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Dr. Jordan Smith’s Featured Project

How do ecological disturbances, such as fire, overgrazing and technological noise, affect the economic and non-economic values individuals place on desert landscapes?  Dr. Smith is currently studying this question through the use of immersive virtual environments (IVEs) that ‘surround’ individuals and create the perception they are enveloped by, included in and interacting with an environment that provides a continuous stream of stimuli. He and his research team are constructing virtual environments of recreational settings using digital photographs and acoustic recordings captured in the Chiricahua National Monument located in southeastern Arizona.


Researcher using IVE technology


Using immersive virtual environments to understand psychological preferences for landscape heterogeneity. Dr. Smith and his research team recently completed a research study using immersive virtual environment technology to determine if individuals have preferences for landscapes that provide a diverse mix of ecosystem services.





 Dr. Perver Baran’s Featured Project

How park attributes and neighborhood social and urban form characteristics affect physical activity and walking in neighborhood parks?

What park pathway characteristics support elderly walking?

How spatial enclosure and spaciousness of park pathways influence users’ perception of safety?


Photo of IVE Technology


Dr. Perver Baran and her colleges examine the effect of spatial enclosure and spaciousness on people’s perception of safety as it relates to walking utilizing an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) system with a head mounted display. In this study, 360 degree digital imagery captured from a local park is used as ‘treatment’ in controlled lab-based environments.





Dr. Yu-Fai Leung’s Featured Project

What is the influence of terrain, vegetation and disturbance features on stock animals’ movement and utilization of subalpine meadows in Yosemite National Park?

How do we integrate geospatial and field assessment data to evaluate and predict the sustainability of trail networks in protected areas?


Photo of researcher setting camera traps


Camera traps were set up in protected natural areas to monitor wildlife and visitor use and explore their interactions in space and time.