Innovation Delaware Q&A: Gary Holness, Delaware State University

Gary Holness, Ph.D., started the Laboratory for Intelligent Perceptual Systems at Delaware State University in 2010, shortly after he joined the Department of Computer and Information Sciences as an assistant professor.

The lab’s focus is on research, and its work has included the development of an autonomous wheelchair, a medical monitoring system and a robotic tool for people with autism. Between six and eight graduate and undergraduate students work in the lab at any given time.

We asked Dr. Holness to provide insight on the work being done at the lab.

What’s the goal of the laboratory? Is it to bring products to market?

The lab is focused on research, the investigation of new methods, improvement of existing methods and the design and execution of experiments. Ultimately, our goal is to add to theory and realize the theories in prototypes. I would be thrilled to transfer or help build out the prototypes in some form to market. We have tech transfer goals.

Tell us about your role as director.

In my role as director, my day-to-day activities cover many roles. This includes setting the research direction of the lab, directing the research of lab members, executing on the research objectives, doing some of the research myself, fund-raising, and interfacing with university-wide departments pertaining to such things as procurement and the physical plant and the recruitment, training and motivation of graduate and undergraduate research students.

What parts of your job do you enjoy most?

My reason for a career in science is a natural curiosity and excitement for bringing ideas to life. In many ways, I am still that kid in grade school who gets a thrill from building things and seeing them come to life. I enjoy the process of discovery, understanding and developing the underlying theories, the process of creating prototypes and seeing that same “creativity switch” flip on in my students. That last part is quite a beautiful thing to see. The experience in many respects is like running a startup. There’s never a dull moment.

Describe what type of research the lab does.

Our research concentrates on the investigation, design, algorithmic realization and prototyping of models that endow computing machines and systems with the ability to sense, interpret and act upon the content of their environment.

Anything else you want readers to know about the lab?

The lab is one of many excellent research capabilities in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. There’s a lot of excellent research happening at Delaware State University, so I am thankful for the opportunity to disseminate to Delawareans some of the great things happening at DSU.


This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state’s cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.

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