CIS Student Picked as John Wiley Jones Scholar
Student Stories
Remote Sensing

Imaging Science student Chris Lapsznyski recognized for outstanding senior project research

Jun. 24, 2013
Amy Mednick

Chris Lapsznyski says his professors’ enthusiasm for tackling difficult problems is contagious. That’s why he has devoted countless hours to developing sophisticated mathematical algorithms to pull out important features from hyperspectral remote sensing imagery. This dedication has not gone unnoticed. The College of Science recognized Lapszynki as one of the John Wiley Jones Scholars this spring for outstanding senior project research with Professor David Messinger.

Traditionally, researchers in the field of remote sensing have mainly taken advantage of color differences when trying to classify objects in images. For his senior project, Lapszynski figured out mathematical algorithms that could add spatial information to tasks such as anomaly detection and image classification. “The algorithms and some of the codes handle hyperspectral imagery on the order of hundreds of bands,” he says.  “The highest I’ve used is 231 bands.”

Lapszynski has used graph theory to analyze spectral imagesin a way that integrates the spatial and spectral information. “The graph theory approach allows the data to speak for itself, while in traditional methods you were interpreting the data without having prior knowledge of what it might be,” he says. Still, the graduating senior says he is not yet sure how best to construct these graphs. “We have different methods, but we don’t know which one is the best. It depends on the application. The math side has been around for hundreds of years, but applying it to this type of data is a recent development.”

After critical time spent working on the theoretical problem, Lapszynskiapplied the theoretical work to actual imagery collected with the airborne HyMAP sensor.  In one image tile of a scene in high resolution, for example, a river that ran alongside the road popped into view more clearly with the new techniques. “We’re not sure why. One guess is that the river is more anomalous than the road. (The spatial imagery) might have considered the road as background because there was a lot of upturned gravel and dirt in the scene,” he explains.  With the new technique, Lapszynki could better distinguish, for example, between manmade and natural materials. These techniques may eventually be useful for researchers studying deforestation in the Amazon, in the mining industry, or for farmers interesting in analyzing different types of soil.

The John Wiley Jones Award for Outstanding Students in Science is given to students in each of the six departments in the College of Science in recognition of their academic achievements and their contributions to the entire campus as good citizens.  Lapszynski, who recently presented his senior project research, says he was surprised to be nominated to receive the award.  “It was an honor to receive the award knowing that the faculty and staff chose me to be a recipient of the scholarship, especially since other individuals in my class have dedicated just as much time and effort into their education,” he says.

But the Director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Stefi Baum, said that Lapszynski was a very deserving choice. In addition to his outstanding research activities, Lapszynski was a very active RIT citizen. During his college career Lapszynski has not shied away from outreach activities. He devoted himself this year to helping the freshman imaging project students in their efforts to calibrate their camera system and in answering any of their questions. As president of the Imaging Science & Technology Society for the past two years, Lapszynski organized weekly colloquia for the student body from industry representatives, CIS staff and even students working on cutting edge technologies related to the field. “Topics ranged from remote sensing, to astronomical, biomedical, visual perception, art preservation/historical manuscripts, digital image processing, and much more.”

Lapszynski, who is from Philadelphia, will graduate and move to Dayton, Ohio to work for CACI, a defense contractor, doing work similar to his senior project.

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Undergraduate Takes Full Advantage of Unique Opportunities at Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging
Student Stories

Carrie Houston, a third-year undergraduate, is enjoying exploring all of the opportunities afforded to her at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at RIT.  

Feb. 18, 2011
Rachel Pelz

An honors student with a minor in Math, Carrie is currently doing research with Roger Easton, a faculty member at the Center. "There's a lot of history involved with our project," she says. "We're doing image processing on pages of a journal of David Livingstone's, trying to recover the handwritten text so scholars can read it."

Carrie also recently completed a five-week study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand. "It was field studies," she says about her time there, "we went camping and kayaking and climbing mountains. It was a really interesting and amazing experience."

As a high school student looking for undergraduate programs, Carrie's photography teacher recommended the Photo Tech program at RIT. "I always liked the technological side of photography," says Carrie, "so I started to look [at RIT's programs] and I found Imaging Science." As she was researching, she discovered that her uncle received his Master's from CIS and he encouraged her to apply. She was excited to find a program that "has so many kinds of sciences involved, so many disciplines. I liked chemistry, biology, math. I knew I would get a good background."

During the application process, Carrie came to visit CIS at an open house they held for prospective students. "I got one-on-one attention from everyone here," remembers Carrie. "One of the students came and talked to me and Maria Helguera brought me to her lab. I didn't get that experience at any other school I visited." She says she eventually chose CIS because of "the uniqueness of the program, the individualized attention, and seeing how close everyone is."

And why is she glad she chose the Imaging Science program at RIT?

"You can't get this program anywhere else," she says. "Not even close!"

For more information on the Livingstone project, please see:

Undergraduate student builds tabletop Schlieren System with help from CIS Microgrants Program
Student Stories

Air is defined as "the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth..." What if you could picture the invisible? It is possible with a Schlieren Imaging System.

Mar. 21, 2014
Lisa Powell

Taking inspiration from a 2012 lecture on the subject given by Professor Gary Settles, who was visiting RIT from Pennsylvania State University, Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science student Dan Goldberg decided to create a portable Schlieren System.

"I thought it was really cool, so at the next meeting of the SPIE Student Chapter at RIT I suggested we make one of these things that would be cool to look at and small enough to take to a classroom."

Schlieren is the German word for "streaks." When layers of air or gas differ in density from one another they become visible as transparent streaks or waves. A Schlieren System allows us to view this phenomenon.

When a ray of light hits something that has a different density than the air around it, the light will bend. This is called refraction. Think of the shimmering mirage rising up from an asphalt road on a hot day.  What looks like a pool of water in the distance is not what it appears to be, yet it is very real. The rays of light from the sky are being bent as they pass through the hot air rising from the ground.

Goldberg's Schlieren System uses a knife edge, a spherical mirror, and a light source to show such variations in atmospheric density. Adding the knife-edge to the System refines it "so you can see someone's breath or the heat coming off of someone's hand."

Because he was so inspired by the subject, Goldberg wanted to bring the concept to a wider audience, so, using a microgrant from the Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Goldberg designed a portable, 5-foot, single-mirror Schlieren System. Goldberg's faculty sponsor for the project was Dr. Dale Ewbank, who teaches microelectronic engineering at RIT.

Two of Goldberg's fellow students went to the SPIE annual conference in San Diego during the summer of 2013. At the meeting, they exhibited the compact Schlieren System; several people inquired as to how they could make such a system and show it to others. The System was also displayed at last year's Imagine RIT, and is expected to make an encore appearance at this year's event.

"The science behind this whole technique is old and has been known for a while; you don't need a high level of physics to understand it. That means it can be explained to high school students," Goldberg explains. He adds that Robert Hooke started experimenting with these systems soon after he discovered the schlieren phenomenon in the 17th century. At that time it was used to find imperfections in lenses and mirrors and that remains one of its uses today.

The system can be applied in medicine to observe how the breath produced by a cough moves through the air, or in fire science to observe the way heat comes off of burning leaves or pine cones, or simply to observe a gas leak in an enclosed space.

"It is an analog technique," explains Goldberg: an experiment performed "sort of the old-fashioned way."

After he graduates from RIT this year, Dan Goldberg plans to apply to graduate school, but his main focus is on finding a job to help him get through more school, perhaps working in computer science.

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Women's crew enjoys best showing in program history at 50th Head of the Charles Regatta

Imaging Science undergraduate junior Lindsey Schwartz part of record-breaking team

Oct. 21, 2014


Click here for results

BOSTON, MA – RIT women's crew matched windy conditions on the Charles River at the 50th Annual Head of the Charles Regatta on October 18-19 with their own strong will, finishing seventh overall in the Women's Collegiate Eight event, their best finish in program history.

The Tigers crossed the start line at bow number 26, passed several crews, and raced to a top ten finish and the first crew to represent New York State. Bates College finished first in a time of 17:25.60, followed by Trinity, Wellesley, Grand Valley, Washington College, Barry, RIT , Williams, Middlebury, and Ithaca. Rounding out the New York schools, William Smith finished 12th, West Point 18th, Rochester 19th, and St. Lawrence 25th. RIT finished in a time of 17:57.59. Representing the Tigers racing in the Happy Day, from bow to stern sat Katie Baldwin (Phelps, NY/Midlakes), Lindsey Schwartz (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili)Taylor Blackwell (Pittsford, NY/Pittsford Sutherland), Erin Coppola (Rochester, NY/Our Lady of Mercy), Sarah Foggett (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder), Brittany Dzugas-Smith (West Babylon, NY/Landmark), Laura Alderfer (Sellersville, PA/Pennridge ), Arielle Weinstein (Athens, NY/Coxsackie-Athens), and coxswain, Erin Loughran (Newburgh, NY/Newburgh Free Academy).

Women's Varsity Coach, Cassidy Goepel commented after the race, "I'm so proud of these girls. The day before we had a terrible Charles practice row. The girls were frazzled with all the crews on the water, the stopping and starting, and near misses. But I told them the race would not be like that. Once they were on the course they would have the opportunity to let the shell run out and let it fly. And they did! As soon as they landed on the dock and I saw all their smiling faces, I knew and they knew that they had raced a really solid piece. All of the girls did well. I'm just as proud of the oarswomen in the double and the four. They raced on Saturday with just as much heart and really created a nice spirit and a lot of momentum going into Sunday."
Representing RIT for the first time in the Women's Championship Doubles event were Phoebe Hurd (Raymond, ME/Windham) and Chelsea Coates (Sanborn/Niagara Wheatfield). These first time scullers took on the challenge with aplomb against some very good crews. Undaunted, the Tigers met their goal to do their best and steer a good course on the winding Charles River. They finished in a time of 22:20.84 and in 22nd place.
In a borrowed shell from the University of Rochester, and with only a couple of practice rows under their oars, the Tiger four finished 28th out of 36 crews in the Women's Collegiate Fours event in a time of 20:54.99. Seated from bow to stern sat coxswain Sarah White (Bay Village, OH/Bay), Jillian Bastidas (Bethlehem, PA/Notre Dame ), Hayley Bartkus(Philadelphia, PA/Central), Kalila Elahi (Rochester, NY/West Irondequoit ), and stroke, Christina DiSalvo (Derry, NH/Pinkerton Academy).
The Tigers end their fall training season this weekend at the Head of the Fish Regatta in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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Original Source: RIT Athletics

Columbus Sailed Here! Multi-Spectral Imaging of an Important 15th Century World Map
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

CIS professor Dr. Roger Easton featured in story about multi-spectral imaging the Martellus Map

Oct. 7, 2014
Mary Downs

Roger Easton checks the positioning of the map for the next shot

Roger Easton checks the positioning of the map for the next shot; Gregory Heyworth operates the computer that controls the camera; and Michael Phelps monitors the process.

Photo by Chet Van Duzer.   |   Click here to view full image gallery


In August 2014, an interdisciplinary team of imaging scientists and scholars gathered at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to undertake exciting work on a map that in all probability influenced Christopher Columbus’s conception of world geography.  Drawn by German cartographer, Henricus Martellus, who was working in Florence, Italy, in about 1491, the map shows the entire world as it was known at the time.

[Text shortened for length; use "Read Full Story" link below right to read more about what makes the Martellus Map remarkable and view a gallery of images.]

With funding from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access, an interdisciplinary team of humanities scholars, digital specialists, and librarians is about to open a new window on the Martellus map through the use of multi-spectral imaging.  The imaging will render the text legible for detailed analysis, which will shed light on understanding of world geography and cartography at the time, as well as help scholars address specific research questions, such as whether Martin Waldseemüller drew on the spatial relationships and the place names of the Martellus map for his own 1507 map.


Multi-spectral imaging, a technique that has only been developed in the past decade, captures multiple images at specific frequencies of light, including ultraviolet and infrared, which are then combined to reveal information that is not visible to the human eye.  See the image gallery for an example of how multi-spectral imaging enhances the legibility of a darkened papyrus fragment, from a recent NEH-funded project at Brigham Young University.  This particular fragment, P. Tebt. 254, contains a petition to Asklepiades, overseer of the revenues, from the royal farmers of Kerkeosiris, ca. 113 BCE and was recovered from a crocodile mummy exhumed at the ancient site of Tebtunis,  Egypt in 1900 CE.  Compare the legibility of the fragment, photographed with standard photography (on the left) and with multi-spectral imaging (on the right).  It is especially valuable for recovering text that has been obscured by fading, water damage, over-painting, and palimpsesting.  Notably, the technique does not expose the already fragile map to destructive light rays. 

The Martellus map project team consists of Michael Phelps of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, an organization based in Los Angeles, California, that uses digital technologies to make manuscripts and other historical source materials accessible for study and appreciation; Gregory Heyworth, of the Lazarus Project at the University of Mississippi, which facilitates the recovery of manuscripts through multi-spectral imaging, and another member of the Lazarus Project, Roger Easton, Professor of Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester NY; Kenneth Boydston, a digital imagery pioneer and CEO of MegaVision; and Chet Van Duzer, a specialist in the history of cartography at the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, and the director of the project. 

Van Duzer and his colleagues transported a custom-designed multi-spectral imaging system (see images in gallery) from Oxford, Mississippi, to New Haven, where they are working closely with the curators and the digital technology team at the Beinecke Library.  They divided the Martellus map into 55 overlapping regions, or tiles, and took 22 images at varying wavelengths per tile.  When the project is completed next year, digital processing should reveal any previously illegible text and images on the map.  With metadata assigned to the images, information will be made available about the content and imaging conditions.  Images of the Martellus map and metadata will be made freely available to the public in early 2015 via the Beinecke Digital Library Web site.  National Geographic is also planning an article on the Martellus map with publication of the multi-spectral images.  Thanks to NEH funding, the public will shortly have access to a set of technical images of the map that will reveal knowledge about map making and geography at a critical moment of global exploration.

Support for this project was awarded through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resource grant program from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access: PW-51707-14 to the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, Los Angeles, CA. Support for the multi-spectral imaging of Egyptian papyrus fragments was awarded through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resource grant program from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access: PW-50427-09 to Brigham Young University, Provo.

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Original Source: National Endowment for the Humanities

Revealing Secrets of a 15th Century Map: Beinecke Welcomes Multispectral Imaging Project
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Oct. 20, 2014
David Brensilver


The Martellus map on an easel, which allowed the object to be repositioned for the camera. Image courtesy of Chet Van Duzer.

In 1962, thanks to an anonymous donation, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University acquired a 15th century world map created around 1491 by German cartographer Henricus Martellus. According to Michael Phelps, director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library in Rolling Hills Estates, California, the map – or a version of it created by Martellus – is likely one that Christopher Columbus consulted prior to embarking on the 1492 voyage that landed him on the shores of the New World. A map made in 1507 by another German cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, makes use of the Martellus map, Phelps said, explaining that the latter represents “a real turning point in history.”

The problem with learning more from the Martellus map, until this point, had been that to the naked eye, Phelps said, “it’s indistinct.” Time has caused the map to fade. Phelps said that in the 15th century, rivers and cities on the map would have been in great contrast, in terms of the colors that were used to depict them, but that over time, those colors have become muted and (again) indistinct. Until now.

In August, a team of researchers led by independent scholar Chet Van Duzer spent 10 days at the Beinecke using a multispectral imaging process to bring out the history of the map. Mike Cummings, the Beinecke’s public-relations manager, said the library welcomed the multispectral imaging team. “We support all kinds of scholarship and we’re excited to see what they are able to produce,” Cummings said.

Van Duzer said he first began studying the Martellus map as a source for the 1507 Waldseemüller map that resides at the Library of Congress. The significance of the Waldseemüller map, Van Duzer said, is that it was the “first map to apply the name America to the New World.” Wanting to compare the two maps, Van Duzer first studied ultraviolet images that were taken of the Martellus map in the early 1960s – before the map was acquired by Yale University. In 2010, after staff at Yale the previous year made new ultraviolet, infrared, and natural-light images of the map, Van Duzer studied those images at the independently run John Carter Brown Library, on the campus of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. Able to read about one-third of the map’s previously illegible text, Van Duzer wrote a book on the subject.

“It’s one of the most important maps of the 15th century,” Van Duzer said. “I’ve been sitting on the book for three years now,” he said, waiting for the results of the multispectral imaging process that was conducted at the Beinecke in August. He’s in the process of expanding on his book about the Martellus map. The technology for the Martellus map multispectral imaging project was made available by Gregory Heyworth, a professor in the English department at the University of Mississippi and the director of the not-for-profit Lazarus Project, which connects researchers with portable, high-end multispectral imaging equipment. The project itself was funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Whereas in 2010 he spent a week in Providence trying, with the 2009 images taken at Yale, to read a block of text in the lower-right corner of the Martellus map, Van Duzer said images captured in August have allowed him to read that same text “without any difficulty whatsoever.”

Still, he said, “the processing of the images is an art” that takes a while. At press time, only a handful of the images captured at Yale had been processed. Eagerly, Cummings said he and his colleagues at the Beinecke will “be able to put the images on our website, and we’re excited for that.” Phelps, in an email, explained the multispectral imaging process in detail.

“Multi-spectral imaging,” Phelps wrote, “involves capturing a set of images of a single object at different wavelengths or bands of light, in order to better discern information about the object. Colors of light, including those the human eye can see and those it cannot, can be arranged along a spectrum according to their wavelengths. On this spectrum, the human eye perceives a broad band of different colors or wavelengths of light. … Multi-spectral imaging [MSI] involves capturing individual images at specific wavelengths or narrow bands along this spectrum, in order to discern new information about an object.”

Roger Easton, Phelps wrote, a professor of imaging science at the Rochester Institute of Technology who, along with Phelps (and Heyworth), sits on the Lazarus Project’s Board of Directors, developed the technology, which “creates derivative images that combine data from the captured images.” The technology’s “application to cultural heritage is certainly new,” Phelps explained. A most important part of this kind of project, he pointed out, is the “feedback loop between scholar and scientist” – that is, in this case, between Van Duzer and Easton – through which the team works “to try to extract as much information as we can from the information we extracted from the map.”

In his above-mentioned email, Phelps explained that Easton “processes the captured images of the Martellus map in order to generate a series of derivative, processed images which maximize the legibility of text and other information on the map. Roger builds an ‘image cube,’ in a sense a stack of the captured images, and then uses statistical methods to analyze the collected data and to distinguish features of the map. Some of these features, such as faded writing, may be illegible to (the) naked eye, but can be isolated statistically and then rendered legible in processed images. A feedback loop between Roger Easton, project scientist, and Chet Van Duzer, project scientist, improves the processed result and insures that we maximize the legibility of faded and obscured text on the map.”

Heyworth pointed out that capturing the images is only 15 percent or 20 percent of the process. The majority of a multispectral imaging project involves the image processing and the task of reading and understanding what’s revealed.

“Multispectral imaging is an esoteric science,” Heyworth said, explaining that “we do textural science,” and that “the technology … is in its inception.”

The goal, he said, is “to reveal writing that is not visible … and also to create a highly color accurate … digital reproduction of the object,” a reproduction that reaches back in time. He likened the process to looking at stars. Through the multispectral imaging process, one “looks into the earliest history of the object,” he said. And through that technology, he said, “we’re changing the canon.”

The Martellus map multispectral imaging project at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a collaboration between the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, which oversaw the imaging process, and the Lazarus Project, which provided the equipment. The imaging team included independent scholar Chet Van Duzer, who led the project; Gregory Heyworth, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Mississippi and the director of the Lazarus project, who conducted the imaging; Michael Phelps, the director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, who served as the project manager; Roger Easton, a professor of imaging science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the imaging team’s project scientist; and Kenneth Boydston, CEO of the digital imaging company MegaVision, who designed the camera used in the imaging process and helped to capture images of the Martellus map.

Learn more about the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library at Learn more about the Lazarus Project at And visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library online at

This article appears in the October issue of The Arts Paper. Read other stories from this issue online here.

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Original Source: Arts Council of Greater New Haven

Science exploration program challenges students with Martian mystery
Astronomy and Space Science

athenaeum logo

Oct. 9, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


A. Sue Weisler

First-year students in the RIT science exploration program are searching for life on Mars. The small group of undeclared students in the College of Science will analyze fragments from six Martian meteorites for clues to another world. Their research will lead them to sample different aspects of science and, perhaps, find a discipline to major in next year.

Program director Roger Dube didn’t hesitate to ask the incoming students to try to answer one of the biggest questions of the century.

“The project had to have a hands-on laboratory component, an opportunity to exercise the different disciplines in a balanced way, and sizzle. It had to have something to it that makes them excited,” said Dube, professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Dube obtained the six meteorite fragments, or carbonatious chondrites, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Each came with a chemical analysis and provenance, including date and location of its discovery. He is confident the shards derive from rocks ejected from Mars 10,000 to 100,000 years ago.

“When asteroids hit Mars, they kick up huge clouds of Martian dirt and big chunks of rock get flung into the solar system,” Dube said. “We’ve only been able to identify Martian meteorites confidently since we’ve had rovers on Mars. We were able to do a chemical analysis of what Martian soil looks like.”

The ratio of two isotopes of the element argon identifies a meteorite as “Martian,” he said. It’s an identifying signature.

“Since Mars lost its atmosphere early, heavier isotopes in the air are abundant and appear in the rocks,” Dube said. “The ratio of these two isotopes is markedly different in rocks on Earth and rocks on Mars. The early rovers confirmed this ratio, and it acts as a reliable marker.”

Meteorites also look different than rocks found on Earth.

“The surface of the meteorite gets melted as it travels through the Earth’s atmosphere and ends up with molten rock on the outside,” Dube said. “That’s the outer skin. Inside the rock is totally preserved.”

The science exploration program, in its third year, is a learning environment that requires students to brainstorm and problem-solve whatever idea Dube presents, whether it’s analyzing rocks from Mars or creating a backpack water-filtration system or a microbiological fuel cell, as in the previous years.

The students form teams and sub groups and set goals. They exercise project management, critical thinking and communication skills as they narrow their research and define different techniques to explore.

“I expect the students to be the leaders of the project,” Dube said. “I want them to take ownership of the whole thing. I’m going to be there to make sure they don’t fall off the tracks.”

This year’s group will take direction from existing research and techniques other scientists have used to look for biological activity on Mars. Their project will lead them to professors in the College of Science whose laboratories hold powerful instruments that could help them find traces of something recognizable in the rocks.

“Hopefully by Imagine RIT they will have done all the analysis and have identified regions and features that are candidates,” Dube said. “If they find a candidate, everyone will focus on that and everything we can to confirm our suspicions.”

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Original Source: University News

NIH grant awarded for "Ultrasound standing wave fields for vascular engineering"
Biomedical Imaging

Oct. 6, 2014
Robert L. Clark, University of Rochester Professor and Dean

Diane Dalecki, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Denise Hocking, Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology, both of University of Rochester, have received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) for their 4-year project “Ultrasound standing wave fields for vascular engineering.” It will advance a novel ultrasound technology to fabricate complex, functional microvascular networks within three-dimensional engineered constructs. Collaborators are Maria Helguera, Associate Professor of Imaging Sciences at RIT, and Ingrid Sarelius, Professor, and Angela Glading, Assistant Professor, in Pharmacology and Physiology. The successful completion of this project will provide new tools for tissue engineering and for a variety of clinical reconstructive and vascular surgery applications. Click here to see a very informative video about this fascinating project.


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Original Source: University of Rochester

Dr. David Messinger named Interim Director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
Remote Sensing

Sep. 16, 2014

Dr. Messinger is currently an Associate Professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science where he has served as the Director of the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory (DIRS) since 2007. As Director of DIRS, David has done an excellent job leading the center to many accomplishments that brought national and international recognition to the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, the College of Science, and RIT. 

He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his B.S. in physics from Clarkson University. Before joining RIT, he worked as an analyst for XonTech Inc. and on the National Missile Defense Program for Northrop Grumman.

Dr. Messinger’s research focuses on remotely sensed spectral image exploitation using physics-based approaches and advanced mathematical techniques.  His research activity includes over 100 scholarly articles, and significant grants, national and international collaborations, editorial activities, and organizing of scientific expeditions. Dr. Messinger is an associate editor of the journal Optical Engineering, a member of the GEOINT R&D Working Group, a member of both the USGIF Activities Based Intelligence Working Group and the USGIF Academic Advisory Board, and serves on the Technical Committees of the “SPIE Conference on Algorithms and Technology for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imaging” and the “Department of Energy Conference on Data Analysis (CODA).”  

He has previously served as the Academic Advisor to the Remote Sensing Advisory Board for the Department of Homeland Security and has served on several program review boards for various government agencies and national laboratories. 

Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Dr. Roger Easton featured

Sep. 15, 2014
Greg Miller
The 1491 Martellus map.

The 1491 Martellus map (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Christopher Columbus probably used the map above as he planned his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. It represents much of what Europeans knew about geography on the verge discovering the New World, and it’s packed with text historians would love to read—if only the faded paint and five centuries of wear and tear hadn’t rendered most of it illegible.

But that’s about to change. A team of researchers is using a technique called multispectral imaging to uncover the hidden text. They scanned the map last month at Yale University and expect to start extracting readable text in the next few months, says Chet Van Duzer, an independent map scholar who’s leading the project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The map was made in or around 1491 by Henricus Martellus, a German cartographer working in Florence. It’s not known how many were made, but Yale owns the only surviving copy. It’s a big map, especially for its time: about 4 by 6.5 feet. “It’s a substantial map, meant to be hung on a wall,” Van Duzer said.

The Martellus map, in position for multispectral imaging.

The Martellus map during preparations for multispectral imaging.  Chet Van Duzer

The Martellus map is interesting for several historic reasons, Van Duzer says. One is it’s relevance to Columbus. “It’s extremely likely, just about unquestionable that Christopher Columbus saw this map or a very similar one made by the same cartographer, and that the map influenced his thinking about the world’s geography,” Van Duzer said.

There are several lines of evidence for this, Van Duzer says. Columbus sailed west from the Canary Islands hoping to find a new trade route to Asia. Writings by Columbus and his son suggest that he began searching for Japan in the region where it appears on the Martellus map, and that he expected to find the island running north to south, as it does on the Martellus map, but not on any other surviving map made before his voyage. (You can see Japan floating too far off the coast of Asia in the top right corner of Martellus’s map above).

Of course, what Columbus found instead was something Martellus hadn’t known about—the New World.

Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 map was influenced by Martellus's earlier map.

Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map was influenced by the earlier map by Martellus (click to enlarge).  Library of Congress

Martellus’s map was also a big influence on Martin Waldseemüller, another German cartographer whose 1507 map is the first to apply the name “America” to the New World. The Library of Congress purchased the only surviving copy of Waldseeüller’s map in 2003 for $10 million. “There are many places where the same information was in the same place on the two maps,” Van Duzer said. “The layout is very similar, a lot of the decorative elements are very similar.”

What isn’t known, because of the condition of the Martellus map, is how similar the text on the two maps is. “One of the most exciting images I’ve ever seen of a map is an ultraviolet image of the Martellus map taken in the early ’60s,” Van Duzer said. “If you look at eastern Asia with natural light, if you look closely, you get a hint that there’s text there, but if you look in ultraviolet light suddenly you see that there’s text everywhere.”

Most of the text still isn’t legible in those older UV images, but some of the parts that are appear to be drawn from the travels of Marco Polo through east Asia. There are also indications of where sailors could expect to find sea monsters or pearls. “In northern Asia, Martellus talks about this race of wild people who don’t have any wine or grain but live off the flesh of deer and ride deer-like horses,” Van Duzer said. Waldseeüller copied much of this.

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it's not normally visible (click to enlarge).

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it’s not normally visible (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

There are also interesting differences between the two maps. Waldseeüller gets the shape of Africa more or less right, but on the Martellus map, southern Africa juts out way too far to the east (Africa is on the left side of both maps). In addition, Martellus’s depiction of rivers and mountains in the interior of southern Africa, along with place names there, appear to be based on African sources. It’s likely that this information came from an African delegation that visited the Council of Florence in 1441 and interacted with European geographers. Three other surviving maps contain some of this same information, but the Martellus map covers more territory than any of them, making it the most complete surviving representation of Africans’ geographic knowledge of their continent in the 15th century. “In my mind, that’s absolutely amazing,” Van Duzer said.

Van Duzer hopes to learn more about Martellus’s sources from the new images the team is creating. Scanning the map only took a day, after two and a half days of set up, he says. The team used an automated camera system developed by a digital imaging company called Megavision. The system uses LEDs to deliver light within a narrow band of wavelengths and minimize the amount of heat and light the map was exposed to. The camera has a quartz lens, which transmits ultraviolet light better than glass. The team photographed 55 overlapping tiles of the map, using 12 different types of illumination, ranging from ultraviolet to infrared.

Conceptually, the process isn’t very complicated, says team member Roger Easton, an expert on imaging historical manuscripts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “We’re really just looking at the object under different colors of light and trying to find the combination of images that best enhance whatever it is that we’re trying to see.”

But extracting legible text from all those images will take a lot of imaging processing and analysis, and a lot of trial and error, Easton says. A combination that works on one part of the map might be useless for another part. “It depends on the details of how the map has eroded or how the color of the pigments has changed,” Easton said. “Different pigments reflect different wavelengths of light, and they deteriorate differently too.”

When the project is complete, probably sometime next year, the images will be available for scholars and the general public to examine on the website of theBeinecke Digital Library at Yale.

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Original Source: Wired