Feb 13, 2014

Quarles wins $537K NSF CAREER award

John Quarles, an assistant professor in UTSA's Department of Computer Science, has recently become a recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The five-year, $537,898 grant will support Dr. Quarles's research on “CAREER: Measuring and Reducing Cybersickness in Virtual Reality Physical Rehabilitation”. Including this award, Dr. Quarles has brought more than $1.7 million total research funding to UTSA since joining the department in 2009. For more information about Dr. Quarles's research, see http://save.cs.utsa.edu.

The topic of the funded research is to study how to reduce cybersickness in virtual reality physical rehabilitation. The effects of cybersickness (i.e., motion sickness caused by immersive simulation, such as virtual reality) on healthy users has been one of the fundamental research areas in virtual reality(VR) for many years, but its impact on persons with physical disabilities is still unknown, even though it could have a significant an impact on VR-based physical rehabilitation. Dr. Quarles proposes to investigate cybersickness for persons with disabilities, specifically for persons with multiple sclerosis based on specific selection criteria (e.g., a moderate level of mobility impairment but without cognitive disability). The expected outcome of this research is to minimize negative effects of cybersickness for disabled persons, thereby significantly improving VR physical rehabilitation effectiveness and ultimately quality of life.

Dr. Quarles is not only a VR researcher; he is also a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient. Diagnosed in 2005, having MS gives him a unique perspective on the research. His personal experiences with mobility impairment and balance deficits ignited his passion for this work and have fueled his fundamental research questions ever since.

The CAREER is the NSF's most prestigious award for junior faculty and is awarded to faculty members who embody the role of teacher-scholar by integrating outstanding research with excellence as an educator within the context of their institution. CAREER awards support integrated research and educational activities that serve as foundation for a lifelong career of teaching and scholarship.

Dr. Quarles is now one of three recipients of current NSF CAREER awards at UTSA in the Department of Computer Science. In 2010, Dakai Zhu received a CAREER award to study scheduling in multicore based real-time embedded systems. In 2009, Jeffery von Ronne received a CAREER award to study the analysis of dynamically extensible software. Our CAREER recipients have helped the department to grow and led to more success in funding, research, and teaching. Thus, the CS department grows stronger each year and continues to make significant contributions towards making UTSA a top tier university.