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Mizzou Engineering faculty member receives campuswide honor

Zhihai He, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will receive the 2009 Provost Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award.

Zhihai “Henry” He, a University of Missouri assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will receive the 2009 Provost Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award for his work on computer-based video processing and wireless video communications.

He is the first Mizzou Engineering faculty member to be selected for the campuswide honor, according to campus records. The award recognizes junior faculty members with three to five years of service at MU for superior research and creative work.

He, who joined Mizzou Engineering in 2003 after working on digital television technologies at Sarnoff Corp. for two years, said winning the award encourages him to move forward with his research. Such recognition offers assurances that his work is heading in the right direction, he said.

“It’s a good confirmation for me,” He said.

He will officially receive the honor during a faculty recognition awards banquet slated for early November, said Marla Applebaum Wilcox, a program project support coordinator for the deputy provost office.

He was nominated for the provost’s award by Professor Noah Manring, chairman of the electrical and computer engineering department, and Professor Jim Keller – himself a recent recipient of curators’ professor, the university’s highest academic designation. Manring described He as “one of the most outstanding researchers in our college,” citing advances that have improved video communication technologies.

He’s research at MU started gaining wide recognition in 2005 with the introduction of miniature “DeerCams,” tiny wireless video cameras fitted with transmitters that He and Fisheries and Wildlife Associate Professor Joshua Millspaugh mounted on white-tailed deer. The cameras allow researchers to unobtrusively see what the animals see in the field, paving the way for an improved understanding of wildlife behavior and better management of wildlife resources and diseases.

He is continuing his research in that area, working on ways to reduce the amount of energy required to power the camera and encode its video as well as on computer-based tools to analyze the video and sensor data. Since the DeerCams cannot weigh much – standard procedures call for cameras that weigh less than 5 percent of the monitored animal’s body weight – cutting back on the number of batteries that the system requires is a primary goal, He said.

“One of the major technical issues is energy minimization, so it can operate for a long period of time for cross-season activity monitoring,” He said.

Keller also highlighted He’s collaboration with him on projects aimed at better extracting important information from satellite images for the MU Center for Geospatial Intelligence and at developing video-based activity monitoring tools for the Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology. He is energetic and creative, Keller wrote in his nomination.

“As you see, I am excited about all of my collaborative research work with Henry,” Keller wrote. “He understands the value of collaboration and is a perfect example of a true team player.”

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