West Virginia Department of Commerce Lawrence Hornak

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Lawrence Hornak

Lawrence Hornak, Founding Director and current Co-Director, Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) 
Lane Dept of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering 
West Virginia University

Binghamton University, State University of New York, bachelor of science in physics
Stevens Institute of Technology, M.E., electrical engineering
Rutgers University, Ph.D., electrical engineering

Field of Study:
I am co-director of Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR). [A National Science Foundation cooperative research center working with different partnering academic institutions, government entities and corporations, CITeR’s research is focused on biometric systems and credibility assessment.] My primarily work is in integrated optics and photonics and I apply this to biometrics by exploring new sensors. I work with optical sensors and different kinds of cameras that make use of different spectral ranges to improve the performance of biometrics systems and algorithms.

Biometrics based on human physiological features — fingerprints, face, iris, voice — are mainstream. CITeR’s research looks to further improve and understand their performance while combining them with other anatomical and behavioral characteristics such as human shape and gait to provide recognition in a variety of application environments. The Center is focused on physiological and behavior biometrics now; however, exciting new areas include molecular biometrics where DNA or scent is used as an identifier.

Exciting developments:
Some of our most exciting projects involve the effective use of biometrics in a range of different environments such as a busy airport or border crossing or in a military environment.

Many times in security or defense applications you want to be able to identify known wanted individuals within groups, often in challenging environments such as at night. An individual’s identity may not be known, but as the group moves about, human gait and metrology — your body size, the way you walk, and other different types of body measures —  may be used to identify among members within the group. Then when the opportunity arises, other biometrics such as face can be acquired to fix individual identities. In the night environment, this might best be done at different wavelengths: visible, infrared and a range of others. Some of the research we’re doing is to find out what information can be acquired at those wavelengths that would allow identification using metrology, face or iris biometrics.

My life outside the lab:
Originally I’m from upstate New York. I’ve lived in Morgantown since 1991, joining WVU after nine years at Bell Labs in New Jersey. My family and I like to travel and go to the parks. We go up to Terre Alta (in Preston County) to take advantage of the nice environment and nature West Virginia provides. We go hiking at Coopers Rock as it is really nearby. 

West Virginia’s best kept secret is …
WVU. It’s not a secret but has a tremendous amount of research activity and capability. CITeR brings together academics, companies, government agencies and students - the future work force. That creates a tremendous amount of opportunity for research, for defining what the next generation of needs are and then the corresponding products to address those needs. The resulting cooperative environment in this particular area is unrivaled.