Donna Cox, the director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the U. of I., will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award this week at the eighth annual IMERSA 2017 Summit in Denver. The event creates an opportunity to explore the converging worlds of virtual reality-themed entertainment and immersive cinema.
“Donna Cox stands at the center of some of the best-known and innovative projects available in the immersive community,” said Immersive Media Entertainment, Research, Science and Arts CEO Dan Neafus. “We all owe her and her team a great debt for their significant contributions to the world of full dome film. This honor is truly the highest accolade we can give to someone who has had such a profound impact on our profession.”
Cox is the university’s first Michael Aiken Chair, the director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream) and a professor in the School of Art and Design at the College of Fine and Applied Arts. She is a recognized pioneer in scientific visualization for public outreach and education and the originator of the collaborative model of Renaissance teams and the concept of visaphors – digital metaphors of computational science.
“It humbles me to think of all of the women who have sacrificed before, during and after my career,” Cox said. “This award also makes me think of all those who have enabled women like me to have the opportunity to pursue educational and artistic pursuits through visualization.”
Through public outreach projects, Cox and her collaborators have inspired millions with cinematic virtual tours through astrophysics, earth sciences, engineering and other data domains. AVL’s work is shared through venues such as international digital-dome museum shows, high-definition documentary television programs and IMAX movies. As director of the eDream Institute, she is working with Illinois campus leadership to build a new interdisciplinary academic research and education program that includes visualization and interactive performance.
Recent work from Cox’s AVL team includes “A Beautiful Planet,” which premiered in April. A behind-the-scenes video of the production of that film can be seen here.