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ISU geoscientists awarded $320k grant to develop software tools to analyze 3-D data

February 20, 2013
ISU Marketing and Communications

The National Science Foundation has awarded Idaho State University's Department of Geosciences Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory and its research partners a $320,000 grant to develop software tools to make it easier for scientists to analyze point-cloud or 3-D data.

Point-cloud data is rich with information, but cumbersome to analyze with existing tools, said BCAL director, Nancy Glenn, Ph.D.  Scientists want to access that data because it can lead to more effective ways to manage resources, watersheds or plan communities.

The ISU geosciences professor and her research team are collaborating with scientists at Utah State University, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Service, University of California-San Diego, and Arizona State University.  The project will run three years.  As lead institution, ISU will receive $220,000 of the grant money. 

The software tools will be available for free on the NSF-funded OpenTopography supercomputer at the UC-San Diego Supercomputing Center and on Google Code.  The new tools will also give student researchers easier access to point-cloud data.

"We expect that hundreds of new users will employ and benefit from these tools based on the existing user base, enhanced exposure provided by integration into OpenTopography, and the growing ease of acquisition and interest in 3-D point-cloud data," said Glenn.

The grant, awarded in fall 2012, builds on the work of BCAL postdoctoral researcher Rupesh Shrestha, Ph.D.  Over the past three years, he has developed similar tools to help undergraduate and graduate student researchers at multiple universities around the world to analyze 3-D data from LiDAR, a remote-sensing technology that generates 3-D point-cloud data.

For more information, contact Glenn at 208-373-1819 in Boise.



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