CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 4, 2002
UI Obermann Center hosts
symposium on virtual environments
group of scholars engaged in ground-breaking research on using virtual environments
to study human behavior will meet at the University of Iowa April 5-6 for
a series of scholarly discussions and presentations. The Obermann Center/Spelman
Rockefeller Symposium on Virtual Environments as Tools for Studying Human
Behavior was organized by three UI professors -- Jodie Plumert (psychology),
Joe Kearney (computer science) and Jim Cremer (computer science).
symposium participants include Geoffrey Bingham, Indiana University; Herbert
L. Pick, University of Minnesota; John Rieser, Vanderbilt University; Karl
Rosengren, University of Illinois. They will discuss their work using virtual
environments to study problems such as elderly driving behavior, perceptual-motor
learning, and space perception. The symposium will also include roundtable
discussions of the types of problems that virtual environments might be well
suited to address and the challenges of using virtual environments to address
these types of problems.
organizers note that virtual environments immerse subjects in worlds that
appear physically real, but where conditions can be controlled. Virtual environments
allow researchers to study subjects in simulated dangerous circumstances that
lead to injury, but without putting subjects at risk.
Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said the symposium grew out of Plumert's
pilot research on children's accidents, originally supported by an Obermann
Center Spelman Rockefeller (CASSPR) grant. That project led to the three organizers'
current study of "Virtual Environments as Laboratories for Studying Human
Behavior," funded by National Science Foundation project and equipment
grants totaling more than $450,000.
Obermann Center for Advanced Studies encourages scholarly interaction in order
to explore broad frontiers of knowledge and to investigate complex ideas and
problems. For more information, contact the Obermann Center at (319) 335-4034.