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Rudi Chen wins Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


The sixth annual Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research has been awarded to graduating computer science student Rudi Chen. Chen was nominated by Professor Peter van Beek, with whom he worked during the winter 2014 term as an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award recipient.

Chen’s research examined passive autofocusing, a type of focusing in which a lens renders a sharp image using a camera’s optical system and an algorithm that controls its focusing. To obtain a sharp image quickly the algorithm must be efficient and accurate, especially when lighting is dim. The goal of Chen’s research was to develop improved algorithms for this task using supervised machine learning techniques.

“Rudi demonstrated exceptional research skills in developing state-of-the-art solutions to computational problems that arise in digital photography,” said van Beek, a professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “He reviewed the scientific literature independently, proposed hypotheses, wrote code to experimentally test them, and performed computational experiments. The two papers he prepared from his research were exemplars of clarity of thought and prose.”

  • Hashim Mir, Peter Xu, Rudi Chen, and Peter van Beek. An autofocus heuristic for digital cameras based on supervised machine learning. Journal of Heuristics, 21(5):599–616, 2015.
  • Rudi Chen and Peter van Beek. Improving the accuracy and low-light performance of contrast-based autofocus using supervised machine learning. Pattern Recognition Letters, 56:30–37, 2015

Strong nominations in support of Shimeng HuangPeter MacDonaldCameron MeanyChristopher SalahubZhucheng Tu and David Urbanik were also put forward for this year’s Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.

Congratulations to our outstanding students in computer science and mathematics!


About the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Professor Ming Li and his family have created this award in honour and memory of his late wife, Jessie Wenhui Zou.

Jessie was born August 27, 1968 in Wuhan, China. She received a PhD degree from Wuhan University in physics when she was 26 years old. Jessie loved the field of finance and continued to pursue her studies and graduated from the University of Waterloo’s statistical finance master’s program in 2000. During this time, she also studied computer science at Waterloo and took a course in Java programming (CS 134). Upon graduation, she worked at the Bank of Montreal, specializing in risk control management.

With this award, the family wishes to support research activities at the undergraduate level within the Faculty of Mathematics to carry on Jessie’s passion for education.

The Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research is valued at $1,000 and presented annually to an undergraduate student enrolled in his or her final year of any program within the Faculty of Mathematics. Students must have demonstrated excellence in research and have been nominated by a faculty member who has supervised that research. The awardee is chosen by the Faculty of Mathematics Research Advisory Committee, chaired by the associate dean, research.

See past awardees and nominees: