Weekly Memo

May 5, 2014

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     We're ending the year strong, with lots of congratulations to send out.

      David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics; Professor of Optics, of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, of Ophthalmology and of Biomedical Engineering; and AS&E's Dean for Research, has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in vision research. The honor is one of the highest given to a scientist in the United States, and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient.  Read more here.

       Ovitz Corporation, whose officers and team members include Hajim students Joung Yoon (Felix) Kim, a senior in Optical Engineering; Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez, a sophomore in Optical Engineering; Samuel Steven ’13 (Optical Engineering), a master's student in the Technical Entrepreneurship and Management program; Aizhong Zhang, a TEAM master's student and PhD candidate in Optical Engineering; and Len Zheleznyak, a PhD student in Optical Engineering, won the grand prize of $50,000, including $25,000 cash, at the 2014 Rochester Regional Business Plan Contest on Friday. And that's not all; the Ovitz team took second place and $5,000 in the Biotechnology/HealthCare category at the New York Business Plan Competition finals held recently.  Ovitz has developed a hand-held instrument to determine an accurate prescription for corrective lenses. Rookie of the Year award in that category went to the SmartDialysis team that included Aizhong Zhang; Christopher Wong, sophomore in Computer Science; Li Deng and Bowei Zhang, TEAM master's students;  Steven Gillmer, a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering; and Kenneth Goodfellow, a PhD candidate in Optical Engineering.

    F. Douglas Kelley, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, has been chosen as the Engineering Professor of the Year by the Students' Association. Believe me, the students aren't alone in appreciating all that Doug has accomplished in ChemE. He did an excellent job with the renovation of the undergraduate lab, for example, and is a great resource for students working on senior design projects.

   Rachel Monfredo, Senior Technical Associate in ChemE, is the first recipient of our Dottie Welch Student Enrichment Award, and deservedly so. Dottie, who retired last year as the undergraduate coordinator in BME, was always there for her students. So is Rachel.  She plays a key role in helping run ChemE's junior and senior labs and has become the "go-to person" and confidant for many of the department's students. We are lucky to have her on our team.

    Henry Kautz, Professor and Chair of Computer Science, is part of a UR team that developed DocCHIRP, an application that allows physicians to crowdsource with their peers to get advice on diagnosing and treating patients. An eight-month field test involving 85 UR health care providers allowed them to send out inquiries concerning everything from medication side effects to interpretation of diagnostic tests. The team is developing a new crowdsourcing platform that will involve more providers. You can read more here.
     Luke K. Dalessandro, PhD student in Computer Science, received the 2013-2014 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Engineering for “Preserving the Appeal of Transactional Programming.” His advisor is Prof. Michael Scott. Ryan Beams of Optics received a commendation for “Graphene Nanophotonics.” His advisor is Prof. Lukas Novotny. Mahesh B. Nagarajan of Biomedical Engineering also received a commendation for “A Framework for Computer-Aided Diagnosis with Novel Computational Methods for Characterizing Healthy and Pathological Soft Tissue Patterns on Medical Images,” with Prof. Axel Wismuller as the advisor.

     Justin Fraumeni, a freshman in Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a first place winner in the 2014 Undergraduate Writing Colloquium for his "Music and Artificial Intelligence: A Creative Combination?" It was written for Language as Window into the Mind (WRT105), instructor Whitney-Gegg Harrison.
    Zachary DeSantis, a graduate student in Prof. James Fienup's group at the Institute of Optics, has been offered a partial scholarship to attend the Gordon Research Conference on  Image Science, to be held June 8-13 at Stonehill College in Easton, MA.

      Special thanks to:

       Hajim School faculty members and alumni who helped coach and mentor teams at the Rochester Startup Weekend event sponsored recently by the Center for Entrepreneurship. They included Wayne Knox, Professor of Optics, of Physics and the Center for Visual Science; Scott Catlin '92 (Optical Engineering), now Associate Vice President for Technology Ventures; George Ferguson, Research Scientist in Computer Science and Director of Program & Operations at the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation; Jeff Powers ’91 (MS in Optics); Don Golini ’86 (Optics), and Luke Gurrero ’05 (Computer Science).

     And to all our seniors, faculty members and project sponsors who helped make Senior Design Day a big success on Friday. Our students' capstone projects illustrate not only the skills our seniors have acquired, but the relevance of those skills to solving real-world challenges. Our students can be justly proud of what they've accomplished. Check out this video and local TV coverage. I'll be interested in hearing the feedback on this year's venue. By using the Goergen Athletic Center Field House, we were able to group projects from various departments side by side, and keep everybody on the same floor.

    I strongly encourage Hajim School faculty members to take advantage of PumpPrimer, launched by Dean David Williams' office to help tenure-track faculty increase their success rate in obtaining extramural funding. Help is available in the form of teaching relief, administrative support, and reimbursement for travel costs for multi-institutional and/or multi-investigator research projects. For innovative and high-risk projects, the office offers one-year funding of $1,000 to $20,000 (in rare instances as high as $50,000), with an application deadline of June 1. Contact Cindy Gary to learn more.

    All right, all you budding engineers. This is it. Good luck on those final exams!

   As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean