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Where do you work?
I work for the Surface Display Design team at Microsoft. Responsible for introducing new display color features and helping develop short- and long-term display color roadmap. Identify needs/opportunities to partner with other teams at Microsoft (e.g. various Windows teams) and external companies.
Tell us about yourself
I am a color scientist, whose interests range from various fundamental aspects of color and vision sciences to industrial applications involving digital color imaging, for example displays and cameras.
What is color science? What can you possibly do with a degree in color science?
I encounter these questions all too often while describing to someone my work, so I would like to make an attempt to explain in simple terms why the world should need people calling themselves experts in color science. Think about your camera, your printer, your television set, or even your iPOD and mobile phones (including iPhone of course). The high quality of color in these devices that you have come to take for granted is not actually very easy to achieve. The manufacturers of these devices need color scientists and engineers to develop methods and algorithms (probably in collaboration with hardware and software engineers) to achieve superior color experience. A lot has to do with the fundamentals of human vision and perception, that is, how our visual system works and perceives colors. Once you have a fair amount of knowledge on these basic sciences, the next challenge is to apply this knowledge in a specific application domain and come up with an engineering solution. It is not hard to imagine it needs specialized knowledge and professional experience. The imaging industry is just one example where color experts are needed. Other examples include the media and entertainment industry (can partly fall under imaging as well), paint manufaturing, cosmetics manufaturing, so on and so forth.
The field of color science is quite interdisciplinary, involving physics, chemistry, physiology, statistics, computer science and psychology. Many people in this industry, like myself, have an interdisciplinary background. You cannot be a good color expert just with an electrical engineering background, neither can you survive simply with a physiology or psychology degree. This is also the reason why color science is a fascinating field. It is truly a confluence of science and engineering.
What did you study?
I finished my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Jadavpur university, in Kolkata (Calcutta), India in 2000. My specialization was Illumination Engineering. In January 2003, I moved to the US for my graduate studies. I earned my first MS in Architectural Engineering (Lighting/Electrical) from Pennsylvania State University in 2005. My second MS was in Color Science from the Munsell Color Science laboratory under Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology in 2008.
In October 2011, I earned a PhD in Applied Automation and Computer Science from the University of Nantes, France. I was part of the Image and Video Communications Group at the IRCCyN laboratory, a part of Ecole Polytechnique de Nantes.
My area of focus continued to be color science (even though the program name does not make it evident), and I am still looking for ways to incorporate lighting into my work. Interestingly, in the early days, many pioneers in the field of color science were originally lighting researchers!
Tell us about your research?
My principal area of interest is digital color imaging. A lot of my current and past work involved color appearance and vision, perceptual color processing for still images and video, image/video quality and visual psychophysics.
The PhD thesis research, completed in August 2011, focused on the fundamental issue of observer variability and its effect on various applications in the media and entertainment industry, in particular, those involving modern display colorimetry. The thesis was titled: Identification and Assignment of Colorimetric Observer Categories and Their Applications in Color and Vision Sciences .
My strength, I believe, is in my motivation and perseverance for research, coupled with an interdisciplinary background in electrical engineering, lighting and color science. I love to do something new. My first MS thesis and my independent project was on a novel application of digital imaging in lighting control that eventually led to an independent project and subsequently a new collaboration opportunity (which unfortunately never materialized). The second MS thesis resulted in a US patent application filed by Intel Corp in 2008. Based on the recently completed PhD thesis research, two European patents were filed. In all three, I was named as the first inventor. While patenting is a routine activity in the industry, as a graduate student these meant something special to me. Being involved in innovative research is a very fulfilling experience for me, and I hope to get such opportunities in future as well. Having said that, both patents and publications are equally important for me. For a researcher, nothing can replace publications.
Even though I just completed my eight-year stint as a graduate student, I still continue to learn, and continue to mature as a researcher. I feel I have been fortunate so far in finding exciting research projects and career opportunities. I look forward to the future with the same expectation.
My first internship in the field of color science was in the summer of 2006, as a college intern in the Color and Imaging Science team under Digital Printing Technologies Group, Hewlett-Packard Company in Vancouver, Washington, USA. The principal assignment was to develop a framework for conducting psychophysical image quality experiments for image quality (IQ) evaluation in the product development phase. I developed a GUI-based software tool in Matlab that helped design and conduct psychophysical experiments. The software also analyzed the observer data and generated results in the form of graphs and tables.
In summer 2007, I worked as a Technical Intern in the Digital Home Group at Intel Corporation in Chandler, Arizona, USA. During this internship, I was involved in the development of a new, integrated method for color and contrast enhancement. Part of the work was to conduct subjective test to evaluate the performance of the new algorithm. This was part of my MS thesis research.