Research Spotlight: Jian Jun Zhang


Please introduce yourself?

I am Professor Jian Jun Zhang. I am the director of the computer animation research centre within the Faculty of Media and Communication.

What are your main research interests?

My main research interests are primarily computer graphics and computer animation. Basically we develop techniques for computer graphics, either in terms of the theory or in terms of its applications. We use computer programming technology, mathematics or physics to develop applications or different technologies in that area.

What led you to become interested in this field of research?

My background was engineering which is what I did my first degree in, then I did a masters and PHD. But during this period I started to use my engineering background and combined it with the current computer technology, which led me to begin my study in areas like geometric modelling, computer aided design and that was 20 years ago. Then I started to move to a new area which was computer graphics and eventually moved onto computer animation. Computer graphic and animation research is based upon the understanding of visualisation, but you also need a strong handle on mathematics, computer programming and physics. I feel that my background equipped me with essential knowledge in these key areas, although it was a lot for me to learn, I think this area has a lot of potential applications which is why it keeps me interested.

 What research are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on new novel technologies and theoretical findings in the area of computer animation and graphics. We are trying to look at the applications of this subject area, for example computer gaming, medical visualisation and simulation, psychological studies using visualisation and virtual reality technology.

What’s the biggest challenge when carrying out your research?

I can see there are a lot of challenges but also a lot of opportunities for us to develop new understandings and insight into this research. What I find the most challenging is that I don’t have enough time. There are a lot of things I want to do, a lot of things that interest me, but I simply don’t have enough time.

What advice would you give a researcher starting in your field?

A researcher starting in this field should first of all understand that this is a relatively new area, but would require a solid foundation of mathematics and computing programming skills. It has got a lot of potentials, for example, we have been talking about computer animation, this is a subject which combines art with science and uses the cutting edge technology which is exciting for us as researchers as the work we do contributes to the next generation of hardware and software. Being in the creative sector, this industry has contributed a lot to the economy and has grown massively thanks to technological advances. There are many opportunities for researchers.

You can find out more about Jain’s work here.

If you are looking to find out more information about the CDE, it can be found here.