Department of

Electrical Engineering

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Vishal Monga

Penn State’s Monga wins National Science Foundation CAREER award for research in signal and image processing

Vishal Monga, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has received a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award totaling $500,000.

The highly distinguished NSF CAREER award supports young faculty who conduct outstanding innovative research, have demonstrated excellence in teaching and are able to successfully integrate the two. The grant supports the broader vision of an academic’s career. It empowers young faculty to grow their research labs and create the research of tomorrow.

Monga’s project, “CAREER: Optimization Based Methods for Robust Pattern Recognition in Time-Series Data," will provide funding to employ convex optimization theory and algorithms in signal and image processing in image classification and recognition, computational imaging and robust signal hashing.

“I was interested in image processing for my graduate studies. I Googled Dr. Monga and was very impressed. He was the professor I wanted to work with,” said Hojjat Mousavi, a third-year Ph.D. student. “Working with him has been a huge benefit. Under his guidance I’ve become a much more mature researcher, because he’s a good teacher. I am proud that my adviser has won such a prestigious award.”

The work that Monga is doing with the CAREER Award encompasses multimedia privacy. Using theory and algorithms, he is creating a way to analyze images, audio and video files, and financial and health care records to prevent piracy.

“Take for instance, videos on YouTube. Someone can record a movie and post a link to YouTube, giving people access to the video even before the release of movie or shortly after, send the link to 50 million people for 50 cents each and make 25 million dollars,” explained Monga. “It’s too hard to catch these people online. The proposed research enables them to be caught. If Sony or Columbia Pictures suspect their video has been illegally uploaded, this will help them find out who uploaded it and put a stop to it.”

The grant will enable Monga to create some non-traditional educational tools for his students. He will partner with Penn State’s Gaming Commons to develop a video game that permits students to test out various ways to pirate videos, games, audio files and more. From there, he and his students will contribute to fighting piracy.

“This will allow students to interact and see how the algorithms they’re working on can be applied to real-world applications,” said Monga. “The game will grant them to interact with the material and meaningfully integrate ideas in their research.”

Monga joined Penn State in 2009. His research interests are in convex optimization methods in imaging, image processing and signal/image classification.