Private: Utah ECE Faculty Member Wins National Science Foundation Award


October 30, 2012

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Tolga Tasdizen Photo

Tolga Tasdizen, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah (U of U), has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. 

This highly competitive and prestigious award recognizes a junior faculty member who embodies the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the mission of their individual organizations. 

Tasdizen said, “I am very happy and honored about winning a NSF CAREER award. These awards are very competitive and this was the third and last year that I was eligible to apply for one.”

Tasdizen won the CAREER award with his proposal on image parsing and neuron tracking. “This proposal is for performing basic research in pattern recognition and image processing motivated by a neuroscience application,” he explains. 

The CAREER award includes a five-year research grant of more than $400,000. According to Tasdizen, “USTAR helped immensely in getting our research off the ground and provided us with the initial success that we needed to get grants funded such as this award.” 

Tasdizen is a USTAR faculty member who joined the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the U of U in 2008. He currently leads an interdisciplinary research effort to build tools for reconstructing neural circuit diagrams based on high resolution microscopy images.

Tasdizen  said the impact of the award will be felt immediately, giving him the freedom to investigate new high-risk, high-payoff pattern recognition techniques which may not only benefit the field of connectomics, but also image processing and pattern recognition in general. Tasdizen states, “Without research and innovation, this type of analysis would likely be several decades of full-time work for a single neuroscientist using manual techniques.”

Last year Tasdizen won the Electrical and Computer Engineering department’s Outstanding Teacher award at the U of U. He was also recently recognized by the university’s College of Engineering, receiving the Distinguished Teaching award.

In additional to national and university accolades, Tasdizen also receives praise from his peers. “Dr. Tasdizen is great in image processing. He brings diversity to the group of researchers at the University of Utah,” said Greg Jones, SCI associate director. “He has a real talent for bringing basic research and applying it for use in the real world.” 

Tasdizen began his work at the U of U as a postdoctoral researcher before becoming a USTAR faculty member. He received his B.S. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering from Brown University.

Read more: Utah Policy – USTAR Faculty Member Wins National Science Foundation Award