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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: March 31, 2003
Volume 38, Number 16

Tyo receives CAREER grant

By Michael Padilla

TyoScott Tyo, assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department (EECE), has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

The five-year grant, “Polarimetry in Remote Sensing, Communications and Biological Sciences,” totals $400,000.

Tyo, a member of the EECE Applied Electromagnetics Group, said he will use the funding to accomplish three main goals. The first is to continue to establish an experimental research program in optical polarimetry in the EECE department. Polarization is a property of light along with color and intensity that can be exploited to improve the quality of images.

“We will build an in-house laboratory and perform studies on using polarization in remote sensing and on understanding polarization phenomena in optical communications,” Tyo said, adding, that this experimental program will help build on collaborations with AFRL, Sandia National Laboratories and industrial partners.

The second goal is to integrate leading-edge polarimetry research into the undergraduate and graduate curricula in applied electromagnetics, optical sciences and optoelectronics at UNM.

“We will work with the Albuquerque Aquarium and Biological Park on a joint experiment in their facility that could lead to community outreach through their K-12 educational programs,” he said.

The third goal is to build a strong group of undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and faculty researchers.

“One of the goals of the CAREER program is the development of people and we hope to train future researchers in this program,” he said, adding that at the end of five years, the UNM group should be a leader in the field.

The best known example of polarimetry involves common polarized sunglasses. Tyo explains that when sunlight reflects from water, snow or the back window of a car, the polarization of the glare has a distinct signature that can be eliminated with the glasses.

“In our research, we try to go one step further,” he said. “Rather than just eliminate such information, we seek to measure and analyze it in order to increase the amount of data that we have about a particular scene. Many species of animals such as bees, ants, some fish and octopus can do this already, and we will be exploring methods to mimic their capabilities.”

Tyo said some of the basic challenges include integrating polarization optics into conventional cameras, along with gathering, recording and processing information in real time. Understanding when polarization is important and when it isn’t is another challenge of the research.

“We don’t yet know completely when we should be using polarization,” he said. “Since human beings cannot perceive polarization, we have to figure out the best way to combine this new information with traditional color images. This sounds easy, but it is often difficult to do this in a way that can be readily interpreted.”

The NSF Early Career Development program offers NSF’s most prestigious awards for new faculty. The program recognizes and supports those teacher-scholars who are likely to become academic leaders.

“CAREER recipients are honored to have been chosen, because it recognizes both the quality of our research and our potential to build upon our early successes,” Tyo said.T