Virtual reality is becoming more widespread in gaming, shopping, research, education and training, but is not a perfect match to the real world. Discrepancies create usability problems with accessing virtual tools, or getting distracted, confused, lost or cybersick. Jiayan Zhao, a doctoral student in the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and a developer at the Center for Immersive Experiences, is conducting experiments to reduce usability problems and improve the user’s virtual experience.
“From the perspective of spatial cognition, the virtual environment can largely simulate the actual environment, but some users experienced serious motion sickness — something we don’t want to have happen— and they could not finish the experiment or their data could not be used,” Zhao said. “There are huge individual differences in virtual experiences. Some people may already have had experience with VR, so they performed well, but for those who never used VR before, they had challenges in performing the tasks.”
From the edge of the farm, the completed solar arrays and those under construction seemed to never end. In reality, they occupied only a small area of Pennsylvania land in rural Franklin County, but the arrays possessed a much larger potential, which a group of Penn State faculty and graduate students had traveled two hours to see.
The Penn State scientists who visited the site are part of the first cohort of LandscapeU, a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program that brings together graduate researchers from across the University to study the food-energy-water system in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond. The visit to the solar farm, which is owned and operated by Lightsource BP on about 500 acres leased from local landowners, was the program’s first research field trip.
The Department of Geography Coffee Hour lecture series resumes on Friday afternoons beginning Jan. 31 through April 24 for the spring 2020 semester on Penn State's University Park campus.
Coffee Hour is a weekly lecture series hosted by the Department of Geography celebrating interdisciplinary scholarship and collegiality. Topics range from innovations in GIScience, to food security to land use and justice issues, among others. Anyone with an interest in the topic is invited to attend.
Unless otherwise noted, refreshments are offered beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the E. Willard Miller seminar room, 319 Walker Building, and at 4 p.m. the lecture begins in the John J. Cahir Auditorium, 112 Walker Building.
The lecture is also webcast and is accessible for viewing online.
When the newly established Center for Immersive Experiences (CIE) hosted an immersive technology open house on Nov. 12 at the University Park campus, Penn State Great Valley had a strong presence, with Ashkan Negahban, assistant professor of engineering management, and his research team demonstrating their immersive simulation-based learning (I-SBL) approach.
Negahban’s project focuses on transforming online and on-campus education through immersive learning modules, and brings together researchers from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College; Penn State Abington; and Penn State World Campus. The modules create a digital solution for problem-based learning, a pedagogical approach that immerses students in a real-world situation.
Is there a way to turn waste into a useful resource and at the same time reduce environmental degradation from closed mines? That’s what visiting South African scholar Nemapate Ndivhuwo wants to find out.
Ndivhuwo visited Penn State during fall semester 2019 from the University of Venda, in Limpopo Province, South Africa, as part of its University Capacity Development Programme.
The program is a partnership between three South African universities: the University of Venda, University of Cape Town and University of Fort Hare, with two U.S. universities: the University of Arizona and Penn State, said Brian King, professor of geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Ndivhuwo’s sponsor.
It may not be just location, location, location that influences where people move to in the United States, but also politics, politics, politics, according to a team of researchers.
In a study of county-to-county migration patterns in the U.S., the researchers found that when people migrate, they tend to move to other counties that reflect their political preferences. They added that the pattern also suggests that people moving from moderate partisan counties are just as likely to move to extreme partisan counties as they are to move to other moderate counties. However, people who live in a politically extreme county are significantly likely to move to a similarly extreme county.
This type of political sorting might turn extreme counties into “magnets” that pull people from moderate counties and exchange them with other extreme counties.
November 20, 2019
Growing up in a segregated part of Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, Tony Hutchinson didn’t see a lot of the kids in his neighborhood going on to college. Even though several members of his family had graduated from teacher’s colleges — for him — it didn’t seem like an option.
That all changed — through the help of role models in his life — and he graduated from Penn State’s Department of Geography in 1990 before beginning a decades-long career using data analysis to drive home lending decisions.
Female veterans are the fastest growing demographic among the homeless population in the United States and face a double hurdle of distance and invisibility in getting the health services they need from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to research conducted by Penn State graduate student and U.S. Air Force veteran Elizabeth Elsea.
Elsea conducted a geospatial analysis of veterans for final project for her master of professional studies in homeland security (geospatial intelligence option). Her analysis showed that VA services, originally established in locations meant to support a nation of young men drafted to fight two world wars, are no longer optimally situated to serve a shifting veteran population and female veterans specifically.
Post-doctoral research fellow
The Center for Immersive Experiences at The Pennsylvania State University (immersive.psu.edu), in collaboration with other units at Penn State (such as ChoroPhronesis, chorophronesis.psu.edu, and Teaching and Learning with Technology), is hiring two Post-Doctoral Researchers focusing on areas such as immersive analytics, immersive learning, immersive decision-making, or serious games. The postdocs will be working in vibrant multidisciplinary teams that are addressing a range of topics that see transformative changes due to the paradigm shifting nature of immersive technologies.
Example topics may include empirically validating immersive technologies across the academic spectrum; designing Immersive technologies for environmental decision making; exploring scientific foundations of immersive technologies. The Postdocs will be coordinated through The Center for Immersive Experiences at Penn State (Director: Dr. Alexander Klippel) but will work across projects at The Pennsylvania State University. Ongoing projects include: The Science of Being There – Immersive Virtual Field Trips for Geospatial Sciences; Visualizing Forest Futures – VIFF; Visualization and Access to Informal Settlements through Immersive Experiences; Transforming Education through Immersive Technologies; Immersive Storytelling for General Education Across the Academic Spectrum; Digital Innovation through Immersive Technologies: Establishing New Paradigms for Environmental Decision Support. Postdocs can have a range of qualifications and can come from several different backgrounds such as computer science, engineering, GIScience, landscape architecture/architecture, education, or psychology.
Any subset of the list below is possible, but a strong focus is placed on technical skills as well as skill related to the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of immersive technologies. The ideal candidate must be adaptable, capable of thriving in a rapidly changing environment, where new approaches and technologies may change quickly. Qualifications include: 3D modeling and visualization skills (modeling for real time rendering a plus); programming skills (in particular C#); experience in the development of software for commercial or open source applications; code management system such as git; application development with game engines such as Unity3D and Unreal Engine; experience in learning assessment; experience in the design of experimental evaluations of (immersive) learning; communication skills for interacting with academics, instructional designers and others across the academic spectrum.
The initial appointment is intended for 12 months but excellent options for an annual renewal exist depending on performance. The start date is envisioned for the winter 19/20 and can be as early as December 1, 2019. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. The positions are full-time, benefits-eligible academic professional on a 12-month service basis. Eligibility for benefits are contingent on your citizenship or work authorization.
The following documents are required for the application: Cover letter (no more than 2 pages), CV/Resume, link to a portfolio of projects/experiences (if applicable), up to three scientific publications, three academic references (letter writers). For questions about the positions please contact Dr. Klippel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Application materials should be uploaded through psu.jobs (psu.jobs/job/88810)
Fully funded PhD/Master positions focusing on immersive experiences and technologies
The Center for Immersive Experiences (https://immersive.psu.edu/) in collaboration with associated departments such as Geography (GIScience) at The Pennsylvania State University, invites aspiring young scientists to apply for several open PhD and Master positions in the area of immersive experiences and technologies. CIE is currently developing over 30 projects related to xR (augmented, mixed, and virtual reality) and we seek creative and technically skilled minds that are keen to complement our team.
In this dynamically evolving field of immersive technologies we are particularly interested in intrinsically motivated researchers who embrace and love technology, seek to understand how design choices affect experiences and performance, and appreciate working in a team to get inspired and be an inspiration for others. The PhD/masters positions will allow making contributions to a variety of projects and areas that see transformation through immersive experiences or focus on fundamental questions of how and why immersive experiences allow unprecedented insights and experiences, not possible before.
Technical skills to design immersive experiences or a solid basis that would allow for learning the necessary skills quickly are essential for the offered positions. Bachelor or masters training in information or computer science, geomatics, GIScience, education technology or other related fields is expected.
Applicants should have a good command of English both spoken and written. Applications from females and under-represented groups are particularly encouraged.
Students who successfully apply will be offered a 4-year funded position (stipend, tuition and benefits) for PhD students and a 2-year position for masters students with the option to convert it into a PhD, subject to yearly performance reviews.
If you are interested, please contact Dr. Alexander Klippel (email@example.com).
The Center for Immersive Experiences (CIE) at Penn State is seeking an experienced xR Developer to complement our growing and successful team (immersive.psu.edu/organization). Penn State's Center for Immersive Experiences is a university-wide supported unit that has the goal to deliver immersive experiences for research, education, and outreach to the Penn State community.
Penn State will be equipped to meet the needs of students, faculty, and a society at large that is progressively more reliant on immersive technology with the opening of the Center for Immersive Experiences (CIE) on the University Park campus.
The center, with physical space in Pattee Library and collaborators in 11 different academic units at the University, will feature comprehensive services around teaching, learning and research involving immersive technology by increasing access to virtual reality, augmented reality, 360-degree video, mixed reality and more.
The center — on schedule to open in mid-November — will serve as a conduit for immersive experiences at the University by championing interdepartmental projects; incorporating immersive tech into classrooms; and giving Penn Staters access to a “sandbox” of immersive technologies. The center’s physical space will feature virtual reality bays and a lab that can function as a theater, breakout room or conference space.
Administrators believe Penn State’s collaborative culture, institutional strengths and research focus make it an ideal place to unlock immersive technology’s educational potential.