The NSF REU Program Imaging in the Physical Sciences is a new program that builds on the strength of the research and educational programs in the interdisciplinary Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, extending a rich history of undergraduate research experiences with RIT students to students from beyond RIT’s walls.

We recruit undergraduates from all years, including those who have just completed their freshman or sophomore years. Our program introduces young scientists to research in a highly interdisciplinary, team-oriented setting, preparing the students for the type of goal-oriented research they are likely to encounter in real-world environments. RIT is now the third largest undergraduate private technical university in the United States.

Our program has the following student-centered goals:

  • Involve undergraduates in a coherent research experience, starting as early as the summer after their freshman or sophomore years in college.
  • Involve undergraduates originating from a specific science or engineering major in our highly interdisciplinary research environment, engaging them to work in teams across traditional disciplinary boundaries in problem-based research.
  • Expose students to the emerging field of imaging science and its many and varied application areas.
  • Encourage students to pursue graduate studies in a STEM discipline or interdisciplinary STEM field.
  • Assist students in the dissemination of their research through conference presentations and refereed publications.
  • Create an ongoing research incubator environment for the students, including feedback from advisory scientists external to RIT, mentoring in public speaking, scientific writing, and social engagement.

The Imaging Science REU Program Elements

CIS provides a rich and diverse environment for undergraduate research. Over the past 5 years, CIS has regularly engaged ~45 paid undergraduate student researchers per quarter during the academic year, ~35 undergraduates per summer, and 15 rising senior high school students per summer in active research. Over the same period undergraduate researchers (and high-school interns!) have published well over 100 conference proceedings and refereed journal articles. These past successful experiences with RIT student researchers allows the CIS faculty to specifically design summer NSF REU projects that can be completed by undergraduates during a 10 week program.

The summer research environment here in CIS encompasses faculty, research staff, postdocs, graduate students (at the masters and PhD levels), undergraduates, honors pre-freshmen, and high-school juniors serving as interns in our laboratories. Thus our undergraduate researchers benefit from a rich integrated environment where they interact with scientists and engineers at all career stages.

Intellectual Merit - What is Imaging Science?

The Unifying Subject: Imaging Science. “To see with a keener eye has been a human obsession since the times of Leeuwenhoek and Galileo, considered fathers of the microscope and telescope, respectively. For centuries keener vision meant to see more clearly what was far away or what was very small—to magnify and sharpen. But in the 20th century it also came to signify all sorts of vision that once would have been deemed ‘magic’—the penetration of veils both around us and within us as well as the registering of forms of "light" to which human sight is utterly blind.” (http://www.greatachievements.org/).

The reliance of modern scientific and engineering research on imaging techniques has created the need for a new generation of scientists who can not only design and develop the optical systems, electronics, sensors, image processing algorithms, and integrated imaging systems of the future, but who can apply those systems to answer fundamental questions about ourselves and our universe, monitor and protect our environment, help keep our nation secure, and improve our medical care.

The science of imaging encompasses a very wide range of subject areas, from the physics of optics and radiation sources, to the mathematics of statistics and topology, to the chemistry of materials, to the engineering of sensors, to the computer science of data mining, to the brain science of vision, to the psychophysics of perception.

Imaging science addresses questions about every aspect of systems and techniques that are used to create, perceive, analyze, optimize and learn from images.

Interdisciplinary Research – a Key Element of our Program

Today we both recognize the importance of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research and understand the difficulties in creating an environment where such research can truly flourish. With a 23-year history, the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CIS) at RIT has created a diverse interdisciplinary environment for education and research focused on the theme of Imaging Science and its applications areas.

CIS has 40 faculty whose PhDs are distributed between the Physical Sciences (Physics [8], Astronomy [5], Chemistry [5], Imaging and Remote Sensing [4], Forestry [1], Mathematics and Computer Science [6], Engineering [8], and Brain and Cognitive Science [3]).

Our collaborative networks extend to

  • Research hospitals (Rochester General Hospital, University of Rochester’s Strong Hospital and the accompanying University of Rochester Medical Center and Syracuse’s Upstate Medical)
  • National centers (e.g., the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Rocky Mountain Research Center, to name just a few)
  • Many universities
  • Over 30 industry partners with whom we regularly engage in research

Within CIS we approach imaging from a systems perspective, including the interpretation, modeling, physical understanding, fusion, display and perception of data from imaging systems. This systems approach depends on and engenders a tight collaboration between interdisciplinary imaging scientists and the many scientists and engineers who reside purely in the application disciplines with whom we work. Thus, Imaging Science is both truly interdisciplinary in its content and multi-disciplinary in its applications. As such it provides an ideal gateway through which to introduce young minds to a range of fascinating pure and applied research problems, as well as an ideal medium in which to grow researchers who are facile working in a highly interdisciplinary research environment.