Lauren is based in the ADAPT Centre and is working closely with her academic mentors, Dr. Rachel McDonnell (School of Computer Science and Statistics) and Dr. Jennifer O’Meara (School of Creative Arts), to blend both computer graphics and film studies in order to create a unique understanding of how users of immersive virtual reality perceive and interact with embodied virtual humans.
Lauren’s project draws on her previous interdisciplinary experience in computer science and cognitive psychology to delve deep into the understanding of how different technical elements — the audiovisual cues provided by both hardware and software — of virtual reality shape the way users experience it. This work will target how elements of spatial audio affect interactions in virtual spaces and how the appearance of virtual humans shape our perceptions of them through the lens of how groups, small and large, come together in virtual spaces. This project will analyse how users allocate personal space, their feelings of embodiment and group synergy, dialogue, and behavioural adaptations. Lauren’s work is a foundational element of understanding how to create positive, ecologically valid virtual reality experiences that can be adopted for a wide range of diverse applications.
Prior to becoming a Human+ Fellow, Lauren graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, USA with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Her research interests are in virtual reality, human-computer interaction, animation and computer graphics, and privacy and security. A few of her interests include psychological thrillers, hiking, reading Japanese novels, and her Norwich Terrier Kobe.