We're again delighted to report that Assistant Professor Nancy Pollard has been awarded an NSF CAREER grant, that agency's most prestigious award for junior faculty. `The CAREER program,' NSF says, `recognizes and supports the early career development of those faculty members ... most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.' CAREER awardees are selected `on the basis of creative, integrative, and effective research and education career development plans that build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.'
Nancy's work under the grant will focus on quantifying humanlike enveloping grasps with the goal of creating credible hand use for digital characters. Producing realistic digital humans has been called the last frontier in the march toward graphical realism, and Nancy believes that the last frontier in creating digital humans is generating believable hand motion. In pursuit of this goal, she proposes a tendon-based quality measure for humanlike enveloping grasps, and she plans to evaluate this quality measure (1) for ability to discriminate between grasps, (2) as a predictor of grasp forces, and (3) for use in modeling grasp acquisition. Because of the strong emphasis on human anatomy, this research has the potential for additional impact outside graphics and animation in areas including ergonomics (tool design), robotics (robot hand design), and anthropology (research in human hand evolution and tool use).