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>  News Releases >   2008 >   January

Two Dartmouth professors recognized with CAREER Awards from NSF

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 01/28/08 • Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Reza Olfati-Saber
Reza Olfati-Saber
Fabio Pellacini
Fabio Pellacini (photos by Joseph Mehling '69)

Reza Olfati-Saber, assistant professor of engineering at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, and Fabio Pellacini, an assistant professor of computer science, were recently honored with awards from the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award recognizes and supports the activities of teacher/scholars early in their careers, and the awardees are often considered emerging leaders in their respective fields. Recipients are selected for career development plans that integrate research and teaching.

Olfati-Saber's interests lie in the study of complex self-organizing systems, particularly mobile sensor networks that consist of wireless networks of sensors (such as radar, sonar, or cameras) embedded in robots, unmanned vehicles, cars, or personal mobile devices, like cell phones. These sensors gather real-time information about hazardous or uncertain environments, which is helpful in coordinated operations such as search and rescue, surveillance, and disaster response.

"We're developing networked sensing and decision-making systems that can survive failures of their constituent parts and continue to function as a whole," says Olfati-Saber. "Many of our innovative team coordination methods are inspired by nature - the study of the behavior of flocks, schools, and swarms - though it takes the combination of a sophisticated set of tools from control theory, communications, physics, and computer science to make this inspiration a reality."

Pellacini works on computer graphics, design, and animation. He is particularly interested in developing methods to make synthetic imagery accessible to novice computer users. The NSF funding will support a combination of research and education. The research component will simplify the design of objects' appearance, which comes from the interaction of materials and lights in synthetic scenes.

For the education component, Pellacini says, "I want to develop an education program that enables students to explore the interaction between the conceptual, technical, and aesthetic principles of image synthesis. As a scientist, my long term goal is to stimulate and enable artists' creativity by developing intuitive user interfaces for creating digital art that are as simple as sketching on paper."

Other Dartmouth professors who have been recently honored with NSF Career Awards include Devin Balkcom, Christopher Bailey-Kellogg, Amit Chakrabarti, and Sean Smith in the computer science department; Kristina Lynch, Barrett Rogers, and Robert Caldwell in physics and astronomy; Robert Grubbs in chemistry; David Peterson in the linguistics and cognitive science program, and David Bucci in psychological and brain sciences.

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