New leaders at Electronic Visualization Lab

Andrew Johnson, EVL director of research and Maxine Brown, EVL director

Andrew Johnson, EVL director of research and Maxine Brown, EVL director. Photo: Lance Long/EVL (click on image for larger size)

The University of Illinois at Chicago Electronic Visualization Laboratory, internationally renowned for developments in computer visualization, virtual-reality display systems and advanced computer networking, has promoted long-time contributors Maxine Brown and Andrew Johnson to director and director of research, respectively.

Brown and Johnson have played integral roles in key research efforts including the development of the CAVE2™ Hybrid Reality Environment, with its immersive three-dimensional simulations, and the SAGE™ Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment software, used to manage the scale and complexity of large datasets, ultra-high-resolution images and animations on tiled display walls, which allow scientists to share information over advanced networks around the world.

“The EVL’s unique synergistic culture encourages scientists, artists and humanists to work together to create new tools and techniques otherwise not possible,” says Brown. “We want to apply EVL’s visualization, computing and networking strengths to the big data’ challenges of the 21st century.”

“We hope to build on EVL’s rich legacy of collaboration, community building, commercialization and scholarship,” said Johnson. “The interesting things happen when everyone is dynamically interacting.”

Peter Nelson, dean of the UIC College of Engineering, says EVL has a global reputation. “But you don’t have to look beyond the campus to see the impact of its technologies on advancing scientific research.”

The EVL collaborates with UIC faculty and students from many disciplines, including art, communications, design, dentistry, environmental sciences, health informatics, mathematics, neuroscience and rehabilitation. The College of Engineering is hiring two new computer science faculty this year in the EVL’s areas of concentration.

Brown, an EVL associate director since 1986, will assume a strategic role in addition to her current responsibilities. Johnson, associate professor in computer science, has been affiliated with EVL since 1995 and will now guide its research, foster interdisciplinary collaborations, and mentor students and staff.

“EVL has always been an engine of innovation,” said collaborator Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a partnership of the University of California’s San Diego and Irvine campuses. “As a long-time early adopter of EVL’s new visualization tools and techniques, which we apply to a wide variety of disciplines, I am delighted to continue working with colleagues Maxine Brown and Andy Johnson at the EVL helm.”

EVL Director Jason Leigh left UIC in December for the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. He will continue to collaborate with EVL. Its founders, emeritus UIC professors Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin, also continue to work with the laboratory.