Where are you from?
Where do you live now?
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I’m an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Department of Communication & Media.
What is your current job?
My responsibilities include research, teaching and service. I’m core faculty in the Immersive Intelligent Learning Environments research group. This semester I’m teaching a freshman course on science and technology in theatre, and next semester I’m teaching an upper-level undergrad/grad course on mobile AR design. Next fall I’m teaming up with a colleague to team-teach a large freshman course on the history of illusion and immersion, looking at things like picture rooms, panoramas, theme parks, and virtual reality. I haven’t done a lot of service yet because I’m still so new as this is my first semester, but so far I am on the graduate recruitment committee for our department.
Can you tell us about a recent project you’ve worked on that you were really excited about?
The research group I’m in works in the Emergent Reality Lab which has a virtual reality cave environment. I’m excited about a new project I’ve started in the lab with a colleague in the Arts department, Silvia Ruzanka, and two undergrad research students, to run a user study evaluating user interfaces for the cave and develop a new interactive table for controlling the cave display. In the future we’re hoping the table interface will contribute to another project in the lab about virtual reality and language learning, as well as be useful to us for creating some artistic experiences.
I’m also excited about a digital humanities and dramaturgy project I’m working on with Kirk Quinsland at Fordham University, about the site-specificity of early modern plays written for the Blackfriars Theatre in 1500s-1600s London. Kirk is working with primary sources from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s manuscript collection to tease out the site-specific nature of these plays, and together we’re building a website to allow people to explore the plays via a map of the Blackfriars district. We’re also working on an augmented reality app to give people a more immersive sense of what Blackfriars used to be like, with interactive panoramas and artist reconstructions of the area.
How do you think the program helped prepare you for your life after Georgia Tech?
The rigor of the theoretical work expected from participants in the program has prepared me on a basic level to be conversant in the relevant works in my area, which is extremely valuable, but the combination of hands-on work with that rigorous theoretical work may be even more valuable in terms of preparation. I’m expected to both produce project-based work and theoretical writing for research at my job now, and I think it was immensely helpful that I was able to practice this theory-practice integration in the Digital Media program as a student. The atmosphere of creative, interdisciplinary collaboration in the program was also terrific preparation. It’s such a unique program. And I think there are more ways in which the program helped to prepare me that are too subtle and difficult to articulate. All in all, I am extremely grateful!
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom you would like impart to current or future Digital Media students?
Take advantage of your time in the Digital Media program – talk with everyone, work on as many projects as you can, and build things you care about. Travel as much as you can to make connections with others in your field, and share your work at conferences. If you have any interest in going into academia after graduation, make sure you get to teach on your own, and take one of the CETL courses on learner-centered teaching. Georgia Tech is a wonderful environment to work in, so you don’t want to feel after graduation that you’d wished you’d done more.