Image and Imagination: joint forum looks to generate research collaborations

“Every time we move the scale of what we can see by 10, we find new things.” Those words from Polytechnic Institute of NYU President Jerry M. Hultin at the recent day-long forum “Image and Imagination: The Science, Engineering, and Aesthetics of Imaging” succinctly made the case for amplifying the number of collaborations between Polytechnic’s engineers and NYU’s scientists.

“Science needs to move more swiftly to people,” added President Hultin. To accelerate the process, the two institutions are seeking ways to couple their respective research activities. NYU Provost David McLaughlin explained the impetus for revving up collaborations by saying: “scientific interactions happen when faculty members know they can’t do what they want by working alone.”

Broadly speaking, by joining forces Polytechnic engineers can build and enhance imaging tools that NYU scientists can use to make medical discoveries that can lead to better healthcare. The forum, the first of its kind since the two institutions became affiliated in July, was a significant first step in making concrete connections between researchers.

Fourteen Polytechnic and NYU researchers presented examples representative of their research activities and findings. There’s a great breadth to their work: from developing biosensors to improving the speed and clarity of diagnostic images sent online between doctors to understanding how the brain processes images to getting a better picture of how certain cancer cells function.

The gathering was also an opportunity to recognize an important figure in imaging: Arnost Reiser, founding director of Polytechnic Imaging Science Institute. President Hultin presented Dr. Reiser with a special citation recognizing his “stunning professional accomplishments and breathtaking personal history.”

Dr. Reiser, a Holocaust survivor, made advancements that became the basis for “computer-to-plate” printing technology which has become a billion dollar industry. While accepting his recognition, he noted how “images are an essential part of our thinking” and reminded everyone of the considerable changes image-making has seen since he entered the field. “Imaging used to be done by chemists,” he said. “Now it’s the work of computer scientists.”