Abbreviated Vita
Last update March 2008


Professor Donna J. Cox

Michael Aiken Chair


1/09                            Director, eDREAM Institute

3/08                            Michael Aiken Chair, March 2008

2/02 … Present         Director, Advanced Visualization Laboratory,

National Center for Supercomputing Applications

8/00 … 2/02               Special Projects, Research Artist/Scientist, NCSA

1/99 ...  8/00               Chair External Initiatives, MNC, School of Art & Design

8/97 … 8/00               Director, Virtual Director Group, NCSA

8/92 ...  Present         Professor, School of Art & Design, UIUC

8/90 ...  8/99               Associate Director for Technologies, School of Art & Design, UIUC

3/92 ...  8/93               Co-Director, Scientific Communications and Media Systems, NCSA

8/90 ...  8/92               Associate Professor, School of Art & Design, UIUC

8/89 ...  3/92               Associate Director for Education, NCSA

1/89 ...  8/96               Project Leader/PI, Renaissance Experimental Lab

6/85 ...  8/89               Adjunct Professor and Research Artist/Scientist, NCSA

8/85 ...  8/88               Visiting Assistant Professor, UIUC

8/85                            Master of Fine Arts (terminal degree) in Computer Graphics Arts,

University of Wisconsin-Madison

8/82                            Bachelor of Art University of Wisconsin-Madison


Honors, Recognitions, and Outstanding Achievements

Michael Aiken Endowed Chair, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008

Recent award:  selected as modern-day Leonardo



        Cox received the international Coler-Maxwell Award for Excellence 1989 granted by the Leonardo International Society in Arts Science and Technology for her seminal paper that coined the term “Renaissance Teams.” She describes “Renaissance Teams” as interdisciplinary groups of experts collaborating to solve problems in supercomputing visualizations and has been responsible for the organization of these teams for more than 20 years of collaborative work in visualization.  She has authored papers on scientific visualization, computer graphics, information design, education, and critical theory.


      Cox is a recognized international keynote speaker at events in countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Finland, Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, UK, Wales, and Italy.  Inviting institutions include MIT, Princeton, ATR in Japan, Kodak, Motorola, Eli Lilly, and the National Library of Medicine.  She was a keynote speaker for EDUCOM in 1990 and has been a Distinguished Lecturer at the T.J. Watson Research Center in NY.  Her collaborative work has been cited, reviewed, or published in over 100 publications including Newsweek, TIME, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Science News, New York Times, The Scientist, The Chronicle of Higher Education, EDUCOM, Cinescape, IEEE Communications Magazine, Computer Graphics World, and Discover magazine.  She has exhibited computer art and digital animations in international invited and juried exhibitions, including a one-woman show at the Arts in the Academy, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington D.C.  Over the years, Cox has appeared in numerous television programs including "Good Morning America," and PBS 7-part educational series “Life by Numbers.”  She was featured in the National Library of Medicine’s 2001 exhibit, "The Once and Future Web."  Her most famous collaborative works include the first visualization of the NSFnet, “A Visualization Study of Network Growth & Traffic From 1986 to 1992” which has become an icon of the early internet.  She was Associate Producer for Scientific Visualization and Art Director for the PIXAR/NCSA segment of the IMAX science education movie, “Cosmic Voyage,” nominated for 1997 Academy Award in documentary short subject category.  "Cosmic Voyage" was funded by National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institute, the Motorola Foundation, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM).  In 2000, Cox and two co-creators received a U.S. patent for a “Virtual Reality 3D Interface System for Data Creation, Viewing and Editing” as a result of new technology developed during the making of “Cosmic Voyage.”


            Recent projects include supercomputer visualizations for the digital planetaria shows.  She collaborated with Hayden Planetarium at American Museum of Natural History in New York City on two space shows: “Passport to the Universe” premiering at the millennium and "Search for Life" in 2002.  In June 2002, the Discovery Channel Program, "Unfolding Universe," premiered over seventeen scenes of scientific visualizations produced by Cox and her collaborators.   Her team developed data-driven scientific visualizations for HDTV NOVA/WGBH show, "Runaway Universe," receiving the 2002 Golden Camera, International Film and Video Festival award. At Supercomputing 2002, Cox led the NCSA Experimental Technology team to develop an integrated system to track technical program volunteers at the Baltimore Convention Center, to provide services, and to visualize their results.  IntelliBadge™ was funded by IEEE, SC02, ACM, NCSA, and JVC.


            Cox participated in National Research Council (NRC) commissions and policy making committees including the National Research Council Committee on Modeling and Simulation: Opportunities for Collaboration among the Department of Defense and Entertainment Industry.  She contributed to the 2003 NRC report:  “Beyond Productivity:  Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity,” National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.  Cox was elected as a council member of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) Strategic Council and currently serves on the Editorial Board for Leonardo (International Journal for Art, Technology and Science).  She was a juror on the National Science Foundation’s Visualization Challenge, June 2003-2005. Cox’s current projects include visualization of atmospheric scientific simulations for the high-definition PBS NOVA television program, “Search for the Supertwister,” to premiered March 2004.  Her current research has led to several papers and book chapters that include “Visual Metaphors and the Art of Scientific Visualization” in Aesthetic Computing and “Visualization in the Life Sciences” in Databasing the Brain:  Data to Knowledge (Neuroinformatics).  Cox is producer and art director for digital planetarium show, “Black Holes:  The Other Side of Infinity” premiering January 31, 2006 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.   She is doing advanced research under the (Science Technology Art Research) STAR under the Planetary Collegium program, at the University of Plymouth, UK. She is currently collaborating to produce “Monster of the Milky Way” HDTV episode of the PBS television series NOVA.  Her work is appearing in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, Leonardo da Vinci:  Man, Inventor, Genius exhibition, April 14 and September 4, 2006.  Cox recently participated in “Fragile Planet”, California Academy of Sciences; and the Adler Planetarium show, “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System,” 2009.


See Awards Page

(abbreviated vita revised Jan 2009)