ALUMNI: Ban-Weiss balances research with music

PHOTO: George Ban-weiss is a professor at the University of Southern California, and a musician that performs in the Los Angeles area.

By Hayden Taillon, Staff–

Professor George Ban-Weiss, 38, has balanced his work to combat climate change in Los Angeles with his passion for music. 

Ban-Weiss is a prominent professor at the University of Southern California who was named one of “35 Innovators Under 35” by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Tech Review.

A 1999 graduate from Davis High, Ban-weiss teaches engineering at USC, as well as classes on climate change and air pollution. He earned his designation from MIT for his research that, in his own words, “showed the potential for policies that focus on the benefits of adopting cool roofs on residential buildings.” 

Ban-Weiss used aerial imagery to determine the reflectivity of more than one million in the city of Los Angeles. Then, he was able to take his research and convince local policy-makers to create regulations requiring new residential roof construction be made of “cool roofs,” which are more reflective and therefore more environmentally friendly. 

According to the USC website, Ban-Weiss has a long record of success, winning awards from the American Geophysical Union and the National Science Foundation. His research is referenced in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and he has been interviewed four times for National Public Radio. 

Alongside his successful and impactful environmental engineering work, Ban-Weiss also has a vibrant passion for music.

“I always had a sort of double life, because I also play the bass,” he said. “When I was in grad school, I was playing gigs around the San Francisco area around three to four nights a week.” 

Going into college, Ban-weiss didn’t have much of an idea what he would end up doing, but began to pursue what interested him, which included engineering and music.

“I sort of always felt like I had a backup plan in a way, like one was a backup plan for the other. So I felt like if one of them didn’t work out, I would pursue the other one more seriously,” he said. 

Ban-Weiss wants DHS students today to understand that they don’t need to know exactly what they want to do.

“Don’t feel overly pressured to decide. I had no clue what I wanted to do at that age,” he said. 

While his career has definitely followed the engineering path, Ban-weiss says he is still able to perform in Los Angeles, which gives him some personal satisfaction along with his career success. “I’m happy that I am able to continue playing music a lot. I think if I wasn’t doing that I would not be a super happy person.”

Looking forward, Ban-Weiss is excited about a new research project he is working on. It focuses on the air pollution benefits of moving to 100 percent renewable energy in Los Angeles. He is also excited about working with some new bands there.

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