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Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award, Spring 2024

Sreenithy Chandran

Sreenithy Chandran came to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University to study for her master’s degree in electrical engineering due to the impactful research conducted by Sun Devil faculty and students. She desired to conduct research under experts in computer vision, the field in which computers can extract and process information from images captured with a camera for tasks such as object recognition or scene understanding.

“My time at ASU has been the best years of my life,” Chandran says. “I’ve gathered memories for a lifetime, immersed in an environment that has fostered my personal and professional growth.”

After finishing her master’s degree from the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, part of the Fulton Schools, Chandran returned to ASU to earn her doctoral degree, continuing her path in electrical engineering. During the course of her doctoral program, she took full advantage of the opportunities available to her.

For her research, Chandran focused on computational imaging, which combines computer vision, machine learning and optics principles to capture details normally not visible in a traditional photograph. Her dissertation focused on novel projector-camera systems which can see objects clearly through fog and smoke, visualize human veins beneath the skin and track a moving person around a corner without taking an image of them directly. In addition, she got experience applying her knowledge to solving real-world problems through internships at Google, Meta Reality Labs and Adobe Research.

Her research resulted in multiple published papers in journals and conferences. On top of her internships and research, Chandran maintained a 3.94 GPA. For her outstanding academic achievements, she won the Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award, an annual award given to an electrical engineering doctoral student who exemplifies academic and research achievement. 

“When I found out that I received the award, I was incredibly ecstatic,” Chandran says. “It was an unexpected honor that validated the hard work and dedication I put into my research. It felt like a moment of both personal triumph and gratitude toward those who have supported me throughout my journey.”

The award was established in 2003 by electrical engineering former Graduate Program Chair and Professor Emeritus Joseph Palais and his wife, Sandra Palais. Students with a GPA of at least 3.75 and a journal publication are eligible to be nominated by the faculty. The winner receives a commemorative plaque at the Fulton Schools graduate convocation and a $1,000 cash prize.

Chandran credits her mentor and research collaborator Hiroyuki Kubo from Japan’s Chiba University with assisting in her success. She also says her doctoral mentor Suren Jayasuriya, a Fulton Schools assistant professor of electrical engineering with a joint appointment in ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering, was particularly influential in her academic journey. While Chandran came to ASU with an interest in computer vision, it was Jayasuriya who introduced her to computational imaging during her master’s degree studies.

“Dr. Jayasuriya’s encouragement to pursue diverse opportunities, from internships to international collaborations, enriched my academic experience and broadened my perspective,” Chandran says. “His mentorship fostered an environment where I had the freedom to explore while receiving thoughtful guidance, making my doctoral journey unforgettable.”

Jayasuriya says Chandran receiving the Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award is well-deserved.

“I’m very happy about Sreenithy winning the Palais Award,” Jayasuriya says. “She is pushing the boundaries of imaging technology to enable cameras to see around corners, which can be useful for robotic navigation in search-and-rescue operations and hidden pedestrian detection for autonomous vehicles. Sreenithy really took up the challenge of making such non-line-of-sight imaging systems work with complex environments, even on moving drones, which hasn’t been demonstrated before.”

After graduation, Chandran will start a position at Samsung Research as a senior research engineer working on camera technology.

“It’s an opportunity to transform research into products that resonate with people, blending the lines between academic research and consumer technology,” she says.

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2024 class here.

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