Jason Leigh

In a big boost to the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative (HI²), visualization expert Jason Leigh will be joining the information and computer sciences department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in spring 2014.

Leigh is currently a professor of computer science and director of the Electronic Visualization Lab and Software Technologies Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also holds an appointment in the Department of Communication.

“We have identified big data visualization as a critical area in which we need to grow capacity to support the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative and UH’s own research aspirations,” said UH Interim President David Lassner. “Jason is one of the best anywhere, with a proven track record of successful innovation and deep collaboration with leading scientists within his institution and around the world.”

Leigh’s SAGE (Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment) software is the de facto standard for driving ultra-high resolution display walls around the world, which are fast becoming the lenses through which insight and innovation from big data science and engineering collaborations are brought into focus.

His most recent invention, CAVE2, represents the next generation of the highly successful CAVE immersive virtual reality environment that was also developed at the Electronic Visualization Lab. CAVE2 combines the benefits of both scalable-resolution display walls and virtual-reality systems to create a seamless 2D/3D environment that supports both information-rich analysis as well as virtual-reality simulation exploration at a resolution matching human visual acuity.

The timing of a long-intended career move to Hawaiʻi became right with the focus of the new innovation initiative. Leigh has already been working with UH’s Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education and its Director David Karl, and will be expanding on that collaboration once he arrives.

“I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues in the ICS department and throughout the UH system to apply cyberinfrastructure and visualization technologies to improve research and scholarship in support of human insight and understanding,” Leigh said.

Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and chair of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure applauded UH’s hiring of Leigh.

“Jason is a world-class innovator with a remarkable ability to collaborate with his colleagues in academia and industry alike,” Smarr said. “Jason has been extremely helpful to us in San Diego, so I know he will be indispensable to Hawaiʻi’s goal of developing an innovation economy.”

Leigh is a Fellow of the Institute for Health Research and Policy and he has held research appointments at Argonne National Laboratory and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. In addition to his research expertise in large-scale data visualization and virtual reality, his work encompasses high performance networking, human augmentics and video game design. He also enjoys personal interests in Kendo, ʻukulele and Samoan language and culture.

A UH System news release

National media coverage of Jason Leigh