Yannis C. Yortsos Dean, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California; 2022 Recipient, Gordon Prize of the National Academy of Engineering, for the creation in 2009 of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program



Yannis C. Yortsos is the Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Zohrab Kaprielian Chair in Engineering, a position he holds since 2005. Prior to that he served from 2001 to 2005 as Associate Dean and then as Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Yortsos served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering between 1991 and 1997 and in 1995 he was appointed to the Chester Dolley Professorship. He received a BS (Diploma) degree in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and MS and PhD degrees from the California Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering. His research area is in fluid flow, transport and reaction processes in porous media with specific application to the subsurface. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008, where he has also served as secretary, vice-chair and chair of Section 11. His election citation reads: "For fundamental advances in fluid flow, transport, and reactions in porous media applied to the recovery of subsurface resources." Since July 2017, Yortsos serves as a member of the NAE Council. In 2011 he was awarded the distinction of honorary member of the AIME, in 2013 he was elected as Associate member of the Academy of Athens, in 2014 he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and since 2017 he holds an honorary degree from Tsinghua University.

He served on the NRC Committees for the 2017 report on a New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research as well as the 2017 report on The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities and completed a three-year term as member of the NSF Engineering Advisory Committee. As dean of engineering, he articulated in 2008 the concept of Engineering+, positioning engineering as the enabling discipline of our times, and has been actively engaged in the effort to “change the conversation about engineering”.

Along with colleagues at Duke University and Olin College, he co-founded in 2009 the Global Grand Challenges Scholars Program. He organized and hosted at USC in Fall 2010 the NAE Second Grand Challenges Summit, which spurred in 2013 the Global Grand Challenges Summits. These are bi-annual meetings of the NAE, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, on the organizing committees of which he has continuously served. In 2022, he and his colleagues received the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, for the co-founding and growth of the GCSP. 

Between 2012 and 2017, Yortsos was the chair of the Diversity Committee of the Engineering Deans Council, in which capacity he has spearheaded an engineering diversity initiative, now adopted by more than 230 engineering deans nationwide. In recognition of these initiatives, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering received in 2017 the ASEE President’s Award.

Yortsos was the PI of the NSF I-Corps Innovation Node Los Angeles (2014-2021), established as a partnership between USC, Caltech and UCLA, and also the PI of the NSF Gender Equity Initiative EDGE (2018-2021). Between 2011 and 2017 he served on the Executive Committee of the Engineering Deans Council (2011-2017) and on the Executive Committee of the Global Engineering Deans Council (2012-2016, 2021- present). Following the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic he led, since April 2020, the National Academy of Engineering Call to Action Against COVID. He is the PI of the NSF I-Corps Innovation Hub: West, a five-year partnership (2022-2027) between USC, the University of Colorado, UCLA, Caltech, Colorado School of Mines, the University of New Mexico, UC Riverside, and the University of Utah.