Donna J. Cox is an American artist and scientist, Michael Aiken Endowded Chair; Professor of Art + Design; Director, Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC); Director, Visualization and Experimental Technologies at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA); and Director, edream (Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute). She is a recognized pioneer in computer art and scientific visualization.
In 1985 she became a Visiting Assistant Professor at UIUC, in 1990 Associate Professor at the School of Art + Design, and in 1992 a Full Professor. In the same period she started as an Adjunct Professor and Research Artist/Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in 1985, became an Associate Director for Education in 1989, Co-Director, Scientific Communications and Media Systems in 1992, Director of the Virtual Director Group in 1997 and Director, Visualization and Experimental Technologies in 2002 and since 2006 Director, Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory at the NCSA. From 1989 to 1996 she was Project Leader/PI, Renaissance Experimental Lab, at the NCSA.
In 2014, Cox received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a team based at NCSA to develop museum shows and science documentaries with visualizations of big data, working with research teams around the world. The project includes an interdisciplinary, creative team of producers, technologists, artists and educators who will collaborate with scientists and researchers across the country to raise public awareness about the Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science (CADENS). The grant will fund three "ultra-high-resolution" digital museum shows that will play around the world, as well as nine high-definition documentaries to be distributed online via YouTube, Hulu and other outlets. The museum shows will premiere at giant-screen, "fulldome" theaters and will be scaled for wider distribution to smaller theaters at museums, planetariums, science centers and universities.
Donna Cox was an Art Director for the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet.
Donna Cox was one of a handful of collaborators on the musical theater work The Demo by composer/performers Mikel Rouse and Ben Neill. This work provides a re-imaging of the classic technology demo given in 1968 by Douglas Engelbart.
Donna Cox has written several articles, chapters in books and papers. A selection: