Dr. James F. O'Brien is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include computer graphics, computer animation, simulations of physical systems, human perception, rendering, image synthesis, machine learning, and the forensic analysis of images and video.

In addition to his research pursuits, Prof. O'Brien has worked with film and game companies on integrating advanced simulation physics into games and special effects. His methods for destruction modeling have been used in over 200 feature films and game titles. Prof. O'Brien was Chief Scientist at Pixelux and Avametric, and is currently a technical advisor to Juice Labs and Chief Scientist/co-founder at Get Klothed. He has also served as an expert witness or consulting expert in multiple patent cases.

In 2015 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his work in destruction modeling with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement. In 2000 he received his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology where his thesis received the College of Computing's Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Professor O'Brien is a Sloan Fellow, recipient of the Jim and Donna Gray Endowment Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and FIU College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni. He was selected as one of Technology Review's TR-35, awarded Georgia Tech's 15 Year Impact award, and received research fellowships from the Okawa and Hellman Foundations. From 2010 through 2016 he served as Director at Large for ACM SIGGRAPH. In 2020 he received an award for Technical Achievement from Dreamworks Animation.


  • 2000, Ph.D., Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 1997, M.S., Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 1992, B.S., Computer Science, Florida International University

Selected Publications

Awards, Memberships and Fellowships