Alfred O. Hero, John H. Holland Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and R. Jamison and Betty Williams Professor of Engineering, received the 2020 IEEE Fourier Award “for contributions to the foundations of statistical signal processing with applications to distributed sensing and performance benchmarking.”
Hero has been a leader in the development of the theoretical foundations of signal processing for decades. These have been applied to network data analysis, personalized health, multi-modality information fusion, data-driven physical simulation, materials science, dynamic social media, and database indexing and retrieval, among other areas.
In one project, Hero was able to render clinical flow cytometry data more interpretable to pathologists through a method called Fisher Information Non-parametric Embedding (FINE). The FINE method, which has been used at U-M Hospital, pulls out the most relevant information needed to determine prognosis of a disease.
In another example of personalized health and big data, he has investigated individual gene expressions to determine an individual’s relative health as well as their susceptibility to different behavior patterns, such as fatigue or stress. The objective is to determine the genomic and metabolomic factors that lead some people to become sick and others to remain healthy after exposure to viruses.
Hero’s investigation into signal processing for improved imaging ranges from reducing the negative impact of simple camera shake – to developing multispectral unmixing algorithms for satellite remote sensing and quantum limited laser imaging.
An acknowledgment of his stature in the field and abilities as a leader, Hero was named founding co-director of the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) in 2015. He is currently General Co-Chair for the 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, and has served as President of the Signal Processing Society, and as Director of IEEE Division IX, Signals and Applications.
He chairs the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics (CATS). He co-chairs the advisory board of the NSF Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). He co-chaired the NASEM Study on Envisioning Undergraduate Data Science Education Study.
Hero has graduated over 50 doctoral students and mentored over 25 postdocs, many of whom are now in academic positions and prestigious research labs.
His awards include the IEEE Signal Processing Society Society Award, Technical Achievement Award, and Meritorious Service Award, and he was a 2002-2003 Distinguished Lecturer. He co-authored the textbook, Foundations and Applications of Sensor Management and co-edited Big Data Over Networks. He has published more than 600 journal and conference papers and has 4 patents.
The Fourier Award is an IEEE Technical Field Award sponsored by the IEEE Signal Processing Society and the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. He is the 6th individual to receive the award.