Our CI-TEAM Implementation Projects develop an interdisciplinary research environment for preparing a cyber-enabled workforce in the geosciences, computer science, science and technology studies, anthropology, and physics. We engage students in interdisciplinary teams to jointly develop, use, and disseminate cyber-infrastructure (CI) tools and techniques using virtual reality (VR) and scientific visualization for research and education across three interdisciplinary themes. The ongoing project builds on knowledge and experience we have gained over 6 years of interdisciplinary collaboration at the KeckCAVES, which provides both a fertile environment for interdisciplinary research and uniquely interactive, immersive virtual reality environments that allow users to visualize and analyze large and complex datasets.

Intellectual Merit

The proposed project enables both students and more advanced researchers to contribute to the frontiers of knowledge in geosciences, computer science, anthropology, humanities, and physical sciences through the use of VR. We are extending the technological and scientific frontiers in three new, innovative, yet intersecting directions:

  • Remote collaboration via tele-immersion: Teams will develop innovative methods of tele-immersion technology to enabling remote interaction between teams of people at different locations with datasets, to facilitate research and teaching collaboration. In the process of this development, students will gain knowledge and insight into the behavior of VR and immersive visualization.
  • Rapid Scientific Response (RSR) to natural disasters: Teams will develop CI capacity for rapidly collecting, visualizing, and interpreting data collected after major geologic events. This capacity will contribute to our knowledge of the geologic processes driving earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and other catastrophic events.
  • 3dCompare: Teams will develop the capacity to manipulate and quantitatively compare digitally represented objects using interactive CI methods for use in diverse applications including 3D digital scans of buildings, cultural heritage sites, and archeological, geological, and paleontological samples.

Broader Impacts

Our CI-TEAM project contributes to the development of a diverse, cyber-enabled workforce by engaging undergraduates and graduate students in the use of virtual-reality-based technology for discovery-based scientific research. We engage students and postdocs across disciplines to co-develop CI tools for their own research and that of their peers, and to develop a cohort of cyber-enabled scientists and software developers with experience working on interdisciplinary teams. Participants in our project have the opportunity to participate in collaborations with US and international partner institutions.

We develop, with our CI-TEAM students and postdocs, innovative, high-quality learning technologies and instructional materials that are broadly adoptable by multiple disciplines and institutions. We disseminate these technologies and methods by providing software under the GNU General Public License; disseminating software tools and documentation, and publishing educational modules, documentation, and research and educational outcomes to facilitate the use of the tools. We provide visualization experiences to established, effective STEM outreach programs that effectively target K-12 students.

The CI tools developed through our CI-TEAM efforts enable research and teaching advances in three critical areas: study of virtual objects, remote collaboration between various groups and agencies, and rapid scientific response to natural disasters. The development of these technologies could become vitally important in assisting multinational agencies to make sound decisions based on complex data.