Carolina Cruz-Neira, globally recognized as an international pioneer in the areas of virtual reality and interactive visualization, is the new director of UALR’s George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center (EAC).
On Aug. 27, the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) and Gov. Mike Beebe announced her appointment as one of two new ARA Scholars who will share their knowledge and research to create new paths for the state’s economic success. The first ARA scholar from UALR, Dr. Cruz is also Donaghey Distinguished Professor in Information Science.
UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson said Dr. Cruz brings a new dimension to the EAC that will benefit UALR students, faculty, and the entire state.
“Within five to 10 years, EAC’s vision is that UALR and the Little Rock region will be among the national and international leaders in advanced visualization and interactive technologies,” Dr. Anderson said.
Dr. Cruz said the center was founded to make a positive impact on large and small businesses in Arkansas.
“We’re doing the groundwork at this point to create exciting collaborative endeavors that will bring faculty, students, and industry professionals toward transforming innovative ideas into tangible research and development projects,” she said.
“We live in a global environment in which everything is intertwined. None of us can be an island of knowledge any more. We need to work in teams, partnerships, and collaborations in order to create innovation. Building a good network is key to succeed. We need to know who is best in each area of expertise to form successful teams. It is the only way to truly innovate and make a difference in today’s world.”
She predicts endless opportunities. “As our expertise circle expands, we will be better prepared to become a focus of knowledge and research productivity spanning disciplines from engineering, science, arts and humanities, covering almost every aspect of human life.”
Prior to joining UALR, Dr. Cruz was William Hansen Hall Board of Regents Superchair in Telecommunications, Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the founding CEO of the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise. Last year she was asked to serve on the EAC board.
She succeeds Dr. Mary Good, who was appointed to lead the center when it opened in 2013. Good now serves as special assistant to Dr. Anderson.
The EAC was established through a $5 million gift from the George W. Donaghey Foundation to enable UALR and Arkansas to solve critical problems through research and innovation in virtual reality and interactive visualization.
BusinessWeek magazine named Dr. Cruz a “rising research star” in the next generation of computer science pioneers. She has been inducted as an ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) Computer Pioneer and received the IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award among other national and international recognitions.
She has created and deployed a variety of technologies that have become standard tools in industry, government and academia.
Her work with advanced technologies, driven by simplicity and applicability, provides value to a wide range of disciplines and businesses. She has received multi-million dollar awards from the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Lab, the Department of Energy, and Deere and Company, among others.
Part of her career has been dedicated to transferring research results into daily use. Dr. Cruz has spearheaded several Open Source initiatives to disseminate and grow practical technologies by leading entrepreneurial initiatives to commercialize results. She serves in many international technology boards and government technology advisory committees.
She received a Ph.D. in 1995 and a master’s degree in 1991, both in electrical engineering and computer science (ECCS) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering in 1987 from Universidad Metropolitana.