Immersive Visualization Institute


Abrams Planetarium, MSU Libraries, and the MSU Museum have collaborated to foster an “ecosystem” of immersive visualization technologies for teaching, learning, and research at Michigan State University. Since 2019, the annual “Immersive Visualization Institute (IVI)” has brought together diverse groups of graduate students and faculty centered around data visualization. Program participants investigate innovative and interdisciplinary ideas for capitalizing on one or more of the platforms within the ecosystem and produce a participation outcome using the technologies.

This year’s cohort was comprised of participants from various colleges and departments across campus including chemical engineering, kinesiology, music, history, and more. The Institute highlights the Abrams Planetarium Sky Theater, MSU Libraries Digital Scholarship Lab’s 360 Room, and the MSU Museum’s Science On a Sphere. IVI was organized by Dr. Denice Blair (MSU Museum), Teresa Goforth (MSU Museum), Dr. Shannon Schmoll (Abrams Planetarium), and Dr. Amanda Tickner (MSU Libraries).

“IVI has provided so many great opportunities for grad students and faculty members to develop innovative new uses. It’s amazing when you get all these creative people together in a room with the technologies and tell them to let their imaginations go. My organizer colleagues and I love to see the different academic disciplines and interests represented each year. We appreciate the Graduate School’s support to make IVI happen,” said MSU Museum Director of Education Denice Blair.

Participants created a final project plan that incorporated at least one of the visualization technologies and represented creative uses of the technologies for research, teaching, or artistic work. These projects help expand how people are using the technologies and make the ecosystem accessible to new MSU audiences, develop new course integrations, and forge deeper relationships among units across campus. IVI projects also have allowed participants to pursue further work. MSU graduate student Frankie Genoese received a grant from the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers’ Association to expand her project over the next year.

“Participating in the Immersive Visualization Institute was an incredible opportunity to become familiar with some of the technology that we have access to at MSU as students, educators, and researchers. Furthermore, the IVI allowed me to explore ideas and engage in conversation with other students and faculty about how this immersive technology could be used to address gaps in knowledge in my respective field. This experience ultimately led me to develop a research proposal and study that will now be part of my dissertation,” said Frankie Genoese.

Applications to participants in IVI are accepted through The Graduate School at Michigan State University. Selection to participate in the program is competitive with each chosen student awarded a fellowship by The Graduate School. IVI aligns with The Graduate School’s goals to support students, strengthen relationships across campus communities, and work together to articulate and reach shared goals.

“IVI demonstrates the innovative opportunities available to MSU graduate students. Working in cross-field cohorts to think about how to visualize their expert knowledge in new ways—and to present those visualizations in public-facing settings—can be transformative. The goal of this program is to provide an inflection point where disciplinary understanding can shift, and novel research and teaching projects are generated,” said Judith Stoddart, associate provost for University Arts and Collections.

The Immersive Visualization Institute will be offered in Summer 2023 with applications opening in February.

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