News
June 6, 2022
CiTIUS recruits the North American scientist David Glowacki, one of the world leaders in Virtual Reality

CiTIUS recruits the North American scientist David Glowacki, one of the world leaders in Virtual Reality

Born in Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA), the new member of CiTIUS has an extensive scientific career in Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies. Tomorroy Tuesday 7 June he will be presented at the 'GaiásTech' (City of Culture of Galicia).

'Recent developments in VR, computer science, immersive technology, and artificial intelligence make this a particularly exciting time to begin this particular research program, producing new research insights, and developing exciting new ways for enabling the public to engage with various scientific ideas'. With these words, scientist David Glowacki (Milwaukee, 1981) summed up the excitement of starting a new stage of his life in Santiago, where he arrives thanks to the CiTIUS** of the USC and the talent recruitment programme 'Oportunius', promoted by the *Galician Research Agency (*GAIN).

Glowacki will start his career in Santiago by initiating the NANOVR project; an ambitious scientific challenge that has obtained the support of the European Research Council (ERC), through one of its prestigious 'Consolidator Grants' (endowed with almost two million euros).

'I look forward to beginning the ground-breaking research outlined in the NANOVR program, and working closely with a respected network of European collaborators to explore new frontiers in immersive scientific visualization', says the new CiTIUS researcher, who next Tuesday (7 June, 11:00, GaiásTech) will be the protagonist of the official presentation with which CiTIUS research centre will announce this new and important addition of talent.

In addition to the researcher and the center's direction (Senén Barro and Paula López), the event will also be attended by Ms. Patricia Argerey, director of GAIN (Axencia Galega de Innovación), and Mr. Antonio López, rector of the University of Santiago de Compostela.

For the scientific director of the research centre of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), the satisfaction is immense: 'the Xunta, through GAIN, the USC and CiTIUS have made a great effort to promote a line of research with an enormous interest for Galicia, incorporating one of the best researchers in the world in the field of Virtual and Augmented Reality'. 'The potential of the tandem digital reality and Artificial Intelligence is unimaginable, and will expand the world, not only replicate it digitally,' says Senén Barro. The deputy director of the research centre, Paula López, was of the same opinion: 'the recruitment of this researcher and his entire team of collaborators, including a researcher from the USC's distinguished researcher programme, is a great asset for the centre, as it strengthens the AI line in virtual reality', she says.

For his part, David Glowacki does not hide his gratitude to all the institutions involved: 'I would like to express my gratitude to the ERC, CiTIUS, the USC, and Xunta de Galicia for their support, and I look forward to working with them to establish a new research strand in this particular domain'. An objective attuned to his professional career, in which working with scientists from different disciplines has been a constant when exploring the applications of multi-person Virtual Reality, beyond traditional research laboratories. 'I like this research paradigm, with aesthetic enquiry and scientific enquiry locked in mutual dialogue, each pushing one another into new territories', says the researcher.

Excellent track record, promising future

David Glowacki is the founder of a research group called 'Intangible Realities Laboratory' (IRL), which will now be based at the *USC Singular Research Centre on Intelligent Technologies *(CiTIUS). From the heart of USC's Campus Vida, a team of professionals from different areas will strive to carry out open-source research and software development at the immersive frontiers of scientific, aesthetic, computational and technological practice.

Glowacki has worked extensively on the application of Virtual Reality to interactive scientific simulation and visualisation. His scientific contributions attest to his versatility: he has published in fields as diverse as non-equilibrium molecular physics, classical and quantum dynamics, computational biochemistry, human-computer interaction, high-performance computing, computer graphics, evolutionary algorithms, machine learning and data science, digital aesthetics, interactive computational art, religion and power, cultural theory, optics and scientific instrument development.

'I am interested in the aesthetic metaphors that guide the scientific imagination', he continues. 'This is especially important in areas that cannot be seen with the naked eye, where our scientific intuition is guided by the aesthetic representations and metaphors we use to imagine phenomena that would otherwise be invisible,' he explains.

Glowacki's multidisciplinary background goes back to his first steps at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA, where he graduated in 2003. There he had the opportunity to study chemistry, mathematics, philosophy, comparative literature and religions. Subsequently, in 2004, he obtained a master's degree in cultural theory as a Fulbright finalist at the University of Manchester. In 2008, he completed his PhD studies in molecular physics at the University of Leeds. He has received numerous research awards and recognitions, including a Royal Society (UK) research grant, a Philip Leverhulme award, and recently an ERC grant from the European Research Council, among many others. The immersive computational artworks David Glowacki has worked on over the years have been experienced by over 200,000 people on three continents.

Among the artworks to which he has contributed are the award-winning digital art installation 'danceroom Spectroscopy**' **and the performance 'Hidden Fields', which have been installed in various renowned cultural and media venues in Europe, the United States and Asia; such as the Barbican Arts Centre (London), the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Technology (Karlsruhe, Germany), the London 2012 Olympic Games (London, UK), the Stanford University Art Institute (Palo Alto, California) and the Bhutan International Festival (Thimphu, Bhutan), among others.

More recently, the new CiTIUS researcher has been interested in the overlap between subnanometric aesthetics and spiritual aesthetics, which offers a revolutionary new way of visualising the essential nature of matter as energy. An aesthetic paradigm that, in Glowacki's words, 'has proven to be incredibly useful in helping us develop immersive digital experiences, whose potency is comparable to that of psychedelic drugs,' he concludes.