News

Presented at ACWM grand opening

Credit Penelope M. Carrington / The American Civil War Museum

Dr. Luther gave an invited presentation on Civil War Photo Sleuth at the grand opening celebrations of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, VA, on May 4. He was one of eight Emerging Scholars invited to speak. The museum described the event and program as follows:

On Saturday, May 4, 2019, the American Civil War Museum celebrates the grand opening of its new museum building and exhibits. As part of that program, the ACWM will highlight some of the most interesting work of the next generation of writers, communicators, and thinkers of Civil War era history/public history with a series lightning talks by emerging professionals in their field. Over the winter, ACWM staff reviewed many applications and selected eight individuals in the early phases of their careers who represented a blend of compelling scholarship and communication skills.

You can read more about the grand opening of the museum here.

Received Purdue Outstanding Technology Alumni Award

Dr. Luther (left) with his undergraduate mentor, Prof. Ronald Glotzbach of Purdue University

Dr. Luther was honored with the Outstanding Technology Alumni Award from his alma mater, Purdue Polytechnic Institute (formerly Purdue University’s College of Technology), at an awards event at Purdue University on April 26.

According to the press release, recipients of the Outstanding Technology Alumni Award “have made significant and recognized impacts in their fields, and they remain involved with the Purdue University community.” The university also profiled Dr. Luther’s accomplishments on the college website.

Dr. Luther received his B.S. with highest distinction and departmental honors in computer graphics technology, with a minor in art and design, from Purdue in 2006.

Participated in Intelligence Studies Consortium panel

Dr. Luther joined Prof. Aaron Brantly (VT Political Science), Prof. Chad Levinson (VT Government and International Affairs), and moderator Ms. Christine Callsen (VT Hume Center) on a panel titled, “Social Computing and Its Impact on Intelligence,” at the Emerging Trends: New Tools, Threats and Thinking symposium. The event was sponsored by the National Capital Region Intelligence Studies Consortium (ISC) and held at Marymount University on April 25.

Presented at IUPUI Computer Science Seminar

Dr. Luther gave an invited presentation, titled “Solving Photo Mysteries with Expert-Led Crowdsourcing,” at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Department of Computer & Information Science Seminar on April 19. Here is the abstract for the presentation:

Investigators in domains such as journalism, intelligence analysis, and human rights advocacy frequently analyze photographs of questionable or unknown provenance. These photos can provide invaluable leads and evidence, but even experts must invest significant time in each analysis, with no guarantee of success. Crowdsourcing, with its affordances for scalability and parallelization, has great potential to augment expert performance, but little is known about how crowds might fit into photo analysts’ complex workflows. In this talk, I present my group’s research with two communities: open-source investigators who geolocate and verify social media photos, and antiquarians who identify unknown persons in 19th-century portrait photography. Informed by qualitative studies of current practice, we developed a novel approach, expert-led crowdsourcing, that combines the complementary strengths of experts and crowds to solve photo mysteries. We built two software tools based on this approach, GroundTruth and Photo Sleuth, and evaluated them with real experts. I conclude by discussing some broader takeaways for crowdsourced investigations, sensemaking, and image analysis.

Participated in Return on Creativity panel

Dr. Luther joined Prof. Ben Knapp (VT Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology) and Ms. Natalie Hart (VT Advancement) for a panel titled, “Return on Creativity: From Creativity to Innovation.” The event was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development (AED) and held at the Virginia Tech Research Center-Arlington on April 4. The abstract for the panel was as follows:

For the past seven years, Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) has been pushing the envelope of creative exploration. Through partnerships with all the colleges at Virginia Tech, ICAT has assembled teams of scientists, engineers, artists, and designers to tackle some of the most complex innovation challenges that drive economic development. Join us to hear about the Creativity and Innovation District at Virginia Tech, ICAT’s role within it and the critical importance of human-centered design.

More press for Civil War Photo Sleuth

Courtesy: Matt Gentry/Roanoke Times

Our Civil War Photo Sleuth project continues to attract press and media attention. Here is a roundup of additional articles since the last post:

Best Paper Award at IUI 2019

Dr. Kurt Luther (center) receives the IUI 2019 Best Paper Award from PC co-chairs Oliver Brdiczka (left) and Polo Chau (right). Photo courtesy John Wenskovitch.

Our paper, “Photo Sleuth: Combining Human Expertise and Face Recognition to Identify Historical Portraits,” received the Best Paper Award at IUI 2019 in Los Angeles, CA. This award recognized the best paper among 282 submissions. Congratulations to lead author Vikram Mohanty (CS Ph.D. student), David Thames (CS undergraduate), and Sneha Mehta (CS Ph.D. student).

Presented at Civil War Photo Talks

Courtesy: Kerone Wetter

Dr. Luther gave an invited presentation, titled “Civil War Photo Sleuthing: Past, Present, and Future” at Civil War Photo Talks in Arlington, VA, co-sponsored by Military Images Magazine and Civil War Faces. Other invited speakers included Ann Shumard, National Portrait Gallery; Micah Messenheimer, Library of Congress; Bryan Cheeseboro, National Archives; and Rick Brown, Military Images. The abstract for Dr. Luther’s talk was as follows:

People have struggled to identify unknown soldiers and sailors in Civil War photos since even before the war ended. In this talk, I trace the 150-year history of photo sleuthing, showing how the passage of time has magnified some challenges, but also unlocked exciting new possibilities. I show how technologies like social media, face recognition, and digital archives allow us to solve photo mysteries that have eluded families and researchers for a century and a half.