Meng Wang, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, has won a Young Investigator Program (YIP) award from the Army Research Office (ARO). Wang will use the three-year, $360,000 grant to develop methods to extract useful information from complex data that could lead to improved image classification and object identification in modern surveillance systems.

The ARO YIP award is one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the Army on scientists beginning their independent careers. The objective of the YIP is to attract outstanding young university faculty members to pursue fundamental research in areas relevant to the Army, to support their research in these areas, and to encourage their teaching and research careers.

Wang’s current research interests include high-dimensional data analysis, signal processing, machine learning, and their applications in power systems and other networked systems. Her ARO YIP project is titled “Feature Extraction from Large-Scale Complex and Imperfect Data.”

Modern surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance systems are generating terabytes of images and videos continuously, but extracting useful information from the large amounts of data, which can include data losses, erroneous measurements, and low-resolution images, is challenging.

Wang and her research group will use the grant to develop new models and tools to address the technical difficulties of the low quality of the measurements and the complex structures of the signals transmitted from surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

“Large datasets in different applications such as video and image processing, network data analysis, and power system monitoring exhibit intrinsic low-dimensional structures,” said Wang. “This research project focuses on developing new theory and algorithms to exploit these structures to enable computationally efficient information extraction from large amounts of data.”

Wang joined the Rensselaer faculty in December 2012 after doing postdoctoral work at Duke University. She earned her doctorate in electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University in August 2012, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering at Tsinghua University in 2007 and 2005, respectively.

In addition to the ARO YIP award, Wang has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the Electric Power Research Institute.