Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering at West Virginia University, is part of a team of researchers charged with finding new ways to strengthen national security through the development of biometric-based technologies.

The new Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research, a Center of Excellence housed at the University of Houston, was established with a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Office of University Programs. The Center includes researchers from 10 universities and a San Antonio, Texas-based consulting firm.

“Our vision is to be the nation’s leading research center in this area, through innovation in technology, data-driven approaches to informed policy and mission-focused individualized education,” said Ioannis A. Kakadiaris, director of the center and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor of computer science at UH. “It will give us the opportunity to mobilize the nation’s intellectual capital to solve real-world problems.”

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created a framework for DHS to establish university-based Centers of Excellence throughout the United States to focus on security issues.

Bourlai, who leads the Multispectral Imagery Lab at WVU and is considered to be an expert in the area of unconstrained face recognition, will be the technical lead on this project. He will work in partnership with Dimitris Metaxas, distinguished profess of computer science at Rutgers University.

Bourlai and Metaxas will work to develop face-based screening technologies at points of entry along U.S. borders. Their plan is to use variable portable devices with the capability to acquire face images at operational conditions, including variable standoff distances and illumination conditions.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to be working with so many experienced researchers at this Center,” said Bourlai. “I also look forward to working with my project partner, Prof. Metaxas, who is an internationally known professor in the area of computer vision and biometrics.”
Other universities participating in the project include Arizona State University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and University of Texas-El Paso. Voir Dire International, LLC, a San Antonio-based company whose services include intelligence and security assessments, is also participating in the center.

WVU was previously involved in a similar DHS Center, Borders, the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, led by the University of Arizona. WVU is also the founding member of CITeR, the Center for Identification Technology Research, which is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Collaborative Research Center.



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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