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David Salesin (Via LinkedIn)

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has found a new executive to lead a significant expansion of its Snap Research group: San Francisco-based computer scientist David Salesin, a computer graphics star and former University of Washington professor who has worked at Adobe Research for the past eleven years.

The appointment, which comes as Snap preps for its upcoming IPO, hasn’t been publicly announced by the Venice, Calif.-based company. However, Salesin told friends and colleagues about the move in an email, saying he has left Adobe “after more than eleven very enjoyable and productive years” for “an amazing opportunity to invent the next generation of creative tools” as the new leader of Snap Research.

“We will be carrying out research in computational photography, including augmented and virtual reality, as well as new hardware for imaging and capture; 2D and 3D computer graphics; computer vision; audio; machine learning; natural-language processing; human-computer interaction; information visualization; and more,” wrote Salesin in the email. “Our research is intended to push the boundaries of what is technically possible in all of these domains, thereby allowing the design of ever more compelling products.”

Responding to an inquiry from GeekWire, a Snap representative confirmed that Salesin has joined the company, without providing further details. The previous leader of Snap Research, Jia Li, left Snap to join Google last fall.

Salesin worked as a senior researcher at Microsoft before joining Adobe in 2005, as the founder and director of its Creative Technologies Lab. He said in the email that he would be hiring research scientists and research engineers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Toronto, “and quite possibly many other places around the world as well.”

He added, “I expect the lab to have a profound impact—both internally, for the company and its products; and externally, for the research community at large. Moreover, in the same tradition I established at Adobe, we will be undertaking open collaborations with colleagues, both in academia and other companies, as well as publishing papers in academic conferences like SIGGRAPH, CVPR, NIPS, and UIST.”

Snap established a Seattle engineering center a year ago across from Pike Place Market, and has signed a lease to expand to a larger office space in a downtown Seattle office tower, as reported by GeekWire last month.

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