EVL leaders ready to tackle ‘big data challenges’

Andrew Johnson and Maxine Brown in front of CAVE2, advanced 3-D environment

Andrew Johnson, director of research, and Maxine Brown, director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, at the CAVE2 3-D environment. Photo: Lance Long

UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory, internationally known for advances in computer visualization, virtual-reality display systems and advanced computer networking, has promoted long-time contributors Maxine Brown to director and Andrew Johnson to director of research.

Brown and Johnson played integral roles in key EVL research, including the CAVE2 Hybrid Reality Environment, with its immersive 3D simulations, and the SAGE Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment software, which allows 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,” Brown said.

“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,” Johnson said. “The interesting things happen when everyone is dynamically interacting.”

Peter Nelson, dean of the 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 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.

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 professors Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin, also continue to work with the laboratory.


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