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NCSA wins best visualization award at Supercomputing ’17

Director, Donna Cox of the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois took home the Best Scientific Visualization and Data Analytics Showcase Award at SC 17 in Denver. The visualizations were created by Donna Cox, Robert Patterson, Stuart A. Levy, Jeffrey D. Carpenter, AJ Christensen and Kalina M. Borkiewicz. The scientific simulation was run on the Blue Waters supercomputer by Michael Norman & Hao Xu, UC San Diego; Brian O’Shea, Michigan State U.; John Wise, Georgia Tech; Kyungjin Ahn, Chosun U.

The winner, “First Light in Renaissance Simulation: Formation of the Very First Galaxies in the Universe” is a two-part visualization that begins shortly after the Big Bang, and richly details simulations of the the evolution of the first galaxies in the universe over the first 400 million years, in increments of about 4 million years. The second part of the visualization tours the universe at the 400 million year mark, showing a combination of selected variables from the simulation. Each of the variables are also highlighted independently to show the anatomy of the early universe, including neutral hydrogen, ionized hydrogen, ionizing radiation and stars, heated gas, and heavy elements from supernova.

“First Light in Renaissance Simulation: Formation of the Very First Galaxies in the Universe” was featured in the documentary, Seeing the Beginning of Time directed by Thomas Lucas and was partially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the CADENS grant. Cox and her team dominated the category of Best Scientific Visualization and Data Analytics by securing the second place with the “Milky Way Analogue Isolated Disk Galaxy.” This visualization details the evolution of a simulated analogue for the Milky Way galaxy over the course of 50 million years.

Donna J. Cox, MFA, PhD, is the University of Illinois’s first Michael Aiken Chair, 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. She is the Associate Director for Research and Education at NCSA, and is a recognized pioneer in scientific visualization for public outreach and education and originator of the collaborative model of Renaissance Teams and the concept of visaphors (digital metaphors of computational science).

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry selected Dr. Cox as one of 40 modern Leonardo DaVinci’s. As Director of eDream Institute, she is working with Illinois campus leadership to build a new interdisciplinary academic research and education program that includes visualization and interactive performance.

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