"Sunny" Memories and Impactful Projects: USC ISI's Class of 2023 … – USC Viterbi School of Engineering

The anecdotes, memories, and future goals of graduating student researchers at ISI.
ISI’s Class of 2023
USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) is celebrating its graduates along with the rest of the university this Friday, May 12. These students, nearly all graduating from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, had the opportunity to work and research at USC ISI.  
Our student researchers have come to ISI from all over the world, including: Pune, India; Bryan, Texas; Isfahan, Iran; Glendale, California; Goris, Armenia and China!  
One of our graduating ISIers is a life-long Trojan. Robert Schuler, Research Lead at ISI, is graduating with his Ph.D. in Computer Science this May, the third degree he has earned from USC. And, “each one [was] earned in a different decade over a span of 30 years!”  
Marina Memories  
In addition to robust research, our graduating students are leaving ISI with lifelong memories and friendships. Kristina Andreyeva, who is graduating with an M.S. in Astronautical Engineering, fondly remembers “working for a few very intense months with really great labmates to assemble a part of a satellite. It’s slated to launch this summer to the ISS!” Although she doesn’t disregard her other passion, quickly adding, “but on a more personal note, I enjoyed using the lounge for ballroom practice during some lunch breaks!” 
For many, ISI has fostered new friendships and collaborations. Darpan Jain, graduating with an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, recalls that “the monthly lab outings with my colleagues and group members were a joy. Also, the ISI Winter ’22 Party at the Petersen Automotive Museum was an experience that I will always cherish.” 
And still others remember the calming beauty of ISI’s Marina del Rey location. Hrayr Harutyunyan, who is receiving his Ph.D. in Computer Science, explains: “I remember fondly my first day at ISI. It was a sunny day with a pleasant sea breeze. The marina that day was especially beautiful.” 
Making an Impact at ISI  
During their time at ISI, our graduating students worked tirelessly on their research, resulting in highly impactful projects. Ninareh Mehrabi, Ph.D. in Computer Science, is especially proud of “her survey paper on fairness and bias in machine learning.” She notes, “I have received much feedback from the community on how useful the paper was in educating others about these important concepts. I think that our survey paper encouraged more people to learn about issues related to fairness and bias in AI systems and try to work on solving those problems which we see getting a lot of attention from the community with the advancement of ChatGPT and more powerful generative AI systems.” 
Sarik Ghazarian, who is also graduating with her Ph.D. in Computer Science, “developed a dialogue system which is capable of having an interactive conversation with the user by getting his/her favorite topic to discuss and continue the conversation towards that topic. The user is allowed to accept, change or remove our system’s generated and suggested keywords. In this impactful project, I worked with 5 other PhD students from my group where I had the chance to lead the project and manage the collaboration.” 
Many of our students are focused on addressing existing problems. For Darpan Jain, social media proved to be the perfect locale. “As an Applied Researcher, I have spent over a year conducting Natural Language Processing (NLP) research for the DARMA project,” he explains. “My focus has been on developing dialogue agents (read: chatbots) for conflict resolution to moderate toxic behavior on social media. Being the Research Engineer with the team, I was responsible for building the framework that allows the bot to identify and communicate with toxic users; by generating responses that pacify their behavior.” 
Dreams, Jobs, and Future Plans  
Equipped with cutting-edge skills and high-caliber connections, our graduating students are ready to take on the world. Ninareh Mehrabi is already “working as a postdoctoral researcher at Amazon.” 
Many are staying close to the Marina while pursuing industry jobs. Jingfeng Di, who is graduating with an M.S. in Astronautical Engineering, is looking ahead to a “full-time position at Boeing in Long Beach.” He affectionately added, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!” 
Others are moving across the country to pursue their dreams. Hrayr Harutyunyan excitedly reports, “I will join Google Research in New York City as a research scientist.” 
Some, like Kristina Andreyeva, are continuing their research and education here at ISI: “I’m staying for my PhD here at ISI’s Space Engineering Research Center (SERC)!” 
Yet for many, like Robert Schuler, looking ahead means appreciating the here and now. “On a good day, I’m happy right where I’m at,” he explains. “Research Lead at ISI.” 
Congratulations to the Class of 2023, and thank you to our featured ISI students Kristina Andreyeva, Darpan Jain, Hrayr Harutyunyan, Ninareh Mehrabi, Sarik Ghazarian, Jingfeng Di, and Robert Schuler. Fight On! 
Published on May 10th, 2023
Last updated on May 10th, 2023
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