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.


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.