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>  News Releases >   2009 >   March

Pellacini named Sloan Research Fellow for computer science work

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 03/17/09 • Media Contact: Susan Knapp (603) 646-3661

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Fabio Pellacini
Fabio Pellacini (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Fabio Pellacini was recently awarded a prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

Pellacini is one of 118 new fellows chosen this year from scores of young faculty at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada recognizing his contribution to computer science and supporting his future research. Candidates are nominated by department heads or senior scholars in all fields of science, from biology and physics, to mathematics and computer science.

According to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation website, the research fellowships were established in 1955, and are awarded “in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.”

“I’m interested in computer graphics – how artists create images through computer simulations,” says Pellacini. “The award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support my work to help make computer graphics programs more intuitive and easy to use.”

The two-year fellowship will contribute to Pellacini’s research in developing algorithms to manipulate the lights and materials in synthetic environments, trying to mitigate the time-consuming process of adjusting objects’ appearance. His research aims to speedup the graphic design process by creating user interfaces that are simple for artists to use and by developing algorithms that shorten the time it takes for computers to calculate images in animations. For example, he develops user interfaces that easily manipulate the direction of light hitting an object (altering the shadows and highlights at different times during an animation) and algorithms that quickly compute accurate lighting on the shiny surface of objects (taking into account all the complex reflections of nearby objects).

“Appearance design is complex and time consuming. Setting the lights for one frame of a feature film animation takes days for an expert artist,” says Pellacini. “Making the creation of synthetic images accessible to the largest possible audience is my long term goal, as a scientist and educator,” says Pellacini.

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