The Illinois eDream Institute is dedicated to promoting arts that are conceived, created, and conveyed through digital technologies
conferences & presentations

eDream's commitment to public outreach means sharing our expertise and learning from the expertise of fellow creatives.  The Institute is dedicated to sharing a presence at major conferences as well as local, campus, and virtual events.  We are also glad to serve as a source for recommending people working in digital arts media who might be best able to speak to particular areas of its contemporary theory and practice.

IEEE VIS & VISAP conference October 25-30, 2015

Donna Cox presented the IEEE Vis 2015 keynote presentation entitled, “An Evolving Visual Language: Connecting General Audiences to Science through Data Visualization”. The talk and subsequent panel discussions were part of the broader IEEE VIS 2015, the premier forum for advances in scientific and information visualization.

Siggraph 2015 August 9-13, 2015

At the 2015 ACM Siggraph conference, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, August 9-13, NCSAs Advanced Visualization Lab & eDream will show off their work in a variety of venues and events.

Throughout the week, attendees will be able to view visualization excerpts from our recent digital dome shows, Dynamic Earth & Solar Superstorms as a part of the new VR Village which showcases real-time immersions in virtual and augmented realities.VR Village press release

On Monday, 10 August, from 9:00 am – 11:00 am, Donna Cox & AJ Christensen will help lead a Birds of a Feather session entitled, “Immersive Visualization for Science and Research International”. This session focuses on immersive visualisation systems for science and research. It includes invited speakers and panel discussions on collaborative initiatives in creating open-source visualization and visual-analytics frameworks.

On Wednesday, 12 August, 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Digital Domes: Theaters Without Borders

In this panel, dome specialists present their visions of the future of the digital-dome industry. Topics include: dome shows featuring big data science vs. live-action photography, scaling content across domes, producing live interactive experiences vs. digital playback, and global distribution issues. The panelists demonstrate their own unique productions, including the recent “Solar Superstorms” documentary, in the dome theater at the VR Village.

AJ Christensen
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Donna Cox
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Ed Lantz
Vortex Immersion Media

Ryan Wyatt
Morrison Planetarium and Science Visualization

Brad Thompson
Spitz Creative Media

Wednesday July 29, 2015

Stuart Levy presented visualization excerpts from Solar Superstorms to the attendees of XSEDE2015 held in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday, June 16 & 23, 2015

AVL visualization programmer, Kalina Borkiewicz discusses "Color Design" with the Girls Engaged in Math & Science camp.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Ebert Center @ Illinois: Storytelling Meets Engineering"
Donna Cox was a panelist for the 17th annual Ebertfest film festival, moderated by College of Media Dean, Jan Slater
Illini Union Pine Lounge, 1st Floor

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SXSW: "Astrophysics Goes Hollywood: Cinematic Science"
(event link)

Astronomical observatories like NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes reveal our universe as never before. The amazing visuals they capture and dynamic results from supercomputer simulations, are perfect for large displays. This panel will discuss the art and science of transforming astrophysics data into cinematic movie sequences for NASA press releases, digital planetariums, and IMAX films.


The panelists are
Frank Summers
Outreach Astrophysicist
Space Telescope Science Institute

Donna Cox
Dir, Advanced Visualization Laboratory & eDream
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Robert Hurt
Visualization Scientist
NASA’s Spitzer Science Center/JPL-Caltech

Such projects require ‘Renaissance teams’, fostering a deep collaboration between creative and technical participants. A combination of astrophysics research codes, Hollywood graphics software, and powerful computers are required to go from photons to pixels to voxels to animation. From interpreting the true 3D structure of our own Milky Way to envisioning the titanic collision of two galaxies to creating the spectacular journey into the Orion Nebula in IMAX “Hubble”, each production is guided by both accuracy and aesthetics.

January 27, 2015

"Astral Projections of Big Data for Public Outreach"
The Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois hosts a weekly colloquium during the academic year for invited speakers to discuss current research topics in astronomy and astrophysics.

On January 27, 2015 Dr. Donna Cox described projects and lessons learned in the collaborative process of creating astrophysical scientific visualizations for IMAX movies, fulldome digital museum shows, and television documentaries. She spoke on various production challenges and the software used in creating smooth camera paths for high-resolution, large venue projection systems and rendering large data including Blue Waters. Cox also discussed the artistry required to produce visualizations used in public outreach programs.

This colloquium included 3D stereo time-evolving movies in NCSA’s 4K3D theater , showing excerpts from productions including “Hubble3D” IMAX movie, California Academy of Science’s “Life a Cosmic Story”, “Space Junk” IMAX movie, visualizations with Denver Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and recent tests from “Solar Superstorms”.

November 5, 2014

eDream Director Donna Cox will discuss "Going Big with Visualization" for the 2014 Big Data Summit held November 5, 2014 at the i-Hotel and Conference Center. The panel will be moderated by Deana McDonagh, Designer in Residence at the Research Park. Panelists include: Colleen Bushell from NCSA, Donna Cox from NCSA and Hank Kaczmarski from the Beckman Institute.

August 11, 2014


AVL/eDream team members present their work as part of a Birds of a Feather session at SIGGRAPH 2014 that focuses on immersive visualisation systems for science and research.


The BOF brings together scientific visualisation practitioners from across the Globe in order to share their ideas and work in an informal atmosphere. The Invited speakers and discussion panelists spoke on collaborative initiatives in creating open-source visualisation and visual analytic frameworks, gaps and collaboration opportunities.

April 15, 2014

Donna Cox presents, The Art of Scientific Visualization, as a part of the Workshop on Origami Engineering organized by Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, Glaucio Paulino,

The goal of this workshop is to recruit experts in art, science and engineering to discuss potential application of origami to real world engineering applications. The workshop will consist of brief lectures by all senior participants and will encourage discussion, interaction, and future collaboration.

This event is funded by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. This workshop is held as part of a investigative thrust to explore potential research directions in Origami Engineering.

April 5, 2014



Donna Cox was a featured speaker at the 34th Annual Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar held at the Ramsey Auditorium on the grounds of the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL Saturday, April 5th, 2014.  Dr. Cox shared examples of data-driven visualizations including Hurricane Katrina, tornado formation as well as solar superstorms which impact the weather here on Earth.

The full presentation can be viewed here:
Dr. Donna Cox: ‘Visualizing nature’s most extreme storms’

Don Wuebbles, The Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Illinois and a user of NCSA's Blue Waters supercomputer, gave a talk called "Climate Change is Happening and It’s Affecting Severe Weather."

His presentation can be viewed here: [donald-j-wuebbles]

Tom Skilling’s Annual Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar was created to educate viewers about the dynamics and after-effects of severe weather, and is open to everyone including students from junior high age and older. Skilling created this seminar 34 years ago, along with Brian Smith, currently with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information about this seminar, go to:

December 9-11, 2013



Stuart Levy and AJ Christensen presented a workshop for about 35 researchers from the Cyprus Institute that came from a broad variety of disciplines, but were predominantly either climate scientists or cultural heritage researchers. The three day event was divided between talks and tutorials. Talks ranged from the purpose and philosophy behind scientific visualization to specific examples of well-executed visualizations.

Workshops were taught using the Cyprus Institute's own high resolution stereo 3D display, scientist-focused visualization software like Partiview, Scientific Python, and Paraview, and artist-focused visualization software like Maya, After Effects, and Houdini. Additionally, the team spoke to individuals who were interested in learning the visualization solutions to their own unique datasets.

May 16, 2013

NEA+Smithsonian+NSF-SEAD conference

The NSF-sponsored SEAD network held a series of events on May 16, 2013, co-hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, with a luncheon sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The by-invitation conference and luncheon was held in the Smithsonian Discovery Theater
SEAD will share results and seek feedback from an exploration of challenges and opportunities for transdisciplinary research and creative work, informed by 180 international participants. Next we will consider methods for innovative exchanges supporting cross-disciplinary learning across formal and informal education settings. Partner group XSEAD will then discuss designs for a 21st-century online portal to references and displays of work resulting from transdisciplinary collaboration.

eDream director Donna Cox presented on a panel presenting an overview of XSEAD Initiatives.
Thanassis Rikakis, Donna Cox, Daragh Byrne
Daragh Byrne: overall structure of XSEAD and timetable

Donna Cox: curated section
Aisling Kelliher: work in progress and resources sections

The network for Sciences, Engineering, Arts and Design (SEAD) is a community of advocates who are mindful that progress in the United States and our competitive edge in economic, educational, and social wellbeing rely on forward thinking as well as transformative efforts that span disciplines and domains. We support transdisciplinary, collaborative work integrating sciences, engineering, arts and design, fostering innovation to improve health, education, productivity and community sustainability.

March 28, 2013

"Personalized Medicine and the Challenge of Personalizing Communication”

Colleen Bushell

Colleen Bushell, a researcher in NCSA visual analytics group specializing in information design and software interface development.

In addition to her role at NCSA, she is an eDream fellow and receives funding from the Mayo Clinic – University of Illinois Alliance. Her current interest focuses on the analysis and communication of genetic data and health information for clinical physicians, patients, and scientists. Her research explores the representation of uncertainty, context, probability and methodical inquiry. These concepts and research questions are applicable to other domains of information design. She will discuss challenges in these areas, her design methodology, and specific experiences from past work that guide her approach.

Prior to her current position, Colleen was Director of Product Development and Design at RiverGlass Inc., an NCSA spin-off company that produced text analysis software. While at NCSA from 1986-2004 her work included data visualization for many scientific disciplines; design of the interface for Mosaic, the first Web browser; design of the first web-based office space created for Vice President Al Gore; and co-development of a visual programming interface for NCSA's data mining software. Colleen was also a tenured professor at UIUC in Graphic Design, and received the College of Fine and Applied Arts Outstanding Faculty Award in 1999. 

image strip

November 16, 2012

"The Art of Scientific Visualization”

HCD Food for Thought series

Hurricane Katrina

The Department of Human and Community Development and the Family Resiliency Center invite you to join us for Food for Thought with Dr. Donna Cox, University of Illinois’s first Michael Aiken Chair, Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream), and Professor in the School of Art and Design at the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Dr. Cox will share an in‐depth look at the role of high‐resolution, cinematic, data‐driven scientific visualizations.

October 24, 2012

Jerry Fiddler

Jerry Fiddler, U of I alum, supporter of eDream, and principal of Zygote Ventures, has helped create and grow a number of companies, as CEO, director, chairman, investor, and advisor and gave a talk during NCSA's SPIN event at 4:30 p.m. in the NCSA Auditorium on Oct. 24. Mr. Fiddler discussed his philosophies on innovation and sharing his experiences as an interdisciplinary student.

Mr. Fiddler is the founder of Wind River and was CEO and Chairman for 23 years. After its establishment in 1981 in Fiddler's Berkeley garage, Wind River grew to become the leading provider of device software worldwide, with over $400M in annual sales, and market cap well over $1B. He is now the Chairman of Solazyme, a biotech company working with algae for energy, industrial, and health applications. Solazyme is the first company in the world able to make production quantities of biodiesel and other algal oil products.

Watch Fiddler discuss innovation in this 2010 lecture

NCSA SPIN (Students Pushing Innovation) information

NCSA is looking for Illinois undergraduate students who have big ideas and the creativity, skill, and drive needed to bring them to life. We're offering up to 15 paid innovation fellowships—selected students will work with NCSA mentors during the Spring 2013 semester.

After the SPIN open house, submit your personal fellowship proposal. Selected students will be given office space and support to develop their ideas in collaboration with their NCSA mentors.

Additional opportunities may also be available with NCSA and the Blue Waters project, the Illinois Informatics Institute, eDream, and the Illinois Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science.

Questions? Contact

Key dates

NCSA SPIN event: 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 24 Students' SPIN proposals due: Nov. 9 Selected SPIN fellows notified: first week of December SPIN fellowships begin: Spring semester 2013

SPIN proposal guidelines
SPIN proposal template

October 11, 2012

Chicago Ideas Week Adler Planetarium: Awesome Phenomena in Motion in the World’s Most Advanced Digital Dome
The Adler Planetarium and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois co-host this behind-the-scenes presentation of Deep Space Adventure: The Searcher in the museum’s new Grainger Sky Theater–an ultra-high-resolution, digital projection system. Researchers will demonstrate innovative, jaw-dropping, time-evolving scientific visualizations driven by creative people and computing technologies. Hosted by: Donna Cox, Director, NCSA Advanced Visualization Laboratory.

October 10, 2012

Art: How It Moves
eDream director Donna Cox joins a group of artists, art enthusiasts, and activists to discuss how art is used as a medium for good, a method for inspiring change, or as a symbol of protest. How it can evoke a strong emotional response in many and nothing in others. CIW interprets the impact and influences of art with speakers: Petra Bachmeier, Carter Cleveland, Donna Cox, Phil Hansen, Naomi Natale, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Maida Swenson-Fortune, Tricia Van Eck.

July 25, 2012

21st International Planetarium Society Conference
Panel discussion on "Earth Sciences in a Planetarium Environment"

Planetariums have traditionally been places where the public was taught about the sky and astrophysics in general. Today, the wide adaptation of virtual globes and web map services is contributing to a new understanding of our planet—anyone is now able to compare local maps to satellite views and global imagery. How can planetariums embrace this more detailed view of our planet as part of the universe we regularly offer and how can we gain a leading role stimulating new impulses of earth science literacy among our patrons? Four speakers will present success stories and case studies of geoscience topics in a planetarium or dome:

eDream Associate Director for Production, Robert Patterson will join the panel to present "Earth in Motion—Visualizations for 'Dynamic Earth'"

May 9, 2012

2012 Private Sector Program Annual Meeting
Panel discussion on "BIG Data — What Are the Challenges Just What Is Possible?"

  • Panel Moderator: Rob Pennington, NCSA Chief Technology Officer 
  • Christopher McConnell, GE Global Research
  • Mike Freemon, NCSA Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Project
  • Marie Kostecki, Mayo Clinic
  • Mike Folk, President, The HDF Group
  • Todd Tomashek, NCSA Dark Energy Survey
  • Donna Cox, Director, NCSA Advanced Visualization Lab

February 9, 2012

 The University of Illinois Silicon Valley Round Table cordially invites you to a reception and symposium featuring Vice President and Chancellor Phyllis Wise and speakers Donna Cox, Jerry Fiddler and Gene Robinson. Join us for an inspiring evening highlighting Illinois' leadership in interdisciplinary education.

Interdisciplinary Education: Reinventing Higher Education for the Evolving World

Thursday, February 9, 2012
5:30 PM Cocktail Buffet Reception and Networking
7:00 PM Symposium

Four Seasons Silicon Valley
2050 University Avenue
East Palo Alto, CA
Valet Parking Provided

RSVP by February 2, 2012
svrt@uif.uillinois.eduwith your name and your guest's name as preferred for name tag.
Space is limited. Please reply early.

Participants will include:

Phyllis M. Wise Vice President, University of Illinois, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Donna J. Cox Michael Aiken Chair, Director Illinois eDream Institute, Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Professor, School of Art and Design

Donna Cox will present a variety of interdisciplinary collaborations that cross the boundaries of art-science and provide stunning examples of an emergent field. She will also describe outcomes from the Illinois Innovation Summit and emerging academic models that involve collaborative interdisciplinary research and student-centric, project-based education. The goal of these new approaches is to address global challenges through academic transformation.

Jerry L. Fiddler CEO and Chairman, Wind River, Principal and CEO, Zygote Ventures, Chairman, Solazyme

Higher education should afford students with an opportunity to explore problems that require an interdisciplinary approach to their solutions. Clearly universities must train physicists, doctors, farmers, etc. but we must also develop skills to understand the world in new ways. Some students should be enabled to organize their education around compelling problems, rather than strictly around existing disciplines. Jerry will describe his educational journey and the ways in which he shaped his experiences while on the campus to meet his unique interests and acquired skills to address important problems through both science and the humanities.

Gene E. Robinson Swanlund Chair, Center for Advanced Study Professor of Entomology and Neuroscience, Interim Director, Institute for Genomic Biology

Society’s most compelling challenges and transformative advances in energy, food, health and the environment will increasingly involve the life sciences. The centrality of biological knowledge in all facets of modern life requires that every citizen become “bio-literate.” Gene will discuss how Illinois can distinguish itself and lead the nation as a public university with a novel mandated bio-literacy program for all undergraduates, featuring courses that weave biological information into the fabric of diverse disciplines and drawing upon the activities of new interdisciplinary campus research institutes.

February 6, 2012

"The Art of Scientific Data Visualization for Public Outreach”

Hurricane Katrina dome render

Hurricane Katrina

Donna Cox will present eDream and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) collaborative scientific visualization projects for public outreach and education.  She will provide an overview that includes visualizations for museum shows, IMAX films, and television. These shows include collaborations with the California Academy of Science, IMAX corporation, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (“The Great Flood”) and work in progress on “Dynamic Earth” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

She will focus on the ‘making of’ Hubble 3D IMAX movie where she and her team worked with the IMAX Director, Toni Myers (Blue Planet, Destiny in Space) to develop and choreograph the virtual flights through awesome Hubble data.  The IMAX film is narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and was released April 2010.  It has been translated into more than 14 languages and shown to more than three million people world-wide and won the Giant Screen awards for best film, best cinematography, and best life-long learning.

February 3, 2012

"The MusiVerse Makers: Dreams of Aesthetic Gaming"

Dr. Ben Smith formulates a trajectory through the aesthetics of interaction and gaming as embodied by the MusiVerse, an ongoing research project into the potentials for expression in virtual worlds. This original synthetic environment explores notions of presence, representation, music, and modes of control, instigating a series of projects and public performances staged over the last five years. Developments in human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and real-time animation support this inquiry which seeks to understand the unique expressive affordances of the video game.

4 p.m. in NCSA room #2103

August 20, 2011

Donna Cox gave keynote at the Illinois 4-H State Fair awards ceremony for the Illinois 4H-Film Festival and Map Gallery.  This event hosted by the 4-H SET (Science, Engineering, and Technology) Division, University of Illinois Extension Office and Dr. Lisa bouillion Diaz.

Jury included organizers of the Illinois Route 66 Film Festival

April 28, 2011

Dr. Donna Cox gives keynote to the Women in Computer Science annual banquet.

The WCS Annual Awards Banquet is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Women in Computer Science.
eDream director Donna Cox will give the keynote.

March 31, 2011

Siebel Scholars will be treated to a private viewing of Hubble 3D inside the Navy Pier IMAX theater.

Dr. Donna Cox―Director of the Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory at UIUC; Director or Visualization and Experimental Technologies at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA); and Director, edream (Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute)―will provide an overview of the technical details behind the making of Hubble 3D. 

March 30, 2011

Greenovation as focus: new Illinois opportunities with Informatics PhD and interdisciplinary Centers

Recently, the University of Illinois established a new interdisciplinary Informatics PhD that enables students and faculty to design research that can cross the boundaries of art and science This forum presents this new PhD and other research opportunities at the Center for Transformative Climate Solutions and the Illinois Sustainability Technology Center.

Guy Garnett's Illinois Informatics PhD overview
Don Wuebbles' Challenges in Interdisciplinary Research and Education: Climate and Sustainability
William Bullock's Greening Electronics: Interdisciplinary Education & Research
Workshop Agenda 3-30-11
Workshop Attendee list

December 14 2010

Robert Patterson & Donna Cox, CineGrid Workshop, “Scientific Visualization: domes, large-format, 3D”. 

December 8 2010

Donna Cox to give the keynote at Cyber Infrastructure Days at Purdue University. 

October 27 2010

Donna Cox to serve on a panel on fulldome scientific visualization at IMERSA (Denver, CO: Oct. 26-29). 

September 14-15 2010

Donna Cox participated in a summit between NEA and NSF exploring possibilities for shared funding for cross disciplinary research collaborations in Art and Science (Washington DC).

July 25-29 2010

Donna Cox particpated in a SIGGRAPH panel on Grand Challenges in Education (Los Angeles), organized by Leonardo head Roger Malina.  The panel took up the conversation started in HASTAC founders and leaders David Theo Goldberg and Cathy Davidson's Macarthur Foundation-funded report The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (MIT Press, 2009).

June 21-23 2010

Donna Cox was just one of 120 participants in the National Science Foundation's Broader Impacts for Research and Discovery Summit, held in Washington DC.  The summit produce a new set of review guidlines that will impact Computer Information Science & Engineering (CISE) awards.

April 13 2010

The creative team behind Astral Convertible, including John Toenjes of Dance and Alex Betts of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, presented their work at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Tech Summit.  As Toenjes writes, the performance was "reconstructed, reinspired, reinvented."

April 10-11 2010

Mary Pietrowicz presented two papers on behalf of the Cultural Computing Group and IACAT at CHI 2010 (Atlanta, GA).  "Multimodal Gestural Interaction in Performance," co-authored with Robert E. McGrath, Guy Garnett, and John Toenjes, was presented to the Whole Body Interfaces Workshop.  "A Framework for Enabling Multimodal Gesture Interaction," co-authored with Robert E. McGrath and Guy Garnett, was presented to the Natural User Interfaces Workshop.

April 1 and April 10 2010

eDream Director Donna Cox presented at two TEDx events held on the University of Illinois campus: TEDxUIllinois and TEDxUIUC.  TEDx events are licensed local spinoffs of the international TED phenomenon, which promotes "big ideas worth sharing."

January 2010

Kelly Searsmith, Ph.D., presented "assembly required: transformative arts projects from the trash heap of civilization" at the Pecha Kucha CU @ The Canopy Club.  The presentation argued for the utopian potential for digital arts media projects to reconnect and rehumanize, theorizing specific approaches by which they do so and giving examples drawn from the last decade to the present.  Over 400 people attended.

September 2009

Bob McGrath Ph.D., of NCSA, and Mary Pietrowicz M.S., of IACAT, presented mWORLDS, a research project headed by Roy Campbell Ph.D. and Guy Garnett D.M.A., at SLACTIONS 2009: Research Conference in the Second Life World: "Life, Imagination, and Work Using Metaverse Platforms."  The presentation served as an opportunity to talk through and test technologies that could be used to support the all-virtual HASTAC 2010, which will be led by ICHASS, in April of next year.