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Imaging research recognised by Edmund Optics award programme

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Measuring plant growth with infrared cameras and the development of a low-cost hyperspectral image sensor were two of the projects recognised by Edmund Optics in its 2016 Educational Award programme.

In the Americas, the gold award of $10,000 in Edmund Optics products was given to Edgar Spalding at the University of Wisonsin-Madison, for research into the genetic control of plant growth measured by machine vision assays.

The Americas silver award went to Jairo Salazar at the Mexican non-governmental scientific research institution Cinvestav for a low-cost hyperspectral image sensor. Salazar received $7,500 in Edmund Optics products for the sensor, which has potential uses in precision agriculture, recycling, remote sensing, manufacturing, and defence and health industries.

Spalding’s work uses infrared-sensitive CCD cameras equipped with macro-zoom lenses and a long-pass filter. The time-lapse sequences of the plants are analysed with algorithms to measure growth and shape changes. The data is then used to identify the genes that control growth and development.

Large populations of plant varieties are measured in high-throughput automated machine vision assays. In this way, the researchers can assess the ability of different varieties to cope with stresses such as drought or frost. Success with this research could advance plant breeding methods and ultimately produce more hardy crops.

The prototype hyperspectral sensor will be made available to universities and research centers to support the creation and development of new algorithms, methods, and applications.

Edmund Optics’ Educational Awards recognise outstanding undergraduate and graduate optics programmes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at non-profit colleges and universities.

The Educational Award team evaluated more than 600 applications to select 30 global finalists, with applications ranging from a vision system that tracks the rotation of a log as it travels down a sawmill production line, to an ultrafast volumetric imager of neurovascular dynamics in the neocortex of awake mice.

Edmund Optics products worth $45,000 were awarded to the gold, silver, and bronze winners in the Americas and Europe, in support of their research. Also, the Norman Edmund Inspiration Award, which is an additional $5,000 in Edmund Optics products, will be given to one of the global finalists on 9 November.

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