Abbas to lead CREATE, Department of Homeland Security research center at USC
By Kelly Buccola
Dr. Ali E. Abbas has been named the new director of USC’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), the nation’s first U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Research Center of Excellence starting August 16, 2014. CREATE is jointly housed in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
“We are very pleased to welcome Professor Abbas as the new Director of CREATE,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “We look forward to his advancing this powerhouse of research in the areas of decision analysis and risk to new heights. And to his continuing the outstanding legacy of his predecessors Steve Hora and Detlof von Winterfeldt.”
Abbas has been on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he held the position of Art Davis Faculty Scholar and Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, College of Engineering. In that capacity he founded the Information Systems and Decision Analysis Lab (ISDAL). Prior to the University of Illinois, Abbas was a visiting scholar in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University where he also earned his Ph.D. in management science and engineering and his Ph.D. minor in electrical engineering.
“We are at a critical point in history with respect to terrorism and natural disaster events,” said Jack H. Knott, Dean of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. “Evidence-based knowledge to inform sound policy decisions and preparedness for the future is an imperative in today’s world. I look forward to Dr. Abbas’ contributions as the new director of CREATE.”
The recipient of multiple research grants from the National Science Foundation for his work, Abbas focuses in his research on decision analysis, risk analysis, multiattribute utility theory, and data-based decision making. He has widely published in books, journals, and conference publications. He has also shared his expertise through television appearances and invited talks, including to the British House of Commons last fall where he spoke on “Decision Making for Financial Governance and Social Innovation.”
Abbas regularly teaches courses on decision analysis and has been cited in the University of Illinois “List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students” in every semester taught since August 2004. He has also taught numerous executive education courses at a variety of institutions, such as Stanford and the American University in Cairo.
“I am honored and excited to be Director of the world class multidisciplinary think tank, CREATE, that provides state-of-the-art research and methodologies for addressing new problems in decisions and risk, and transitions these theories into practice to influence public policy decisions,” said Abbas. “The years ahead will provide exciting new opportunities and challenges for addressing new problems in homeland security. The unique combination of research efforts required to tackle these problems can only occur at a place like CREATE.”
In addition to his academic career, Abbas is founder, president, and CEO of Ahoona Corp, a decision-making social network that serves several thousand users around the world. He has been on the Advisory Boards of Hedgestreet Inc., a binary futures exchange, and is currently on the advisory board of the Decision Education Foundation, a volunteer nonprofit organization that empowers youth to make better decisions about their lives. Abbas also has extensive consulting and management experience.
Established in 2004 and renewed by the DHS in 2007, CREATE is the nation’s first university-based Center of Excellence, supporting research in response to the threat of terrorism and natural disasters. A model of inter-disciplinary collaboration between engineering and planning and policy, CREATE continues to break new ground in applying advanced risk, decision and economic analysis and modeling tools to evaluate the costs and consequences of terrorism, and to enable risk-informed decision-making.