September 24, 2010


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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Computer scientist Chris Johnson will give the talk, "Visual Computing: Making sense of a complex world," Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is the first event in the series, "Emerging Minds: Seeking Meaning in a Physical World."

SCI founder and director
Founder and director of the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah, Johnson is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science with faculty appointments in the departments of physics and bioengineering. His research interests are in the areas of scientific computing and scientific visualization.

"Visual computing, which relies on and takes advantage of, the interplay among techniques of visualization, computer graphics, virtual reality, and imaging and vision, is fundamental to understanding models of complex phenomena, which are often multi-disciplinary in nature," said Johnson. "In fact, to effectively understand and make use of the vast amounts of information being produced is one of the greatest scientific challenges of the 21st century."

In his talk, he will provide examples of interdisciplinary visual computing and imaging research at the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute as applied to problems in science, engineering and medicine, and discuss their relationships to art, film and architecture.

Johnson serves on several international journal editorial boards, as well as on advisory boards to several national and international research centers. He is the recipient of several awards, including the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow award from President Clinton in 1995 and the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology from Governor Michael Leavitt in 1999.

He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Last year, he received the Utah Cyber Pioneer Award and earlier this year the Rosenblatt Award from the University of Utah.

Key scholars, new perspectives
"This yearlong series will explore the nature of the mind with talks by key scholars," said series coordinator Joseph Tranquillo, assistant professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at Bucknell.

"Questions about the nature of our minds and identities have been posed for millennia. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, technological and scientific advances have enabled the ancient questions about mind and self to be revisited in new ways," Tranquillo said.

"The result of these cross-disciplinary studies has been the emergence of new perspectives on a wide range of issues including the relationship between the brain as an organ and the mind as a concept, the existence of a universal human nature, the production and appreciation of art, the boundaries of our free will, the goals of our health and education systems, and the extent to which our behavior is motivated by evolutionary imperatives."

Other speakers in the Social Science Colloquium series are:

·      Lera Boroditsky, who on Nov. 18 will examine how the languages we speak shape the ways we think. An assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and symbolic systems at Stanford University, Boroditsky will present data from around the world showing how the structures in languages profoundly shape how people construct reality.

·      Jose Carmena, who on Feb. 22 will discuss neural adaptations to a brain-machine interface. Carmena is principal investigator with the Brain-Machine Interface Systems laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley, where he also serves as assistant professor of electrical engineering, cognitive science and neuroscience. Carmena will give an introduction to the field of cortical BMIs, a summary of lab results showing that the brain can consolidate prosthetic motor skill in a way that resembles that of natural motor learning, and an outline on the emerging directions the field is taking towards the development of neuroprosthetic devices for the impaired.

·      David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and author who on March 10 will speak about neuroscience and the law. Eagleman holds a joint appointment in the departments of neuroscience and psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine. His research areas include time perception, vision, synesthesia and the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system.

Contact: Division of Communications


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