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West to discuss innovation at National Academies of Science conference

Associate professor Ruth West will join some of the nation’s most innovative thinkers at a conference sponsored by the National Academies of Science Keck Futures Initiative.

West is just one of about 100 scientists, artists, writers and others selected from a call of applicants to attend the meeting on “Art and Science, Engineering and Medicine Frontier Collaborations: Ideation, Translation and Realization” Nov. 12-14 in Irvine, Calif.

West is also one of only 14 who will present a “creative engagement,” an art-science exhibition. She will show ATLAS in Silico, an interactive installation that displays data from the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition with virtual reality, audio, graphics and full-body interaction.

The conference’s attendees – who were chosen by a selection committee with officials from Harvard and other universities – will discuss how to transform and bring innovation to different areas of science and culture. Participants will work in “seed groups” to brainstorm solutions for large problems, such as creating a caring health care system or bringing physical intuition in a computer-driven society. The conference will also have readings, conversations and tutorials on how to drive innovation.

It’s a perfect fit for West, who works in a variety of disciplines at UNT, including the College of Visual Arts and Design, College of Information and the College of Engineering.

Her piece, “ATLAS in Silico,” also blends disciplines and allows the general public and scientists to experience data in a non-traditional way.

She was inspired to create the artwork when she worked in the same building as researchers collecting and analyzing the GOS data at the University of California at San Diego. She saw a 50-foot-long glass wall with a massive computational cluster – and one tiny sign that explained the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition and its impact.

“And I thought, ‘Wow, that is just amazing that it is changing our understanding of life on earth,’” she said. “It would be beautiful if you could see the data represented and interact with it with your body so it wouldn’t be locked in the computer.”

ATLAS in Silico has now been shown all over the world, and West is excited to present it to her fellow innovative thinkers at the Keck Futures conference.

“I want to make a greater contribution that makes value to others,” she said.

- Jessica DeLeón, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

Posted on: Thu 12 November 2015

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