HPC Leadership

Priya Vashishta

Faculty Executive Director, Center for High-Performance Computing


Priya Vashishta is a professor of materials science, computer science, and physics and astronomy at USC, and director of the Collaboratory for Advanced Computing and Simulations. He has edited or co-edited 11 books and is the author or co-author of more than 390 papers on topics that include high-performance computing, computer-aided design of high-temperature materials, multimillion-atom simulations of materials and devices, the bio-nano interface, and the immersive and interactive visualization of billion-atom systems.

Vashishta and his research team explore the effects of extreme conditions on everyday materials. This research has led to newer and better-designed products, ranging from components for computer chips to materials less susceptible to corrosion and oxidation.

Vashishta, his USC colleagues Rajiv Kalia and Aiichiro Nakano, and their research team use supercomputers to simulate the atomic and molecular behavior of materials. Most of their research has been on materials and nanoscale processing—finding ways to minimize the brittle fracturing of ceramic materials or designing novel electronic devices. The team has developed unique simulation algorithms and software that allow for large-scale molecular dynamics simulations and the interactive and immersive visualization of billions of atoms. These large-scale simulations produce big data that cannot be analyzed without powerful visualization tools.

Vashishta is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a devoted educator, mentoring students from underrepresented groups through an annual computational science workshop he organizes for undergraduates.

Maureen Dougherty

Director, Center for High-Performance Computing


Maureen Dougherty is the director of the USC Center for High-Performance Computing (HPC), a department of USC Information Technology Services (ITS). Dougherty oversees the operation of the high-performance computing center and is currently focused on deploying new hardware and software, as well as reorganizing existing infrastructure, to meet the increasing demands of big data researchers.

Dougherty began her programming career in the software industry developing government applications. She joined USC in 1991 as a lead systems administrator in the university’s financial computing department. In 1995, she joined the university’s central IT unit, serving first as a general systems administrator and later as the lead Solaris operating system administrator. From 2001 to 2003, she managed the ITS operating systems support group, a unit responsible for the university’s general academic support systems, as well as the centrally managed student computer labs. In 2004, she became a manager in the HPC group and has served as the director of HPC since 2007.