From Baseball Player to Astrophysicist: The Back Story

Mark SubbaRao, Ph.D., Space Visualization Laboratory Director, Adler Planetarium

Mark has had an interest in science since being intrigued at an early age that organisms were inside a drop of water.  Knowing that there was a hidden world lead Mark to look beyond where man has ever seen or traveled and compiled that knowledge in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, creating the largest map of the universe ever made.  The Sloan project was a ten-year effort and Mark’s post doctorate work at University of Chicago took a year to compete.

His images have been widely used, from demonstrating a point being made by Steven Hawking during an interview to being the background graphics at a Paul Simon concert during the “Boy in the Bubble” song.

Some of Mark’s work can be seen in National Geographic and other leading publications.
In his spare time, Mark was a founding member of Cosmus, a group dedicated to bringing science to the public using visualizations.  Visualizations are Mark’s main focus now, using them as a new way to convey information that is much more compelling than your standard PowerPoint slides.  If you haven’t been to the Adler Planetarium recently, this is notyour father’s Oldsmobile.  The experience rivals any Disney ride experience, and you actually learn something.  A new show is debuting this summer, but the lineup already playing can be found here.

In early February, Mark and his colleagues took first place in Science Magazine’s International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge by illustrating “how an invisible network of matter creates space’s familiar features.”

For the A+ students in the crowd, more of Mark’s work can be found here.

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