Facilitating Interdisciplinary, Multimodal Research: My New Position With IMMERSe

This is a quick update to say that I am settling down in my new position as Postdoctoral Fellow for the IMMERSe Research Network node located at the University of California, Davis. I’m very honored and excited to be working with this group this year, and look forward to coming up with exciting collaborations and playing with all the new tech toys we’ll have available.

IMMERSe (Interactive Multi-Modal Research Syndicate) is an interdisciplinary, multi-campus network with university and industry participants in the U.S. and Canada, largely funded by SSHRC.

One of my duties as a postdoc is to facilitate collaborative meetings and research across the different universities and fields of expertise within the network. This is not a teaching position, so I am fully dedicated to developing a program of research that will integrate individual scholarly contributions into a larger group project. Collaboration is the name of the game this year, and it is made all the more challenging by the breadth of scholarship we have within the group.

On the network level, this means there will be a lot of travel to Canada in my future, as well as working out ways to meet virtually with other researchers in the group. A few weeks ago, we held a Postdoc Day in Waterloo, Ontario, which I attended remotely from California via Adobe Connect. I was able to communicate some of the projects we have going on at Davis and then listen the research being done by my colleagues. There is quite a fascinating spread and I hope to go into more detail as the year goes on, but we run the gamut from multitouch user interface research to scaling visual displays to 3D immersive remote collaboration to humanities game studies work, as well. I’m particularly drawn toward First Person Scholar and the GI Janes, two online communities from the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo that provide academic game studies writing. FPS aims to “occupy the niche between academic blogs and journals in establishing an informed, sustained conversation” and is always accepting submissions. The GI Janes are community dedicated to fostering conversations about gender and gaming culture.

On the local level, UC Davis has some fantastic resources that I’m eager to try out, such as the virtual KeckCAVES environments. Our local IMMERSe node operates through ModLab, which will be moving into a new lab space in the next few weeks. In addition to a full complement of video game consoles, our lab will have motion capture capabilities, a 3D projector, a modular conference table, and plenty of computer workstations for faculty, staff, and students to work on projects. One of the more advanced projects in progress at Davis is the MeKanimator, a Kinect-based motion capture system that we are implementing in Play the Knave, a game designed for Shakespeare instruction and other theatre applications. We are coordinating with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival to integrate the technology into their events. I hope to be able to seed a few projects during my time here.

I’ll be responsible for wrangling lab meetings and hosting research events, so stay tuned for announcements and event documentation. I have settled into Davis and started working on planning events for the year, but I don’t want to announce anything until we have actual things in the works. I hope to have more reports soon. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips about organizing scholars from different disciplines into a functioning unit, feel free to drop me a line here or elsewhere.

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