ACM SIGGRAPH Practitioners: Research to Practice: Getting There and Back Again

In this session, we will look into topics such as:

  • The research to practice mindset: identifying new opportunities at SIGGRAPH
  • Applying research to practice: going from proof of concept to product: how does one take research into product, and how do researchers get inspired by practice at SIGGRAPH
  • Reflections on career transitions between research and practice: what are the pros/cons, obstacles and lessons learnt about research to get it to development

Session Details
Wednesday, August 9, 2023, 10:00AM - 12:00NN PST
ACM SIGGRAPH Theater, West Hall 501, Los Angeles Convention Center
Find us on the conference program

Intended Audience
This SIGGRAPH Practitioners Conversation is open for professionals of all levels of experience, through the conversations will be primarily focused on product mindset development for early- to mid-career growth and leadership. The discussions will be primarily focused on technical skills development and career journeys.

Open Participation Policy
The SIGGRAPH Practitioner Conversations are informal conversations between the moderator and participants. While we will keep the discussion focused between the presenters on stage, the moderator will open the floor for open discussion with the audience during the latter half of the conversations.

Streaming and Recording Policy
At this point in time, while we are currently negotiating to have equipment for recording, it's likely that we will not be recording the session as the conference has asked us to keep some materials in-person.

The Research to Practice Mindset: Identifying New Opportunities at SIGGRAPH

One of the most exciting prospects about coming to SIGGRAPH as a computing professional is to identify what latest breakthroughs and practices can be used in application. At the same time, it can be difficult to understand and identify emerging opportunities for research to practice that bridge the innovations and insights of research with the realities and constraints of product development. 

In this SIGGRAPH Practitioners conversational panel, we will discuss perspectives, challenges and best practices for identifying applicable emerging computer graphics trends in research and development from speakers with experience in both fields. We will look at how one develops the mindset to process research for practice, and how one can discern the feasibility of taking a given innovation from research to application.


Andrew Glassner, Distinguished Research Scientist at Weta Digital+Unity

Andrew Glassner is a Distinguished Research Scientist at Weta Digital+Unity.Glassner served as Papers Chair of SIGGRAPH '94, Founding Editor of the Journal of Computer Graphics Tools, and Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Graphics. Books he wrote or edited include "Principles of Digital Image Synthesis," "Deep Learning: A Visual Approach," and the "Graphics Gems" series. He has also written and/or directed several short films and animations, three novels, and an only multiplayer murder-mystery game. His most recent screen credit is on "Avatar: The Way of Water."

Andrew hikes, draws, plays jazz piano, and is looking forward to adopting a new dog.

Andrew holds a PhD in Computer Science from UNC Chapel Hill.

Peter Shirley, Vice President of Computer Graphics, Activision

Peter Shirley is a Vice President of Computer Graphics at Activision.   He is a former researcher at NVIDIA, a cofounder two software companies, and was a Professor at Indiana University, Cornell University, and the University of Utah.  He received a BS in Physics from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Illinois.  He is the coauthor of several books on computer graphics and a variety of technical articles.  He is a member of the Siggraph Academy.

Applying Research to Practice: Going from Proof of Concept to Product

One misconception of research and development is that there is a clear roadmap going from applicable research to advanced and eventual commodity products. However, there are often gaps and obstacles that make translating research results into practical, reliable and affordable forms.

In this SIGGRAPH Practitioners conversational panel, we will share experiences, perspectives and challenges for taking applicable research to product. We will talk about best practices for translating research into practical development, how product or business development logistics inform the productization journey, and how to continually iterate and improve the product development process for these cases. Finally, we will discuss how product needs drive further research, and how to minimize the research-product gap that can arise when implementing novel innovations.


Orly Liba, Staff Research Scientist, YouTube

Dr. Orly Liba joined Google Research as a Research Scientist in 2018. During this time she worked on projects such as Night Sight, monocular depth, sky enhancement and Magic Eraser, which launched on the Pixel phone and Google Photos. In June 2023, Dr. Liba joined YouTube to work on video generation and stylization.

She completed her PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford, where her research focused on developing optical and computational tools for Molecular Imaging with Optical Coherence Tomography.

Before moving to California, Orly worked and studied in Israel and served in the technological intelligence unit of the IDF.

Patrick Cozzi, CEO, Cesium

Patrick is the CEO of Cesium, the platform for 3D geospatial visualization

Patrick has authored, edited, or contributed to ten books on computer graphics or games, including 3D Engine Design for Virtual Globes, WebGL Insights, and OpenGL Insights. He taught GPU Programming & Architecture in the graduate computer science program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Patrick is the Co-Chair of the 3D Asset Interoperability group in the Metaverse Standards Forum; a creator or co-creator of multiple industry standards including glTF and 3D Tiles; and co-host of the Building the Open Metaverse podcast supported by Cesium and Epic Games.

He is an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 Greater Philadelphia Award Winner.

What Was Your Experience in Career Transitions for Research and Practice?

In this SIGGRAPH Practitioners conversational panel, we will discuss experiences and perspectives on career transitions between research and practice. Topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Obstacles to overcome while transitioning between the fields;
  • How does someone adapted once they’ve shifted to research or practice;
  • What best practices in development that can help improve research work?
  • What best practices and mindsets from research can help improve research to practice?
  • What did one need to learn about research to get it into my product?
  • What are the pros and deltas of going from research to practice and practice to research?
  • What are some best practices to identify opportunities for transition within one’s company?


Per Christensen, Principal Scientist, Pixar's RenderMan Group

Per Christensen is a principal scientist in Pixar's RenderMan group. His main research interests are efficient ray tracing and global illumination in very complex scenes.  He received an
M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Washington in Seattle.  Before joining Pixar, he worked at Mental Images (now part of NVidia) in Berlin and at Square USA in Honolulu. He has contributed to several generations of Pixar's RenderMan renderer, including the next-gen version, RenderMan XPU.
His movie credits include every Pixar movie since "Finding Nemo", and he has received an Academy Award for his contributions to efficient point-based global illumination and ambient occlusion.

This year he is program co-chair for the DigiPro’23 conference which takes place in LA the day before SIGGRAPH.

Ken Museth, Senior Director, Simulation Technology, NVIDIA

Ken Museth is a senior director in Simulation Technology and joined NVIDIA in early 2020 when he initiated the development of NanoVDB. He was previously Head of Research & Development in Simulations at Weta Digital, focusing on developing state-of-the-art VFX for the Avatar sequels. He is the creator of VDB and the lead architect of OpenVDB, and the chair of its Technical Steering Committee. Additionally, Ken worked six years for SpaceX on large-scale fluid dynamics simulations of the new Raptor rocket engine. Before joining Weta in 2017, he worked for a decade at DreamWorks Animation and Digital Domain, and prior to that for a decade as a researcher and full professor at Caltech and Linkoping University. He holds a PhD in quantum dynamics from Copenhagen University and has been awarded a Technical Achievement Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.