Immersive Ecology

Exploring animal movement and behavior on an island-scale virtual environment

When we think of studies of animal behavior, we traditionally picture researchers observing animals directly and taking notes on their actions. With GPS tracking, this picture is changing. It is now possible for researchers to record rich data about animal movement in natural settings, over large areas and long time-spans. We are no longer limited to what researchers can directly observe. However, making sense of this large and complex data is an ongoing challenge. In this project, we collaborated with researchers studying movement data from several species of primates on Isla Baro Colorado Island in Panama to recreate 'the field' in the lab, creating a large-scale virtual island in CAVE2. Our goal is to enable computational ecology and anthropology researchers to view animal movement data in an immersive context- viewing movement from the ground, from an aerial position, or from the vantage point of a tracked animal. Our approach contributes to the development of automated approaches, verification of data and results, as well as a platform for communication and collaboration.

I have led the research and development of the visualization side of this project. I recruited and directed a team of undergraduate student researchers, and taught the students how to capture tasks and requirements from the domain science users, sketch designs, and create the final implementation, which makes heavy use of parallelization and GPU programming.


Electronic Visualization Laboratory: Andrew Johnson (advisor)

UIC Computational Ecology: Tanya Berger-Wolf

UC Davis, anthropology: Margaret Crofoot

Undergraduate student researchers: James Hwang, Tyrone Harris, Ishta Bhagat, and Oliver San Juan


Check back soon- we have papers and posters in the works!

Bringing the Field into the Lab: Large-Scale Visualization of Animal Movement Trajectories Within a Virtual Island

Jillian Aurisano, James Hwang, Andrew Johnson, Lance Long, Margaret Crofoot, Tanya Berger-Wolf. Poster to be presented Large Data Analysis and Visualization symposium at IEEE VisWeek in Vancouver, Canada on October 20, 2019.


Immersive Geospatial Analytics

Andrew Johnson, Arthur Nishimoto, Alessandro Febretti, Jillian Aurisano short paper at the NSF Workshop on Geospatial Data Science, July 25-26, 2016, Urbana, IL

Photo gallery

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Images include:Photos with our collaborators from UC Davis, Photos of the undergraduate students I mentored while working on this projectPhotos from the UIC Image of Research competition, where our work won honorable mention