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Published October 21, 2019
The manager of the University of Wyoming’s Shell 3D Visualization Center has been selected to participate in a roundtable at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Emma-Jane Alexander, research scientist and academic professional in UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER), will be part of the discussion on “Human Fusions: Changing the Relationship between Humans and Tech,” led by Dustin Tyler, of Case Western Reserve University.
“My contribution will be about the changing face of higher education regarding innovation, entrepreneurship and the envisioning of high-end technology facilities,” Alexander says. “I will address how a traditionally risk-averse culture is reforming to allow for true innovation, and how procedures such as institutional review boards are enabling that activity.”
The Shell 3D Visualization Center houses the only four-walled, 3D CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) in Wyoming. It combines high-resolution stereoscopic projections and 3D computer graphics to create a virtual environment where researchers can analyze, interpret and share a wide variety of data.
In her presentation at the Society for Neuroscience gathering in Chicago Oct. 19-23, Alexander will highlight two projects supported by the Shell 3D Visualization Center: “3D Future Form,” led by Alexander and UW public administration Assistant Professor Justin Piccorelli, which aims to use virtual reality to treat obesity; and the work of Professor Carolyn Pepper in UW’s Department of Psychology, who is pioneering research into using virtual spaces as “harm-reduction” alternatives to self-harming in real life.
“The ethical and social dimensions of human-machine interfaces require approaches spanning science, engineering, social science and humanities,” says Tyler, a professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University who studies neural interfaces in prosthetics. “This roundtable will explore the societal and ethical issues raised by human-technology interfaces and should appeal to anyone who is interested in neural technology, appreciative of its promise to enhance the human experience and aware of its potential to create new threats.”
With a degree in visualization from the University of Teesside and an executive MBA from the University of Hull (both in the United Kingdom), Alexander uses both technical and management skills to explore and nurture the successful adoption of technology and software in visualization centers.