University of British Columbia


Dr. Kellogg Booth, a much-loved and accomplished researcher in computer graphics and human-computer interaction (HCI), has been an amazing leader nationally in building research capacity, in enabling interdisciplinary research, and in mentoring students and junior colleagues.

Kelly obtained a BSc at Caltech (1968) and MA (1970) and PhD (1975) at the University of California at Berkeley. He worked eight years in interactive graphics as a programmer at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory before taking a position at the University of Waterloo in 1977 where he co-founded the Computer Graphics Laboratory and later served as the third director of the Institute for Computer Research. He moved to The University of British Columbia in 1990 as founding director of the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) and member of the Imager Computer Graphics Laboratory. He has been Professor Emeritus since 2017.

His doctoral studies co-developed the novel PQ- tree data structure and linear-time algorithm for the consecutive ones problem that has been used extensively in bioinformatics. Over the decade that followed he worked on algorithms for graph-theoretic problems but eventually his core interests converged on computer graphics, interaction techniques, and collaboration technology.

Both a visionary and a selfless advocate for the field, Kelly took on increasingly significant roles at departmental, university, and national levels. At Waterloo and UBC, he fostered research collaborations between computer scientists and researchers across campus in a variety of disciplines by exploring applications of interactive computer graphics and visualization. He also built links to non-academic institutions. During the 1980s, he and his colleagues and students collaborated extensively with the National Research Council, the National Film Board, and almost all of the early Canadian animation software start-ups, training a generation of graphics and interaction experts who played critical roles in Canadian graphics and computer animation companies. During the 1990s, he helped initiate projects with Science World BC and BC Children’s Hospital, and he led research collaborations with other universities. Under his guidance, MAGIC thrived as the “go-to” centre at UBC for collaborations involving emerging digital media that touched on nearly every facet of academic research and teaching.

Nationally, Kelly was a researcher in the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) network of centres of excellence (NCE), theme leader and director of technology in the TeleLearning NCE, associate director in the NECTAR strategic network, and founding scientific director of the Graphics, Animation, and New Media (GRAND) NCE, arguably his most significant contribution to Canadian computer science.

GRAND was a unique community of 250+ researchers at 33 Canadian universities in nine provinces with over 160 industry partners and receptor organizations. Theoretical and applied problems in computer graphics, visualization, and human-computer interaction were explored by computer scientists and engineers working with social scientists and humanists to understand the cultural, economic, legal, and social consequences of emerging digital media technologies. A key aspect Kelly built into GRAND was inclusion of top Canadian art and design universities as equal partners in the research. Many collaborations initiated in GRAND are still in place.

Kelly has a keen insight into both the scholarly and non-scholarly aspects of building top-notch research environments. He is an unwavering advocate for teaching as an essential part of a research faculty member’s portfolio. He has taught at all levels of the curriculum, ranging from discrete mathematics to introductory programming for engineers to advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in HCI and computer graphics. He received two honorable mentions for “Incredible Instructor” awards in UBC CS. He stands out for his excellence in mentoring, his selfless effort building the careers of others, and his contagious sense of adventure. His students are leaders in Canada and abroad in academia and in industry. He served as president of the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society and as secretary on the CS- Can/Info-Can Board of Directors.

It is hard to overstate the extent of Kelly’s lifetime of contributions to Canadian computer science. He has elevated and inspired those who work with him, and continues to do so.