University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Microwave Systems, Sensors and Imaging Lab

Mahta Moghaddam

Professor of Electrical Engineering - Electrophysics
University of Southern California


634 Powell Hall of Engineering (PHE)
3737 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Tel: (213) 740-4712


Jennifer Ramos
Budget/Business Analyst
Ming Hsieh Department
of Electrical Engineering - Electrophysics
3737 Watt Way, PHE 608 / MC 0271
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0271
Tel: (213) 740-4694
Fax: (213) 740-8677

  • Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, 1991.
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
    Thesis Advisor: Weng Cho Chew.
    Thesis Title: Forward and Inverse Scattering Problems in the Time Domain
  • M.S., Electrical Engineering, 1989.
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
    Thesis Advisor: Weng Cho Chew
    Thesis Title: Response of an Eccentric Dipole in Cylindrically Layered Media
  • B.S.  with Highest Distinction, Electrical Engineering, 1986.
    University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 
Positions Held
  • 1/2012 – present: Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 9/2009- 12/2011: Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (and of Applied Physics), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • 9/2006- 8/2009: Associate Professor (with tenure) of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (and of Applied Physics), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • 9/2003- 8/2006: Associate Professor (without tenure) of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • 1991-August 2003: Radar Science and Engineering Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. Last position title: Senior Engineer.
Awards, Honors, and Memberships
  • University of Michigan Faculty Recognition Award, 2011.
  • Outstanding Achievement Award, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan (2010-11 AY)
  • Best Paper-of-the-Year Award: Whitcomb, J., M. Moghaddam, K. McDonald, J. Kellndorfer, and E. Podest, “Mapping wetlands of Alaska from L-band SAR imagery,” C. J. Remote Sensing, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 54-72, February 2009.
  • Fellow, IEEE (2008)
  • Education Excellence Award, College of Engineering, The University of Michigan (2009)
  • Outstanding Section Professional Award, IEEE Southeastern Michigan Section (2009)
  • Elected member of URSI Commission B (1998)
  • Fellow of the Electromagnetics Academy (2001)
  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu  (Vice President, 1985-1986).
  • NASA Certificate of Recognition: Dual low-frequency radar for soil moisture under vegetation and at-depth (2004)
  • NASA Certificate of Recognition: Single-chip high-density FPGA implementation of the SAR azimuth prefilter (2003)
  • NASA Certificate of Recognition: Dual frequency stacked-patch array for large aperture antenna feed (2004)
  • NASA Certificate of Recognition: Cassini Program, Cassini Radar Team (1997)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award: Cassini Program, Cassini Radar Team (1997)
Professional Activities and External Service

Government and Professional Agencies

  • NASA Advisory Council, Subcommittee on Earth Science, 2010-2013
  • Administrative Committee, IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, 2011-2013
  • Science Definition Team, NASA Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) mission, 2008-present
  • Chair, Algorithms Working Group, SMAP mission, 2008-present
  • Vice-Chair, Commission K, US National Committee of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) (Under U.S. National Academies)
  • Chair, SMAP 2nd Algorithms Workshop, held March 2010
  • Co-Chair, SMAP Algorithms and Cal/Val Workshop, June 2009
  • Steering Committee, Microwave Land Hydrology Workshop, October 2008
  • Science Team, Japanese Earth Exploration Agency ALOS/PALSAR mission
  • Co-Chair, NASA ESTO Radar Technology Panel, 2003
  • Member, NASA Surface Water Working Group
  • Member, NASA ESTO Radar/Radiometer Technology Working Group
  • Chapter Chair, IEEE-GRS Southeastern Michigan, 2005-present
  • Thesis Opponent, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, May 2007

Editorial Service

  • Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 2005-present
  • Guest Co-Editor, IEEE JSTARS, Special Issue on Microwave Remote Sensing for Land Hydrology Research and Applications, 2009
  • Guest Editor, IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, ICONIC07 Special Issue
  • Associate Editor, J. Electromagnetics Waves and Applications, 2008-present


  • Invited Participant, National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference, Seeing the Future with Imaging Science, 2010
  • Technical Advisory Board, WiLinx Corp. (2010-)
  • Consultant, Virtual EM, Inc. (2010-)
  • General Co-Chair, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium, July 2012, Chicago, IL
  • Organizer of numerous conference sessions
  • Chair/co-Chair of numerous conference sessions
  • Proposal reviews, routinely
  • Member of Technical Program Committees, multiple conferences
  • Reviewer for:
    • IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    • IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques
    • IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation
    • IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters
    • IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters
    • IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement Techniques
    • IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
    • IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
    • Inverse Problems
    • Medical Physics
    • Radio Science
    • Remote Sensing of Environment
    • Journal of Computational Physics
    • International Journal of Biomedical Imaging
    • Electronics Letters
    • Tellus
    • Journal of Electromagnetic Waves and Applications
    • Journal of the Optical Society of America
    • International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
    • Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing
    • IJPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
    • Journal of Optics
    • Sensors
    • Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres
    • Journal of Geophysical Research, Biogeochemsitry
    • Optics Express
Selected Internal University Service
  • Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Advisory Board Member, University of Southern California, 2012-2013
  • Faculty Search Committee, Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California (USC), 2011-2013
  • Executive Committee Member, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), The University of Michigan (U of M), 2010 – Dec 2011
  • AOSS Chair Search Committee, U of M, 2010-2011
  • Co-creator, Junior Faculty Mentoring Program in ECE division of EECS (under the NSF/ADVANCE Steps Towards Excellent Practices (STEP) at U of M), June 2009-present
  • U of M College of Engineering (Dean’s Office) Female Faculty Liaison, 2010-2011
  • Chair, EE Program Committee, U of M, 01/2007-2009
  • ECE Chair Search Committee, 2007-2008
  • Rackham Graduate School: Michigan Mentoring Initiative Committee (renamed “Mentoring Others Results in Excellence (MORE)”), 2007-2011
  • ECE/EECS Undergraduate Academics Committee, 01/2010-05/2010
  • EECS Curriculum Committee, 2004-2009
  • College of Engineering Curriculum Committee, 01/2007-2009
  • College of Engineering, Research Strategy Committee, 01/07-05/07
  • Graduate Student Symposium, Judge, 11/2007
  • EECS Ad-Hoc Committee for Undergraduate Advising, 2006-2007
  • Graduate Admissions Committee, EECS U of M, 2003-2004
  • Undergraduate Advisor, EE Program, 2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2006-2007
  • Faculty Representative, EE Program Curriculum Committee, 2004-2005
  • College Representative, multiple College of Engineering Faculty Candidate interviews
  • Qualifying exams (~35)
  • Ph.D. committees (~30)
Research Areas
  • Development of sensor systems and algorithms for high-resolution subsurface and subcanopy characterization; new lower-RF radar signal processing algorithms and nonlinear statistically based inverse scattering techniques (application areas: root-zone and subcanopy soil moisture, resource exploration, detection of underground structures, planetary subsurface characterization, permafrost characterization in the arctic)
  • Physics-based radar processing at low frequencies that penetrate the targets: integrating inverse scattering into traditional radar signal processing (application areas: subsurface detection, subsurface structure characterization, river channel profile mapping)
  • Large-scale environmental mapping using satellite radar imagery and high-dimensional multi-modal analysis (application areas: mapping of circumboreal wetlands for global change studies, quantifying the changes in wetlands and permafrost in northern high latitudes as an immediate result of global warming)
  • Nonlinear inverse scattering and imaging; theoretical and experimental development of combined acoustic and microwave imaging using physics-based models and statistically based inversion  (application area: super-resolution in medical imaging)
  • Synergistic microwave and ultrasound cancer treatment systems, using adaptive focused arrays and super-resolution (application area: breast cancer ablation therapy)
  • Smart sensor web design using dynamic data assimilation and optimal control (application areas: environmental monitoring, scaling between in-situ and satellite-based observations, validation of satellite-derived estimates of environmental variables at multiple spatial scales)
Research Awards


  • “Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS),” (2010-2015) (PI, NASA Earth Ventures-1, Earth System Science Pathfinder Program)
  • “Land Information System for SMAP Tier-1 and AirMOSS Earth Venture-1 Decadal Survey Missions,” (2012-2015) (PI, NASA ESTO-AIST)
  • “CIF: Large: Collaborative Research: Controlled Sensing, Distributed Signal Processing, And Decision-making In Networked Systems,” (2011-2016) (Co-I, NSF-CCF)
  • “Assessment of Accuracy and Uncertainty of the Inundated Wetlands Earth System Data Record,” (2011-2015) (Co-PI, NASA-ESDR Uncertainty Analysis Program)
  • “Novel Electromagnetic (Microwave) and Ultrasound Synergistic Technique for Treatment of Cancer,” (2010-2012) (PI, DoD-Army BCRP IDEA Award Collaborative Option)
  • “Collaborative research: Linking heterogeneity of above-ground and subsurface processes at canopy patch scales to ecosystem level dynamics,” (2009-2012) (Co-I, NSF HS)
  • “Optimal use of active/passive microwave observations at differing spatial and temporal scales to estimate root-zone soil moisture in dynamic, heterogeneous terrains,” (2009-2013) (Co-I, NASA/THP)
  • “SMAP Science Definition Team – Soil Moisture Retrieval Algorithms” (2009-2013) (PI, NASA SMD)
  • “High-Resolution Integrated Ultrasound and Microwave Imaging for Early-Stage Breast Cancer Diagnosis,” (2008-2012) (PI, NSF CBET)
  • “An Inundated Wetlands ESDR,” (2008-2013) (Co-PI, lead for boreal segment, NASA MEaSURES)


  • “Ground Network Design and Dynamic Operation for Near-Real-Time Validation of Space-Borne Soil Moisture Measurements,” (2009-2012) (PI, NASA AIST)
  • “Mapping Wetlands Dynamics for Reducing Uncertainties in the Boreal North American Carbon Budget,” (2008-2012) (PI, NASA CARBON)
  • “Implementation of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium (GLCWC) Wetland Mapping Protocol,” (2010-2013) (Co-PI, EPA, Great Lakes Initiative)
  • “Sand Mapping Radar,” 2007-2011 (Co-I, KACST)
  • “Noncontact River Cross Section Measurement with Radar,” 2005-2010 (PI, USGS)
  • “Soil Moisture Smart Sensor Web using Data Assimilation and Optimal Control,” 2006-2009 (PI, NASA AIST)
  • “Atmospheric Propagation for an X-band Venus Altimeter,” (2008) (co-PI, JPL/DRDF Spontaneous Concepts)
  • “Dual-low-frequency Radar for Soil Moisture Under Vegetation Canopy and At-depth,” 2002-2005. (PI, NASA ESTO Instrument Incubator program)
  • “Biomass and Wetlands Maps of the North American Boreal Region from SAR Imagery,” 2001-2005. (PI, NASA CARBON)
  • JPL Technical Lead, “Application of Remote Sensing Technology to the Alameda Corridor, Los Angeles, CA.” 2001-2002. (Applications Program)
  • “Fusion of Radar and Optical Remote Sensing Data: Estimating Inputs to Ecosystem Models,” 1997-2000. (PI, NASA TE)
  • “Radar Scattering Inversion:  Forested Areas,” 1994-96. (PI, NASA MPE)
  • “Assessing Fire Susceptibility and Post-Fire Vegetation Recovery.” 2000-indefinite. Japanese Space Agency, PI, NASDA. No-cost basis data.
  • “The Niono Irrigation Project and Malaria: A Computer Model,” 2002-2006. (Co-I. NIH/UCLA lead)
  • “Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) On-Board Azimuth Pre-Filter Processor,”  2000-2002. (Co-I, NASA ATIP)
  • “Multi-Gigabit/sec Optical Communication Transceiver for Earth Science,”  2001-2002.(Co-I, NASA AIST)
  • “Assimilation of SAR-Derived Parameter Maps into BIOME-BGC Process Model Over BOREAS Study Area,” 1997-1999 (Co-I, NASA).
  • “Estimation of Hydrological Parameters in Boreal Forest Using SAR Data,” 1993-96. (Co-I, NASA)
Current Graduate Students in Alphabetical Order 
  • Ruzbeh Akbar, Ph.D., started 09/09
  • Majid Albahkali, Ph.D., expected 08/13
  • Mariko Burgin, Ph.D., started 01/09
  • Guanbo Chen, Ph.D., started 09/10
  • Richard Chen, Ph.D., started 8/12
  • Kubilay Savci, M.S., started 8/12
  • Pratik Shah, Ph.D., started 8/12
  • Agnelo Silva, Ph.D., started 07/10
  • Jane Whitcomb, Ph.D., expected 08/13
  • Pan Liang, Ph.D. 12/04 (Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER))
  • Preston Partridge, MS, 5/04 (Aerospace Corporation)
  • Chih-Hao Kuo, Ph.D. 12/07 (Schlumberger-Doll Research)
  • Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, Ph.D., 09/08 (Research Assistant Professor, USC)
  • Line van Nieuwstadt, Ph.D.,12/10 (Michigan Tech Research Institute)
  • Yuriy Goykhman, Ph.D., 09/11 (Virtual EM, Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Xueyang Duan, Ph.D., 12/11 (Post-doc, USC)
  • Mark Haynes, Ph.D., 12/11 (Post-doc, USC)
Post-Doctoral Fellows
  • Maha Ali, 11/2006-05/2011
  • John Stang (joint with Medical School), 09/2009-02/2012
  • Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, 10/2008-02/2012
  • Yuriy Goykhman, 9/2011-12/2011
  • Xueyang Duan, 1/2012-present
  • Mark Haynes, 5/2012-present
  • Daniel Clewley, 6/2012-present
  • Uday Khankhoje, 8/2012-present
Undergraduate Student Projects
  • Amy Chiang
  • Steven Clarkson
  • Mark Haynes
  • Song Liang
  • Nathaniel Osborn
  • Edwin Kek
  • Lester Peh
  • Junhui Loh
  • Brian Foster
  • Scott Rudolph
  • Lai Wei