Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Names Thanassis Rikakis Vice Provost for Design, Arts and Technology-Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, September 10, 2012

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Names Thanassis Rikakis Vice Provost for Design, Arts and Technology

Contact: Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 / pwigley@andrew.cmu.edu

RikakisPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University today announced that Thanassis Rikakis has been named to the newly created position of Vice Provost for Design, Arts and Technology. Rikakis will serve as a full professor in the College of Fine Arts' School of Design and School of Music and will hold a courtesy appointment in the College of Engineering's Biomedical Engineering Department. He also will oversee the university's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), facilitating increased connections between the groundbreaking activities of the ETC and related activities on campus.

"Vice Provost Rikakis' charge is to facilitate the growth of the many existing synergies among design, arts and technology — each term broadly conceived — as well as to create opportunities for new ones," said Carnegie Mellon Provost and Executive Vice President Mark S. Kamlet. "He brings a wealth of experience and vision to further that mission at our university."

Rikakis most recently was at Arizona State University, where he was a professor and founding director of the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, as well as the director of the digital culture undergraduate curriculum. His interdisciplinary research and publications focus on the areas of experiential media, mixed reality rehabilitation and computer music. He also has composed more than 30 original music compositions that have been performed in the United States, Europe and Asia. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in music composition from Ithaca College and Columbia University, respectively, and also earned his doctorate in composition/computer music from Columbia.  

He is completing his service as principal investigator of a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant for interdisciplinary research and education in experiential media and currently leads an NSF EAGER grant on a virtual eXchange for Science, Engineering, Arts and Design (XSEAD).  He also has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as private foundations and industry.

Rikakis said he sees his new role as an opportunity to enhance Carnegie Mellon's firmly established reputation as a proving ground for successful cross-discipline teamwork. The university is, he said, the world's leading technical institution with an embedded conservatory for the arts. Additionally, he pointed out that the ETC is internationally recognized for its work at the crossroads of arts and technology. He looks to continue similar collaboration, expanding it across all disciplines.

"The evolution of digital technology is reshaping the human experience and its mediation structures," Rikakis said. "To guarantee a rich, reflective and cultivating hybrid human experience, we need to approach the development and implementation of all these mediation structures through integrative design, arts and technology perspectives - and also seek the contribution of science and humanities perspectives."

For the past 11 years, Thanassis had led an interdisciplinary team — spanning rehabilitation medicine, neuroscience, engineering, design and the arts — that is developing mixed reality rehabilitation systems for stroke survivors. These are systems that track the movement of stroke survivors during the performance of functional tasks in the physical realm and enhance internal feedback with digitally generated, multimodal feedback that facilitates motor learning and functional recovery. While at Carnegie Mellon, he hopes to continue his research in mixed reality rehabilitation for stroke survivors, tapping into the vast network of technological, creative and medical resources available in Pittsburgh.                 

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Thanassis Rikakis has been named to the newly created position of Vice Provost for Design, Arts and Technology.