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Three U. of I. faculty members awarded Sloan fellowships

2/15/2013 | Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor | 217-333-5802; diya@illinois.edu

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN,Ill. — Three professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been selected to receive 2013 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Computer science professors Derek Hoiem and Svetlana Lazebnik, and physics professor Taylor Hughes are among 126 early career scientists and researchers from 50 colleges and universities chosen for a two-year fellowship. In keeping with its goal of recognizing potential groundbreaking researchers in their respective fields, the Sloan fellowship program awards fellows $50,000 to pursue their choice of research topics and allows them flexibility in applying funds toward their research.

Hoiem studies general visual scene understanding, the ability to interpret scenes from visual data in a way that enhances the ability to act, interact or organize.

“I want to think of vision in terms of real-world space, surfaces, objects and relations, and to develop frameworks that allow visual knowledge to be accumulated, so that each task contributes to a world view that makes learning easier,” he wrote in a research statement.

He co-wrote a book about computer vision, “Representations and Techniques for 3-D Object Recognition & Scene Interpretation,” which explains the newest advances in 3-D scene understanding to newcomers to the field. He also is the recipient of a 2011 NSF CAREER Award and a 2012 Intel Early Career Faculty Award for his work in computer vision.

Hoiem earned his doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2007. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology from 2007-2008, and joined the U. of I. faculty in 2009.

Hughes is interested in condensed matter systems, working with materials such as superconductors, topological insulators and graphene. In recent work he has used quantum entanglement to characterize exotic phases of matter. For example, recent research explored topological insulators – materials that conduct electricity only on their surface, and with very little energy dissipation – using quantum entanglement to describe the quantum properties of these materials. He also looks at the increasing role that quantum effects play in nanotechnology devices.

Hughes earned his doctorate in physics from Stanford University in 2009. He came to the U. of I. as a postdoctoral researcher in physics professor Eduardo Fradkin’s group. Hughes joined the faculty in 2011.

Lazebnik’s interests are in computer vision and visual recognition. Her research is aimed at discovering the collective structure of large-scale Internet photo collections to create compact and scalable representations for accessing their content. Her work has yielded advances in several areas, from fast techniques for fundamental operations such as similarity search; to efficient methods for organizing photo collections based on perceptual and geometric constraints; to higher-level systems capable of interpreting images in terms of their constituent objects, parts and materials. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship.

Lazebnik earned her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in 2006. She was an assistant professor in the department of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2007 to 2011, and joined the U. of I. faculty in 2012.

Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955.

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Editor's note: To contact Derek Hoiem, call 217-333-0806; email dhoiem@illinois.edu; Taylor Hughes, 217-333-1195; hughest@illinois.edu; Svetlana Lazebnik, 217-265-6768; slazebni@illinois.edu.

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