TO: National Science Foundation - Ofﬁce of Cyber Infrastructure
FROM: Virtual Environment Risk Analysis Project Team (VERA Project)
SUBJECT: Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems Grant
Dr. Brian Ryherd
Iowa State University On behalf of the Virtual Environment Risk Analysis (VERA) research team I am pleased to
Virtual Reality Applications Center present this proposal for your review. We look forward to the opportunity of partnering with
1346 Lincoln Way
Ames, Iowa 50010 the National Science Foundation in our strive for technological and sociological research. We
T 515-234-9864 have put forth our research plans, and hope to begin our experimentation as soon as
In the past, there has been little research done regarding social interactions in virtual
environments, particularly social risks in those settings. Some research has been applied to
physical risks with computer animations versus real world engagements, and we plan to
expand on that research.
Our research will focus on certain risks which people choose to take in virtual worlds in
comparison to real world situations. One experiment will show the differences in physical
risks which people partake in by having students conduct a simple procedure on either a
computer animated patient or a patient seen via video. The second experiment will provide
information regarding social risks taken by study participants. This experiment will hopefully
aid in the use of virtual worlds for a variety of aspects of business, education, and science.
We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical
Systems program, and hope to continue this cooperation in the future.
Dr. Brian Ryherd
Principal Investigator, VERA Project
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 123 Federal Building
Ofﬁce of Cyber Infrastructure Denver, CO 88830
April 8, 2009
Dr. Brian Ryherd
Iowa State University
Virtual Reality Application Center
Ames, Iowa 50010
Dear Dr. Brian Ryherd,
Your request ( Solicitation #432-JHG-1234-001) to deviate from NSF proposal guidelines (Fastlane GPG Guide)
has been approved. In the submission of SF 424 Documents will not be required and the 15 page limit is in-
creased to 30 pages. Please be aware that the proposal must include the following sections:
• Cover Sheet
• Project Summary
• Project Plan
• Project Outcomes
• Dissemination Plan
Pursuant with Office of Cyber Infrastructure Policy: Proposals must include an authorization to deviate from
standard NSF proposal preparation instructions has been received in one of the following ways, as appropriate:
(a) by identifying the solicitation number that authorized the deviation in the appropriate block on the Cover
Sheet; or (b) for individual deviations, by identifying the name, date and title of the NSF official authorizing the
deviation. Further instructions are available on the FastLane website.
Authorization Number: 1029384756_001
"Virtual environments create a relatively unique 3-dimensional
space that can be used for collaboration, decision-making,
entertainment, social engagement, and other forms of com-
munication. Although sharing commonalities with traditional
mediated communication tools such as email, instant mes-
saging, video conferencing, teleconferencing, and discussion
forums, a virtual environment creates a unique realm where
the user has the opportunity to leverage the spatial aspect of
communication by re-creating the experience of physical
proximity thereby enhancing interaction."
- Dr. Brian Mennecke
Embodied Social Presence Theory
VOSS Project Proposal
Prepared for: National Science Foundation Ofﬁce of Cyber Infrastructure
Prepared by: Dr. Brian Ryherd, Dr. Dillan Laughlin, Dr. Tom Hummer, and Dr. Rebecca Burch
April 22, 2009
Proposal number: 123-4567
IRB Certiﬁcation: 123-XV-484721 (Date: 12/20/2008)
NSF Solicitation / Deviation Request: #432-JHG-1234-001
Iowa State University - Virtual Reality Applications Center Ames, Iowa 50010 T 515-234-0987 F 515-234-0977 www.veraproject.net
Table of Contents
The Rise of Virtual Reality
Behavioral Differences between Virtual and Real Environments
Need For Further Research
Institutional Review Board Clearance
Physical Risk Study
Social Risk Study
Deliverables and Dissemination
Broader Impact of Project VERA
VERA Project Budget
Appendix B-CV1 - Dr. Brian Ryherd
Appendix B-CV2 - Dr. Tom Hummer
Appendix B-CV3 - Dr. Dillan Laughlin
Appendix B-CV4 - Dr. Rebecca Burch
Since the advent of internet technology, online communication has increased dramatically and
advances in virtual reality have made online interactions more and more complex. Web
communities have exploded in popularity, with applications spanning from virtual gaming worlds to
business meetings. In professional contexts such as business meetings, the implications of
human-computer interaction is critical. Some virtual situations lead people to interact and behave
differently than they would in similar but real circumstances. Research conducted on these virtual
worlds has only focused on discovering which situations and settings are more likely to provoke
behaviors that differ from their real-time counterparts. Research regarding human interaction in
virtual worlds has been very limited. To address the shortcomings in previous studies, the Virtual
Environment Risk Analysis Project aims to study the behavioral differences between real world and
virtual environments, particularly as they pertain to risk-taking behavior. We will take a multi-faceted
approach to the our research to determine the factors that inﬂuence decision making in terms of
physical and social risk. As we will demonstrate below, successful completion of the VERA Project
will lead to advances across a broad spectrum of industries and academic research.
To understand the need for the information provided by the VERA Project, we ﬁrst must
understand the current applications and related research in the area of Human Computer
Interaction. Studies have shown that, in general, people are more willing to take more risks in virtual
worlds as compared to real life. However, these studies make no distinction to the contributing
factors of a person's behavior across environments. In order to ﬁll this gap in previous research we
must also examine how virtual worlds are used today, what their existing limitations are, and what
potential causes are suspected to have led to these limitations.
The Rise of Virtual Reality
Virtual technology is currently used ﬁrst and foremost for entertainment. Whether the game is
World of Warcraft, The Sims, or Second Life, people enjoy having the real aspects of social
interaction with the risk-free, consequence-free physical aspects of the digital realm. Since there
are limitless ways to interact with others virtually, and most of those interactions have minimal
consequences, it is easy to see why this form of entertainment is so popular today.
Another application for these virtual worlds lies in our endless pursuit for knowledge. Virtual worlds
can give anyone with internet access a chance to go places and be in situations that might not be
possible in the real world. For example, in the virtual world “Second Life” people can go to an
island and see spacecrafts, and perhaps even ﬂy these spacecrafts to see how they work. The
opportunity to discuss space travel with others who are so highly interested in it comes much
easier when the only distance one has to travel is to the computer chair. Another island allows
people to change an ecosystem in any way they want, then view the effects of their changes.
Learning opportunities like this are not available in the real world, for obvious reasons.
Although real attempts at teaching in these virtual worlds may be more difﬁcult in some ways than
in the real world due to a lack of emotional interaction, the opportunities for learning are
undeniable. For this reason, the use of virtual worlds for teaching has been expanding for some
time. Teachers or tutors can interact with students in virtual worlds in an attempt to provide
academic support. Past studies have shown that students rely on positive interactions with their
mentors which coincide with the materials they have been provided to learn with. Students with
these positive interactions tend to learn at a better rate. However, these interactions are
undoubtedly different if they take place in a virtual world. Students must be able to trust their
teachers, and the teacher must be able to recognize emotion in a student. If the student does not
have trust in their teacher, learning becomes a much more difﬁcult process. If a teacher can see in
a student's emotions that they are not understanding the material, the teacher can intervene with
an added dose of help.
Virtual worlds have also been used for skills training. Aspiring pilots have been using ﬂight
simulators for years, and Marines have been known to use combat simulators. Medical students
have also used this medium in learning how to do certain operations. These applications have also
been blurred into the entertainment genre, but it is important to remember that their original
purpose was to aid in honing a speciﬁc skill that could be used in real life.
Business meetings have also been conducted in virtual environments. With today's lifestyle
becoming more hectic by the hour, it can sometimes be more convenient for businesspeople to
bring virtual representations of themselves together than it would be to coordinate physically being
in the same place at the same time. This application is not very common, but it is not unheard of.
In summary, virtual technology already has numerous applications spanning from entertainment to
education, and potential areas of application are even more extensive. However, research
regarding human interaction in virtual worlds has been very limited. Our project will help clarify how
those potential applications can be developed and used. We will examine how behavior changes
in virtual environments, as well as how individual characteristics contribute to these changes in
Behavioral Differences between Virtual and Real Environments
Simulation of physical actions has been largely untouched and remains open to further
investigation. A recent study by Pierce (2009) indicated that people are more prone to high-risk
physical behavior in virtual worlds than in the real world. In the study a participant was asked to
observe a virtual or real-life person performing the simple task of slicing a cucumber. In the
experiment participants observed the ﬁrst two slices and were then asked to determine where the
next slice would be made. The risk was presented by using the knife very close to the ﬁnger of the
virtual/real-world person, presenting the risk of cutting the ﬁnger. However, the study gave no
insight regarding causes for this behavior, nor did it account for differences in the type of risk being
taken (social risk and empathy vs. physical).
As pointed out by Girod et al. (2001), already-existing preoperative simulations for delicate facial
surgeries are known to be accurate. If these computer simulations are so accurate, Girod and
colleagues ask why this tool has not been transferred to performing the operation as well. Gorman
et al. (1999) suggests that medical students use simulations for situations they would not normally
encounter or situations that cannot be safely practiced in real situations. Medical students trained
on a simulator for intravenous catheter placement showed improvements in the simulator, but were
unable to effectively transfer those skills over to the real world (Greenleaf 1996). Similarly, Chopra
et al. (1994) showed that anesthesiologists trained on a simulator were more apt in handling
emergencies on the simulator than in real life. This ﬁnding still requires validation.
In social psychology research computer-mediated collaboration and discussion has been
associated with lower interactions, less argument, and slower decision-making (Applegate et al.
1986; McGuire et al. 1987; Watson 1988). Losada et al. (1990) found that computer-mediated
meetings, with all members connected through virtual technology, reduced the socio-emotional
interactions by half. On the other hand, a complete lack of computer-mediated collaboration also
reduced the socio-emotional interactions. The study established a bell curve relationship with
maximum socio-emotional interactions occurring when both computers and physical reality
According to a study by Burgoon et al. (2000), communication depends largely on interactivity. This
can be broken down into individual involvement or presence, mutuality between individuals or a
team concept, and individuation or a sense of self. Several major factors of communication have
been noted to differ between virtual and face-to-face interaction: credibility, understanding, and
inﬂuence (Burgoon et al. 2000). Generally, people tend to trust pictures more than words. A
shocking announcement on television seems more believable than the same story in a newspaper.
People also tend to place more trust in entities with anthropomorphic characters. In other words, a
person face to face is more trustworthy than a computer, and a virtual computer face is more
believable than written words. This inherent hierarchy of trust implies that virtual meetings may
beneﬁt from a simulation of face to face interaction. Understanding can be an issue when
communication becomes virtual. Humans rely heavily on nonverbal signs, such as facial
expressions, body posture, and gestures. Inclusion of nonverbal actions in virtual communication
presents a major challenge to technology development. Shapiro and McDonald (1992, cited in
Burgoon et al.) showed that people tend to give media undue credibility. Credibility also seems to
increase as more "modalities" or sensory channels become available to convey information.
Together, the factors of credibility, understanding, and inﬂuence all reinforce one another.
Clearly there are myriad of variables to be accounted for when looking at what causes these
ﬂuctuations in behavior. This can make research extremely difﬁcult: but not impossible. When
approached correctly, we can ﬁgure out the degree in which each of these factors affects this
change in behavior, and also how true people are to their own personality while interacting with
others in virtual environments. Part of our project will focus on these psychological aspects. The
VERA Project research will help determine what types of personalities/people act differently and
how, and in what situations they behave in a different way.
Need For Further Research
The world we live in is always ﬁnding new ways to integrate technology into our daily lives. Our
society has been using applications of virtual reality for years, but new applications are constantly
emerging. People may be directly representing themselves, or perhaps a ﬁctionalized character, in
a setting that can range from ﬁghting dragons to conducting real-time business meetings.
Regardless of the authenticity of the situation, people are likely to put some of their own traits into
these virtual representations. No matter how accurate or fabricated they are, the user realizes that
they have control of the character and will therefore make decisions in the virtual world loosely
based on what they would do in the real world. At the same time, however, the user knows that it
is not the real world, and with consequences being only as real as the situation that presents them,
they will not act exactly the same.
So where is this line drawn? How can we determine the exact difference between a person’s
actions in the real world and that same person’s actions in a virtual world? Unfortunately, the
answer is not as simple as plugging numbers into an equation. An extensive amount of factors
must be taken into account in order to accurately predict what these differences will be. These
factors may include the situation itself, what consequences different choices will lead to, and many
others that will be entirely exclusive to the individual, such as gender, age, IQ, how much sleep they
got the night before, etc. Once we measure these variables and compare them with the observed
results, we can create an accurate hypothesis explaining what factors affect this behavior and to
In conclusion, many similarities and differences exist between the way people act in a virtual world
and the way people act in the real world. In common situations, people treat others with the same
etiquette in the virtual world as they would in a real setting. What has yet to be discovered is when
people will act the same, when they are willing to take risks that they might not take in real life, and
under what conditions these behaviors occur. The rapid onset of virtual communication
technology "places a premium" on understanding the implications of its use. Research has only
begun recently, and a great deal more must be known before the technology can be effectively
used in the workplace. In the context of business communication in particular, behavioral changes
must be foreseen, understood, accounted for, and managed. As Burgoon et al. (2000) stated,
"whether these differential beneﬁts generalize to other kinds of tasks and interactions remains to be
seen." So as our lives continue to become more and more technology-dependent, it is important to
know how we will be affected every step of the way. The only way to adapt to these changes is to
anticipate them and react accordingly, and in order to do this as a society, we must take a step
forward and become self-aware enough to know how our mindsets differ in virtual situations. For
these reasons, we feel that it is crucial to do research in this ﬁeld, so that as the real world and the
virtual world continue to intertwine, our society can be ready for it.
Previous research has pointed to differing mindsets in virtual environments, but no investigation has
been conducted into the speciﬁc factors that inﬂuence behavior. To ﬁll this research gap the VERA
Project will conduct research into cognitive risk perception across virtual and real-world
environments. VERA Project research into the amount of risk a person is willing to take in a virtual
environment is multi-dimensional. The two most important factors are the perceived physical risk
and the perceived social risk in a persons virtual interactions. Through our social experiment we
discover if those same physical differences transfer over to social and societal differences. Does a
person act more aggressive when interacting with others in a virtual world than he or she would
under normal conditions? Or does a person tend to follow their same social order in a virtual
world? We have isolated these variables into two independent studies outlined below.
Institutional Review Board Clearance
The Iowa State University Review Board has certiﬁed that the VERA Project is in compliance with
the Federal Government's "Common Rule" for the protection of human subjects.
IRB Certiﬁcation Number: 123-XV-484721
Date of Certiﬁcation: 12/20/2008
Physical Risk Study
Computer driven simulations are rapidly growing in popularity as a method of training people in
preparation to complete real world tasks. Pilots use ﬂight simulators as a learning tool, often times
long before they set foot inside the cockpit of a commercial airliner. Likewise doctors learn
fundamental endoscopic surgical techniques in computer-powered simulators, spending countless
hours practicing, long before they perform their ﬁrst procedure. Advances in cognitive sciences
have shown that risk perception and a persons actions are tightly coupled. What remains to be
determined is how these physical risks differ between environments.
Research Question: How does physical risk-taking behavior differ in real world environments
vs. virtual world environments?
Hypothesis: We hypothesize that study participants will be more likely to take larger physical
risks in virtual environments than they would in real-world environments.
In each scenario the task is to perform a very basic endoscopic surgery through robotic controls.
Simulated environments are created prior to conducting testing using computer-generated 3D
models for one, and an endoscopic camera implanted in a human cadaver. All research is
conducted under the guise that the surgery is being performed on a real patient in order to control
levels of empathy between the participant and the patient. This guise is necessary for experimental
control of emotional factors in the collection of valid data.
Participants in the study will be asked to perform simple parallel tasks in computer-generated
environments and video-based environments, both shown from a ﬁrst person view. By measuring a
participants intended incision point we will quantify these differences in risky behavior between
computer-generated environments and video-based environments. Volunteer medical students are
selected to participate in this study and split into two groups. The participant joins the surgical
procedure already in progress. Moving towards an apparent goal, a research assistant will
demonstrate the ﬁrst two of three simple cutting actions. Then ask the participant to conduct the
third and ﬁnal incision by asking them to select the next incision point.
1. Group 1 [3D Virtual Surgery] – Participants that conduct the 3D Virtual Surgery are told that the
computer generated environment is created by a “new 3d sensor,” placed inside a ‘real’
2. Group 2 [Video Based Surgery] – Participants that conduct the Video Based Surgery are
shown a video based endoscopic surgery on a ‘real’ patient.
3. Upon completion we will share relevant details of the study with the participant, speciﬁcally that
the scenario and patient were both ﬁctitious.
By quantiﬁably measuring the amount of physical risk a person is willing to take, we can begin to
understand what behavioral characteristics cause disconnects between real-world and virtual-
world environments. Such knowledge will allow researchers and industry alike to create better
computer driven simulations that result in better transferability of knowledge to real world
Social Risk Study
Virtual worlds are also used more and more as media of communication and social interaction.
Games such as World of Warcraft and Halo 3 connect millions of people in a single cyber-
community, where different users can interact with each other virtually. Another game, the Sims,
actually involves the manipulation of very human-like, customized avatars who live in a realistic
virtual world. One of the most impressive cyber-communities today is Second Life, where people
can be so involved that they use real money to purchase virtual shoes for their virtual selves. The
possibilities of how far virtual reality can go have not yet reached their limits. Programs such as
Second Life make it feasible to use virtual reality as a medium for professional communication.
Long-distance business meetings have progressed from being impossible to using telephone
conference calls, to having video conference calls. The entrance of virtual reality to the professional
context creates the need for behavioral research. Thus far, no studies have investigated the
differences in social risk-taking behavior between virtual and real environments.
Research Question: How does taking social risks differ in real world environments vs. virtual
Hypothesis: We hypothesize that participants will be more likely to take larger social risks in
Actors will be hired to participate in both real-life and virtual meetings. Actors will follow along a
identical scripted scenario in both environments to present different social situations, and each
attendee will be given a unique personality.
Participants will be asked to attend a virtual or real world business meeting. We will measure risky
behavior such as rudeness, swearing, facial expressions, and physical reactions. Volunteer
business students will be selected to participate in this study and split into two groups. Each
participant will be told they must interview for the study, when in fact the interview will provide the
study's data. The participant will then attend either a real world or virtual candidate interview. The
participant will be pressured at various times throughout the meeting to respond to a coworker
positively or negatively. At the conclusion of the meeting the participant will be asked to complete a
survey gauging their reactions to the scenario.
By analyzing the responses of people in virtual and real-life social situations, we can anticipate and
understand differences between the two environments. This can help to avert misunderstandings,
inappropriate negative reactions, and inadvertent messages. Such information will better prepare
those who use virtual environments in professional communication.
The research team is composed of four leading experts at Iowa State University, all with an
extensive history of interdepartmental collaborative research.
Dr. Brian Ryherd, Ph.D., is a prominent professor of behavioral psychology who won a Nobel
Prize for his postdoctoral work, “Analysis of Warring Nations: A Study of International
Businessmen.” Dr. Ryherd earned his Ph.D. in behavioral psychology from Michigan State
University. He specializes in the pressures on group dynamics and the effects of environment on
social interaction. Dr. Ryherd's role in the VERA Project will position him as the Principal
Investigator (PI) for the project. Further, Dr. Ryherd will be overseeing the social risk study, mainly
focusing on the behavioral tendencies of the subjects. He will compile the results and use the data
to further aid in business , education, and other social areas for the future. (Curriculum Vitae
available in Appendix B-CV1)
Dr. Tom Hummer, Ph.D., is the current head of the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC), as
well as the collaborating virtual reality expert for NASA's astronaut training program. Dr. Hummer
received his Ph.D. in both software engineering and computer science at the University of Miami,
after having done his undergraduate work at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After eight
years at VRAC, Dr. Hummer has completed numerous ground-breaking projects concerning
military weaponry, space training, and medicine. Dr. Hummer's role in the VERA Project will involve
overseeing the physical risk study and assessing the results so they can be used to develop
military and aerospace training programs. (Curriculum Vitae available in Appendix B-CV2)
Dr. Dillan Laughlin, Ph.D. , is administrator of the Human-Computer Interaction program at Iowa
State University, having earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, producing his
dissertation “Transferability of preoperative anatomical programming to precise surgical methods.”
He has also been a previous head of VRAC. Dr. Dillan Laughlin will serve as the project Co-PI and
the lead of the Physical Risk Study. (Curriculum Vitae available in Appendix B-CV3)
Dr. Rebecca Burch, Ph.D. , is also an administrator of the Human-Computer Interaction program
at Iowa State University, directing the department for six years now. Before her stay at Iowa State,
she travelled worldwide to speak at international virtual technology conferences. In 2002, she was
the keynote speaker at the Nanotechnology Applications Conference in Tokyo, Japan, and in 2005,
she organized the ﬁrst "Virtualities" Conference in Washington, D.C. Dr. Burch earned her Ph.D. at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, producing her dissertation “Utilization of nano-
measurements in the abstraction of multiple-layer virtual technology.” She is well versed in
designing simulators and enabling advanced interactive behavior. Dr. Burch's key role in this
project is to design the experimental rooms and write the background virtual programming for both
experiments. (Curriculum Vitae available in Appendix B-CV4)
All members of the team have extensive research experience, dependable track records, and novel
ideas and conclusions. The Iowa State University campus has a large pool of support staff and
graduate research assistants available to the VERA Project. Together, our research team,
supporting staff, and graduate assistants can successfully carry out this project.
For this research, our costs are split into three categories: personnel, direct costs, and indirect
costs. A budget is included in Appendix A, detailing planned project expenditures by cost center.
The most important aspect of any psychological study such as this is the people that are involved.
These positions include programmers to provide the technology that will be used in the research,
those who are conducting the research, and those who will be participants in the study.
Programmers - These people will be paid to create the virtual situations that will be used in
Graduate Students - The carrying out and planning of this research will be done by graduate
students, whose salaries will be provided with our funds.
Research Professors - The large-scale management and planning will be done by us, the
research professors overseeing the project, whose salaries will be paid with our provided funds.
To aid the researchers in their studies, there are many material tools and outside costs that must
be addressed. These technologies, conferences, and other ofﬁce supplies are all important in the
success of our research.
Experiment Room Use - The university charges a fee for the use of rooms which we will
need to carry out our experiments.
Computers - We will need participants to be able to hold a business conference via virtual
worlds, which requires one computer for each of the participants at one time.
Transportation and Conference Registration Fees - Professors Dr. R. Burch and Dr. D. Laughlin will
be attending an Human Computer Interaction conference in Okinawa, Japan once per year
throughout all three years of this project to aid in both spreading ideas and receiving ideas.
Publication Costs - After our research and analysis is completed, we will need to publish our
Other Supplies - Ofﬁce supplies, some minimal computer accessories, and other minor
supplies are needed.
The only indirect costs that need to be accounted for with regards to this research is the overhead
that will be taken by the university in which the research will take place. Our research will be done
at Iowa State University, which has an overhead charge of 48%.
Deliverables and Dissemination
The insight we will gain from the VERA Project can be applied to a limitless number of ﬁelds. As
society continues to expand its use of virtual reality environments, our results will pave the way.
Virtual designers will be able to anticipate the behavior changes we observe and use this
knowledge to construct better virtual environments. Consistent with VOSS Grant guidelines the
VERA Project will submit annual project reports (prepared by Dr. Ryherd and Dr. Laughlin) detailing
the the current project activities, ﬁndings, publications, or other contributions.
Dissemination of VERA Project ﬁndings will be conducted through ongoing updates to the project
website veraproject.net. The VERA Project culminates with the delivery of a report of ﬁndings to the
peer reviewed Journal of Human Computer Interaction. Upon completion of the report Dr. Rebecca
Burch will deliver a presentation of project ﬁndings at the annual Human Computer Interaction
Conference. Dr. Burch will also begin a scholarly presentation circuit across the world (Dates TBD).
Broader Impact of Project VERA
As virtual technology continues to advance and broaden in scope, its interdisciplinary application
increases. Virtual environments provide a setting for interactions among organizations and people,
and its possibilities are limited only by the imagination. Accordingly, understanding changes in risk
assessment, whether the risk is physical or social, is essential to the advancement of virtual
organizations and sociotechnical systems. Computer-mediated communication could supplement
group collaboration (Losada et al 1990). Social dynamics are lost in the transition to virtual reality,
and a combined use of both physical and virtual interactions during group work can maximize
normal social behavior. The broader implications of this research are far reaching, affecting
numerous industries and professions. Three examples follow:
In the manufacturing industry, particularly the manufacture of high-value goods, many ﬁrm have
begun to utilize computer driven simulations to train workers on the operation of manufacturing
equipment. These simulated environments create a way for new hires to learn the processes of
creating the good without creating expensive waste. The challenge with these manufacturing
simulators is that the skills learned in the simulated environment are difﬁcult to transfer to a real
world environment. The dissemination of our research will provide those in industry the information
they need to create simulations that greatly increase the transferability of newly acquired skills.
Better transferability of knowledge and skills real-world environments will result in a much greater
return on investment for the business.
One of the biggest problems facing medicine today is the availability of special care. Small
communities across the globe may have the resources to provide basic health care and emergency
care but may lack the resources to support the need for oncology, cardiology, and neurology
specialists. A movement in the medical profession is to allow surgeons to robotically operate on
patients. Our research results will enhance the creation of systems that allow a doctor to
collaboratively operate on patients distributed across the globe, without putting the patient at risk.
The global economic landscape is drastically changing and businesses need to provide effective
means of collaborative communication between employees, business partners, and customers.
The global spread of business demands that businesses be able to communicate without
geographic limitations. By understanding differences in behavioral patterns between real and virtual
environments we can create systems that create a sense of presence for the user. This sense of
presence leads to a better adoption of virtual communication as an analog to costly face-to-face
At the university level, virtual classrooms would allow professors to teach from home when they are
sick or when the weather conditions are dangerous. Students would be able to participate in
learning in a different way, giving struggling students a chance to ﬁnd a new avenue of information
including simulations, databases, instrumentation, analytic tools and services which facilitate
interaction with human afﬁliates that are integral to the functioning of the school. Distance learning
would be made much more viable with computer aided virtual experiences.
Behavior in virtual environments has been the subject of little research. As a result, this project will
also serve to unlock further research opportunities. Its outcomes will serve as the foundation for
further study and for technological development. For example, once we understand how people
act differently in each environment, we can modify virtual systems to manage that behavior. By
promoting higher transferability to real world environments, this understanding will facilitate the
creation of better simulations and enhanced communication.
Thank you for your consideration to fund the VERA Project. We are looking forward to the
opportunity of working with you to perfect our society's use of virtual environments. Upon review of
this proposal questions may be directed to either Dr. Brian Ryherd or Dr. Dillan Laughlin. Upon
acceptance of this proposal please contact Dr. Brian Ryherd at your earliest convenience.
Dr. Brian Ryherd Dr. Dillan Laughlin
Iowa State University Iowa State University
Virtual Reality Application Center Virtual Reality Application Center
1346 Lincoln Way 1346 Lincoln Way
Ames, Iowa 50010 Ames, Iowa 50010
T 515-234-9864 T 515-234-9865
F 515-234-1235 F 515-234-1237
• Applegate, L.M., B.R. Konsynski, and J.F. Nunamaker. 1986. A group decision support system
for idea generation and issue analysis in organization planning. Proceedings of Conference on
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Austin, TX.
• Chopra, V., B.J. Gesink, J. de Jong, J.G. Bovill, J. Spierdijk, and R. Brand. 1994. Does training
on an anaesthesia simulator lead to improvement in performance? Br. J. Anaesth. 73:293-297.
• Girod, S., M. Teschner, U. Schrell, B. Kevekordes, and B. Girod. 2001. Computer-aided 3-D
simulation and prediction of craniofacial surgery: a new approach. Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial
• Gorman, P.J., A.H. Meter, and T.M. Krummel. 1999. Simulation and virtual reality in surgical
education: real or unreal? Arch. Surg. 134:1203-1208.
• Greenleaf, W.J. 1996. Developing the tools for practical VR applications. IEEE Engineering Med.
• Losada, M., P. Sanchez, and E.E. Noble. 1990. Collaborative technology and group process
feedback: their impact on interactive sequences in meetings. Proceedings of the ACM
Conference on Computer-supported Cooperative Work 90:53-64.
• McGuire, T.W., S. Kiesler, and J. Siegel. 1987. Group and computer-mediated discussion effects
in risk decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52:917-930.
• Pierce, D., Lu, S., and Harter, D. 2009. Enacting Actions in Simulated Environments. Proceedings
of the World Conference on Innovative VR 2009 (WINVR09-726).
• Watson, R.G., g. DeSanctis, and M.S. Poole. 1988. Using a GDSS to facilitate group consensus:
some intended and unintended consequences. MIS Quarterly (September):463-477.
VERA Project Budget
Description Quantity Unit Price Cost NSF University
Programmers [per hour] 100 $60 $6,000 $6,000
Graduate Students [per semester] 6 $6,000 $36,000 $36,000
Research Professors [per year] 4 $60,000 $240,000 $100,000 $140,000
Experiment Room Use 18 $800 $14,400 $14,400
Computers 4 $1,100 $4,400 $4,400
Transportation 6 $3,000 $18,000 $18,000
Conference Registration 3 $550 $1,650 $1,650
Publication Costs 1 $750 $750 $750
Other Supplies 1 $700 $700 $700
48% University Overhead 1 $154,512 $154,512 $154,512
Subtotal $476,412 $336,412 $140,000
Dr. Brian Ryherd, Ph.D
4328 McDonald Lane, Des Moines, IA 50311
Tel: 515-347-4932 firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 1989-Present
Professor of Behavioral Psychology and current Chair of Psychology Department specializing in the pressures
on group dynamics and the effects of environment on social interaction.
Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 1985-1989
Created 12 original graduate level behavioral science courses including the now famed course titled “Cognitive
Dissonance in Cheeseburger/Pizza Paradox Models”
Researcher, National Security Agency, Undisclosed, US 1981-1985
Conducted national security research into the behavioral effects of A Flock of Seagulls.
Michigan State University, PhD - 1980
Received distinguished Nobel Prize for Doctoral work entitled “Analysis of Warring Nations: A Study of Interna-
Iowa State University, BS - 1977
Behavioral Psychology Major, and
• Bradley, J.B., White, B.J., & Ryherd, B. Teams and Tasks: A Temporal Framework for the Effects of Interper-
sonal Interventions on Team Performance, Small Group Research, Volume 34, Number 3, pp. 353-387, June
• Ryherd, B. & West L.A. Geographic Information Systems in Developing Countries: Issues in Data Collection,
Management, and Use, the Journal of Global Information Management, Volume 9, Number 4, pp. 45-55, Fall
• Ryherd, B., Crossland, M.D., & Killingsworth, B.L. Is a Map More than a Picture? An Examination of the Role
of Subject Characteristics, Task Complexity, and Technology on Map Reading and Decision Making, the journal
Management Information Systems Quarterly, Volume 24, Number 4, pp. 601-630, Fall 2000.
• Ryherd, B., Valacich, J.S., & Wheeler, B.C. The Effects of Media and Task on User Performance: A Test of the
Task-Media Fit Hypothesis, Group Decision & Negotiation, Volume 9, Number 6, pp. 507-529, November
• Ryherd, B. Teaching Spatial Analysis in Business: An Examination of the Use of Geographic Information Sys-
tems in a Decision Support Systems Course, the Journal of Computer Information Systems, Volume 40, Number
3, Spring 2000.
• Ryherd, B., Bradley, J.B., & McLeod, M. The Impact of Group Process Training and Role Assignments on the
Performance and Perceptions of Student IS Project Teams, the Journal of Informatics Education & Research,
Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 1999.
• Ryherd, B. & Strader, T. (eds.) Mobile Commerce: Technology, Theory and Applications, 2003.
• Hackbarth, G & Ryherd, B. Strategic Positioning of Location Applications for Geo-Business, in J. Pick (ed.)
GIS in Business, March 2005.
• Ryherd, B., Dangermond, J., Santoro, P.J., Darling, M. & Crossland, M.D. Responding to Customer Needs
with Geographic Information Systems, in S. Bradley & R. Nolan (eds.) Sense and Respond: Capturing Value in
the Network Era, March 1998.
• Wagner G.R., Wynne, B.E., & Ryherd, B. Group Support Systems Facilities and Software, in L.M. Jessup & J.S.
Valacich (eds.) Group Support Systems: New Perspectives, 1993, pages 8-55.
Appendix B-CV1 22
Dr. Tom Hummer
1287 BASS AVE DES MOINES, IA 50311 tom.hummer.veraproject.net
TEL 515-221-2211 FAX 515-432-7789
VIRTUAL REALITY APPLICATIONS CENTER DIRECTOR, IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, AMES, IOWA 2006-PRESENT
Completed numerous ground-breaking projects concerning military weaponry, space training, and medicine.
CONSULTANT, NASA, HOUSTON, TEXAS 1993 - PRESENT
Collaborating virtual reality expert for NASA's astronaut training program.
RESEARCH ASSISTANT, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI DEPARTMENT OF AEROSPACE SCIENCE, MIAMI, FLORIDA 1990 - 1993
Conducted research into aerospace engineering simulators and military applications.
University of Miami — PhD., 1990
Dissertation: Aerospace Modalities in Simulated Computer Environments
University of Colorado at Boulder — BS., 1987
Majors: Software Engineering and Computer Science
• Bradley, J.B., White, B.J., & Hummer, T. The Impact of Goal Congruence on Flight Systems Development Team Per-
formance. Proceedings of the Southeast Institute for Decision Sciences Institute, February 2003.
• Bradley, J.B., Foltz, B., & Hummer, T. Using GIS in a natural disaster. Proceedings of the American Society of Behav-
ioral Sciences Conference, February 2001.
• Hummer, T. & Higgins, G. Spatial Data in the Data Warehouse: A Nomenclature for Design and Use, Proceedings of the
5th Annual Americas Conference on Aerospace Systems, August 1999.
• Hummer, T. Teaching Spatial Analysis in Business: The Case of Geographic Information Systems in a Decision Support
Systems Course, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Association for Information Management,
• Development of a Recruiting, Selection, and Retention System to Enhance Crime Lab Ability to Identify and Hire Ap-
propriate Lab Personnel. A $139,000 grant funded by the National Institute of Justice in association with the Midwest
Forensic Resource Center, Awarded, January 2008; Completion Date Fall 2008. Tom Hummer (PI) & Anthony Butterﬁeld
• Feasibility and Proof of Concept of Utilizing Radio Frequency Identiﬁcation Tagging Technology to Manage Aerospace
Laboratories: Technical Innovations in Management and Infrastructure. A $230,000 grant funded by NASA in association
with the Midwest Aerospace Resource Center, Awarded March 2005; Completion Date December 2006. Anthony Hen-
drickson (PI), Kevin Scheibe (PI), Tom Hummer (PI), & Tony Butterﬁeld (PI).
Appendix B-CV2 23
1 2 3 4 A R M A D I L L O AV E DES MOINES, IA 50311
TEL 5 1 5 - 2 3 7 - 1 2 8 9 FAX 5 1 5 - 2 3 4 - 1 2 3 4 EMAIL D I L L A N @ I A S TAT E . E D U
P R O F E S S O R , I O W A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y A M E S , I A 2 0 0 4 - P R E S E N T
Professor of Human Computer Interaction and administrator of the Human-Computer Interaction program
at Iowa State University.
V R A C D I R E C T O R , I O W A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y A M E S , I A 2 0 0 4 - 2 0 0 6
Created masters and PhD degree programs under the ISU Virtual Reality Application Center.
A S S O C I AT E P R O F E S S O R , I O W A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y A M E S , I A 1 9 9 8 - 2 0 0 4
The ISU Chancellor and Iowa Board of Regents provided authorization for tenure and promotion in April
E D U C AT I O N
University of California, Berkley, California — PhD, 1998
Disertation: Transferability of preoperative anatomical programming to precise surgical methods.
University of Iowa, Iowa City Iowa - BS, BA, BBA, 1995
Majors: Pre-Med, Computer Science, Business
J O U R N A L P U B L I C AT I O N S
• Laughlin, D.T., Hassall, L.M., & Triplett, J. The mean business of immersive environments. The MERLOT
Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), Volume 4, Number 3, September 2008.
• Laughlin, D.T., McNeill, D., Ganis, M., Roche, E., Konsynski, B., Bray, D., Lester, & Townsend, A.M.
Second Life and other Virtual Worlds: A Roadmap for Research, Communications of the AIS, Volume 20,
Article 20, March 2008. (listed top-10 downloads for all time August 2008 to present).
• Townsend, A.M. & Laughlin, D.T. Applications of Radio Frequency Identiﬁcation (RFID) in the Meat
Industry, CAB Reviews (Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition, and Natural Resources).
Volume 3, Number 007, February 2008. Available from http://www.cababstractsplus.org/cabreviews/
• Laughlin, D.T., Townsend, A.M., Hayes, D.J., & Lonergan S.M. A study of the factors that inﬂuence
consumer attitudes toward beef products using the conjoint market analysis tool. The Journal of Animal
Science, Volume 85, Number 10, pp. 2639-2659, October 2007.
• Laughlin, D.T., Terando, W. D., Janvrin, D. J., & Dilla, W.N. It’s just a game, or is it? Simulated surgical
procedures in virtual worlds. Communications of the AIS, Volume 20, Article 15, July 2007.
• Scheibe, K. P., Laughlin, B. E., & Luse, A. The Role of Effective Modeling in the Development of Self-
Efﬁcacy: The Case of the Transparent Engine. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, Volume
5, Number 1, pp. 21-42, January 2007.
• Scheibe, K.P., Laughlin, D.T., and C.W. Zobel. Creating Offshore-ready Medical and Industrial
Professionals: A Global Perspective and Strong Collaborative Skills Are Needed. Journal of Labor
Research, Volume 27, Number 3, pp. 275-290, June 2006.
Appendix B-CV3 24
Dr. Rebecca Burch
Administrator, Iowa State University Human Computer Interaction Program
2003 - Present
Professor well versed in instruction of simulator design and enabling advanced interactive behavior.
Managing Editor, Lecture Note in Virtual Environment Design
1998 - 2003
Created and edited peer reviewed journal in simulated technologies. Won 2000 NSF Best Editor of a
Scientiﬁc Peer Reviewed Journal Award.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology - PhD., 2000
Dissertation: Utilization of nano-measurements in the abstraction of multiple-layer virtual technology.
Conference Publications and Presentations
Keynote - Nanotechnology Applications Conference in Tokyo, Japan, 2002.
Virtualities Conference - Washington, D.C. 2005.
• Burch, R. & Bradley, J.B. Making Project Groups Work: The Impact of Structuring Group Roles on
the Performance and Perception of Information Systems Project Teams, the Journal of Computer
Information Systems Volume 29, Number 1, Fall 1998.
• Burch, R. & Valacich, J.S. Information Is What You Make of It: The Inﬂuence of Group History and
Computer Support on Information Sharing, Decision Quality, and Member Perceptions, the Journal of
Management Information Systems Volume 15, Number 2, pp. 173-197, Fall 1998.
• Burch, R. & West L.A. Geographic Information Systems in Developing Countries: Opportunities and
Options for Decision Support, the Journal of Global Information Management Volume 6, Number 3,
pp. 14-25, April 1998.
• Burch, R. Using Group Support Systems to Discover Hidden Proﬁles: An Examination of the
Inﬂuence of Group Size and Meeting Structures on Information Sharing and Decision Quality, the
International Journal of Human Computer Studies Volume 43, Number 3, pp. 387-405, October 1997.
• Burch, R., Understanding the Role of Geographic Information Technologies in Business:
Applications and Research Directions, Journal of Geographic Information and Decision Analysis,
Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 44-68, April 1997.
• Valacich, J.S., Burch, R., Wheeler, B.C., & Wachter, R. The Effects of Numerical and Logical Group
Size on Computer-Mediated Idea Generation, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision
Processes, Volume 62, Number 3, pp. 318-329, June 1995.
• Wheeler, B.C., Burch, R., & Scudder, J.S. Restrictive Group Support Systems as a Source of Process
Structure for High and Low Procedural Order Groups, Small Group Research, Volume 24, Number 4,
pp. 504-522, November 1993.
• Burch, R., Hoffer, J.A., & Wynne, B.E. The Implications of Group Development and History for GSS
Theory and Practice, Small Group Research, Volume 23, Number 4, pp. 524-572, November 1992.
9274 21st Street Ames, IA 50010
T 515-856-8827 F 515-856-9929 E email@example.com
Appendix B-CV4 25