The International Planetarium Society (IPS) is the largest association of planetarium professionals in the world, whose "goal is to share insights and creative work thus becoming better planetarians". Its members come from 50 countries and represent schools, colleges and universities, museums, and public facilities of all sizes.
Donna J. Cox, who is also the Michael Aiken Chair in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, director of Illinois' eDream Institute at NCSA, head of NCSA's Research and Education Directorate, and NCSA Chief Scholar, was recognized for her work leading the AVL team in creating breathtaking data visualizations for numerous documentaries and full dome planetarium shows, including Birth of Planet Earth, Solar Superstorms, and an upcoming production, Atlas of a Changing Earth, to be released in 2021. Many of these productions were created under a grant from the National Science Foundation for the CADENS - Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science - project, which aims to increase digital literacy and inform the general public about computational and data-enabled scientific discovery. AVL also develops visualization software and display technologies.
At the forefront of the art of scientific visualization for more than 35 years, Donna J. Cox was the first to organize an interdisciplinary methodology to address visualization challenges. Always in demand as a speaker at national and global conferences, she also serves on a variety of national panels and has served as Director-at-Large and Experimental Technologies Chair for the SIGGRAPH Conference.
"I was very surprised and humbled to be notified of this award", stated Donna J. Cox. "IPS is a prestigious organisation, and this is an award that IPS rarely gives out. But it's really an honour for the entire AVL team - me, Robert Patterson, Stuart Levy, Kalina Borkiewicz, A.J. Christensen, Jeff Carpenter; we work together to create the stunning visualizations featured in the planetarium shows and documentaries. I owe a great debt to the team that shares in this rare award."
The AVL team frequently collaborates with Spitz Creative Media. Robin Sip, director of show production and content for Evans & Sutherland, Spitz's parent company, was also recognized with an IPS Technology Innovation Award for his innovative use of full dome film as a creative medium.