The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Though FoLIO will end, we’ll always have Paris


The Googleplex in Paris

Since medieval times, people have made pilgrimages as a form of spiritual adventure. Researchers from the Vis Center completed their own secular pilgrimage through England, Spain, and finally France for the FoLIO project. This project will develop a structure for organizing images of antiquities that allows the specific types of relationships between those images to be represented, manipulated, highlighted, enhanced, and studied.


Looking back at Notre Dame

Led by Dr. Brent Seales of UK and Dr. Chris Blackwell of Furman, researchers first journeyed to the Lichfield Cathedral in England in 2010 to digitally preserve the St. Chad Gospels and the Wycliffe Bible. They also traveled to El Escorial Library in Spain to digitize two manuscripts of the Iliad, known as E-3 and E-4. The FoLIO project attempts to create a framework to longitudinally organize these images. The work focuses on three relationships between images: multi-modal, diachronic, and multi-instance. Multi-modal imagery varies based on conditions, such as the spectrum of light.


Working on FoLIO at Google

imagery relates pictures of the same scene taken at different times. Multi-instance imagery is connected semantically, like images of the pages of a story written by two different scribes. Organizing longitudinally across these various axes allows people of various disciplines to explore the datasets and use the digital archive for their own research.


Dr. Seales discusses FoLIO

After four years of research, FoLIO ends this August. To wrap up the project, a group from the Vis Center made the last leg of the voyage with a trip to Paris, France. They crossed the Atlantic to have a workshop at the Google Paris offices with Dr. Brent Seales, who is on sabbatical as a visiting scientist at Google in Paris. Though the project will end this August, Dr. Seales will not be back in Kentucky in time to plan for the project’s final steps. Therefore, a meeting in Paris was in order. After meeting in Paris, the team returned to UK with a plan of attack to finish the task. We streamlined our goals and created a plan for action with the help from experts at Google.


Dr. Seales on sabbatical at Google Paris

While the trip focused on the FoLIO project, the Vis Center team managed to fit in sightseeing. A typical day in Paris meant meeting at Google for breakfast, then working until lunch. After lunch at Google, the group explored Paris. Meeting in the Google offices was a spectacle in itself, but the team also hit the Parisian highlights of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. After walking through the cathedral of Notre Dame, the group decided to continue exploring the Île de la Cité, one of two islands in the Seine.

Group Photo at Notre Dame

Group Photo at Notre Dame

It was only a short walk from Notre Dame to Berthillon, a renowned ice cream shop in Paris. While enjoying Berthillon’s unique flavors such as pear and pineapple, the team enjoyed a walk through the Latin Quarter. To encourage team bonding, Dr. Seales invited the entire Kentucky group to a picnic on the Champs de Mars, a green space in front of the Eiffel Tower. In the evening, the Eiffel Tower’s lights sparkle every hour for just five minutes. The group had a great time that night.

In Western culture, Paris is a city of symbols, perhaps best represented by the Eiffel Tower. However, the glass pyramids in front of the Louvre are an equally powerful symbol of Paris. The Vis Center group visited the highlights of the Louvre – including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo. It is impossible to see the entire Louvre in an afternoon, and as the team learned, it is impossible to experience all of Paris in a week; this trip whetted their appetite to visit Paris beyond the most popular attractions.


Dr. Seales with the Vis Center students

As the FoLIO project comes to a close this summer, a final trip to Paris provided the opportunity to reflect on the years of research for the project and develop a plan to tie up loose ends. The team needed Dr. Seales’s input before finishing the project, and going to Paris was important in bringing everyone together before the end of the project.

Vis Center Director Search

Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

The University of Kentucky’s Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments invites applications from outstanding individuals to serve as Director of the Center. Candidates having an exceptional record of research productivity and who have a demonstrated ability to lead an interdisciplinary unit are encouraged to apply. External applicants will be considered for a tenured faculty position at the associate to full professor level, with the departmental affiliation dependent on the candidate.

Candidates with expertise in any area related to visualization, including but not limited to machine vision, medical imaging, and pattern recognition, will be considered. Successful candidates will have: 1) a clear vision for advancing the Center; 2) experience leading large collaborative proposals; 3) experience managing large and complex budgets; 4) experience with supervising staff; 5) a willingness to work with a wide range of internal and external constituencies; and 6) a commitment to advancing diversity among faculty, staff, and students.

UK offers strong collegial collaboration, with on campus proximity to the Colleges of Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business and Economics, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Medicine, and Pharmacy, and to the UK Hospital. A competitive salary and start-up package will be available, as well as access to excellent core research facilities.

Seeking Applicants for
Professor and Director, Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

The Vis Center

  • Established in 2003 as a home for interdisciplinary research related to visualization
  • $30M in external funding in last decade
  • Brand new facilities: $18M Davis Marksbury Building
  • Affiliated members include faculty from computer science, engineering, health and medical sciences, education, statistics, arts and humanities, business, architecture, and psychology
  • Talented core staff of 8.5 FTEs, including the Media Group


  • Tenured associate or full professor for qualified individuals
  • Home department negotiable, e.g., Computer Science, ECE, and BME
  • Administrative appointment as Center Director

Goals for position

  • Establish independent research program related to visualization, including but not limited to machine vision, medical imaging, and pattern recognition
  • Expand Center’s interdisciplinary collaborations to secure programmatic research funding and training grants
  • Build upon and grow strong ties to the medical center

Relevant Environment

  • University of Kentucky brought in $264 million in sponsored projects in FY 2013
  • UK is one of a small number of U.S. institutions with a major academic medical center, all six health sciences colleges and the full spectrum of academic colleges on a single campus
  • Colleges of Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business and Economics, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Medicine, and Pharmacy, and the hospital all within a 10min walk
  • State-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging facilities including 7T ClinScan
  • NIH Center for Clinical and Translational Science and NCI Cancer Center


  • Great schools with public magnet system; top 10 city by Parenting Magazine
  • Excellent benefits highlighted by 2:1 match up to 10% into 403(b)

Timeline: review of applications to begin immediately

Application: apply for position SC549154 on-line

  • Include letter of interest, full CV, research goals, contact info for 3 references

Questions: contact search committee at

Click for PDF version of application

The University of Kentucky is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Media for Research in Montana

Ben Corwin filming on the edge of Flathead Lake

Filming a documentary can take you anywhere, from an interview at a researcher’s desk to the wide-open American West.  Seth Parker and Ben Corwin, both part of the Vis Center’s Media for Research team, always count on an adventure when on a shoot.  While adventures can be exciting, they can also be challenging. During the summer of 2012 Seth and Ben journeyed to Flathead Lake in Montana and the Hancock Biological Station in Kentucky to document the VOEIS project.  The trip to Montana got off to a rocky start.  On the first day, with rain pouring and a tight schedule to keep, the crew worried about having time to finish their shoots.  Feeling discouraged, Seth and Ben decided to dine at a restaurant while waiting for the rain’s end.  As they headed out after dinner, their luck turned; the whole sky was beautiful.  The early evening light was perfect for shooting beauty shots of Glacier National Park during the ‘golden hour.’  Ben said, “It was amazing watching the sunset, getting those images.  From there, it just felt like a turning point.”

Seth Parker enjoying Montana’s spacious views

However, the media crew still faced some difficulties.  When filming outside, a video crew needs to consider more factors.  At Kentucky Lake, heat and humidity can cause the camera equipment to overheat.  Rain can destroy camera equipment.  Even wind can cause issues if the microphones pick up the sound of the wind blowing.  Still, a storyteller’s concern dominates:  how do you boil down three years of research into a short video?  As the primary interviewer, Seth worried about asking the right questions and choosing the right focus for the piece.

Seth and Ben documented the project’s progress over the past year.  VOEIS is a collaborative project between universities in Montana and in Kentucky.  Researchers deployed a network of sensors to monitor water quality in Flathead Lake and in the lake at Hancock Biological Station.  These sensors collect data points every few minutes, so the hydrological researchers need a way to navigate the vast data.  The VOEIS system is designed to ease the management of large amounts of ecological data.  For more information about the VOEIS project, visit Seth said, “The videos’ purpose is to lay out the whole VOEIS platform, from how researchers acquire data in the field, transmit that data from the field to a storage location, how they organize and edit that data so it is actually usable, and then how they use that data all in one seamless workflow.”

Ben setting up a shoot in Montana

Ben compares their video to an advertisement for the VOEIS project.  He says, “it’s important to be able to promote the projects you are working on in some way, and I think the video medium is a really good way to do that.  Being able to just upload a video to YouTube and then distribute it allows you to get support and bring awareness to the project.”  Ben enjoyed connecting with nature while filming the video.  Montana is known for its beautiful landscapes; for example, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Park is considered one of the most scenic drives in America.  Seth appreciated learning about the project and meeting the various researchers during video interviews.  He attended the third annual VOEIS meeting.  He admired the researchers’ passion and their different approaches to solving a common problem.  Seth said, “In Montana and in Kentucky, you have researchers who are dealing with similar issues.  You are dealing with bodies of water that have relatively common data points that need to be tracked.  It is always interesting to see how different people go about similar problems in different ways.”

Seth and Ben saw firsthand how all research projects need technology now.  Our advanced technology helps and hurts us; we have more information than ever before for research, but now we need a way to organize it so it is usable.  Seth said, “The technology is getting to be such that researchers can’t do it alone any more.  They need infrastructure, they need ways to organize, and they can’t be expected to create their own systems anymore.”  Not only do researchers need to collaborate outside their disciplines to conduct their research, but also they need to work with media to communicate the importance of their research.  The Media for Research team helps spread the word about the VOEIS project.  As Seth said, “Research is creating new technologies, new ways of thinking, and new everything.  But it needs to be conveyed to the general public.”

Watch the VOEIS video


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