San Diego, Calif., Nov. 30, 2016 -- Becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the organization’s ultimate status for top electrical engineers, computer engineers and computer scientists. This week, IEEE announced its list of newly-elevated Fellows for 2017, including two members of the Center for Visual Computing (VisComp).
The addition of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) professor and VisComp director Ravi Ramamoorthi and center member Nuno Vasconcelos, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), brings the number of IEEE Fellows in VisComp to three. The only previous IEEE Fellow in the center was CSE professor David Kriegman, who became a Fellow in the class of 2015. IEEE cited his “contributions to computer vision” in making the announcement in December 2014.
VisComp director Ramamoorthi was elevated to IEEE’s top rank for his “contributions to foundations of computer graphics and computer vision.” Ramamoorthi’s research group develops the theoretical foundations, mathematical representations and computational models for the visual appearance of objects, digitally recreating or rendering the complexity of natural appearance.
“Professor Ramamoorthi’s research has had significant impact in industry and at the intersection of computer graphics and computer vision,” said CSE Chair Dean Tullsen. “His work on spherical harmonic lighting and irradiance environment maps is now widely included in games such as the Halo series, and it is increasingly being adopted in movie production.”
In addition to holding the Ronald L. Graham Endowed Chair of Computer Science in the CSE department, Ramamoorthi is the Director of the Center for Visual Computing (VisComp) in the Jacobs School of Engineering. He joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2014 from UC Berkeley. “My goal was to build a world-leading graphics and vision group at UC San Diego,” said Ramamoorthi, “and we are well on our way with the creation of an interdisciplinary research center in visual computing.”
Among other honors, CSE’s Ramamoorthi has won the ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Research Award and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineering (both in 2007), and an NSF CAREER Award and Sloan Fellowship (both in 2005).
Most recently, he was a finalist for the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning in 2016. The nomination came after the launch of UC San Diego’s first free, non-credit course on the edX online learning platform in 2015, developed and taught by Ramamoorthi (and based on his classroom course in CSE). The six-week course – now offered on a self-paced basis since April 30, 2016 – covers the foundation of computer graphics. Students are able to make images of 3D scenes in both real time and with offline raytracing techniques taught in the course. Ramamoorthi was also cited for having taught the first-ever massive open online course (MOOC) in computer graphics while he was at UC Berkeley. All told, more than 100,000 learners have registered to take half a dozen instalments of Ramamoorthi’s courses through edX, and his video lectures offered on YouTube have been viewed more than half a million times.
The grade of Fellow recognizes unusual distinction in IEEE’s designated fields. Ramamoorthi is one of only two new Fellows for 2017 cited for expertise in computer graphics, and one of four named for work in the field of computer vision. The latter group includes ECE’s Vasconcelos, a member of the Center for Visual Computing since its founding in 2015. IEEE cited Vasconcelos for his “contributions to computer vision, image processing and multimedia.” [A third Jacobs School of Engineering professor named an IEEE Fellow for 2017 is ECE professor Joseph Ford, who was elevated for his “contributions to free space optical imaging and communication technologies.”]
Professor Vasconcelos' research interests are at the intersection of computer vision and machine learning. The main goal is to provide computers with the ability to perceive complex visual scenes and make inferences from them. Main topics of research include the computational modeling of biological vision systems; object recognition and tracking; action recognition; surveillance of crowded environments; multimedia search, classification, and retrieval; medical imaging; and the design of machine learning algorithms. Possible applications include non-text extensions to current web search engines; devices for personalized access to large video repositories (e.g., movie or newscast databases); advanced surveillance systems; data mining; automated clinical diagnosis systems; and more.
Vasconcelos received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from M.I.T. in 2000. He obtained a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the Universidade do Porto, Portugal in 1988. Prior to UC San Diego, Vasconcelos was a researcher at Compaq Computer Corporation Cambridge Research Laboratory. From 1991 to 2000, he was a research assistant at M.I.T.'s Media Laboratory, where he worked on such things as image compression, pattern recognition, and computer vision.
ECE and CSE Fellows
With the addition of professors Nuno Vasconcelos and Joseph Ford in 2017, the number of IEEE Fellows on the active ECE faculty at UC San Diego rises to a total of 27 professors (excluding emeritus faculty). They include Stojan Radic (2016), Young-Han Kim (2015), Sujit Dey (2014), Kenneth Kreutz-Delgado (2013), Eric Fullerton (2012), Ian Galton (2011), Ramesh Rao (2010), Daniel Sievenpiper and Mohan Trivedi (2009), Pamela Cosman and Paul Yu (2008), Yuhwa Lo (2006), Truong Nguyen and Alon Orlitsky (2005), Shaya Fainman (2003), Charles Tu (2002), Peter Asbeck, Bhaskar Rao and Kenneth Zeger (all in 2000), Bang-Sup Song and Alex Vardy (1999), Yuan Taur (1998), Gabriel Rebeiz and Paul Siegel (1997), and Larry Milstein (1985).
While the majority of IEEE Fellows in the Jacobs School are based in the ECE department, the addition of CSE faculty Ravi Ramamoorthi in 2017 and David Kriegman in 2015 brings the total number of active CSE professors to a total of eight IEEE Fellows. Apart from Ramamoorthi and Kriegman, they include Henrik Christensen and Yuanyuan Zhou (both elevated in the same year as Kriegman), Andrew Kahng (2010), Dean Tullsen (2009), Rajesh Gupta (2004) and C.K. Cheng (2000). In addition, four CSE emeritus faculty remain IEEE Fellows as well; they include Jeanne Ferrante (2005), William Howden (2001), Walter Burkhard and Larry Carter (both in 2000).
Each year, the IEEE Board of Directors confers the grade of Fellow on up to one-tenth of IEEE members. To qualify for consideration, an individual must have been a Member, normally for five years or more, and a Senior Member at the time for nomination to Fellow.
Through its 400,000 -plus members in 160 countries, IEEE is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 1,300 active industry standards. The association also sponsors or co-sponsors nearly 1,700 international technical conferences each year.