David Glowacki (that’s me) is originally from Milwaukee. When I was at university, people called me “Glowacki from Milwaukee”. I study all kinds of things, and sometimes even manage to connect a few dots. I have appointments as a Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, and as a visiting scholar at Stanford. I head up an eclectic academic research group between the Centre for Computational Chemistry and the Department of Computer Science. I am an academic staff member of the EPRSC funded doctoral training centre for Theory and Modelling in the Chemical Sciences. I am a resident at Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio, a digital research lab that brings together artists, engineers, and scientists to work on all manner of crazy projects. I am also a founder and scientific consultant for a Bristol-based tech startup company called interactive Scientific Ltd. (iSci), who specialize in developing interactive apps and collaborative virtual reality platforms for molecular simulation and scientific education.
I graduated from UPenn in 2003, where I obtained an undergraduate degree in chemistry, and did significant coursework in lots of other subjects – mathematics, philosophy, comparative literature, and religions. In 2004 I obtained an MA in cultural theory at the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures at the University of Manchester (UK). I completed my PhD in physical chemistry at Leeds University (UK) in 2008. After four years as a post-doc in Bristol, I was awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship and tenured faculty position in 2013.
I have published in several domains: non-equilibrium molecular physics, classical & quantum dynamics, biochemistry, digital aesthetics, interactive art, human-computer interaction, high-performance computing & algorithm development, evolutionary algorithms, religion & power, cultural theory, atmospheric physics, optics, and scientific instrument development. Two of my better known interdisciplinary projects include the multi-award winning ‘danceroom Spectroscopy’ digital art installation and the ‘Hidden Fields‘ dance performance. Since 2011, these have been experienced by well over 200,000 people across Europe, the USA, and Asia – featured at a number of prestigious venues like the Barbican Arts Centre (London), the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Technology (Karlsruhe, Germany), the London 2012 Olympics (London, UK), the Stanford University Art Institute (Palo Alto, California), the Bhutan International Festival (Thimphu, Bhutan), and all sorts of others. Digital aesthetics isn’t the only art form I explore; sometimes I design altogether different types of performance art experiments…
Over the years, I’ve become increasingly interested what I call ‘the aesthetics of scientific imagination’ – i.e., the “design” decisions entailed in scientific visualization. This is particularly important in domains which cannot be seen with the naked eye, because our scientific intuition is guided by the aesthetic representations we use to imagine phenomena which are otherwise invisible. In fact I would almost go so far to claim that imagery is the reality in these domains, profoundly impacting how we communicate these ‘realities’, in both research & educational contexts. Over the last few years, my group’s work in digital art has in fact driven a range of scientific research outcomes – e.g., the algorithms we’ve designed to make artworks have been fast enough to accelerate our molecular research. I like this research paradigm, with aesthetic enquiry and scientific enquiry locked in mutual dialogue, each pushing one another into new territories.