As an assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, Kurt Luther’s classes and labs focus on human-computer interaction and crowdsourcing to support creativity and discovery.
“Our ‘Civil War Photo Sleuth’ website combines crowdsourcing and face recognition technology to identify unknown soldiers in Civil War-era photos,” says Luther. “In just the first month of its launch, the site enabled identification of more than 75 previously unknown Civil War soldier portraits.”
His team’s GroundTruth software helps journalists and other investigators use crowdsourcing to verify or debunk photos and videos posted on social media by geolocating the precise location where the photos or video were taken.
“‘The American Soldier in World War II’ uses crowdsourcing to transcribe the experiences of American GIs,” Luther says. “Users have contributed more than 50,000 transcriptions of 15,000 handwritten surveys.”
Luther says his degree has been fundamental to his success.
“My professors, especially professor Glotzbach, introduced me to the exciting potential of human-computer interaction to improve people’s lives, and equipped me with the technical skills to tap into that potential. I draw on those experiences to instill the same positive experiences with my own students.”
Luther was given the 2017 Career Award from the National Science Foundation and in 2018 was recognized with the Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award from the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Luther is a history buff with a special interest in the American Civil War. He writes a column on Civil War photo sleuthing for Military Images Magazine. He also enjoys hiking and camping, and has visited more than 100 sites within the National Park Service.