Interdisciplinary Professor Embodies Blend of Arts, Science

For years, UT Dallas has sought to fuse its long-held strengths in technology with the creativity of the arts and humanities. That philosophical blend is embodied by a new professor who is a champion for interdisciplinary academics.

Dr. Roger F. Malina
Dr. Roger F. Malina

Dr. Roger F. Malina is a physicist, astronomer and executive editor of Leonardo publications at MIT Press. He serves in two of the University’s schools, as a distinguished professor of arts and technology in the School of Arts and Humanities, and as a professor of physics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“We face hard problems in society today where we have no choice but for the sciences and the arts and humanities to work together. UT Dallas is taking the lead in creating innovative connections,” Malina said.

In partnership with Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology in San Francisco, Malina and UT Dallas’ Arts and Technology program are starting a project on campus entitled “Leonardo Initiatives.” Leonardo publishes journals, books, websites and projects on evolving digital platforms that aim to document and disseminate information about interdisciplinary work.

Leonardo Journal
Malina is executive editor of Leonardo publications at MIT Press.

The first Leonardo Initiative at UT Dallas is currently under way with the publication of the e-book Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks. This project documents the work of 25 researchers whose work explores the meaning and application of the science of complex networks as it relates to art history, archeology, visual arts, the art market and other areas of cultural importance.

The texts in the publication come from researchers, information designers and artists whose work has been presented at the Leonardo Days at the Network Science conferences, the High Throughput Humanities conference and in the Leonardo Journal.

The e-book is augmented by an ATEC web companion, which hosts papers, presentations, and reader commentary and discussion.

Malina is a former director of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence (OAMP) in Marseille, and a member of its observational cosmology group, which performs investigations on the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

He is also a member of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Study (Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées, IMERA), an institute he helped to organize. IMERA seeks to contribute to trans-disciplinarity between the sciences and the arts, placing emphasis on the human dimensions of the sciences.

Malina was also a member of the jury for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2011, which awards a prize to those who create strategies with potential to “solve humanity’s most pressing problems.”

Malina’s specialty is space instrumentation. He was the principal investigator for the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer satellite at the University of California, Berkeley. The satellite was the first orbiting observatory to map the sky in the extreme ultraviolet band. The team at UC Berkeley had to invent new cameras, telescopes and data analysis techniques to accomplish the task. The team was one of the first university groups to take over operation of a NASA satellite and operate it from a university with teams of students.

For 25 years, Malina has been involved with the Leonardo organizations, which his father founded in 1967. Malina earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and his doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979.

An anonymous gift in February 2010 created the Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair he holds at UT Dallas.