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Infectious Disease in 3D Program

Infectious Disease in 3D (ID in 3D) is a year-long program where students design and build virtual or augmented reality (VR or AR) environments that represent biological processes that are too small to see in real life. These environments are then used to improve science literacy about infectious diseases in both the classroom and the general public.

Who participates in the program: ID in 3D integrates art, biology, and computer science and attracts diverse students from a range of disciplines. The program is run by faculty and staff from the department of Biology and the Scholar’s Lab at UVA Library (Jennifer Guler, Michelle Warthan, and Arin Bennett). So far (since inception in 2019), only undergraduate students have participated in the program but there are opportunities for graduate students and others to get involved.

More details about the program: Applications are accepted in the spring. During the summer/early fall, students attend a series of technical and biological “boot camps”. Then they choose the topic and the target audience (as a group or individually), which could range from science/non-science majors to the general public. They research the subject matter (including interviews of experts in the field and potential users), plan visuals using storyboarding and concept art, and decide the best approach for enhanced learning (i.e. VR or AR). Then, with input from technical, visual, and biological team members, they construct the required assets for each project (models and environments) and assemble the content into a VR or AR experience. In addition to learning the technical aspects of a new medium, students develop artistic, scientific, and organizational skills in an informal environment.

Future opportunities: Starting in 2022, we will engage local K-12 teachers and students to identify limitations of implementing VR-based learning and improve awareness of their educational benefits. Contact Jennifer Guler (jlg5fw) if you are interested in getting involved.

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