BU Computer Science Professor Named One of New England’s 10 "Women to Watch"

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 | amenting@bu.edu

(Boston) — Margrit Betke, an associate professor in Boston University’s Computer Science Department and director of undergraduate studies in the department, has been selected as one of 10 “Women to Watch in New England” by the Boston-based business and technology newspaper Mass High Tech. Chosen from a pool of nearly 100 nominees from academic, non-profit, and business organizations in the New England region, the 2005 awardees were judged to excel in leadership abilities, intellectual creativity, entrepreneurship, and mentoring of the next generation of professionals in science and technology. The awards will be conferred during an evening ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Boston on February 17.

One of only two academics named for this year’s award, Betke’s research focuses on the general area of computer vision, with emphasis on human–computer interfaces, statistical object recognition, medical image processing, intelligent vehicles, and thermal video analysis. In collaboration with scientists in other fields, she has applied her research in a number of areas, including radiology, for which she has devised methods for tumor diagnosis from computed tomography (CT) scans. She also has collaborated in research involving thermal image analysis, for which she has developed algorithms that decipher infrared images of bats in flight, allowing biologists and others to accurately census the flying nocturnal mammals.

Betke has conducted extensive and innovative research in human–computer interactions. Her “Camera Mouse” system, for instance, tracks a person’s movements with a video camera and translates them into the movements of a pointer on a computer screen. The system is driven by a visual tracking algorithm that translates movements made by the tip of a person’s nose or finger into coordinates on an on-screen alphabet. The person using the system can thus “speak” through the computer by guiding the pointer to letters that spell out his or her message.

Betke joined BU’s computer science faculty in 2000. She is a graduate of MIT, where she earned her Ph.D. in computer science and electrical engineering in 1995. Her teaching responsibilities at BU include courses in artificial intelligence, image and video computation, and human–computer interfaces. She also supervises and mentors students in directed studies in these areas.

Mass High Tech is a regional business-to-business publication that focuses on technology companies and reports on the businesses and issues involved in turning innovative ideas into products and services for the global marketplace.

Faculty in the Computer Science Department at Boston University conduct research in areas such as data mining, image and video computing, network protocols and services, operating systems, performance evaluation, programming languages, security and applied cryptography, real-time systems, and theory of computation and algorithms. The department is part of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, two of the 17 schools and colleges of Boston University. Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.