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Wenjin Zhou, a first year Ph.D. student in computer science, received the first place award in the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) Student Research Competition at the 2006 SIGGRAPH conference. Her award winning presentation, Perceptual Coloring and 2-D Sketching for Segmentation of Neural Pathways, utilizes scientific visualization to help doctors understand and analyze white matter structures within the human brain. Zhou, along with co-authors Peter G. Sibley, Song Zhang, David F. Tate, and David H. Laidlaw have developed BrainApp, an application to visualize the geometric disparity between white matter tracts obtained from DT-MRI data by coloring in perceptually uniform color space. The coloring is assigned such that differences in color in a perceptual uniform space correspond to the geometric distances between fiber tracts. The system allows the expert user of the application to interactively select regions with a 2-D based sketching mechanism. This 2-D sketching interface exploits the training neuroscientists have received viewing axis aligned 2-D slices of MRI data. This approach better reflects the uncertainty in forming a scientific model from the geometric information and shows relevant anatomic structures without imposing a rigid segmentation. BrainApp provides a more intuitive tracts-of-interest selection method; this task is a crucial component of an interactive tractography visualization system.

Of the 179 posters accepted by the SIGGRAPH conference, 70 were designated as entries in the student research competition. Of those entries, 25 were selected for presentation at the conference with jurors selecting five semi-finalists for a final presentation. For more information about ACM's Student Research Competition, visit http://www.acm.org/src/.