Two UB Professors Named SUNY Distinguished Professors

Release Date: April 10, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two faculty members at the University at Buffalo have been named Distinguished Professors, the highest rank in the State University of New York system, by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

The rank, an order above full professorship, was conferred upon Paras N. Prasad, Ph.D., Photonics Science Professor of Chemistry and director of the Photonics Research Laboratory, and Sargur N. Srihari, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition, (CEDAR).

The designation is awarded to individuals who have achieved national or international prominence in their fields.

Paras N. Prasad, a UB faculty member since 1974, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of optics and spectroscopy.

He is founder and director of the UB Photonics Research Laboratory, which has a unique position among the world's photonics laboratories, focusing on both the fundamental science behind photonic materials, as well as on industrial applications.

Last year, Prasad announced the development of new, photonic materials that could revolutionize information storage because they are able to store thousands of times more data than conventional compact disks.

In addition to storing digital data, the new storage media are ideal for archiving very large quantities of pictures, photographs and other visual information that cannot efficiently be stored on today's CDs.

Prasad and colleagues stored Bugs Bunny movie clips in one of the new materials in less volume than the head of a pin. It was possibly the first time frames of a movie have been stored in a stacked format in a three-dimensional, data-storage medium.

The researchers also have developed an optical technology -- similar to that used in CD players -- to "read" the new materials.

Applications for these materials currently being explored by Prasad and his team, with colleagues in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, include confocal microscopy and photodynamic cancer therapy.

A resident of Snyder, Prasad also conducts research on nonlinear optical effects in organic polymers and is developing new generations of multifunctional, nanostructured organic hybrids that could lead to the synthesis of "smart" materials.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Optical Society of America. He was a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

Author of more than 300 technical papers, Prasad has co-edited or written seven books.

A native of India, Prasad attended Bihar University, where he won several scholastic awards. He received his doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sargur N. Srihari, a UB faculty member since 1978, is the founder and director of the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition. At the center, he supervises and conducts research on developing methodologies, algorithms, software and hardware designed to enable machines to read.

Recognized internationally for its work in developing off-line handwriting-recognition technology, the team Srihari leads at CEDAR conducts research on one of the most difficult problems in artificial intelligence -- getting a computer to "read" handwriting and poor-quality machine printing.

Last winter, the U.S. Postal Service installed the handwriting-interpretation system Srihari and his team developed into its main postal-distribution centers in order to automate the processing of handwritten addresses on envelopes.

CEDAR's software will improve the automated reading of handwritten addresses by an order of magnitude, processing daily several million pieces of mail with handwritten addresses, with virtually no human intervention.

Other projects that Srihari has supervised and which now are in use include a system that is helping the Internal Revenue Service automate the reading of addresses on tax forms and a National Address Server, which provides Web surfers with the complete nine-digit ZIP+4 code and computer barcode for any residential or commercial address in the U.S.

Srihari is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and of the International Association for Pattern Recognition. He has authored more than 150 technical papers and co-authored several U.S. patents, as well as a book on computer-text recognition.

The Williamsville resident received bachelor's degrees in physics and mathematics from Bangalore University and a bachelor's degree in electrical communication engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, also in Bangalore. He received master's and doctoral degrees in computer information science from Ohio State University.

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