Colloquium: Virtual Storytelling, Real Change

November 18, 2019 - 11:15am to 12:15pm
Ben Lok
University of Florida
3-180 Keller Hall
Daniel Keefe
Abstract :
Empowering those that know the social good issues the best to be creators of immersive stories would be transformative in how society addresses our toughest problems. We are enabling all to become creators of solutions, not just consumers. Ask yourselves,
* What’s the social good issue you are passionate about?
* To change people’s hearts and minds, what is the story that needs to be experienced?

In this talk, we will discuss lessons learned in building an initiative to enable all students - regardless of major, year, or background - to impact the social good using virtual reality (VR). The VR for the Social Good Initiative at the University of Florida enables all students to enroll and create VR experiences that impact the social good . We will also provide a plan for those interested to implement the program at UMN. In two years of the initiative, hundreds of students have created almost a hundred projects. Students from the course have gone on to join research groups, been involved in publications, generated initial data for funding, and participated in prestigious competitions, such as Oculus’s Top 100 Launchpad bootcamp. Come learn how VR can be used to improve the issues you care about.

Benjamin Lok is a Professor in the Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of Florida and co-founder of Shadow Health, an education company. His research focuses on using virtual humans and mixed reality to train communication skills within the areas of virtual environments, human-computer interaction, and computer graphics. Professor Lok received a Ph. D. (2002, advisor: Dr. Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.) and M.S. (1999) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.S. in Computer Science (1997) from the University of Tulsa. He did a post-doc fellowship (2003) under Dr. Larry F. Hodges.

​Professor Lok received the UF Innovator of the Year Award (2019), a UF Term Professorship (2017-2020), the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Faculty Mentoring Award (2016), a NSF Career Award (2007-2012), and the UF ACM CISE Teacher of the Year Award in 2005-2006. He and his students in the Virtual Experiences Research Group have received Best Paper Awards at IVA 2019, IEEE VR 2008, and ACM I3D (Top 3, 2003). He currently serves as the chair of the Steering Committee of the IEEE Virtual Reality conference. He has been the general co-chair of IEEE VR 2014 and IEEE VR 2013, and program co-chaired the ACM VRST 2009, IEEE Virtual Reality 2010, and IEEE Virtual Reality 2011 conferences. Professor Lok is an associate editor of Computer and Graphics.