Graduate School News

Computer Science Researcher to Speak at Doctoral Hooding

January 10, 2012

Marc Levoy

Marc Levoy — whose career achievements include developing the cartoon animation system used in “The Flintstones” TV show and launching Google's Street View project — will be the keynote speaker for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's 2012 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.

During the ceremony, each participating graduate will be called to the stage to have the hood of the commencement regalia conferred by his or her adviser or dissertation committee chair. Family and friends are invited to the ceremony, to be at 10 a.m. May 12 at the Dean E. Smith Center, 300 Bowles Drive.

Levoy also is known for helping to create the field of computational photography. He received his doctoral degree in computer science from Carolina in 1989 and is the VMware Founders professor of computer science at Stanford University, with a joint appointment in Stanford's electrical engineering department. He is currently on a two-year, part-time leave of absence to work on another project for Google.

“Marc Levoy is an outstanding example of just how broad and how creative an academic career can be,” said Steve Matson, Graduate School dean. “His career in computer science is full of achievements that have pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible. He pursues his research with determination and delight, and we are honored that he will share his thoughts with our doctoral graduates.”

Levoy received bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from Cornell University. His master's thesis focused on computer-assisted cartoon animation — research he applied later as senior scientist and director of Hanna-Barbera Productions' computer animation department.

He began his UNC doctoral studies in computer science, in the College of Arts and Sciences, in 1984, focusing on a computer graphics technique called volume rendering. The technique provides three-dimensional depth when displaying computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging data. After receiving his doctorate, Levoy spent a year as a research assistant professor in UNC's computer science department before joining the Stanford faculty in 1990.

In his first decade at Stanford, Levoy researched topics including three-dimensional laser scanning. He and his students traveled to Italy to digitally scan the statues of Michelangelo as a part of a yearlong Digital Michelangelo Project.

Levoy's more recent research achievements have included co-designing the Google book scanner and launching Google's Street View project. Levoy's current interests include light fields, optical microscopy and the emerging field of computational photography.

Levoy's national research grants in computational photography date to a 2002 National Science Foundation project, “High-Performance Imaging Using an Array of Low-Cost Cameras.” Today Levoy and faculty colleagues share their ongoing research with other universities through a Stanford “Frankencamera” project.

Additionally, Levoy researches how the cell phone's mobile platform can support new (and future) computational photography apps. Levoy writes on his website: “To help me understand the challenges of building photographic applications for a mobile platform, I tried writing a cell phone app myself.” The app, SynthCam, is downloadable for free from iTunes.

For his research accomplishments, Levoy was named a 1991 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator and won the Association for Computing Machinery SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 1996. The association also named him a fellow, in 2007.

Levoy website: