University of Hawaii Makes Key Innovation Initiative Hire

University of Hawaiʻi
Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, (808) 228-8108
Director of Communications & Outreach, University of Hawaii Innovation Initiative
Posted: Oct 10, 2013

Jason Leigh
Jason Leigh

**links to previous national media coverage below

HONOLULU – In a big boost to the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2), visualization expert Jason Leigh will be joining the Information & Computer Science (ICS) Department at UH Mānoa in Spring 2014.

Leigh is currently a Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL) 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 Hawai‘i 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 EVL. 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 Hawai‘i 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 (C-MORE) and its Director David Karl, and will be expanding on that collaboration once he arrives.

Leigh said,  "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."

Larry Smarr, founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) 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 Hawai‘i'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, ukulele and Samoan language and culture.




NOVA scienceNOW, February 26, 2011,

NSF Science Now, December 20, 2012,

Forbes, February 23, 2012,

New York Times, March 3, 2005,



Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawai‘i is the state’s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 55,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information, visit



The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the community to build a $1-billion annual research enterprise in Hawaii, creating thousands of jobs and a thriving economy.  More information about the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative is available online at