Schaefer receives prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Scott Schaefer, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, has received a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his research in graphics and visualization.Photo of Dr. Scott Schaefer

The NSF awards the prestigious CAREER grants to outstanding junior faculty members to help them advance their research and teaching activities. Schaefer's project, "Parameterization and Tessellation for Computer Graphics," will continue through May 2017.

"Project outcomes will significantly advance the state of the art not only in computer graphics and geometric modeling, but also in other areas of applied mathematics and computer science where the representation and precise control of smooth freeform shapes play a key role," Schaefer said.

Parameterization underlies nearly all curve and surface representations in computer graphics. Typically the effect of parameterization is ignored, yet this is a degree of freedom that can have a large effect on the shape of the curve. Parameterization is also used to tessellate surfaces on graphics cards, which is a process of taking high quality shapes such as those found in movies and turning the shapes into triangles for the graphics card to draw.

The investigation of "the fundamental connection between parameterization and surface shape/quality for parametric curves, surfaces and volumes" drives Schaefer's research. He will "expand upon the concept of non-uniform parameterization of surfaces and volumes. And he will design new representations that allow the user to control or automatically adapt the parameterization of these shapes during the design process, and incorporate methods of non-uniform parameterization that are currently not possible." This work has potential applications in surface design in the automotive, aeronautics, and entertainment industries and even in finite element computations for physical simulations.

Schaefer received his Ph.D. in computer science from Rice University in 2006 and joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M the same year. His teaching and research interests include computer graphics, geometric modeling and scientific visualization.

The NSF established the CAREER program to support junior faculty within the context of their overall career development, combining in a single program the support of research and education of the highest quality in the broadest sense. Through this program, the NSF emphasizes the importance of the early development of academic careers dedicated to simulating the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning. For more on the NSF and the CAREER program, visit