Keynote Address/Award

Bran Ferren Photo Bran Ferren, Executive Vice President for Creative Technology and Research & Development, Walt Disney Imagineering, delivered the SIGGRAPH 97 keynote address.

As head of the Creative Technology Group at WDI, Ferren manages a resource for new technology and creative input for the entire company. In addition to running this group, he has been involved in many new theme park projects, including at Walt Disney World: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The extra TERRORestrial Alien Encounter, Honey I Shrunk the Audience, Innovension, the upcoming new General Motors attraction at EPCOT, and at Disneyland: the Indiana Jones Adventure.

Ferren's keynote address was titled: "Storytelling: The World's Oldest Profession." Regarding the future of the Internet, Ferren stated: "Every time a technology has been introduced that allows one or more people to do better or more compelling storytelling, like language or writing ... or what the computer will be, it has changed the course of our society. It has become a permanent part of our lives, and it has had a startling impact in establishing the kind of step functions that are characteristic of how our society runs. The power of the Internet to reach out and connect people as a storytelling conduit or new storytelling media is going to make it the most important technological invention since the printing press."

At the same session, SIGGRAPH presented two awards:

The 1997 Computer Graphics Achievement Award

The 1997 Steven A. Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions

Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz received the 1997 Computer Graphics Achievement Award for his work pertaining to modeling and visualizing biological structures.

The Computer Graphics Achievement Award is presented annually to recognize a major accomplishment in the state of the art of computer graphics that is significant and apparent.

SIGGRAPH recognized Dr. Prusinkiewicz for making complex natural environments a visible part of computer graphics. As a result of his research, plants can be modeled with unprecedented visual and behavioral fidelity to nature. The impact of Dr. Prusinkiewicz's work will continue to increase as these environments become richer and more realistic.

Currently, Dr. Prusinkiewicz is a professor of computer science at the University of Calgary, an appointment he received in 1991. He began his work on plant modeling as a faculty member at the University of Regina. Dr. Prusinkiewicz has held visiting professorships at Yale University and l'Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. He was also a visiting researcher at the University of Bremen and the Center for Tropical Pest Management in Brisbane.

Dr. Prusinkiewicz's work stands out for its scholarly approach and his collaboration with biologists, horticulturists, theoretical computer scientists, and mathematicians. Based on Dr. Prusinkiewicz's efforts, biologists have initiated international research programs, including a study on the growth of crop plants, the modeling of interactions between plants and insects for crop pest control, and a study of the relationships between plant genetics and the development of plant architecture.

After beginning his computer graphics career in the late 1970's, Dr. Prusinkiewicz introduced a method for visualizing the structure and growth of plants on L-systems by 1986. With the help of his students and collaborators, Professor Prusinkiewicz transformed L-systems, a mathematical theory of development of multicellular organisms, into a powerful programming language for expressing plant models. In addition, these efforts extended the range of phenomena that can be simulated. The significance of this development is illustrated by the wide range of biological structures already modeled. This ranges from algae to wild flowers to gardens and stands of trees competing for light.

Dr. Prusinkiewicz received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science in 1974 and 1978 from the Technical University of Warsaw, where his initial research interests included digital design, fault-tolerant computing, computer arithmetic, and computer music.

James Foley received the 1997 Steven A. Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions for his strong and sustained leadership in computer graphics education and research, and for his dedication to the profession.

The Steven A. Coons Award is presented biannually to recognize major accomplishments and contributions to the field of computer graphics.

SIGGRAPH recognized Dr. Foley for his books, courses, papers, and organizational and professional contributions, which have allowed him to make a broad and lasting impact in the computer graphics field. Dr. Foley was a pioneer and vigorous champion of the science, technology, and art of computer graphics, and remains a leader in his efforts to support and strengthen the computer graphics community.

Currently, Dr. Foley is an executive vice president of Mitsubishi Electric Information Technology Center America and director of MERL -- Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory, a position he was appointed to in 1996. Prior to joining Mitsubishi, Dr. Foley was founding director of the Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center at Georgia Tech.

Dr. Foley has been a driving force in the computer graphics community through his career-long work with user interfaces. While at Georgia Tech, Dr. Foley set the interdisciplinary standard for computer graphics and user interface research. As part of this, Dr. Foley integrated computer science, human factors, cognitive, graphics and multi-media design, and engineering disciplines.

As the lead author of Fundamentals of Computer Graphics and of Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice, Dr. Foley is recognized as an organizer and motivator whose vision helped make these complex and multi-author texts possible. In addition, Dr. Foley has devoted considerable time and effort to help SIGGRAPH evolve into the industry leader it is today. For example, during his tenure as vice chair from 1974-1976, he established SIGGRAPH's annual conferences, including the first one in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1975.

Dr. Foley earned his BS in electrical engineering from Leigh University in 1964 and completed his graduate studies at the University of Michigan in 1969. His interest in computer graphics began when he took a course that led him to choose distributed computing graphics for his Ph.D. topic.