Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Space Sciences in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Robert Alexander

Robert Alexander

Doctoral Student
Composer / Intermedia Artist

Office: 2435 Space Research Building
[ Link to website ]


M.A., Media Arts, University of Michigan
B.A., Performing Arts Technology, University of Michigan


Data Sonification Specialist, Solar Heliospheric Research Group

Specializations and Research Interests

My research lies at the intersection of technology and creativity.  As a Design Science Ph.D candidate,  I am working to construct software interfaces for exploring scientific data in new ways.  The core of my research lies in data sonfication with the Solar Heliospheric Research Group.   Sonification is a process through which any kind of non-auditory data is translated as sound. We're transforming space data into the sonic realm such that we can gain a new perspective, and begin to ask new questions.

Honors, Awards and Accomplishments

  • NASA-Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral Fellowship Project (JPFP)  Award
  • International Community for Auditory Display: Outstanding Achievement Award
  • CEDO Ph.D. Candidate Achievement Award.
  • University of Michigan Dean's Named Fellowship 2010-2011
  • Imagine Science Films, Artist in Residence 2011
  • MiND Ensemble Director 2010-2011
  • Yahoo! Campus Innovations Award
  • Yahoo! Boost Award
  • Rackham Summer Research Grant, 2011
  • Computer Music Instructor, Interlochen Youth Arts Camp, Summer 2009-2010


VICE Documentary: Using the Sun to Make Music

NPR Interview: All Things Considered

Michigan Engineering: Listening to Solar Storms

Scienceline: Listening to the Sun on a Loop


  • E. Landi, R. L. Alexander, J. R. Gruesbeck, J. A. Gilbert, S. T. Lepri, W. B. Manchester and T. H. Zurbuchen, Carbon Ionization Stages as a Diagnostic of the Solar Wind (2012), The Astrophysical Journal, 744, 100.
  • Alexander, R. L., O'Modhrain, S., Gilbert, J.A. Zurbuchen, T.H.T, Simoni, M. (2012). Recognition of Audified Data in Untrained Listeners. International Conference on Auditory DisplayProc. 18th Int. Conf. Aud. Disp (ICAD 2011)135-140.
  • Alexander, R. L., Gilbert, J., Landi, E., Simoni, M., Zurbuchen, T.H., Roberts, D., Audification as a Diagnostic Tool for Exploratory Heliospheric Data Analysis. (2011), Proc. 17th Int. Conf. Aud. Disp (ICAD 2011)
  • Alexander, R. L., Zurbuchen, T.H., Gilbert, J, Lepri, S., Raines, J., Sonification of ACE Level 2 Solar Wind Data. (2010), Proc. 16th Int. Conf. Aud. Disp (ICAD 2010), 39-40
  • Alexander, R. L., Umbaugh, J., Turley, P. A Demonstration of Algorithmic Music Composition in the Noteworks Software Platform. (2010), Proc. 16th Int. Conf. Aud. Disp (ICAD 2010)
Updated: 2014-02-25