Felix Heide awarded 2022 Packard Fellowship for early-career scientists and engineers

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced that Felix Heide is one of 20 researchers to receive a Packard Fellowship, targeted to innovative, early-career scientists and engineers.


Felix Heide

Heide, assistant professor of computer science at Princeton University, works on computational imaging and computer vision. Heide’s lab is using artificial intelligence to create a new kind of camera that can analyze and perform computation on a scene before an image is captured. His approach departs from today’s cameras, which work in the same way they did in the 19th century, with optical lenses recording images and any analysis performed after an image is captured. This research is a continuation of Heide’s recent work on ultracompact cameras, with a goal of creating a new kind of thin, power-free optical computer inside camera lenses.

“Felix Heide's ground-breaking research gives computers super-human vision, through cameras that are simultaneously smart, small and low-power,” said Jennifer Rexford, Princeton’s Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering and chair of the computer science department. “The practical applications are immense, from self-driving cars that can look around corners and see through dense fog, to future telescopes that can look deeper into the vast unknown.”

The Packard Foundation awards fellows $875,000 over five years to pursue their research. The fellowship is designed to encourage innovative, blue-sky thinking by providing unrestricted funds. Former fellows have gone on to receive the highest accolades, including Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals, Alan T. Waterman Awards and Breakthrough Prizes.

a tiny camera perched on a fingertip alonside an enlarged illustration

In recent work on ultracompact cameras, Princeton’s Felix Heide helped develop a camera the size of a coarse grain of salt. The system relies on a technology called a metasurface, which is studded with 1.6 million cylindrical posts and can be produced much like a computer chip.

"The Packard Fellowship is so important — it's one of the nation's largest non-governmental fellowships, and it's fully unrestricted,” said Celeste Nelson, Princeton’s Wilke Family Professor in Bioengineering and professor of chemical and biological engineering. Nelson received a Packard Fellowship in 2008 and recently joined the fellowship’s advisory panel.

Heide joined the Princeton faculty in the spring of 2020, after completing postdoctoral research at Stanford University, doctoral work at the University of British Columbia and an M.Sc. from the University of Siegen in Germany. His doctoral dissertation won the Alain Fournier Dissertation Award and the SIGGRAPH Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award.

His work has also been recognized by the National Science Foundation CAREER award, the Sony Faculty Innovation Award, the AutoSens Young Engineer of the Year Award and the Sensors Expo Rising Star Award. He is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Algolux.