Two computing science professors receive computer graphics awards from CHCCS

May 16, 2022

By: Andrew Ringer

The SFU School of Computing Science continues to show why it’s a top-ranked Canadian university in computer graphics, as two researchers have received prestigious awards from the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society (CHCCS), both in the computer graphics category.

The CHCCS is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing research and education in the fields of computer graphics, visualization and human-computer interaction. It is also the sponsor of the Graphics Interface conference, the longest running annual conference on computer graphics, interactive systems and human-computer interaction, where the two researchers will receive their awards.

SFU computing science professor Manolis Savva received the CHCCS Early-Career Researcher Award, recognizing his impressive contributions to the fields of computer graphics, 3D sensing and machine learning over a relatively short period of time.

Savva does research at the intersection of computer graphics, 3D computer vision and machine learning, with a focus on acquisition and generation of 3D interiors and human actions. His research has enabled training of artificial intelligence (AI) to understand the 3D structure of our living spaces and how we interact with different objects in these spaces. This research also enables more efficient design and generation of interactive virtual 3D representations of interior spaces. This research could also be influential in improving AI assistant technologies (such as Alexa or Google Assistant) and having assistant robots co-exist with humans in the future.

“I am humbled by this recognition and feel fortunate to have been supported by many close collaborators and colleagues along the path that led me to today,” says Savva.

“My research has been focused on leveraging 3D computer graphics to train and evaluate artificial intelligence, an emerging area that in my opinion has a bright future. I hope that this award will bring more visibility to this area and encourage other young researchers to join us on this path.”

SFU computing science professor Richard Zhang received the CHCCS Achievement Award, recognizing the numerous high-impact contributions to computer graphics he has made throughout his career.

Zhang's recent research is at the forefront of generative modeling and geometric deep learning. He and his students have made pioneering contributions to neural 3D shape representations that have revolutionized how today's machine learning algorithms reconstruct and generate 3D data. His work on unsupervised learning for generating images and 3D structures such as shapes and virtual scenes has also been highly impactful. Like Savva, Zhang has also worked on teaching AI to understand how humans interact with their environment and its objects. Zhang’s research can be applied to design and manufacturing and as a way to create simulated environments that can be used to train doctors, military personnel, machine operators and more. He also helped establish the Master of Science in Professional Computer Science program at SFU, serving as the program director.

"I am honoured to be in such elite company of Achievement Award winners in computer graphics, human-computer interaction and visualization,” says Zhang.

“I am also happy for SFU, especially our vibrant group of researchers in visual computing, who are continuing to receive wide recognitions for their world-class research. It goes without saying that none of my accomplishments would have been possible without the very talented students and dedicated collaborators that I had the privilege to work with."

Check out our full story on Manolis Savva >>

Check out our full story on Richard Zhang >>