04 February 2020

Ben Shedd, winner of several awards for his scientific films for dome cinemas, is LiU’s first guest professor in visual scientific communication. The guest professorship has been financed by a donation from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

A portrait of Ben Shedd
Oscar-winner Ben Shedd is LiU’s first holder of Peter Wallenberg guest professorship in visual scientific communication. THOR BALKHED

The donation from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to celebrate chairman Peter Wallenberg Jr.’s 60th birthday will enable Linköping University for the next ten years to appoint an annual guest professor in visual science communication. The donation of SEK 16 million kronor will be supplemented by an annual contribution from LiU of SEK 1 million.

Peter Wallenberg Jr. and LiU vice-chancellor Helen Dannetun. Photo credit THOR BALKHED“I am incredibly happy, proud and grateful for this birthday present from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which will stimulate the interest of the next generation for science and technology. I’m particularly happy that it involves visualisation and that the donation will end up in Norrköping/Linköping”, said Peter Wallenberg Jr. when the donation was introduced to a nearly full dome cinema.

“Visualisation is a field dear to my heart. My relationship with textbooks was rather strained when I was at school, but I have always been curious and tried to find the answers by investigating and testing on my own. I have visited the dome cinema several times with family and with groups of adults, and I’ve seen how the show here awakens curiosity and joy”, he said.

The first guest professor

In association with the announcement of the donation, the first guest professor was also presented. Ben Shedd is probably the first professor in visual scientific communication in the world. He has worked since 2014 as professor in digital filmmaking/documentary at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Peter Wallenberg Jr, Ben Shedd and Helen Dannetun. Photo credit THOR BALKHEDSince the beginning of the 1970s, Professor Ben Shedd has created many prize-winning films, several of them in iMAX format. Two examples are The Flight of the Gossamer Condor, for which he was awarded a shared Oscar (or Academy Award to give it its proper name) in 1978 in the category Best Documentary (Short Subject), and Green is the Color of Money.

“I made my first film when I was seven years old, and the process of Ben Shedd creates films without the limitation of a frame. Photo credit THOR BALKHEDtelling by showing has been in my DNA since then”, says Ben Shedd, who will now spend a year at Campus Norrköping in the research group for visual learning and communication in the Media and Information Technology (MIT) division at LiU.

“I’m looking forward to teaching students at Linköping University, which will be the eighth university in the world where I’ve been a teacher. I’m also looking forward to making productions to be screened here at Visualization Center C, the highest resolution dome cinema in the world.”

None with higher resolution

“No other dome cinema in the world can shows films at a higher resolution than the 8000 x 8000 pixels that we have here in Norrköping”, declares Anders Ynnerman, professor of scientific visualisation at LiU and director of Visualization Center C. It was he who managed to convince Ben Shedd to leave Singapore for Norrköping.
A new and unique visualisation laboratory, the Exploranation Laboratory, is under construction at Campus Norrköping. This will be a place where new discoveries are presented and where children and young people can be inspired to learn more about science and technology.


“A revolution is coming in the visual communication of research: new scientific discoveries, exploration, are merging with methods to explain research and phenomena for a non-specialist audience, explanation. We have coined the term exploranation to describe this combination of exploration and explanation. Completely new phenomena also require new terms”, says Anders Ynnerman.

“The donation from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation gives us the opportunity to bring internationally renowned scientists to the project. It means that we have enormous possibilities to broaden and develop the Exploranation Laboratory in Norrköping, making it something unique in the world”, he says.

Ben Shedd and Anders Ynnerman present the Exploranation Laboratory and the prospect of developing visualisation in the world’s keenest dome cinema.
Peter Wallenberg Jr. receives his birthday present, a ten-year guest professorship, in the dome cinema at Visualization Center C.
Invited guests were treated to a journey through the universe and a charging dinosaur.

Translated by George Farrants

Ben Shedd and Anders Ynnerman present the Exploranation Laboratory and the prospect of developing visualization in the world’s keenest dome cinema. Photo credit THOR BALKHED


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