University of Toronto professor takes home Steacie Prize

For the second year in a row, the Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences has gone to a University of Toronto professor. This year it was Aaron Hertzmann, a professor at the Department of Computer Science, who took home the award in recognition for his work linking three separate research areas within computer science — computer graphics, machine learning and computer vision — to resolve a wide range of computer graphics problems.

“I am fascinated by the simple tasks that we as humans do easily and unthinkingly, but are extraordinarily difficult for computers,” said Hertzmann in a press release. “I especially focus on things with a visual component.”

Hertzmann has collaborated with heavyweights in computer animation. He was an advisor to Chris Landreth, an Academy Award-winning animator and director, on non-photorealistic animation methods for the 2009 short film The Spine. He has also worked for Pixar Animation Studios, where he has served as a visiting research scientist.

The Steacie Prize, with a value of $10,000, is awarded annually for exceptional research contributions from a scientist or engineer aged 40 or younger.

To view a video produced by Hertzmann that illustrates some of the principles of his work, click here.