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Dr Richard Skarbez Lecturer in Interactive Visualisation, Comp Sci & Info Tech

My research interests broadly refer to how humans experience and interact with immersive technologies, and specifically include virtual reality, human factors, user experience design, visualization, and immersive analytics.

My research has focused on the nature of user experience in virtual environments. Recently, Professor Mel Slater proposed that in addition to presence, the feeling of "being there" in a virtual environment, researchers also need to consider the feeling that the events depicted in the VE appear real. He coined the terms Place Illusion (PI) and Plausibility Illusion (Psi), respectively, to refer to these subjective feelings. I investigated Psi over the course of several experiments, demonstrating that Psi can be detected using existing presence measures including questionnaires and physiological metrics, that inconsistent behavior of virtual objects causes increased heart rate in participants, that Psi is affected by individual differences (as is presence), and that it is feasible to determine a rank ordering of VE factors that affect Psi in VEs, with the presence of the virtual body being most important of those factors tested. I am interested in continuing to investigate the effects of realistic behavior, not just realistic imagery, on the effectiveness of practical virtual environments.

I did my PhD research with the Effective Virtual Environments research group at the University of North Carolina Department of Computer Science. My dissertation, Plausibility Illusion in Virtual Environments, was completed under the supervision of Mary C. Whitton and Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.

In 2017-2018, I was a postdoctoral associate in the Virginia Tech Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, working under the supervision of Joseph L. Gabbard.

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