Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has been chosen as a 2014 “Spotlight Scholar” by the UMass Amherst Research Next website. Spotlight Scholars are UMass Amherst faculty members who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in research, scholarship, or creative activity. Professor Ganz was picked from an exceptional pool of nominees for this award, which honors and recognizes individual faculty members who exemplify the quality and commitment of UMass Amherst academics. Recognition comes with a $500 cash prize, commemorative poster, and publicity. Ganz was also selected recently to receive the College of Engineering 2014 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award. See Spotlight Scholar webpage: http://www.umass.edu/researchnext/spotlight-scholars

Dr. Ganz, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has published over 250 journal and conference papers and received numerous best paper awards. Her research has been supported by multiple federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Ganz is the Director of the Mobile Evolution Laboratory that pursues research in wireless networks and mobile platforms. This research is applied to developing socially responsible systems for the betterment of the world. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of two large projects: PERCEPT and DIORAMA. PERCEPT is a seeing-eye directory for the blind and visually impaired which will provide them with verbal directions, electronic signs, and a virtual information booth for finding their way in indoor environments via a smart-phone application. Recently, she received a $240,000 grant from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to install a prototype in the Arlington Metro Station.

Ganz has also been awarded grants of $400,000 and $1.6 million from the NIH to support research on her life-saving, disaster-management solution known as DIORAMA, an electronic system which can quickly organize chaotic, mass-casualty, disaster scenes, such as airliner, bus, and train wrecks, and cut the evacuation time of survivors in half. (May 2014)