Logo: University of Southern California

Thematic Research Areas and Projects

The Institute conducts research and scholarly initiatives that are innovative and forward-looking within the theme of enhancing quality of life, with emphasis on health care, sustainability, and mobility among others.



Health Care: According to Medicare’s actuaries, the health care industry percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is among the highest of the industrial world, consuming roughly 17.9% of the GDP in 2007. With escalating costs and an aging population, health care spending is expected to consume roughly 20% of the GDP by 2019. To address these challenges, the health care industry is under tremendous pressure to develop innovative strategies for efficient medical services that enhance the quality of care while at the same time controlling its costs.



Sustainability
: Due to a lack of a well-conceived Disaster Recovery Plan, the recent gulf oil spill may become one of the largest environmental and economic disasters experienced in this country. As this disaster illustrates, there is a need for a broader systems level approach in building sustainable entities that consider environmental, social, and economic factors. The issue of sustainability has a direct impact for a number of organizations as companies strive for green manufacturing techniques and development of supply chains that reduce the carbon footprint.



Mobility: According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report (2009), a person living in the fourteen largest U.S. metropolitan areas spent 51 hours annually driving during rush hour (2007). This number was up by 30 hours from 1982 at an estimated annual congestion cost of $35.5 billion. In large urban areas, transit systems are used to address the transportation requirements of the population. However, the public generally considers the service to be inconvenient because either the pick-up and drop-off locations or the service schedules do not meet the needs of the individual riders. This may explain the small percentage of people (4.7%, 2000 U.S. Census Report) who use some form of public transit system to work. There is a need to develop alternative transportation methodologies that increase service flexibility in a cost efficient manner, thereby improving mobility. For example, a new paradigm may be necessary to view each vehicle on the road as a resource and with an appropriate market mechanism these resources can be made available to consumers to facilitate an efficient allocation of unused vehicle capacity.




With its long history in process and quality improvement, the ISE profession is uniquely positioned to develop innovative new methodologies and tools to meet the societal challenges of today. The Institute engages in research activities that extend the knowledge base of ISE principles to include quality of life factors of influence. The activities supported by the Institute include funding for:


Attracting World-Class Scholars

 

  • Appointment of Epstein Fellows (Visiting Senior Scholars)
  • Appointment of Post-doctoral researchers
  • Organization of high-quality workshops
  • Creation of a Distinguished Lecture Series


Educating the Next Generation of IEs

  • Undergraduate student projects that make a significant impact on the quality of life within economically disadvantaged communities
  • Student travel grants for doctoral students to showcase their research.


Seeding Research Initiatives

  • Supports research activities that enhances the Institute’s thematic areas
  • Matching seed support