UMKC School of Computing and Engineering professor receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Daniel Leon-Salas researching hybrid energy-harvesting image sensors

Daniel Leon-Salas, an assistant professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award to support his research on hybrid energy-harvesting image sensors.

Digital cameras use millions of pixels to capture images, but about 90 percent of those pixels are discarded when images are compressed and stored in memory. Through Leon-Salas’ image-sensing paradigm, 90 percent of a camera’s pixels could generate solar energy for the camera instead. Depending on the environmental conditions, the camera could reconfigure its pixels to generate solar energy or to act as light sensors that optimize the balance between image quality and energy consumption.

“The pixels can harvest ambient energy and, thus, can operate unattended for extended periods of time,” Leon-Salas said. “This type of camera will be useful in scenarios where replacing the batteries is very costly or even impossible – for example, space exploration or surveillance.”

The NSF CAREER Award also will support outreach activities, including a design competition and a workshop for middle- and high-school students. In the workshop, students will learn about electronic circuits and renewable energy.

NSF’s CAREER Program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

In addition to Leon-Salas, two other SCE professors have received NSF CAREER Awards in the past several years. Ganesh Thiagarajan, an associate professor and director of Graduate Studies for Civil Engineering, received an award (2008-2013) to investigate the response of reinforced concrete structures to blast and impact loadings. Cory Beard, an associate professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, received an award (2002-2007) to develop and investigate mechanisms for supporting emergency and high-revenue Internet users, differentiated services-capable networks and networks that use connection-oriented mechanisms.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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