The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Power UP: Teaching Students About Energy

Have you ever wondered where the electricity that powers your lights, computers and air conditioning comes from? Understanding basic principles of energy production and conservation is vital information for all of us. The Vis Center Media for Research Team has recently completed a joint project with the Center for Applied Energy Research that provides high school teachers around the state with high quality energy education materials.

Entitled Power UP!, the project includes a mobile app, website and seven shorts videos that teach fundamental elements of energy production, use, conservation and water impact. The project is aimed at high school teachers who often use iPads in the classroom and are able to use short videos on seven topics to supplement their lessons.

To learn more about the project visit:

The videos and other information are available on the website as well as on a mobile iPad app available through iTunes.

To read more about the collaboration with CAER and the State Cabinet for Energy and Environment visit UKNOW.



Samson Cheung Awarded NSF Grant for Autism Therapy Research

Samson CheungVis Center faculty member Dr, Sen-Ching (Samson) Cheung has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for his research into autism therapies using a “virtual mirror”. The research will develop new display and image progressing technology for synthesizing self-modeling and mirror feedback imageries.

The goal of the project will be to enhance behavior therapy for individuals with autism and related disorders. Children with autism spectrum disorders typically lack interest in social interactions, but appear to be highly interested in their own image in mirrors and others imitating their actions. The system will provide a non-intrusive means to capture eye gaze, facial expression, body pose, body movement, and other human behavioral patterns. New multimedia processing algorithms will be developed that will transfer 2D and 3D physical appearances, as well as behaviors from a source individual to the virtual mirror. By combining visual feedback and real-time rendering of new behaviors, the virtual mirror is expected to deliver more effective behavioral modeling.

The research program is a collaborative effort of PIs from electrical engineering, psychology, medicine, and education. Cheung will be the primary investigator, with Lisa Ruble from the College of Education, Ramesh Bhatt from the Department of Psychology and Dr. Neelkamal Soares in Pediatrics at UCLA as co-PIs.

Dr. Ken Calvert to serve as Vis Center’s Interim Director

Ken Calvert, Ph. D., will serve as the Interim Director of the Vis Center.  Dr. Calvert currently is the Chairman of the Computer Science Department at the University of Kentucky.

He received his S.B. in 1979 from M.I.T. then earned his M.S. from Stanford University in 1980 before spending five years as a member of the technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ.  In 1991, he earned his Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin.  For seven years he served as an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, then joined the University of Kentucky’s faculty in 1998 as an associate professor of computer science.  Since 2007, Dr. Calvert has been a professor of computer science and the Chair of the Computer Science Department.

Throughout his time at the University, he has been recognized for his commitment to teaching.  Twice, in 2000 and 2003, the University acknowledged him as an “Outstanding Computer Science Teacher.”  From 2002-2007, he was a Gill Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky.  At the IWAN 2003 Conference, he won the “Best Paper” award.

Brent Seales, Ph. D., is stepping down from his role as the director of the Vis Center.  He will spend the 2012-2013 school year in Paris, working at Google Paris over his sabbatical. Dr. Seales will return to the University of Kentucky as a professor of Computer Science when his sabbatical ends.

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