Media Releases

University of Toronto computer scientist awarded Steacie Prize

December 15, 2010

TORONTO, ON – Aaron Hertzmann, a professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, has been awarded the 2010 Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences – the second consecutive year that a U of T professor has received the prestigious award that recognizes outstanding research carried out in Canada.

Hertzmann is only the second computer scientist to receive the Steacie Prize since the award’s inception in 1964.

“The Steacie Prize is one of the most prestigious forms of recognition possible for a young Canadian scientist,” says Meric S. Gertler, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science.  “Even at this relatively early stage in his career, Professor Hertzmann’s impact on computer graphics research is truly remarkable. I predict we will see many more exciting innovations from him in future.”

Hertzmann is well-known in the field for his influential work linking three separate research areas within computer science – computer graphics, machine learning and computer vision. By focusing on the application of machine-learning techniques and Bayesian methods, he has resolved a wide range of computer graphics problems. These include: computer rendering of images in diverse artistic styles (an area known as non-photorealistic rendering); automated construction of mathematical and computational models of human locomotion for computer animation in film and computer games; estimating the three-dimensional structure of a non-rigid object from a video sequence of that object; and, finding new methods for removing the effects of “camera shake” from photographs in digital photography.

“I am fascinated by the simple tasks that we as humans do easily and unthinkingly, but are extraordinarily difficult for computers,” says Hertzmann. “I especially focus on things with a visual component.”

His collaborations with industry include advising Chris Landreth, an Academy Award-winning animator and director, on cutting-edge non-photorealistic animation methods for the short film “The Spine” (2009) and applying his creativity and skill at Pixar Animation Studios, where he has served as a visiting research scientist.

The Department of Computer Science is very proud of Hertzmann’s accomplishments. Acting Chair Fahiem Bacchus says: “We’re pleased that Aaron’s significant contributions to the field of computer science and beyond are being recognized with such an impressive award. Congratulations Aaron!”

The Steacie Prize, with a value of $10,000, is awarded annually for exceptional research contributions from a scientist or engineer aged 40 or younger. Winners are selected by a panel appointed by the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering in Canada.

Recent University of Toronto recipients of the Steacie Prize include Ray Jayawardhana (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2009), Stephen Scherer (Molecular Genetics, 2003), Jerry Mitrovica (Physics, 2001), Ian Manners (Chemistry, 2000), Lewis Kay (Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, 1999) and Sajeev John (Physics, 1996).

See the video for Optimizing Walking Controllers for Uncertain Inputs and Environments at


For more information, please contact:

Sherry McGratten
Communications & Liaison Officer
Computer Science
University of Toronto

Aaron Hertzmann
Computer Science
University of Toronto