RIT Professor James Ferwerda Appointed Xerox Endowed Chair

Ferwerda explores boundaries of display technologies

James Ferwerda

Rochester Institute of Technology professor James Ferwerda has been named the Xerox Endowed Chair in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Ferwerda, an associate professor in the Center for Imaging Science, will use the three-year appointment to create displays that are characteristic of real materials and to explore the optical properties of “programmable matter,” an emerging technology that will shift display technology from flat screens to three-dimensional objects.

The Xerox Endowed Chair carries with it a yearly discretionary fund of $30,000 designated for research. Ferwerda’s interests blend computer graphics, digital imaging, display systems, visual perception, material appearance, low vision and assistive technologies. He has developed a new approach to assessing image quality known as “visual equivalence” and a variety of tangible display systems that allow natural modes of interaction with virtual surfaces. He has created tools that accurately render three-dimensional models of oil paintings, illuminated manuscripts and photographic prints, allowing users to manipulate and interact with the objects.

“If we stop thinking of displays as separate objects and only for images, and start thinking of them as ubiquitous, integrated and networked, then the line between the real and the virtual worlds begins to blur and the possibilities become limited only by our imaginations,” he says.

In addition to pursuing his own research while holding the Xerox chair, Ferwerda plans to organize a campus-wide symposium “to explore the science and technology and aesthetics of material displays and display materials.”

“Competition for the Xerox Chair was fierce, with many compelling candidates,” says Stefi Baum, director of the Center for Imaging Science. “Jim Ferwerda’s application stood out. Jim is unusually creative and innovative in his approach to both research and education. His work applying visual perception to the development of advanced digital imaging and computer graphics technologies has already resulted in groundbreaking research and international recognition for his work. We look forward to even better things to come.”

He publishes regularly and is frequently invited to present at national and international meetings. In June, Ferwerda gave the keynote speech at the IEEE Image, Video, and Multidimensional Signal Processing Technical Workshop on Perception and Visual Signal Analysis at Cornell University.

Ferwerda earned his doctoral degree in experimental psychology, his master’s in computer graphics and his bachelor’s in psychology from Cornell University.

The Xerox Endowed Chair in Imaging Science in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science was initiated in 1989 and finalized in 1996 to support the imaging science education and research mission in the center. It has provided support for a number of faculty and visiting professors since that time.

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