Carnegie Mellon to join new biometrics center

Published 12 February 2009

Aim of the new center — called Center for Academic Studies In Identity Sciences (CASIS) — is to provide the U.S. intelligence community with a pool of talented researchers in biometrics

Here is another case of the academic community and the intelligence community collaborating. Carnegie Mellon University’s Marios Savvides is one of four researchers selected to be part of a new Center for Academic Studies In Identity Sciences (CASIS), a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE), under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). This is the ODNI’s first CAE created as a pilot with an emphasis on science and technology. CASIS will provide the intelligence community with a pool of talented researchers in biometrics and provide a wide variety of innovative solutions to critical identity security issues. The new center also is charged with boosting the number of African American Ph.D. and master’s students working in the area of biometrics.

Savvides, director of biometrics at Carnegie Mellon CyLab and a research assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, is developing several critical capabilities in state-of-the-art algorithm development in iris and facial matching including a fast novel approach to create 3D face models from a single 2D facial image for advanced un-constrained face recognition and the development of a new forensic science tool for using the iris anatomy in the human eye as a means to match two irises even when partially occluded.

One of the algorithms created at the Savvides lab automatically detects and labels various facial landmarks on faces, creates a 3D face model of the face and automatically synthesizes the face under any pose for robust facial matching. During the past several years, Savvides also was a leader in the research and development of novel face and iris matching capabilities for the U.S. government. “Our work is filling a huge gap in facial and iris recognition and that’s why I’m extremely honored and very proud to be part of the ODNI Center of Academic Excellence dedicated to finding new critical solutions to some very difficult national security issues,” Savvides said.

He joins academic colleagues, Karl Ricanek, who specializes in craniofacial morphological models at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington; Damon Woodard, an expert in eye region biometric identification at Clemson University; and Gerry Dozier, who works on feature extractions for tightly coupled face recognition at North Carolina A&T State University, in this pilot initiative.

Pradeep K. Khosla, the Dowd University Professor and dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering, praised Savvides for his innovative work in the emerging field of biometrics. “Biometrics is not only a sophisticated means for identity management, but for use in securing airports and borders, and Carnegie Mellon is leading the way in developing new technologies to help define security defense strategies for both government and industry.”