Maria Petrou

Maria Petrou

The recipient of the 2006 BMVA Distinguished Fellowship is Maria Petrou, Professor of Signal Processing and the Head of the Communications and Signal Processing Group in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at Imperial College London.

Maria obtained a BSc in Physics in 1975 from the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki, Greece where at the entrance tests of the university she obtained the top mark amongst 4000 candidates for all Science and Engineering Departments in Greece. She went on to do the Part III, Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge in 1977, continuing there to obtain a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1981. Until the age of 12 Maria had wanted to be an Astronaut, so clearly she settled for an Astronomer instead!

Following academic posts at the Kapodistrian University of Athens and at the University of Oxford and Reading, Maria then spent 17 years at the University of Surrey, from Lecturer through to Professor, moving to her current post at Imperial College recently in 2005. She is a Fellow of IEE, a Fellow of the IAPR, and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. These days Maria describes herself as a Physicist by training, an Engineer by profession and a Mathematician at heart!

Today Maria’s research interests include many topics in Image Processing, Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition and her contributions to these areas have been immense. She has won several million pounds in grants for her research. She has published more than 250 papers with more than 100 in refereed journals. She has written two books on Image Processing: The first one was printed in 1999, reprinted twice since, and translated into Chinese in 2006. The second edition is in preparation. Her second book on Texture was published in 2006. Both books are self-contained and wholly structured around a series of questions and answers.

Like all great scientists, Maria is not just consumed with research and she loves teaching. In fact, she has loved teaching from an early age, starting professionally at 15, tutoring pupils and students in maths. Her first fee was 50 cents an hour. At some stage, while at University, she used to teach arithmetic to a 7 year old, crystallography to her fellow students, and Ancient Greek to a 16 year old! Once she even taught Trigonometry to a 16 year old Arab student, using an Arab text, without her knowing Arabic (and the student good English)! Even the Q and A style of her two books are testament to her love of teaching in an easily communicative, no nonsense fashion.

Maria has served the national and international vision community through her tireless participation for many years. She has been IAPR Newsletter editor for 5 years, IAPR treasurer for 4, BMVA Chairman for 3, BMVA/EPSRC Summer School Organiser for 5, plus numerous other activities, like member of the GB of IAPR and member of the Executive Committee of the BMVA for several years, and several editorships and editorial boards of journals. Most recently she became a trustee of IET. She has supervised 36 PhD theses to successful completion and she has examined nearly 100.

The BMVA is proud to award a Distinguished Fellowship to such an inspiring colleague…Professor Maria Petrou.