Akane Sano, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Rice, has been awarded the 2021-22 Young Faculty Research Award
The award is given annually to an assistant or associate professor whose published work, program development results, software and other research contributions are judged outstanding.
The award is in recognition of the culmination of Sano’s achievements in 2021. This includes the NSF Career Award, the Best of IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, the 3rd International Conference on Activity and Behavior Computing Best Paper Award, and the NIH Research Career Development Award (K25).
Sano works on developing tools, algorithms and systems to measure physiological, biological and behavioral data. The data is collected from mobile and wearable sensors, devices that can be used in daily life and in clinical assessments. The goal is to provide a way to measure, predict and improve clinical outcomes in areas related to stress, mental health, sleep and performance.
Akane’s research focuses on developing data-science methods and tools, and human-centered computing technologies for health and wellbeing. This is considered the next research frontier in health sciences and engineering, and requires a bold multi-disciplinary approach. Akane has emerged a leader in defining and pushing that frontier, said Ashutosh Sabharwal, professor and chair of ECE.
Sano joined the Rice faculty in 2018. She earned her B.S. and M.S. at Keio University in Japan and her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining Rice, she served as a research scientist in the Affective Computing Group at MIT Media Lab, and as visiting scientist and lecturer at People-Aware Computing Lab at Cornell University.
Before her move to the U.S., Sano was a researcher and engineer at Sony Corporation, where she focused on wearable computing, intelligent systems, and human/computer interaction.
In 2020 she was the recipient of the Sony Faculty Innovation Award and the Microsoft Pandemic Preparedness Award. Sano directs the Computational Wellbeing Group and is a member of Scalable Health Labs.