University of Rochester

Dean of School of Engineering Named William F. May Professor

June 17, 2005

Kevin J. Parker, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor of electrical and computer engineering, radiology, and bioengineering at the University of Rochester, has been named the William F. May Professor of Engineering.

Parker is an expert in medical imaging, linear and nonlinear acoustics, and image processing. His teaching has earned him plaudits from undergraduates, and his research has been cited as among the world’s best by his peers. In the field of ultrasound imaging, he developed a new system aimed at detecting small tumors of the liver, prostate and spleen. The research describing the system was cited as the best paper in 1990 by the World Federation of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. More than a dozen companies have licensed several of the 13 patents he holds for his innovations.

One of his most acclaimed patents covers a process known as the Blue Noise Mask. It makes possible the rapid creation of high-quality halftones, by embracing a unique marriage of randomness and order. At the time of the invention, the Blue Noise Mask derived halftones about 45 times faster than the leading technology. “Blue noise” refers to a certain type of pattern of black and white dots that has visually pleasing properties; blue noise patterns skirt the line between randomness and order, incorporating enough of both to offer an especially appealing image. The technology governs how printers, fax machines and other devices actually lay down particles of toner or ink in ways that the eye finds attractive.

As director of the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound, Parker was instrumental in creating the International Conference on Imaging that is in its fourth year, and drawing in scientists and physicians to the new discipline of elastography—the imaging of the elastic properties of tissues and tumors. During his seven years as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Parker helped to establish the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which brought together the River Campus’s strengths in engineering with the Medical Center’s expertise in clinical medicine. He was also responsible for endowing five new positions across the engineering departments, as well as bringing new world-class faculty to the school. In 2000, he co-founded VirtualScopics, LLC as a spinoff of research developed between the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering.

Before coming to the University in 1981, Parker earned his doctorate in electrical engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1992 to 1998, he served as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, as well as the University Associate Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Affairs. He became the director of the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound in 1995, and dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1998.

Parker has received awards and recognition from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Lilly Teaching Endowment, the Whitaker Foundation-Biomedical Engineering Grant, the IBM Supercomputing Competition, the World Federation of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, the Eastman Kodak Company, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the Joseph P. Holmes Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).

Parker is a member of the Institute of IEEE, the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), and AIUM. He was named a fellow in both the IEEE and the AIUM for his work in medical imaging, and the ASA for his work in acoustics.

The May professorship was established in 1980 to honor William F. May, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and former chairman and chief executive officer of the American Can Company. May graduated from the University in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Upon its establishment, then-University President Sproull stated that it “permanently associates Bill May’s name with the University, with the eminent faculty who will occupy the chair, and with a high quality of teaching and research. Moreover, the professorship will be linked with the engineering disciplines that are keys to meeting many of the nation’s present and future challenges.”