Kennesaw State professor receives NSF grant to explore brain-inspired computer vision


KENNESAW, Georgia (June 3, 2022) – Kennesaw State University faculty member Yan Fang will examine the capabilities of the human brain as he and his students research ways to improve the ability of drones and robots to track fast-moving objects without draining power limited battery.

Fang, assistant professor at Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technologywas awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Investigator Fellowship, which will fund his research until 2024.

Yan Fang

The NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) award is highly competitive and provides resources to help new faculty members launch their research careers in computer science and engineering. Fang came to Kennesaw State in the fall of 2021 after completing a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh and working as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech.

“I am pleased that Dr. Fang’s work has been recognized with this award from the NSF,” said Turaj Ashuri, assistant dean for research at SPCEET. “This scholarship is a testament to our commitment and effort to provide our students with cutting-edge research opportunities, which is a component of the University’s curriculum. strategic growth framework.”

Fang will work with a Ph.D. student and some undergraduate students on this project. They will use the nearly $174,000 in funding to research new computer systems structures, design lesson modules and launch K-12 education outreach for local minority high school students.

“Dr. Fang’s research on neuromorphic processing of visual data mimics the way the brain processes information from the eyes,” said the president of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering said Benjamin Klein. “This is a very exciting application of artificial intelligence that will help computers interpret what they see. We are delighted that the NSF recognizes the importance of this work.

Small, battery-powered computing systems face a challenge in handling complex visual data.

“We’re trying to fix visual tracking issues,” Fang said. “On small devices, such as cell phones, wearables and drones, battery power and computing capabilities are limited and underpowered. If your target is moving fast, it is also difficult to recognize and to follow her.

Fang explained the visual tracking process by comparing a new dynamic-vision camera that captures fast-moving objects to a frog’s vision, which recognizes flies as food as they move but doesn’t associate them with food when they are still.

Fang and his students will be inspired by the human brain, which can rapidly calculate and process images to meet the challenges facing next-generation computing systems.

“This research is important because devices like cellphones and drones are widely used in our daily lives,” Fang said. “Research that improves the computing capacity and energy efficiency of these devices will make them smarter and more powerful.”

Visual processing tasks such as sensing, tracking and navigation are essential for unmanned aerial vehicles, robots, surveillance and defense systems.

“I feel honored to be the recipient of this award,” Fang said. “I am excited to begin this research with more resources and undergraduate students who continually impress me with their knowledge and insights.”

– O’Brien Barrows Abbey
Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections, and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and around the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated (R2) doctoral research institution, placing it among an elite group of only 6% of US colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit


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