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Andrea Belz

Entrepreneur in Residence (Technology) and Professor of Engineering Practice and Industrial and Systems Engineering Practice


  • Doctoral Degree, Physics, California Institute of Technology
  • Bachelor's Degree, Physics, University of Maryland College Park


Andrea Belz is Vice Dean of Transformative Initiatives at USC Viterbi, Research Director at the Information Sciences Institute, Director of the Center for Research in Space Technologies (CREST), and Professor of Practice in Industrial and Systems Engineering, where she specializes in engineering policy and technology strategy. She is on the leadership team of the California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhubs (California DREAMS), funded by the Defense Department as a Microelectronics Commons Hub, where she serves as Director of Translational Strategy. She currently serves as President of the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management (TEMS) Society.

From 2019 to 2022, Andrea served as Division Director at the National Science Foundation, where she oversaw the agency's principal applied research activities and a $300+ M annual budget, including roughly 300 startups annually; as well as the launch of the Translational Impacts Division in the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships. Under her leadership, NSF initiated many new topics in the principal translational research programs funding startups, including: Advanced Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Cloud and High-Performance Computing, Cybersecurity and Authentication, Human-Computer Interaction, Learning and Cognition Technologies, Mobility, and Pharmaceutical Technologies. In addition to launching these topics and overseeing the prestigious Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, she oversaw: tripling of the translational life sciences portfolio (including launching Pharmaceutical Technologies 13 days before the first COVID case was announced), doubling of Environmental Technologies, and reorganization of the data sciences portfolio; the creation of the new Inclusion in Innovation Initiative (I4), impacting 1,000 minoritized groups in STEM (MGS) students by the conclusion of her term; and the reorganization of the I-Corps program.

From 2016-2019 Andrea served as the inaugural Vice Dean of Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TIE) at USC Viterbi. As TIE Vice Dean she operationalized the Viterbi Venture Fund, making the school's first investments into startups when she invested in Relativity Space. She also reimagined the Viterbi Startup Garage and developed it into a leading incubator in Los Angeles. She created of Innovation Node - Los Angeles (IN-LA), a regional center of excellence for the NSF I-Corps program; after five years, IN-LA's region of impact ranged from Fairbanks, Alaska to San Diego on the west; and from Boulder to Tuscon in the east. Besides NSF, she has been supported by NASA, DHS, and DOD in her translation efforts and her research in engineering policy, public-private partnerships, and associated applications of natural language processing, with recent publications in Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management, and the Journal of Technology Transfer. She has held prior faculty appointments at USC Marshall, USC Iovine/Young Academy (where she was on the founding faculty), and Caltech, where she served as Visiting Professor of Engineering. Previously she spent ten years serving as a consulting systems engineer at NASA JPL, leading roadmap efforts for the Solar System Exploration Directorate in topics ranging from life detection; electronics for extreme environments; and guidance, navigation, and control systems.

Andrea has consulted extensively to JPL, venture capital firms, and many startups and small businesses. She served well-known organizations such as Avery Dennison, BP, Caltech, HRL (formerly Hughes Research Laboratory), the National Academies, Occidental Petroleum, and UCLA. A veteran of the Los Angeles startup scene, she was the first woman to represent the Pasadena Angels on a portfolio company board, serving as a Director of Caltech laser spinoff Ondax from 2010 until its acquisition by Coherent (NASD: COHR) in 2018. Initially she was a postdoctoral fellow in astrobiology and biogeochemistry at JPL/ Caltech. She holds a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from Caltech and a BS in physics from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Research Summary

** We are looking for great post-doctoral candidates! If you have a PhD in systems engineering, economics, or technology management and are looking for exciting projects, email! **

Dr. Belz's research program, Management of INnovation: Entrepreneurial Research and Venture Analysis (MINERVA), tracks technology ventures from early emergence through publicly funded launch programs (including I-Corps and the Small Business Innovation Research program) and on to private funding.

  • Vice Dean, Vice Dean for Transformative Initiatives
  • Research Admin, Research Director of ISI
  • Deans Office
  • OHE 200
  • Olin Hall of Engineering
  • 3650 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 1450
Contact Information
  • (213) 821-0829