I am a PhD student with ChoroPhronesis Lab and Penn State Center for Immersive Experiences. My major is GIS, and my minor is computational science. Before Penn State, I completed my master's degree from University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2016, in geospatial data sciences.
Research Overview and Dissertation
My research interest is situated at the intersection of geovisualization, VR and human-computer interaction. Methodologically, I create data-based photorealistic virtual environments and develop VR and 3D applications for GIS, cultural heritage and environmental science. Theoretically, my dissertation asks how technology characteristics influence affective and cognitive constructs, as well as how these relationships impact spatial memory and educational outcomes.
Three themes of my PhD work (that are not part of my dissertation)
In addition to my dissertation, I have deeply engaged in a variety of research projects during my Ph.D.. While diverse in application domains, they all connect to data visualization and simulation using immersive technologies in nature. There are three major themes. You can find these themes reflected in my website: https://sites.psu.edu/jade/
The first one concerns transforming geospatial data into scientifically accurate and photorealistic virtual environments. While computer graphics has dramatically advanced in the last few decades, much cutting-edge technological advancement in landscape visualization occurred well outside of geography, ecology and environmental science. We linked ecological modeling, procedural modeling, and VR to provide an immersive experience of a future forest under climate change.
The second theme concerns fostering the creation of low-cost multi-platform VR/AR site experiences, virtual field trips, interactive data exploration and analysis platforms. In the visualizing cultural heritage project, I traveled twice to Belize to lead research efforts to reconstruct a Mayan site Cahal Pech, and associated artefacts in VR. I worked closely with archaeologists, Dr. Claire Ebert at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Jaime Awe from Northern Arizona University. After the extensive fieldwork, I used the structure-from-motion mapping technique to precisely reconstruct the 3D models of millimeter-level accuracy. With the models, I built 1) an immersive data exploration and analysis platform with information retrieval functionality and different measuring, comparing, and interaction tools, and 2) a remote site visit experience for education.
The third theme is centered around digital humanities based on archival data. Combining hand modeling of built environments based on Sanborn maps, floorplans, and aerial images, with procedural modeling of the natural environment, we created historical buildings and immersive experiences that reflect the era of 1920s. Such a workflow can be applied to other archival data visualizations as well.