Sankaranarayanan receives NSF CAREER grant to study light interactions


February 24, 2017

Aswin Sankaranarayanan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. Sankaranarayanan will receive a $532,000 grant to study how light interacts with materials using light rays and their transformations.

The project, titled “Plenoptic Signal Processing --- A Framework for Sampling, Detection, and Estimation using Plenoptic Functions,” will explore how light interacts with objects in a scene by studying characterizations of light that go beyond images. Specifically, Sankaranarayanan will study how light varies with angle and spectrum, in additional to space and time, as well as understand how these attributes of light change after it interacts with a scene.

“With this award, my team will develop imaging systems and associated algorithms for sensing and interpreting interactions of light with materials. The visual complexity of real-world scenes implies that these interactions are often intricate and complex,” says Sankaranarayanan. “Our goal is to study these interactions at unprecedented space and time resolutions, thereby advancing research in many disciplines including computer vision, graphics as well as 3D acquisition and printing.”

One goal of the project is to develop robust scanning of 3D shape of objects, which will enable vision systems to deal with a wider range of objects and imaging conditions. Sankaranarayanan’s team will use this research to build computational cameras that are better equipped to handle specific tasks than traditional cameras. 

The NSF CAREER Program is a foundation-wide initiative, offering prestigious awards to encourage faculty early in their careers to serve as role models in research and education, and to build the foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field.

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Aswin Sankaranarayanan