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NCSA’s Donna Cox receiving lifetime achievement award, induction into ACM SIGGRAPH Academy

The prolific Donna Cox, Director of NCSA‘s Advanced Visualization Lab, will be honored at this week’s SIGGRAPH conference for her work throughout her career. Cox has been at the forefront of digital visualization, director of various films, and so much more. You can read more about her below, as well as what she will be receiving this week.

From NCSA’s release:

NCSA’s Donna J. Cox to be honored at SIGGRAPH 2019

Donna Cox, Director of NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Lab, will receive a lifetime achievement award and induction into the Academy at the SIGGRAPH conference for her groundbreaking work visualizing science and contributions to computer graphics.

Donna Cox, Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and Professor in Illinois’ School of Art and Design, College of Fine and Applied Arts, will be receiving the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art at SIGGRAPH 2019 next week. She will also be inducted into the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy, which was inaugurated last year and recognizes individuals whose work is influential and has a direct impact on the field as proven through the development of new research or innovations in computer graphics and interactive techniques.

SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques), now in its 46th year, is the worldwide leading conference on computer graphics and is hosted by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). This year’s conference will take place in Los Angeles, CA., and will feature graphics experts in everything from modeling and simulation to motion capture and scientific visualization.

Cox, who has long been on the cutting edge of jaw-dropping visualizations, is set to be honored for a lifetime of innovation, including work with AVL, where she and her team have created visualizations for museums, exhibits and even feature films. Through her work, Cox has cemented Scientific Visualization as not only something that inspires awe but also has great educational and research utility.

A collage of the work produced by NCSA AVL and Donna Cox, 1983-Present.

“This is one of the greatest honors and I am very appreciative to my AVL team, NCSA and the University who have helped make this possible,” said Cox.

“I’ve been participating in the SIGGRAPH Conference since 1984 and watched it grow to over 35,000 attendees at one point. SIGGRAPH represents the premier conference for the international community of interdisciplinary researchers using computer graphics,” continued Cox. “I am especially honored because the SIGGRAPH represents my ‘tribe’ in the field and includes important mentors, students, and academic colleagues throughout my life.”

Cox will receive her award during the award ceremony on Monday, July 29th, starting at 9:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Central, and will be presenting at the awards presentations at 3:45 – 5:15 PM PST. A live stream of the presentation will be available on Youtube and Facebook Live.

Watch the 360 trailer for Birth of Planet Earth here.

In addition to Cox’s award, the NCSA AVL will also be presenting an excerpt of their full-dome show Birth of Planet Earth at SIGGRAPH 2019 as part of Microsoft’s Electronic Theatre showcase. The film will screen on Monday, July 29th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM PST, and will feature a visualized journey through the formation of our planet and the delicately connected web that allowed life to flourish here.

In addition to the screening, AVL will be leading a full-day visualization course, a Diversity & Inclusion panel, and a 12-woman Special Session on “Untold HERstories: an homage to SIGGRAPH” from New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts (ed. Cox, Sandor, Fron, 2018, UI Press). Information on all of those events can be found in the Advanced Program Guide.

Find a description of Cox’s award, as well as the award criteria, below:


The Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art

The Distinguished Artist Award is presented annually to an artist who has created a substantial and important body of work that significantly advances aesthetic content in the field of digital art. ACM SIGGRAPH members are invited to nominate individuals for the Distinguished Artist Award by contacting the Artist Award Chair by December 15 each year. Nominations should include as much information about the nominee as possible, specifically:


  • The artist has been contributing internationally to the digital arts for more than 20 years.
  • The artist has produced important work(s) referenced in digital art history/theory papers/books.
  • The artist has established an unexplored area in the field of digital art/media art.
  • The artist has been advancing the use of digital technologies in creative expression.
  • The artist has contributed to the history and/or theory and/or practice of digital art through writing and presentations at conferences and symposia.

Top photo provided by NCSA

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