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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2013-14 Harold J. Plous Award

Theodore Kim - Media Arts and Technology program

It is with great pleasure that we announce Dr. Theodore Kim as the recipient of the 2013-14 Harold J. Plous Award. An Assistant Professor in the interdisciplinary Media Arts and Technology (MAT) program, Professor Kim has excelled in the criterion of “demonstrated outstanding performance or promise of performance as measured by creative action.”

The breadth of Dr Kim’s research is impressive and a genuine example of the interdisciplinary approach UC Santa Barbara strives to encourage. His work is highly regarded outside of his field as well as by his peers.

Dr. Kim has recently gained recognition in the motion picture art world by receiving one of the highest awards in this arena, a Scientific and Technical ‘Oscar’ Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (“SciTech Oscars”). This acknowledges the tremendous practical impact of Dr. Kim’s work and brings recognition to the campus.

Dr Kim received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2006 and joined the UC Santa Barbara faculty in 2011. He is known internationally for his fluid simulation research, and in particular for designing an algorithm called “wavelet turbulence,” which allows computer simulations of smoke and fire to be intuitively controlled by artists to achieve an intended visual effect. His algorithm is used in film studios around the world, and has appeared in at least 27 feature films. In 2013 Professor Kim earned the NSF Career award for “Enabling Efficient Non-Linearities in Biomechanical Simulations.” The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards, given in support of the early career development of teacher-scholars deemed most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Dr. Kim demonstrates outstanding student reviews and ESCI scores and has introduced cutting edge courses in MAT. Since arriving at UCSB, Professor Kim has taught a variety of classes that have been consistently highly rated. His redesign of 200C, a core graduate course in the Media Arts and Technology (MAT) Program, has been particularly well received. This course deals with computational methods for media artists, and lies directly at the intersection of art and science.

Dr. Kim has organized UCSB seminars for both academic and industrial guest speakers and has been active in mentoring graduate students, several of whom have already secured highly sought-after internships in the R&D departments of DreamWorks Animation and Pixar Animation Studios. He has served on over a dozen international program committees, and this year, he was appointed as the program co-chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH / Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation. This is both the top specialist conference and the most influential chairmanship available to junior faculty in Dr. Kim’s research area of computer animation.

We are honored to select Dr. Kim as the 2013-2014 Plous award winner. We are proud to call him a colleague.