Organizing Committee

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.

Terry Benzel, MA, MBA

Director of the Networking and Cybersecurity Division at USC Information Sciences Institute

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Terry Benzel is the director of the Networking and Cybersecurity Division at USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI). Benzel has served as the PI and director of outreach for the DETER Cybersecurity Experimentation Project for more than 10 years. She is responsible for overall project management, R&D and advanced testbed development and operations. Recently she has overseen DETER extensions for CPS and led several teams including the Smart Energy CPS team for the White House Smart America Challenge. Her research interests are in the science of cybersecurity experimentation and next-generation distributed experimentation methodologies.

Benzel participates in business development, technology transfer and special projects with industrial and academic partners. She has served as an advisor to government and industry on R&D strategy and roadmap development, providing guidance to the National Science Foundation, White House Office of Science Technology and Policy, Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, Department of Defense, and industry alliances. Benzel has testified twice before the U.S. House Committee on Science. She is actively engaged in outreach to the research community and is a key contributor to the design of Cyber Experimentation of the Future Frameworks and the establishment of working groups around new architectures.

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.

Todd Logan, MBA

Advisor, USC Computing Forum
Executive Director, USC Viterbi Corporate and Foundation Relations

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Todd manages Corporate and Foundation Relations for USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. He develops corporate and foundation relations strategy, and promotes eight departments and a wide-range of institutes, centers and programs. Todd secures funding for sponsored research, and corporate and foundation support in all forms. He is responsible for corporate development and major proposals to foundations and collaborates with faculty on strategic initiatives to expand research support in key areas.

His ongoing responsibilities include handling relations with partner companies, primary responsibility for relationships with senior executives and technical leaders at USC Viterbi’s major corporate partners, managing partner relationships with Viterbi’s Institutes such as, AIER and PWICE, and promotion of institutes, centers and programs. Todd is responsible for securing partnerships and support for Institutes like Viterbi’s Information Sciences Institute, and Institute for Creative Technologies, as well as securing support for many Viterbi Centers. Todd oversees the strategic and organizational planning, lead planning in corporate and foundation relations for the Engineering School, and outreach including representing the school on site visits in the U.S. and around the world. Todd support the Dean on domestic and international visits and manages the team of corporate and foundation relations professionals.

Todd has an MBA from Stanford and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Cal Poly State, San Luis Obispo.

Maurena Nacheff-Benedict, PhD

Advisor, USC Computing Forum
Senior Director, USC Viterbi Corporate Relations

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Maurena Nacheff-Benedict joined USC as Senior Director, Corporate Relations in the Viterbi School of Engineering in 2017. She is responsible for managing a portfolio of corporate partnerships in several industry segments. Working with faculty and center directors across Viterbi, she leads and executes the development strategy for new corporate-academic partnerships aligned with the School’s broad range of programs and initiatives.

Maurena worked in product research and development and engineering management at Honeywell Aerospace for more than 20 years, holding positions of increasing responsibility, including Project Leader for Advanced Life Support for Human Spaceflight, Space Station Program Manager, Fuel Cells Program Manager, Site Manager for Six Sigma, Senior Manager of Torrance Engineering Laboratories, and Director of University Programs and Globalization in Advanced Technology, working across all Honeywell Aerospace domestic and international sites. She brings a wealth of academic and industry experience to her role in Viterbi Corporate Relations.

Maurena earned both a Masters and Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Matt Binkley

Project Communications Specialist, USC Information Sciences Institute

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Matt Binkley is Project Communications Assistant for ISI’s Networking & Cybersecurity Division, formerly Internet & Networked Systems. He is involved in various outreach / communication activities and is part of the cyber DETER (DEfense Technology Experimental Research) team. Mr. Binkley also serves as Division Director's Assistant to the Networking & Cybersecurity director, Ms. Terry Benzel.

Prior to joining ISI in 2012, Binkley worked for employee-owned systems planning and analysis research company SPARTA, Inc. (later Cobham Analytic Solutions) as a financial analyst and co-office manager. His history in the network security sector goes back to his employment at anti-virus company McAfee, Inc., where he was part of its unique 125-person advanced research organization, NAI Labs (later rebranded Network Associates Laboratories and then McAfee Research). Before working with security and networking researchers, Mr. Binkley was in the financial industry for close to seven years at one of America’s largest banks.

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