McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University

Faculty Directory

Oliver S. Cossairt

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Lisa Wissner-Slivka and Benjamin Slivka Junior Professor in Computer Science

2145 Sheridan Road


Evanston, IL 60208-3109

oliver.cossairt( at )


Ph.D. Computer Science, Columbia University, New York City, NY

M.S. Media Arts and Sciences, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA

B.S. Physics, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Research Interests

My research is in the emerging field of computational imaging, which combines expertise in optics, image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics. I design, model and build systems that combine sensors, displays, and novel optical elements. These cameras have applications in medical, astronomical, and scientific imaging. I am building a new breed of cameras with increased functionality and performance. I believe that my research will impact the way cameras are built in coming decades, from low-end consumer cameras to high-end scientific instruments.

I am fascinated with the idea that cameras can be very finely tuned towards specific purposes, and that doing so can be an excellent way to capture specific visual information. We can place the camera at the center of a larger visual processing system whose purpose is to analyze and interpret visual information. As such, the camera cannot be designed without keeping the entire system in mind.

I am particularly interested in developing imaging and display systems that combine a creative use of optical devices and sensor technology to enable new functionality in cameras and displays. My research is focused in the following areas: 

  • Computational Imaging for leveraging novel optical designs and image processing together to enable new capabilities in conventional cameras, such as extended depth-of-field, digital refocusing, super-resolution, and measuring high dimensional appearance.
  • Computer Vision for measuring depth or spectral characteristics that inform a higher-level understanding about a scene, such as geometry or material properties.
  • Computational Displays for displaying images with an unprecedented sense of realism by allowing viewers to observe the appearance of objects in a natural and intuitive manner.

Selected Publications

McCormick School of Engineering Home | McCormick Chinese (中文网站) | Contact Us | Maps
Northwestern Home | Northwestern Calendar | Emergency Plan | Legal and Policy Statements
© 2014 Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University