Prof. Mehmet Akçakaya Wins NSF CAREER Award for “Geometric Techniques for Big Data Medical Imaging”

Prof. Mehmet Akçakaya has been awarded the CAREER award by the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. This is one of the most prestigious awards instituted by the NSF to recognize and support faculty early in their careers who show the potential to “serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.” The CAREER award ranges from $400,000 to $500,000 (depending on the research area) and is disbursed over a 5-year period.

The field of medical imaging has benefited from advances in signal and image processing, such as better data acquisition, superior reconstruction, and improved analysis of massive amounts of imaging data. However, with improving resolution and the push for comprehensive diagnosis, medical imaging faces new challenges such as larger data sizes, longer scan durations, and susceptibility to artifacts.

Mehmet’s CAREER award winning project seeks to address these challenges. It develops a multi-disciplinary framework to provide theoretical, algorithmic and application developments based on geometric methods to characterize the limits, and to improve the state of medical imaging reconstruction and analysis. His research uses geometric packing and covering techniques to theoretically characterize the performance of learning algorithms, phase retrieval for low-dimensional models, and optimization strategies for a class of parameter estimation problems in imaging. Algorithmic developments for each of these problems will complement the theoretical work, and will be applied to tackle existing medical imaging problems. These applications bear significant potential for translational impact within the US healthcare system, including improved diagnosis and throughput.

Prof. Akçakaya plans to integrate his research into the graduate and undergraduate curriculum, and expand the research process and outcomes to include the local community through outreach to K-12 students.

Mehmet earned his doctoral degree in 2010 from Harvard University (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). He was a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) from 2010 to 2012, and was an instructor with Harvard Medical School (BIDMC) from 2012 to 2015. He joined the University of Minnesota in 2015  as a faculty member with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is also affiliated with the University’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. His research interests include biomedical image processing, big data signal processing, and magnetic resonance imaging. He has over 35 journal papers, and 11 approved/pending patents. He also holds an R00 award from the National Institutes of Health.