University of Rochester

Nicholas George Named to Endowed Chair

January 19, 1994

Nicholas George, professor at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, has been named Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging.

George pioneered basic research in holography with the discovery of the holographic stereogram -- a method for converting a sequence of photographs (such as the widely known holograms of a cascading waterfall or a woman blowing a kiss) into a hologram. For robotic vision he invented the ring-wedge photodetector and developed the first robot vision device to sort medical X-rays and photographs of dogs vs. cats, a long-standing challenge in the field. Today this research continues in the automatic recognition of faces, fingerprints, and sizing of particles in collaboration with scientists and doctoral scholars at the Institute of Optics.

George was the first to develop a theory for the space and wavelength dependence of speckle; the theory is being applied to remote sensing of satellites and space debris.

George, who is also a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, has helped to make the University and the City of Rochester leaders in optoelectronics and imaging.

Over the last decade George has established two major research centers at the University. At the Center for Electronic Imaging Systems, students and researchers from the University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and area companies work together on projects such as three-dimensional computer holograms, software engineering, image compression, and graphics hardware and software. Applications include high-definition television, motion picture technology, robot vision, and reconstruction of medical images. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation, New York State, local industry, and the Department of Defense. The center was recently designated the Center for Advanced Technology in Electronic Imaging Systems (CAT-EIS) by Governor Mario Cuomo.

For the past eight years George has also led the Center for Optoelectronics Systems Research funded by the Department of Defense. Here scientists, engineers and students from the Institute of Optics work on basic science that underlies such devices as lasers, target recognition systems, sensitive radar systems, robotics, night vision goggles, satellite-tracking systems, and secure communications.

The programs have contributed to the education of hundreds of students and have fostered close interaction between University, industrial and Army scientists. A special feature of the imaging center is its goal of transferring new research findings to small and large businesses quickly to enhance economic development.

"Professor George has played a key role in the development of the college's research in electronic imaging and optoelectronics," says Bruce Arden, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. "He has provided personal leadership and quality management in these fast-moving technological areas and also in the organization of vital industrial, state and federal research support."

George graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with highest honors and the University of Maryland before earning his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. There he served as professor of applied physics and electrical engineering before joining the University in 1977 as professor and director of the institute. He has published more than 100 papers, holds more than a dozen patents, and has advised 35 doctoral students.

The Wilson professorship was established by Marie and Joseph Wilson. Joseph C. Wilson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, was a graduate of the University who served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 1959 to 1967. tr Note to editors: George lives on Widewaters Lane in Pittsford.