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Dr Lauren Buck is a Human+ programme fellow from the Computer Science and Engineering Research Strand. She 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. Her research revolves around the perception of embodied virtual humans in improving immersive virtual reality (VR).
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 targets how elements of spatial audio affect interactions in virtual spaces and how the appearance of virtual humans shapes our perceptions of them through the lens of how groups, small and large, come together in virtual spaces. The work analyses 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.