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03-26-2004

Clarkson Professor Part Of $3.1 Million Multi-university Grant From The National Science Foundation For Biometric Systems Research

Clarkson University Associate Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Stephanie C. Schuckers is a partner in an interdisciplinarySchuckers collaborative research project that has received $3.1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation with support from the Department of Homeland Security.

The project, “ITR: Biometrics: Performance, Security and Societal Impact,” is a major research project in the field of biometrics, the science of using biological properties, such as fingerprints, a retina scan, or voice recognition to identify individuals.

The research project will investigate technical, legal and privacy issues raised from broader applications of biometric system technology in airport security, computer access, or immigration.

The project is a joint initiative among researchers from Clarkson, West Virginia University, Michigan State University, St. Lawrence University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Schuckers will receive approximately $600,000 over three years to fund her research on behalf of the project and will hire a post-doctoral and doctoral student to assist her.

“Biometric systems automatically measure a physiological or behavioral “signature” of an individual, from which a decision can be made to either authenticate or determine that individual’s identity,” explained Schuckers. “Despite the increasing use of these systems, no analytic framework for modeling and predicting their performance or set of standard multibiometric data for testing purposes exists.”

“This research will address these deficiencies through research in multibiometrics and will investigate ways to design effective safeguards and vulnerability countermeasures,” added Schuckers. “The project will also provide an understanding of the complex relationships among biometric applications, privacy, security and user acceptance, which is essential for informed public policy and system design.”

Schuckers’ work on the project will be in the area of assessing vulnerabilities in biometric devices. “Devices can be tricked using methods like developing fake fingers from plastic or even something as simple as Play-Doh,” she said. “We are looking at ways to integrate software into the devices that will be able to determine whether the sample is coming from a live source. The goal is to make the authentication process as accurate and reliable as possible.”

Schuckers’ project partners include Lawrence Hornak, professor of electrical and computer engineering at West Virginia University and an expert in biometrics; Bojan Cukic, professor of electrical and computer engineering at West Virginia University, who will work on the computer science and database design; Anil Jain, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Michigan State University, who will concentrate on multibiometrics; Lisa Nelson, professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, who will investigate legal and privacy issues; and Michael Schuckers, professor of mathematics at St. Lawrence University and an expert on statistics. This collaboration arose through research performed as part of the Center for Identification Research, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center.

Schuckers joined the faculty of Clarkson in 2002 and currently holds a joint position at Clarkson and West Virginia University. She received her doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1997 and her research is in the area of biometrics.

She was the recipient of the Young Researcher of the Year Award from the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University in 1998 and 1999. She has published nearly a dozen research articles in scientific and peer-reviewed journals. Recent research projects have included a collaborative study funded by the National Institutes of Health that looked at data related to the reliability of a device that monitors infants at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Schuckers is also director of the Biomedical Signal Analysis Laboratory, jointly associated with Clarkson and West Virginia University. Research at the laboratory focuses on processing and interpretation of the signals that arise from the human body. Signals include the electrocardiogram, Doppler measurements of blood flow, biometric signals like fingerprints, pulse oximetry, and respiration. These signals are used to predict and detect various cardiovascular diseases (e.g. sudden cardiac death or heart failure) and to perform identification for security applications/health care. Methods involve classic signal processing, statistical techniques, pattern recognition, algorithm development and evaluation, and image processing.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Associate Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Stephanie C. Schuckers (right) works with Graduate Student Aditya Abhyankar in the Biomedical Signal Analysis Laboratory at Clarkson. Schuckers, an expert in biometrics, the science of using biological properties, such as fingerprints or voice recognition to identify individuals, is a partner in an interdisciplinary collaborative research project that has recently received $3.1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation with support from the Department of Homeland Security.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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