UH Department of Biomedical Engineering Welcomes New Faculty Member


Associate Professor Howard Gifford joins the UH Department of Biomedical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His research focuses on the medical imaging process with the goal of improving chances of detecting or quantifying a certain target. Specifically, Gifford works to optimize the performance of a task to read images, by examining hardware and image acquisition protocol as well.

"It's a question that has received a lot of attention recently because medical imaging is a burgeoning business," Gifford said. "There's new hardware being invented every day. What I'm interested in is trying to predict how a clinician, looking at an image, might perform given a particular imaging processing protocol."

One way of testing humans' response to medical images is to have them look at a batch of images and record what, if anything, they see. The downside to this process is that it's very time-consuming, and after a while, subjects tend to become fatigued when looking at images for research purposes such as this. As an alternative to this method, Gifford develops mathematical models, in lieu of human subjects, that will be used in the research process.

"We're trying to take it in a new direction by putting in some information about how humans respond to an image, such as examining what about the image that draws the observer's attention," said Gifford. "We're attempting to answer that by using eye-tracking techniques. If you follow the gaze of an observer and what it is that they're focusing on, it could be read as a false positive. You can see fixation points by looking at the tracking data, and you can measure the dwell time on a particular part of the image. Once you've acquired data, you can go back to your image and figure out what features of those fixation points might explain the data from your observer."

In correlating the tracking data with features of the image, Gifford builds that into the mathematical model to test. "If you can come up with a model that reliably predicts how humans will read an image, then you can use that model to explore comparisons of different hardware, perhaps different detector types that might be in development, and which one might be a better fit for a particular task," said Gifford.

Next semester, Gifford will teach a new graduate course on radiological image science. Course content will include an examination of the nature of photons that are used for x-ray and nuclear medicine imaging, the hardware components of acquiring data of detector types, reconstruction of images that a human can understand, and sources of noise artifacts in an image. Gifford received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1997.


Department/Academic Programs: 

Related News Stories

23 honored with 2020-21 Faculty and Student Excellence Awards

The W.T. Kittinger Teaching Excellence Award is traditionally the highest teaching award given in the College. It recognizes outstanding teaching and service to students. This year's recipient is Di Yang of Mechanical Engineering.

The Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston and Dr. Joseph W. Tedesco, Ph.D., P.E., the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Endowed Chair and Dean, are pleased to share the 2020-21 Faculty and Student Excellence Award winners.

The initial announcement was made during the virtual Spring 2021 State of the College Address on May 4.

21 Cullen College students receive SURF opportunities

A group of 21 students from the Cullen College of Engineering have been selected for the University of Houston's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

The Cullen College of Engineering is proud to announce that 21 undergraduate students have been selected for the University of Houston's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), according to the Honors College.

UH, HCC partnering on Engineering Academy at Fraga campus

An exterior shot of the flags flying at the Houston Community College's Fraga Campus. The University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering and HCC will be partnering to create an Engineering Academy on the campus.

The University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering and Houston Community College have reached an agreement to offer UH Engineering Academy courses at the HCC Felix Fraga Academic Campus on the east side of Houston on Navigation Boulevard.

Upcoming Events / Seminars