The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Vis Center Faculty Promoted

Congratulations to Vis Center Faculty member, Dr. Sen-ching (Samson) Cheung on promotion to associate professor with tenure in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He and his research group work on visual privacy protection, secure computation, multimedia content management and networking.

Dr. Cheung’s current research focuses on ways to protect the privacy of innocent passers-by and authorized people in surveillance video by accurately identifying their presence and completely erasing their images. Using a novel high-capacity steganographic scheme, privacy information is hidden in the modified video and can be retrieved with proper authorization. As the cyber world becomes more and more integrated with day-to-day life, Dr. Cheung’s research provides the necessary safeguards without compromising the benefits brought forth by the new technologies.


Students Help LexTran Solve Riders’ Problems

Sixteen students in a University of Kentucky psychology class today presented proposals for making Lexington’s public transit system’s website and information-distribution system more rider-friendly.

The students in psychology Professor Melody Carswell’s human-technology interaction course presented ideas like more readable maps, easily understandable routes, two-sided bus-stop signs and easily navigable website pages.

Since the start of UK’s 2010 spring semester, the class, which includes a mix of psychology and engineering students, has studied LexTran’s communication methods. They have already suggested some changes to the public transit system’s website that Lextran has adopted.

“The students have been out riding buses, observing how other riders respond to the existing communication materials,” said Carswell, who described the students’ work as contributing to UK’s town-gown relationship.

LexTran General Manager Rocky Burke and other LexTran managers attended today’s presentations at the UK Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (Vis Center). In addition to serving on the College of Arts and Sciences’ psychology faculty, Carswell is assistant director of the Vis Center, which is part of the UK College of Engineering.

“It is very exciting to see the students’ interpretations of how we can move forward. LexTran has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We will certainly consider all these recommendations as we make changes to the system,” Burke said.

Virginia Lacefield, a student in the class, described the project as “a real-world practical way to use what we’ve learned this semester.”

Her student team worked on improving LexTran’s website.

“We did surveys of the website users, a ‘think-aloud’ exercise of people using the site. We developed quick and easy changes that would greatly improve the site.

“The nice thing is, it gives us a chance to use what we’re learning in real-world applications,” Lacefield said.

Electrical and computer engineering graduate student Paul Eberhart said, “I’m involved in a computer engineering project, designing hardware and software to support the use of location-aware buses. My existing knowledge of electronics, programming, and embedded systems allows me to quickly visualize and technically evaluate a number of feasible solutions needed to evaluate them from a human-factors perspective.”

Carswell said she developed the course because her expertise focuses on “what happens to the cognitive process when people are under stress.”

“My specialty is in human factors in design. I show psychology students a different way psychologists can make a contribution to society. I show engineers and designers how to relate to people while solving the problems they confront,” Carswell said.

– From UKNow (

Improving Surgery with Multi-Spectral Imaging

Our sense of vision tells us much of what we know about the world around us; yet the human eye is only capable of sensing a very narrow spectrum of the light it receives, in wavelengths from about 400 to 700 nm. Current research being conducted at the Vis Center is investigating the possibility that broadening the range of imaged light could greatly improve a surgeon’s ability to identify anatomical features in minimally invasive surgery, adding visual cues not even available during open surgery.

Recently at the Emerging Technology Session of the 2010 World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery hosted by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons Matt Field, Vis Center Software Engineer, presented a poster describing a new research initiative into multi-spectral imaging. Entitled “Assessment of Multi-Spectral Imaging for Enhanced Visualization in Minimally Invasive Surgery”, the poster described early results from research with tissue samples.

The future application of this research will be to incorporate the findings of the experimental system into a prototype multi-spectral endoscope. An LED-based endoscopic light source will be modified to include these new light spectra. As this work is at a very early stage, testing will continue to conclusively determine the best possibilities for image enhancement.

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