Research within CIS is organized within constituent Laboratories, each of which has several collaborating faculty and associated research staff and student participation. We will match the REU students’ interests and capabilities with appropriate projects.

Our REU program and all of our labs provide a supportive research environment for students of all backgrounds. We have indicated in the list below labs in which mentors has particular skills in ASL (or are deaf themselves) to support Deaf and Hard or Hearing students, and labs in which mentors are Native American or Hispanic. We stress that all applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply to any labs that interest you, and all necessary support will be provided.

Advanced Optical Fabrication, Instrumentation, amd Metrology Laboratory (AOFIM): Associate Professor Jie Qiao

The laboratory conducts research in the areas of (1) Ultrafast Lasers for advanced optics fabrication including integrated photonics and freeform optics (2) Optical Metrology for phase imaging and wavefront sensing, which can be used for characterizing astronomical telescopes, laser beams or retina imaging (3) Coherent phasing of segmented large-scale gratings and adaptive optics for next-generation telescopes or laser systems.

The field of wavefront sensing and the use of femtosecond lasers for photonics / optics fabrication require significant investment in equipment. Through building collaborations with a number of industrial partners, Dr. Qiao has built up a state-of-the-art femtosecond laser facility and metrology lab hosting over $650k worth of equipment infrastructure. Working with her graduate, undergraduate students, and research associates, Dr. Qiao’s group is conducting the development of a novel wavefront sensing technique and numerical and experimental investigations of the mechanism and performance of ultrafast lasers based photonics / optics fabrication and packaging. Between July 2015 and July 2016, Dr. Qiao’s group published three refereed journal articles, two in Optics Express and one in Optics Materials Express, covering all three aforementioned research thrusts. Dr. Qiao’s group also published / presented six conference proceedings papers and three additional conference abstracts/summaries over the past year.  


Machine and Neuromorphic Perception Laboratory: Professor Chris Kanan

The Machine and Neuromorphic Perception Laboratory uses machine learning, especially deep learning, to solve problems in computer vision and artificial intelligence. One of the main interests of the lab is building systems that can handle task-sensitive image understanding.

Currently, the lab is heavily working on Visual Question Answering (VQA). In VQA, an algorithm must answer text-based questions about images. This is a new area of computer vision, which combines it with natural language processing.

Students wishing to work in the lab on algorithm development should have experience with computer programming. However, we have a number of jobs that do not require computer programming, and instead involve gathering eye tracking data or assisting with the generation of new datasets. Students will gain research skills and will be exposed to state-of-the-art techniques in artificial intelligence. Students will also have a clearer idea if they wish to pursue a Ph.D., and Prof. Kanan will provide mentoring on how to pursue this career path.

Possible REU student projects include:

·       Assisting with the creation of new datasets and machine learning algorithms for answering questions about images. See our web demo of an older version of our system here:

·       Studying the role of eye movements when answering questions about images and assessing whether algorithms and people look at the same image locations.

·       Assisting with the development of datasets and algorithms for semantic segmentation of hyperspectral imagery.

Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory (DIRS): Professors Salvaggio, Kremens, and Vodacek; Associate Professors Bachmann and van Aardt; Assistant Professor Ientilucci

Potential REU summer research projects include:

Goniometer of RIT (GRIT)

Assessing the impact of bi-directional reflectance on target detection and ecological assessment algorithms.

Developing hyperspectral and lidar algorithms for the assessment  of ecosystem health and biomass (carbon).

Analyzing Haiti 2010 earthquake imagery to develop new algorithms to aid future emergency responders, e.g., use of change detection to assess building damage.

Developing methodologies for mapping image-based textures on to 3D meshes derived from multiple-view imagery or LiDAR data.

Collecting and analyzing high-resolution visible and infrared spectral signals from controlled fires with natural vegetation fuels.

Compiling, processing, and analyzing combined airborne hyperspectral and lidar imaging data set to test target detection algorithims.

Designing and testing an apparatus to measure the thermophysical properties of biological materials.

The DIRS Laboratory, one of RIT’s six major research centers, conducts research on a variety of topics related to the development of hardware and software tools to facilitate extraction of information from remotely sensed data of the earth. The research focus is broadly broken into four areas: Synthetic Image Generation, Data Exploitation, Sensing Systems, and Environmental Applications. Some common themes are the use of multi- and hyperspectral image data, physics-based understanding of remote sensing systems and scene content, structural algorithm development (built and natural environments), and statistical algorithm development. DIRS operates two airborne imaging systems, namely the Wildfire Airborne Sensing Program (WASP) and WASP-LITE operating in the visible and infrared spectral ranges. A variety of other ad-hoc sensing systems, e.g., a ground-based laser scanner, UAV imaging, and tethered balloon imaging round out the system development aspects..  Past research projects in this laboratory have extensively involved undergraduates. Students have the opportunity to use specialized image processing software, to work on extensive field experiments, operate research quality radiometers, reflectometers, and airborne systems, and to be involved with development of remote sensing applications, e.g., target detection, fire modeling, and vegetation biomass assessment.


Perform Lab - Hand, Eye, Body, Brain Laboratory: Assistant Professor Gabriel Diaz

At PerForm Labs, researchers employ virtual reality, eye tracking, and motion capture technologies to better understand how coordination of the eye and body facilitates the performance of everyday tasks, such as catching a ball, driving a car, or walking through a cluttered environment. The use of motion capture, and head-mounted virtual-reality displays allows for the creation of simulated environments that promote natural behavior without sacrificing experimental control. Furthermore, by programmatically manipulating visual information related to the task, we experimentally test hypotheses concerning the use of visual information in coordination of the eye, hand, and body.


Magnetic Resonance Laboratory (MRL): Professor Joseph Hornak

Some specific tasks are:

  • Developing hardware such as surface coils, large volume modulation coils, and an automatic frequency control (AFC) to correct for surface coil frequency drift.
  • Exploring EPR spectra of paramagnetic metal centers at low fields where the zero field energies is appreciable.

The MRL is devoted to solving real world problems with magnetic resonance.  Non-destructive authentication of ceramic and porcelain cultural artifacts is a challenging problem for the sciences.

Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy can distinguish between clays based on the paramagnetic metals present, and firing temperature based on the complexes of these metals formed at different firing temperatures. Unfortunately, the 9 GHz frequency of conventional EPR restricts sample size to a few mm.  Low frequency EPR (LFEPR), is an EPR operating at a few hundred MHz.  LFEPR can utilize larger samples on the order of a few cm, but has a lower sensitivity due to the smaller Boltzmann ratio. 

Additionally, LFEPR may not be capable of detecting a spectral transition if the LFEPR operating frequency is less then the zero field energy of the paramagnetic metal complex.  We utilize a 250 MHz LFEPR built in our laboratory to determine the feasibility of characterizing ceramic and porcelain cultural artifacts.  We have extended the LFEPR utility by the use of a surface coil rather than an enclosed resonator and believe that objects as large as 20 cm in diameter might be easily characterized.

Multidisciplinary Vision Research Laboratory: Prof Jeff Pelz

The MVRL is another one of RIT’s six major research centers, where collaborators from across the RIT campus conduct research in vision, perception, attention, and related areas using innovative eye-tracking technologies and traditional behavioral research methods. In addition to the RIT-developed Wearable Eyetracker, the MVRL has a full suite of eye-tracking and analysis instrumentation, including head-mounted, remote, and a Dual-Purkinje Image eye-tracking system. The MVRL seeks to address fundamental questions and applied problems relating to perception in complex environments, as well as to develop and utilize new eye-tracking techniques and technologies to make those studies possible. 

An active area of research in the MVRL is the improvement of the Wearable Eyetracker. RIT has played a central role in the development of a new field for monitoring and analysis of complex behaviors by extending instrumentation for the study of gaze patterns outside of the laboratory into the field.

Possible REU student projects include:

·       Developing hardware and software enhancements in the Wearable Eyetracker systems to increase spatial and temporal resolution and allow use under different illumination conditions.  

·       Participate in the development of novel methods for tracking observers’ gaze patterns by taking advantage of state-of-the-art image capture and computer-vision algorithms.

·       Examining gaze behavior while walking on natural surfaces. In a previous project, observers’ gaze data was collected while they were at geologically significant scenes. Before and after the instructed task, the students walked to and from the scenes, providing a source of data on natural walking behavior.

Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics

Possible REU student projects include:

Identifying young stars near Earth. Students will employ photometric, spectroscopic, and space motion measurements to refine estimates of ages and distances of nearby young star candidates from lists of candidate young late-type stars within ~100 pc of Earth.

Characterizing the nearest known protoplanetary disks. This project focuses on radio and infrared studies of a half-dozen nearby (D <~ 100 pc), low-mass (<~ 1Msun) pre-main sequence star/disk systems whose disks are likely to be in active stages of planet building.

Understanding the Nature of Jets in Active Galactic Nuclei. The student will combine Chandra, HST, and radio observations of MOJAVE Bl Lac objects, to investigate the environment through which radio jets propagate and test models describing the physical nature of the jets.

LAMA, another one of RIT’s six major research centers, exists to foster the utilization and advancement of cutting-edge techniques in astrophysics by RIT faculty, research staff, and students. LAMA faculty, staff and students regularly gain access to the world's premierground- and space-based astronomical observing facilities and missions, including NASA's fleet of Great Observatories (the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes); the European Space Agency's Herschel and XMM-Newton orbiting observatories; and large optical, infrared, and radio telescopes in Hawaii, Spain, and Chile. Our community of astronomers also actively exploits and mines multi-wavelength data archives to assemble large samples of astronomical objects, with which we conduct statistical studies and identify the best sources for follow-up observations.

LAMA's astrophysics research runs the gamut, from our own solar system to the farthest reaches of the universe. Among the many studies presently carried out by LAMA's scientists: space weather and its effects on planetary habitability; the identification and investigation of nearby, young stars that are likely to host newborn exoplanets; the last gasps of rapidly dying stars; the environments of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies; the environments of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies; and the effects of such "active galactic nuclei" on their host galaxy clusters; the environments of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies and how they affect their host galaxies; and the evolution of galaxies over the age of the universe.


Optical Vortex Applications Laboratory: Assoc. Professor Grover Swartzlander

Possible REU projects include:

  • Fabricating optical wing structures and using them for test flight experiments.
  • Numerically modelling optical flight paths.
  • Conducting transmission and reflection measurements of light through metamaterials

The physical optics properties of light, combined with the interaction of light with matter, continue to inspire a wide frontier of experimental and theoretical research.  This optics laboratory explores three main areas of research:  (1) radiation pressure on lightweight engineered optical structures for uses ranging from biology to space flight; (2) explorations of the propagation of light through metamaterials such as negative refractive index materials; (3) applications of optical vortices for use in astronomical and high contrast imaging systems.  These experimental topics are complemented by associated theoretical and numerical investigations.  Students participate in the design and production of specialized optical elements using the RIT microfabrication facility (Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Lab), which includes G-line and I-line steppers for photolithography.

Future Photon Initiative: Professor Donald Figer

Photonics is the field of technology that uses photons to process information or energy. Around the RIT campus, significant photonics research already takes place. The Center for Detectors develops next-generation detectors in a facility that rivals that of major space agencies. The NanoPower Research Laboratory designs and fabricates advanced photovoltaic devices. The Integrated Photonics Group is leading the design, fabrication, and characterization of photonic chips. And that’s but three examples. 

The Future Photon Initiative (FPI) will leverage RIT’s unique assets to develop advanced photonics, which represents the cutting edge of the field of photonics, with the ultimate goal of becoming one of the most effective applied photon research and development centers in the world. Some of those big questions Figer cites: “Are we alone in the universe? What is dark energy and dark matter?” and others listed at the beginning of this article. “The odd thing about these questions is they don’t seem to be related but they all overlap in the technology that’s needed to address them,” according to Figer. FPI will apply and commercialize the efforts of existing RIT groups that develop technology for the generation, transmission, manipulation, absorption, and detection of photons. 

Agent Based Modeling: Assistant Professor Cristian Linte

Dr. Linte’s research interests have focused on exploring the use of medical imaging to generate new paradigms for image-guided visualization and navigation for minimally invasive therapy. Thanks to the advances in medical image acquisition, visualization and display, surgical tacking and image computing infrastructure, a wide variety of technology has emerged that facilitates diagnosis, procedure planning, intra-operative guidance and treatment monitoring while providing safer and less invasive approaches for therapy delivery. Dr. Linte’s research endeavors have employed both technologies (image acquisition, surgical tracking, visualization and display) and techniques (image analysis, modeling, evaluation and validation) toward the development, evaluation and pre-clinical integration of image guidance environments for surgical navigation of minimally invasive cardiac interventions.

Laboratory for Advanced Instrumentation Research (LAIR): Professor Zoran Ninkov

The Laboratory for Advanced Instrumentation Research (LAIR) is dedicated to: 

  • The development of novel and innovative instruments for gathering data from a wide variety of physical phenomena
  • The training of the next generation of instrument scientists who will occupy positions in goverment, industry, and academia.

LAIR utilizes the excellent infrastructure facilities available at RIT including the Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory, the Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly, and the Center for Sensors. A wide variety of instruments have been developed at RIT over the last twenty years including digital radiography systems, liquid crystal filter based imaging systems for airborne (UAV) mine detection, a speckle imaging camera for the WIYN 3.6 meter telescope, a MEMS digital micromirror based multi-object spectrometer, and an X-ray imaging systems for laser fusion research. This research has been funded by NASA, the NSF, NYSTAR and a variety of corporations such as ITT, Kodak and ThermoFisher Scientific.

Historic Document Restoration: Professor Roger Easton

RIT imaging scientists have been involved in imaging a number of documents with cultural and historic significance. These documents include the oldest known transcription of the works of Archimedes, 750 year-old palm leafs with sacred Sanskrit prayers, rare maps of the new world, and the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Read more