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      Electrical & Computer Engineering Fall Seminar Series in Georgetown

      • Electrical & Computer Engineering Fall Seminar Series Photo #1
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      November 6, 2020


      16483 County Seat Highway
      Georgetown, Delaware 19947

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      Electrical & Computer Engineering Fall Seminar Series

      DSS Speaker, Donna J. Cox, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

      Title: Science Communication Through Data Visualization


      Dr. Donna J. Cox directs the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). AVL's unique contribution to the research community is the cinematic presentation of peer-reviewed scientific data. AVL focuses on audiences and developing insightful data visualizations for science communication. The primary goal is to help elicit a deeper understanding about the complexities, interactions, and effects of natural phenomenon. The AVL collaborates with international science teams, science writers, producers, and educators to feature data visualizations as part of integrated non-fiction stories in documentary productions developed for immersive public experiences. Digital fulldome productions, interactive exhibits and 4K streaming television broadcasts feature these compelling virtual tours of time-evolving scientific data. They engage and thrill millions of people within science storytelling contexts. The AVL co-produced successful, internationally-distributed museum shows such as Dynamic Earth and Black Holes: the otherside of Infinity both narrated by Liam Neeson. Hubble3D IMAX film narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and A Beautiful Planet IMAX film narrated by Jennifer Lawrence add to an impressive list of productions where AVL’s data visualizations are showcased. The National Science Foundation (NSF) project, the Centrality of Advanced Digitally Enabled Science (CADENS ACI 1445176) is a successful model for public outreach to diverse audiences with the goal to increase digital literacy and raise public awareness about the significance of computational and digitally enabled science discoveries. The CADENS project enabled a better understanding of audience comprehension of computational science and the impact of data visualizations on the public. Solar Superstorms fulldome show narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and Birth of Planet Earth narrated by Richard Dormer are among the digital fulldome shows developed as part of the CADENS initiative. Current work under NSF and Blue Waters project will premier worldwide in Spring 2021 featuring data visualizations from surveillance satellites from the Arctic and Antarctica. In addition to traveling fulldome shows, CADENS enabled visualizations of flat screen documentaries for international streaming online television. Each of these digital films address important scientific challenges that are relevant to society and appeal to adult audiences. CADENS also enabled behind-the-scenes documentary shorts of scientists and their personal stories. Cox will present a visual feast of scientific visual movies, discuss the science and the design for diverse audiences, and share lessons-learned and technical challenges in the collaborative process of creating data-driven scientific visuals for public outreach.


      Professor Donna J. Cox, MFA, PhD, is the first Michael Aiken Chair, Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL), Associate Director for Research & Education, Director of Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute and Chief Scholar at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a professor in the School of Art and Design and serves as Culture & Society Theme Lead for the Discovery Partner’s Institute as part of the tricampus University of Illinois system. Cox is an internationally acclaimed pioneer in scientific visualization. She’s a designer, writer, and recognized for the art of scientific visualization employing supercomputers. Cox’s work is internationally pivotal in the history of convergence of digital art/science research. She’s best known for defining Renaissance Teams, “where specialists provide a broad spectrum of skills in the quest for discovery” and for her pioneering use of supercomputers. AVL develops advanced technologies including virtual reality for design, insight, discovery, and to captivate the broad public with the stories of science and natural phenomenon. She and her collaborators have thrilled millions around the world with stunning cinematic presentations of data for giant-screen productions, digital museum shows, IMAX movies, and HD/4K and stereo documentaries. She was art director of scientific visualization for the Academy Award nominated IMAX film, Cosmic Voyage, 1997. Under her direction, AVL contributed major scenes to the IMAX film, Hubble 3D which was honored with three giant screen awards for best picture, choreography, and life-long learning, 2010. Cox was celebrated for her team’s unique and inspiring contributions to the film. AVL’s latest popular productions include the Solar Superstorms fulldome documentary narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, 2015. She co-produced The Birth of Planet Earth digital dome production that premiered in Berlin at the Zeiss Planetarium, April 2019. Cox is the lead co-editor and contributor to New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts. 2018. The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry selected her as one of 40 modern-day Leonardo DaVinci’s. In February 2017, the IMERSA (Immersive Media Entertainment Research in Science and Art) international organization awarded Cox with a lifetime achievement award for lasting and positive contributions to the digital dome and big screen community. In March 2018, she received the Illinois Innovation Transfer Award in recognition of work with significant societal impact. The ACM SIGGRAPH awarded Cox with the distinguished lifetime achievement award in digital art and she was inducted into the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy, 2019. Recently, she was honored with the rare International Planetarium Society's 2020 Technology Innovation Award. This is just the eighth time since the society's founding in 1958 that this honor has been bestowed.

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