Justin Haldar wins Best Paper Award at IEEE International Symposium for Biomedical Imaging


Charlie Johnson, ECE ILLINOIS

Justin P Haldar
Justin P Haldar

ECE graduate student Justin Haldar was recently awarded the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Symposium for Biomedical Engineering. His paper “Spatiotemporal Imaging with Partially Separable Functions: A Matrix Recovery Approach,” which he co-authored with Professor Zhi-Pei Liang, was one of three to win the award out of 640 submissions to the symposium.

“It’s really wonderful to win. Very humbling,” said Haldar.

The paper proposes a new way to improve data collection and image reconstruction for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

“MRI is a relatively slow imaging technique, which has limited the extent to which practical applications can make use of its enormous potential,” Haldar said.

If doctors are looking for an image with a high temporal resolution, they often have to compromise and receive images with a very low spatial resolution. Haldar and Liang have been developing new strategies to optimize MR data acquisition and image reconstruction to achieve high spatial and high temporal resolution at the same time.

In the paper, Haldar creatively used the partially separable function (PSF) theory for sparse sampling, a theoretical framework Liang’s group has been developing since 2001.

“The PSF model, which is complementary to the popular compressed sensing theory, is a powerful, novel model that can be used to allow sub-Nyquist sampling for dynamic imaging applications,” Haldar said.

With his new technique, Haldar is able to create high-resolution images from a relatively small number of data points. Improved dynamic imaging technology would provide doctors with better tools to study and diagnose cancer and heart attack patients, just to name a few applications.

“What we really want is to provide a new MRI scheme capable of acquiring dynamic images fast enough to evaluate the physiological processes in tissues as they are happening,” said Haldar.

The work reported in the award-winning paper moves them a step closer to this lofty goal.

Haldar received the award at the IEEE symposium held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands on April 14-17. While winning the award was great, Haldar’s focus quickly turned from his accolade to wondering how he was going to get home. He arrived in the Netherlands just days before the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland disrupted European air travel. Haldar was grounded at the conference for an additional three days, but he and other graduate students made the most of it by exploring Amsterdam.

“After I got the award, I was really just concerned about how and when I would be able to get back,” said Haldar. “But, I got to see the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Franke house and explored lots of Amsterdam. So, it was hardly all bad.”