Biometrics Basics:

  • Biometric trait: A measurable, physical characteristic or personal behavioral trait used to recognize an individual.
  • Biometric authentication: An automated method of identifying an individual based on biometric traits.

Applications where Biometrics can be used:

  • Identification and verification
  • Access control
  • Authentication

Examples of human traits used for biometric recognition include:

  • Fingerprints
  • Speech
  • Face
  • Retina
  • Iris
  • Handwritten signature
  • Hand geometry
  • Wrist veins and others. 
As the use of biometrics has increased, there has been a parallel expansion in the number of biometric projects at research centers. Biometric technology is also now being included in curricula, either as part of existing courses or as newly created courses. Although initially only available at the graduate level, biometric technology is increasingly becoming a part of undergraduate programs.

LPS helps sponsor the Biometric Consortium. The Biometric Consortium serves as a focal point for research, development, testing, evaluation, and application of biometric-based personal identification/verification technology. The Biometric Consortium organizes a premier biometrics conference every fall. Information about past conferences, current government and standards activity, a bulletin board service, and other biometric resources can be found on the Biometric Consortium Website at

Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) -

CITeR began as a core multi-university faculty group composed of West Virginia University, Michigan State University, Clarkson University, University of Pittsburgh, and St. Lawrence University. This group has collaboratively performed biometrics research since 1998.  CITeR was formally organized under the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center Program in 2000 and received the NSF Center award for funding in December of 2001. LPS researchers were instrumental in the creation of CITeR and remain active members.

CITeR is the only National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) focusing on serving its affiliates in the rapidly growing areas of Biometric Identification and Credibility Assessment Technology.

With over a 25 year track record, the NSF IUCRC Program has developed a winning recipe for the growth of national academic centers organized around identifying and meeting the needs of their affiliates. This web page describes how CITeR is organizing and operates under the IUCRC model to achieve the same goal.

The key to CITeR’s success is the participation of its affiliates. IUCRC’s are unique in that their affiliates become directly involved in all phases of the Center’s research from planning to completion.

CITeR’s scope of research spans the spectrum of physiological biometric identification technologies including traditional algorithms (iris, face, fingerprint, etc.), novel modalities such as recognizing blood vessel patterns in the sclera (or white part of the eye), and multimodal fusion.  It further encompasses practical areas including, but not limited to, biometric systems test and performance evaluation, vulnerability reduction, system level assessment, human identification in non-ideal and surveillance applications.

Undergraduate Programs

In synergy with CITeR, West Virginia University has created the first undergraduate program in biometrics. Students are awarded a bachelor of science in biometric systems. Considered an honors program, the curriculum requires a rigorous cross-section of math, engineering, computer, biology, and systems design courses. Most students in the program are double-majors in biometric systems and electrical engineering or computer science. LPS researchers serve as mentors for the Student Society for the Advancement of Biometrics, a student-led organization at WVU.

Another unique undergraduate educational opportunity in biometrics is available to students at the US Naval Academy. The Midshipmen have the opportunity to take a design course in biometric systems offered through the Electrical Engineering Department. The Academy has established a Biometric Research Laboratory, for both student and faculty use that includes face, iris, and fingerprint recognition systems.

Additionally, exceptionally capable students selected for the Trident Scholars program have the opportunity to conduct an independent research project during their senior year. During each of the last three years, one of the Trident Scholars has chosen a biometric-related research project. In addition to using the resources at the US Naval Academy Biometric Research Laboratory, LPS has hosted interns from West Virginia University and from the US Naval Academy.

For more information on the biometric research program at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, please contact: