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Office of the Vice President for Research

Calling all USC Faculty: Apply by July 1 to join the inaugural Propel AI scholar community

Building on the robust foundation of our existing Propel program, the Office of the Vice President for Research is proud to unveil a new initiative called Propel AI. This new Propel program is designed to enrich and extend the skills of our academic community by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) across USC’s comprehensive research domains. Propel AI will empower faculty to weave AI into the fabric of their scholarly and research activities, regardless of field of study, academic rank or previous experience with AI.         

Through a series of meticulously curated one-day workshops held on Fridays throughout the 2024-2025 academic year, Propel AI will grow faculty competence in cutting-edge AI technologies and the rapidly changing landscape of AI research. The programming is designed to incubate brand new research initiatives in AI, fostering creativity in the ways faculty engage AI in their scholarship. Through Propel AI activities, the program will enhance connectivity, encouraging radical interdisciplinarity and novel collaborative partnerships.


Propel AI: What to expect

The Propel AI program is under development, with specific workshop dates and topics to be announced in late summer/early fall. Each workshop will take a deep dive into a vital facet of AI technology and its social impacts. These sessions are crafted not just as instructional spaces but as springboards for interdepartmental networking and inventive collaboration, inviting faculty of diverse expertise to conceive and implement AI-driven research ventures.

The inaugural class of Propel AI scholars will receive:

  • Invitations to participate in six one-day workshops on Fridays throughout the academic year. Sessions will include expert guests, hands-on skill building, creative planning, and built-in networking.
  • Matching with a group of fellow Propel AI scholars with intersecting interests for guided small group conversations.
  • The opportunity to apply for dedicated ASPIRE seed funding through the Office of the Vice President for Research to support meritorious projects emerging from the Propel AI program.
  • A warm welcome into the campus-wide Propel AI scholar network, which will facilitate sharing the specialized expertise and skillsets of participating faculty members to enable collaboration.
  • External promotion via an outward-facing site featuring all Propel AI scholars.


Apply for Propel AI by Monday, July 1

The Office of the Vice President for Research will accept applications for the inaugural Propel AI scholar community via our REDCap application form through Monday, July 1. Complete application details are available in the Request for Applications (RFA) document (pdf).

To ensure a smooth application process, applicants are encouraged to review the RFA document carefully and draft their responses before entering them into the REDCap form. Applicants will not be able to edit form responses after submitting them via REDCap.



Any USC faculty member that meets the criteria below may apply. To be considered for Propel AI, faculty members must:

  • Be employed at USC Columbia, the USC schools of medicine in Columbia or Greenville, a four-year USC comprehensive institution or a USC Palmetto College campus.
  • Hold a faculty or research faculty position; all faculty ranks are eligible to participate in Propel AI.
  • Demonstrate a proven record of or abiding interest in interdisciplinary scholarship, as demonstrated through past projects, collaborations, publications, etc.
  • Clearly describe their expectations for the program. (No prior knowledge of AI is required, but applicants should be able to articulate their intentions and goals.)
  • Define at least two specific goals for their work in the program.
  • Not be a participant in the 2024-2025 Propel Research Mentorship program.


All Propel AI scholars must commit to completing the following program requirements:

  1. Actively participate in six in-person sessions on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. between September and May (in-person attendance is required for all sessions).
  2. Arrive at all invited speaker sessions with prepared questions and ideas.
  3. Participate in assigned peer group activities (scholar peer groups will consist of two to four interdisciplinary faculty).
  4. Define and achieve two to three goals by participating in the program. AI scholars are encouraged to think outside the box to develop diverse and innovative goals. (See RFA for examples.)
  5. Complete before and after self-reflection surveys.
  6. Complete small projects, trainings or workshops between sessions as appropriate for their AI interests and goals (e.g. library-sponsored online trainings on particular tools).
  7. Be willing to inventory their skills and competencies as part of a new “AI Community of Scholars” that will be made available to USC faculty and students.


Questions about Propel AI?
Contact Elizabeth Renedo at for support.


Thank you to our Propel AI faculty leaders:

  • Emily Manetta, Professor and Director of Linguistics Program, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Banky Olatosi, Associate Professor and Co-PI of the Big Data Health Science Center, Arnold School of Public Health
  • Bryant Walker Smith, Associate Professor of Law and affiliate scholar with the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School


3 June 2024

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