Announcing Our Fall 2021 Undergraduate Research Fellows

20 Jan, 2022

Announcing Our Fall 2021 Undergraduate Research Fellows

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media pairs undergraduates with a graduate student mentor, offering them the chance to complete real, graduate level research while at Cal. We are thrilled to announce this semester's Fellows.

Lina Matine

Lina Matine is a cognitive science and American studies double major who has worked extensively for the Folklore Archive and for KALX. Lina will be working with Harry Burson on his Ambisonics research.

This project examines the research and development leading to the creation of “Ambisonics,” the so-called “three-dimensional” sound format that provides the technical basis for the immersive soundtracks of contemporary video games, Virtual Reality, and IMAX cinema. This digital format uses algorithmic processes to arrange auditory information around a virtual space, creating a complex soundscape through an exponential increase in channels and loudspeakers. Ambisonics was originally developed by an international group of acoustic scientists in the 1970s. The project examines how these researchers worked across the burgeoning fields of information theory, psychoacoustics, and multichannel sound technology to create new representations of acoustic space. In conversation with new media and disability studies, it explores how this sound technology creates a new experience of auditory immersion in the digital age, as well as a normative understanding of the hearing body.

Lina will be undertaking primary research online, looking into the literature on the development, application, and early public reception of Ambisonics through technical documents of patents, trade literature, and the popular press.

Akemi Nagashiki and Abigail Lomibao

Akemi Nagashiki is an Art Practice major and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science minor, interested in the intersection between art and technology through 3D graphics. Akemi has taken CNM190: Advanced Digital Animation, working on a 3D animated short film. February 2021, Akemi has been part of the Extended Reality at Berkeley club as one of the lead 3D artists on a virtual reality project called BlossomVR. BlossomVR is a game that aims to creatively enhance meditation and relaxation experiences in virtual reality. Inspired by the effectiveness of biofeedback treatments, the team developed a minimal viable product that utilizes the users’ movements in VR. Since joining Blossom, Akemi's interest in the applications of virtual reality in the healthcare industry has grown.

Abigail Lomibao is part of the Extended Reality at Cal organization, serving as a team lead for the outreach team, and gaining experience in designing VR games through the VR Decal and the Brain Games project team. The Brain Gamtes team worked on developing a VR experience to help restore executive functioning in people who suffer from mild traumatic brain injury. As a cognitive science major and global poverty and practice minor, Abigail in uniquely well situated to contribute to such projects technically and by working with communities and people directly impacted by the research. ABigail also has experience in neuroscience research through an internship at the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Lab, where Abigail analyzed diffusion tensor imaging data on veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and the co-occurrence of both.

Akemi and Abigail will be working with Haripriya Sathyanarayanan on Immersive Virtual Environments and Patient-Centered Design in the Pediatric Healthcare Built Environment. Innovating the pediatric space to improve the patient experience involves an understanding of multiple factors that influence the patient experience – including spatial and environmental design of the physical environment – to accommodate operational and user-specific needs, that in turn adapt to the affordances of the space. With the significant impact of built environment design on patient experience and health outcomes, more research is required in pediatric research through partnerships between children’s hospitals, healthcare planners and architects. This study examines the feasibility of innovative technology such as virtual reality as a tool for collaboration using a mixed-methods study design among a study population of hospitalized children admitted as inpatients at a Children’s Hospital. The mixed methods study explores perceptions of hospitalized children from the spatial and environmental design of the patient room in pediatric healthcare facilities. The study design includes methods such as surveys, art based methods, interviews, and an experimental design using virtual reality and biometrics on spatial and environmental design.

The research is ongoing and the focus in Spring 2022 will be on data analysis of surveys, interviews, and pilot study in VR. It will also include planning and setting up of the experimental study in VR based on the pilot study findings.

Fellows will work on:

1. Data analysis of surveys and interviews conducted in Fall 2021: R for the statistical analysis of the surveys and MaxQDA for the qualitative data analysis from the interviews.
2. Data analysis of pilot experimental study in VR: The pilot study includes data in VR from eye tracking and fEMG (stress/emotion) and qualitative data from interviews conducted with the pediatric population. The pilot is planned for completion by the end of 2021 with preliminary findings targeted in early Spring 2022.
3. Setting up of the full-fledged experimental study in the healthcare setting.
4. The mixed methods research includes different research methods and analysis, and an innovative study on feasibility of a technology with the pediatric population for application in healthcare settings.