forum, USC Information Sciences Institute

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Caitlin Dawson is the communications specialist for USC’s Information Sciences Institute and the Department of Computer Science. Prior to this, she was the communications officer for the Faculty of Applied Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Hailing from Ireland, she holds and BA (Hons) in linguistics and philosophy from Queen’s University, Belfast, and a post-graduate diploma in communications from Simon Fraser University, Canada.

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