SURF-IT Research Projects


Participants | Research Projects

The SURF-IT program is committed to offering students challenging and unique research opportunities that explore the diverse, multidisciplinary nature of telecommunications and information technology, and ultimately focus on furthering the development of the Internet. Students will be fully immersed in the research laboratory, collaborating with their faculty mentors and teams, and using state-of-the-art equipment. These projects will fully engage the student and provide the opportunity to see how telecommunication and information technology developments are applied in real life to produce significant and tangible final results.

Calit2 faculty, students and research professionals with leading California technology companies conduct research in “living laboratories” focused on the scientific, technological, and social components related to information technologies.

2014 SURF-IT Research Projects

The following faculty-mentored research projects are available during the 2014 SURF-IT Program. They are divided into their own unique areas of research. Select a link for an overview of the project, associated faculty mentors, project prerequisites, and related publications.

Undergraduate Research Projects Mentored by Calit2 Faculty

    1) Access to the Internet and Mobile Applications in a Mixed Population Emergency Department  

    2) An Exploration of Mathematical Modeling for the Vestibular System and Optimization of Vestibular Prosthesis Prototype  

    3) An Improved Graphene Transfer Process for Biological Functionalization 

    4) Arduino to Monitor Sustainable Aquaponics 

    5) CodeGlass: Increasing Programmer Productivity by Presenting Relevant Contextual Information through Google Glass 

    6) Designing a Technology Use Monitor and Awareness App for College Students 

    7) Evaluating the Use and Affordance of the iPad for Standardized Patient Encounters During Clinical Skills Examinations 

    8) Evaluation of Requirements Engineering for Sustainability (RE4S) 

    9) Study and Implementation of a Wireless Sensor Network Using Motes and a Software-Defined Radio Platform (USRP) 

    10) Supporting Under-Resourced NGOs in the Global South 

    11) Vestibular Rehabilitation Using Wide-Angled Head Mounted Displays with Stereoscopic 3D 

 Project #1:  Access to the Internet and Mobile Applications in a Mixed Population Emergency Department
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Warren F. WiechmannEmergency Medicine

Description:  The objective of our study is to collect survey responses from patients regarding accessibility to mobile devices, texting, internet access, email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We aim to quantify the percentage of our emergency department patients who have access to these resources. We hypothesize that the vast majority (90%) of our patients will have access to the internet or mobile devices.

Emergency departments are an essential resource in the community but because of the nature of single visits their ability to educate the patient population is limited. Physicians are limited to short visits with patients, and discharge instructions and information often consist of short verbal conversations by physicians and very generalized paperwork (1,2).

With mobile health apps, internet blogs and podcasts becoming proliferate, it is time that medicine and physicians start using these resources and exploring these media to educate patients and the community in general. As the first line in medical care, and the “jacks-of-all-trades” emergency physicians are uniquely positioned to educate patients on a variety of topics. Before emergency physicians can use these media, we must examine whether our target population (our patients and the community they live in) can truly access these resources.

Prior studies have measured accessibility to the internet(3-8), however, these studies were not done at UC Irvine, and the most recent data collection we found on our literature review was from 2009, and it is likely that accessibility has increased since that time. Based on observational experience, the authors felt that the vast majority of patients including homeless, chronically ill and undocumented patients had access to the Internet in one form or another. This study seeks to quantify that access and clarify the percentage of our patients who can access these resources, as well as those who would like educational resources through these means.

Additional Mentors: Shannon Toohey – Resident Physician, Emergency Medicine

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Vashi A, Rhodes KV. “Sign Right Here and You’re Good to Go”: A Content Analysis ofAudiotaped Emergency Department Discharge Instructions. YMEM. Elsevier Inc; 2011 Apr 1;57(4):315–322.e1.: N/A
   Spandorfer JM, Karras DJ, Hughes LA, Caputo C. Comprehension of discharge instructions by patients in an urban emergency department. YMEM. 1995 Jan;25(1):71–4. : N/A
   Bond MC, Klemt R, Merlis J, Kopinski JE, Hirshon JM. Computer Access and Internet Use by Urban and Suburban Emergency Department Customers. Journal of Emergency Medicine. Elsevier Ltd; 2012 Jul 1;43(1):159–65. : N/A
   Dudas RA, Pumilia JN, Crocetti M. Pediatric Caregiver Attitudes and Technologic Readiness Toward Electronic Follow-Up Communication in an Urban Community Emergency Department. Telemedicine and e-Health. 2013 Jun;19(6):493–6. : N/A
   Kind T, Huang ZJ, Farr D, Pomerantz KL. Internet and computer access and use for health information in an underserved community. Ambul Pediatr. 2005 Mar;5(2):117–21. : N/A

 Project #2:  An Exploration of Mathematical Modeling for the Vestibular System and Optimization of Vestibular Prosthesis Prototype
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Andrei ShkelMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Description:  A healthy vestibular system allows a person to maintain balance and spatial orientation amidst free movement of the head and body. Essentially processing position and motion information, it helps the brain stabilize gaze and control the posture/balance. However, there are numerous conditions that compromise this crucial system and can disable someone. A dysfunctional vestibular system can cause dizziness and balance problems, causing chronic impairment as the slightest motion can destabilize the victim’s gaze.

While there have been emerging treatments for unhealthy vestibular systems, they mainly help the sufferers cope, which does not treat the problem itself. Recently, researchers around the world are trying to create an implantable device that can help restore vestibular function by replacing the entire vestibular system with a mechanical device. The focus of this research project is to help set the groundwork of creating an implantable device by using an existing prototype and improving upon the design. The intended direction of the device is towards the field of MEMS. By integrating all the various data processing steps the vestibular system performs into one chip, the scale of the device will be minimal, fully implantable, and allow for mass production. In order for this miniaturization to happen, a better understanding and efficiency is required from the existing model created by the lab prior.

Students chosen for this project will help create another prototype for the vestibular implant system described and utilize Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) modeling for the vestibular system to create a more unique and functional version of the device. The prospective student is specifically expected to work on biological signal processing and the development of the HH model. While working alongside the mentor and associates, students will integrate the modeling within the system for the implant and determine the accuracy of the data sets. Furthermore, an analysis of the simulated data gathered from the prototypes is important in order to identify further improvements possible for the implant design.

Prerequisites: Prerequisites for this project include proficiency in MATLAB and biological sciences. A strong background in HH modeling and mathematics is required. Creativity is also deeply appreciated.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Andrei M. Shkel and Fan-Gang Zeng, “An Electronic Prosthesis Mimicking the Dynamic Vestibular Function”, Audiology and Neurotology. Special issue on Micro- and Nanotechnology for Neurotology. Karger Publisher. Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006: N/A
   V.V. Aleksandrov and E. Soto, “Mathematical Simulation of Correction of Output Signals from the Gravitoinertial Mechanoreceptor of a Vestibular Apparatus”, Moscow University Mechanics Bulletin. Vol.68, No. 5, 2013 : N/A
   Understanding the following program regarding neurons is expected from applicants. Go to in order to see the program and learn more. :

 Project #3:  An Improved Graphene Transfer Process for Biological Functionalization
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Peter J. BurkeElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  Burkelab is exploring electrical ways to interrogate single mitochondria’s functions such as membrane potential and respiration. One of the ongoing efforts is to functionalize graphene’s surface with antibodies that can bind tightly to the mitochondrion. We are trying to determine if graphene, a promising material for biosensors, can detect any electrical signals from the binding of single isolated mitochondria to the attached antibodies on graphene’s surface and whether graphene can serve as a detection platform of mitochondrial functions once they are attached on its surface.

To this goal, we need to start with graphene transferred to a glass substrate with little to no defects because a pristine sheet of graphene important to the functionalization process. Currently, graphene is commercially obtained, transferred using PMMA, annealed but still contains cracks and defects. Working closely with a graduate student, the SURF-IT candidate will conduct literature search, recommend possible ways to improve the current transfer process, carry out antibody functionalization steps, and perform AFM characterization of graphene before and after functionalization.

Student’s involvement and expected outcomes:

> Analytical skills in literature search and review
> Hands-on experience with wet-lab work
> Atomic Force Microscopy
> Optical Microscopy
> Molecular Biology techniques in biotinylation and functionalization

Additional Mentors: Ted Pham - Doctoral Student

Prerequisites: Sophomore or Junior Standing, Biology Coursework, GPA >= 3.2

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Kayo S, Bahnemann J, Klauser M, et al. (2013) A microfluidic device for immuno-affinity-based separation of mitochondria from cell culture. Lab Chip 13:4467–75. doi: 10.1039/c3lc50739d: N/A
   Cohen-Karni T, Qing Q, Li Q, et al. (2010) Graphene and nanowire transistors for cellular interfaces and electrical recording. Nano Lett 10:1098–102. doi: 10.1021/nl1002608: N/A
   Wang YY, Burke PJ (2013) A large-area and contamination-free graphene transistor for liquid-gated sensing applications. Appl Phys Lett 103:052103.: N/A
   Liang, X., Sperling, B. A., Calizo, I., Cheng, G., Hacker, C. A., Zhang, Q., Richter, C. A. (2011). Toward Clean and Crackless Transfer of Graphene, (11), 9144–9153: N/A
   Suk, J. W., Kitt, A., Magnuson, C. W., Hao, Y., Ahmed, S., An, J., Ruoff, R. S. (2011). Transfer of CVD-Grown Monolayer Graphene onto Arbitrary Substrates. ACS Nano, 5(9), 6916–6924. doi:10.1021/nn201207c: N/A

 Project #4:  Arduino to Monitor Sustainable Aquaponics
Faculty Mentor:  Professor William M. TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  The goal of this project is to create an Arduino program that accurately obtains and reports values from the environmental sensors of a 250 gallon aquaponics system. Sensors include water temperature, air temperature, humidity, water flow, and light levels. Data will be reported on a web-based application and used to answer research questions such as: how do local environmental conditions affect plant and fish growth rates?

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The student will gain experience in Arduino programming,hardware integration, and practical problem solving on a systems level. The Arduino program will be expected to obtain and report accurate values from sensors. The student will then actively be involved in research by analyzing their data for correlations between environmental conditions and growth rates. Results will then be used to improve the function of the aquaponics system.

Additional mentors:

Professor Peter Bowler, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Kevin Simonson, Graduate Student, Medicine

Prerequisites: Preference for juniors or seniors with good class standing. Coursework in engineering, computer science, or information technology necessary.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 

 Project #5:  CodeGlass: Increasing Programmer Productivity by Presenting Relevant Contextual Information through Google Glass
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Andre van der Hoek Informatics

Description:  Today's software development environments and tools offer numerous ways of providing useful contextual information about the code the programmer is developing. This information is available through a number of different views, each of which has been developed to present certain information, for instance flagging buggy code, identifying the author of some code, listing to-do items still to be completed, presenting who else may be working on the code in parallel, and many others. While all this information about the code is useful, however, the number of available views is now so prevalent that they are polluting the development environment and make it difficult to work on the code. The window available for the code becomes smaller and smaller, more and more annotations are shown, and actually moving from view to view requires serious context switching.

We propose to address this problem by moving the contextual information out of the development environment and into their peripheral vision, by using Google Glass. Google Glass is designed for transient information, and the contextual information that the developers are provided about their code typically fits this nature: it is relevant for this task, file, or line of code – but only when that task, file, or line of code is ‘active’. We therefore believe that offloading the contextual onto the Google Glass offers the possibility of significantly improving a programmer’s work environment.

Naturally, our approach presents challenges of its own. While Google Glass offers extensive facilities for building “cards” through which the information can be displayed to the programmers, they cards have a limited real estate and clearly we cannot overwhelm the developer with new card after new card. The goal of this research is therefore twofold: (1) to demonstrate the feasibility of the idea, and (2) to explore ways in which to optimally use the Google Glass to present this kind of information.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The student will be the primary person responsible for this project, and is expected to design and build: (1) a plugin to the Eclipse development environment that sends out notifications of what task, file, and line of code currently being worked on, (2) additional plug-ins that retrieve relevant contextual information from relevant repositories (e.g., the CM system, bug tracker), and (3) the CodeGlass app, which receives the information and presents it to the user.

Should there be time, the students will also work with us to also design and execute a preliminary experiment to test the approach with real software developers.

The student will gain both practical and research knowledge. Practically, they will gain experience with a variety of leading edge technologies. Research-wise, the student will be part of an active and vibrant group of graduate students, visitors, and others, learn how to design, develop, and evaluate a new research contribution. There is a high likelihood that, with success, this project will lead to an academic paper.

Additional Mentors:

Lee Martie & Mengyao Zhao

Prerequisites: The student should be a very strong and creative Java programmer, hard worker, and enthusiastic about new and transformative technology. They should be very comfortable with concepts of Inheritance, Classes, Objects, and what an architecture is. Further, they should be able translate ideas and requirements into
these concepts.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   The first three of these are books, which we will have available in support of the project.

Eclipse IDE: Eclipse IDE based on Eclipse 4.2 and 4.3 (Vogella series) by Lars Vogel

Eclipse 4 Plug-in Development by Example: Beginner's Guide published by Alex Blewitt

Programming Google Glass by Eric Redmond: N/A
   A. Sarma, Z. Noroozi, and A. van der Hoek, “Palantír: Raising Awareness Among Configuration Management Workspaces,” in Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Software
Engineering, Washington, DC, USA, 2003, pp. 444–454: N/A

 Project #6:  Designing a Technology Use Monitor and Awareness App for College Students
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Mark WarschauerEducation

Description:  Millennials use cell phones, social networks, and the Internet more than any other generation (Taylor & Keeter, 2010). College students frequently use social media throughout the day and average more than 100 minutes per day on Facebook alone (Junco, 2012). However, the impact of these technologies on college students’ well-being and academic success remains an open question. Additionally, what measures might college students take to monitor and control their use of technology, manage their time on social media, and assess their well-being?

In an ongoing research collaboration between the Department of Informatics and the School of Education, we have found that increased duration and intensity of computer use is correlated with increased stress, social media activity is associated with less stress for college students (Mark, Wang, & Niiya, forthcoming). Some of the measures that our study uses include computer and phone monitoring software to track students’ use of the Internet and apps and surveys to gauge their moods and stress levels. Many of our participants have reported that having to reflect on their moods, coupled with the monitoring of their technology use, helped them to be more aware of their technology and study habits. Even more of our participants expressed interest in an app that could help them monitor their technology use and to help them better manage their time. In this proposed research project, an undergraduate student researcher would help design, test, and deploy such an app.

Student Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
In collaboration with the faculty advisor and graduate students who are currently working on the project, the student will lead the design and development of a mobile application that will allow users—specifically, college students—to monitor and reflect on their phone, computer, Internet, and social media use. The student will explore and research what features will best serve this population.

The student will help to design and program this application and in so doing will develop leadership and collaboration skills, web or mobile environment programming skills, quality assurance and testing procedure knowledge, and research skills including interviewing and some data analysis.

The expected outcomes of this project are a functioning awareness application, documentation for this app, and a short paper or poster exploring the effectiveness of this app in achieving the design goals.

Prerequisites: This project will require a student with a background in programming/application development. Preference will be given to a student with at least intermediate knowledge and coursework in web or mobile programming and database design (for example, PHP, Java, Ruby, Android, iOS, MySQL).

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Junco, R. (2012). Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 187-198.:
   Mark, G., Wang, Y., & Niiya, M. (in press). Stress and multitasking in everyday college life: An empirical study of online activity. In CHI 2014 Proceedings. :
   Taylor, P., & Keeter, S. (2010). Millennials: A portrait of generation next. Confident. Connected. Open to change. Pew Research Center. :

 Project #7:  Evaluating the Use and Affordance of the iPad for Standardized Patient Encounters During Clinical Skills Examinations
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Yunan ChenInformatics

Description:  Mobile technologies are becoming pervasive in the clinical realm. Clinicians will find themselves in situations where mobile technologies can and will be used during encounters with patients for patient education purposes. Though guidelines exist for the use of computers and laptops with patients, there are few, if any, guidelines for the use of mobile devices with patients. This research is part of ongoing larger efforts to determine effective uses of the iPad in medical education.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes: The student will be expected to watch and analyze a sample of videos of medical student and standardized patient encounters recorded during clinical examinations (length = 20-minutes) in the Clinical Skills Center at the School of Medicine. The student will work with a team of researchers to help identify usage patterns of the iPad by medical students with standardized patients during a clinical encounter. The goal of this project is to help validate a mobile technology etiquette checklist for use of the iPad and other mobile devices during a clinical encounter, as well as determine how the iPad affects communication between medical students and standardized patients. A recently conducted pilot study has identified a few areas for deeper analysis, namely, (1) the effect of seating arrangement on communication with the iPad; (2) the relationship between length of time of iPad use during an encounter and patient satisfaction with the encounter; and (3) the comparison of iPad + clipboard use vs. iPad + no clipboard use. These areas will be evaluated in this project.

Additional Mentors: Julie H. Youm, Ph.D. - Instructional Technologies Group • School of Medicine
Adjunct Assistant Professor • Emergency Medicine

Prerequisites: The student is required to have general knowledge about information and computer science, qualitative research, and health informatics field. During the SURF-IT program, the student is expected to analyze the videos, draft a research article, and to propose a new follow up study under the guidance of the two mentors.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Paul Luff, Christian Heath: Mobility in Collaboration. CSCW 1998: 305-314: N/A
   Richard Frankel, Andrea Altschuler, Sheba George, James Kinsman, Holly Jimison, Nan R. Robertson, John Hsu, Effects of Exam-Room Computing on Clinician–Patient Communication A Longitudinal Qualitative Study. J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Aug;20(8):677-82.: N/A
   Paul George, Luba Dumenco, Richard Dollase, Julie Scott Taylor, Hedy S. Wald, Shmuel P. Reis. Introducing technology into medical education: Two pilot studies. Patient Education and Counseling. 2013 Dec;93(3):522-4 : N/A

 Project #8:  Evaluation of Requirements Engineering for Sustainability (RE4S)
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Debra J. RichardsonInformatics

Description:  The main research question is “How does using the RE4S approach influence the resulting software system and its impact on the surrounding environmental context and sustainability?” Requirements engineering (RE) is the discipline of systematically eliciting, analyzing, specifying and validating the needs and constraints of a software system. RE4S denotes a tailored version of RE that integrates environmental sustainability as major quality objective into software engineering. This enables the environmental impact of the system under development to be considered throughout the software lifecycle – i.e., reducing negative impact and adding positive benefits where possible.

This project will involve a case study in collaboration with an industrial partner. The goal of the project is to analyze how the software requirements differ if RE4S is applied as compared to using traditional RE, as well as its impact on follow-on development efforts and the final product’s environmental impact.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The student’s involvement entails applying the RE4S approach and elaborating a requirements specification for the system under analysis. Thus, the student will apply requirements elicitation, analysis and documentation techniques to elaborate a requirements specification. The expected project outcome is a requirements specification that allows for a comparison between traditional RE and RE4S. By helping in that, the student will improve their requirements engineering skills, develop analytical skills, and awareness regarding environmental sustainability.

Additional Mentors:

Birgit Penzenstadler – Assistant Project Scientist, Informatics

Prerequisites: Successfully completed Inf113 (Engineering Requirements).

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Penzenstadler, Raturi, Richardson, Tomlinson: “Safety, security, now sustainability”
IEEE Software, May 2014.: N/A
   Penzenstadler and Femmer: “RE@21: Time to Sustain!” RE4SuSy, CEUR-­‐‑WS, 2013.

(copies can be requested from or N/A

 Project #9:  Study and Implementation of a Wireless Sensor Network Using Motes and a Software-Defined Radio Platform (USRP)
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Hamid JafarkhaniElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  The objective of this project is to create a sensor network and implement some existing algorithms to optimize the performance of the network. A sensor network includes some sensor nodes and a fusion center. The designed algorithms will run on the fusion center which is a laptop in this set-up. The sensor network will include several Motes and a Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) product that is a computer-hosted software radio designed and sold by Ettus Research, LLC and its parent company, National
Instruments. A software-defined radio (SDR) system is a radio communication system in which the components typically implemented in hardware are instead implemented in software.

Our goal is to construct the sensor network, test our theoretical algorithms and modify them to address the practical issues like synchronization. In this SURF-IT project, the student will be involved in implementing and improving our current algorithms, writing code in C/C++ language, and running experimental tests on SDRs to evaluate the sensor
network performance.

Prerequisites: Students with prior coursework on digital communications and/or signal processing and knowledge of C/C++ programming are preferred.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Information about GNU radio.:
   Andreas Goldsmith, Wireless Communications. Cambridge University Press: U.K., 2005.: N/A

 Project #10:  Supporting Under-Resourced NGOs in the Global South
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Gillian R. HayesInformatics

Description:  Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide many of the health and education services that are greatly needed in the Global South. However, many NGOs struggle with lack of resources and limited technical expertise. In the Global North, there are reservoirs of technical expertise that, if made accessible, could significantly help under-resourced NGOs. These include former development professionals who have returned home; graduate students, postdocs, and professors who have done relevant research; and content experts who are currently not working full-time.

The goal of this project is to develop a mobile app and website that runs on Android smartphones and that can be used to connect experts in the Global North with under-resourced NGOs in the Global South. The initial idea for the app is for it to be a question-and-answer forum, in which NGOs can post questions, and experts as well as other NGOs can provide answers.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes: Student will be responsible for reading relevant literature, discussing the project regularly with the mentors and other members of the research lab, and designing and developing a technology solution to support the needs of information sharing with NGOs.

Additional Mentors:

Karen Cheng - Associate Project Scientist, Informatics

Prerequisites: Students with prior experience in coding for the mobile platform a plus. This experience could be using web, Android, or iOS.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   The role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction.:
   Professors, We Need You!:

 Project #11:  Vestibular Rehabilitation Using Wide-Angled Head Mounted Displays with Stereoscopic 3D
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Hamid DjalilianOtolaryngology

Description:  The vestibular system of the inner ear is responsible for sensing orientation and rotation of the head. Additionally, the system primarily drives reflexes to maintain stable vision and posture [1]. A normal vestibular system can adjust reflexes based on varying situations but adaptation to a loss of vestibular function may be slow and result in sensations of dizziness and vertigo [1]. Patients with vestibular dysfunction may also experience visual vertigo (VV) or visually induced dizziness due to the mismatch of perceived visual and vestibular stimuli [2]. The current standard of care for vestibular dysfunction is vestibular rehabilitation exercises to hasten adaptation [3], [4], [5]. VV symptoms is believed to be caused by an excessive reliance on visual cues for perception and postural stability in patients with vestibular dysfunction [2], [6]. Subsequently, studies have shown that VV symptoms can only be reduced if vestibular rehabilitation exercises are combined with immersive moving visuals or optokinetic stimuli [7]. Recent studies demonstrated that graded exposure to optokinetic stimuli causes adaptive changes and decreased reliance on visual cues, thus, improving VV symptom [7], [6]. Another preliminary study also showed that patients with chronic vertigo improved after repeated exposure to optokinetic stimuli [8]. Furthermore, experiments demonstrated that the combination of vestibular exercises and optokinetic stimuli showed greater improvement in VV symptoms and postural stability compared to vestibular rehabilitation exercises alone [9]. One of the main challenges of implementing optikinetic stimuli is the cumbersome requirement of large screens and equipment [10]. Additionally, the stimuli should be a realistic and interactive environment in which the patient is immersed and result in adaptation and desensitization [11]. Head mounted displays have been suggested to provide an immersive optokinetic stimulus that can be easily implemented in clinical settings in conjunction with vestibular rehabilitation exercise programs [12].

The purpose of our research project is to design and develop a realistic and immersive virtual environment and use Oculus Rift VR goggles to deliver graded, standardized optokinetic stimuli to our patients with vestibular dysfunction. The Oculus Rift goggles is a small wide-angled head mounted display (HMD) with stereoscopic 3D. The goggles are also capable of tracking orientation and head movement. It will provide an immersive optokinetic stimulus without the use of large monitors or screens. Oculus Rift VR goggles are typically used for gaming; however, we saw the potential medical application of the device. We plan to directly engage Ocular Rift into our projects as they are based only a few miles from UC Irvine’s campus. The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences will play a key role in the design and development of a customized virtual environment. To date, no other study has used HMD’s with a customized virtual environment in conjunction with vestibular rehabilitation exercises. Additionally, other possible medical applications of HMD’s in diagnostic and screening will be explored since the vestibular system is also involved in other common conditions such as motion sickness and migraines.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

Students will be involved in the majority of the research process. They will be expected to conduct literature searches of relevant information. Students will be asked to investigate possible areas of interest and to generate solutions to potential challenges. Students will be challenged to create methods of recruiting possible subjects for the study. Additionally, they will be involved in the design of the VR environment. Students are expected to gain useful skills in organizing data and conducting clinical trials. Students are expected to be involved in the writing and reporting process. Students will be asked to analyze data and carry out statistical calculations.

We hope that the students will learn skills that will enable them to design and develop their own research and experiment. The multidisciplinary nature of the research creates opportunities for students to be exposed to different topics and industries. It also fosters a sense of teamwork between people of different backgrounds because completion of the task will not be possible without the cooperation of both parties. We hope to foster students’ interest in the applications of technology in healthcare.

Additional Mentors:

Dr. Crista Lopes, Ph.D., Department of Informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

Marlon Maducdoc, MD/MBA Candidate, UCI School of Medicine; UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Prerequisites: Students with either an interest in medicine or computer science are preferred. Students are required to at least have a health science or computer science background. Students with previous experience in clinical research or game development will be preferred. Finally, students who can commit a steady amount of time will be included in the project.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   References (recommended)

1. Flint, P.W., & Cummings, C. W. 1, Cummings otolaryngology head & neck surgery. 2010, Philadelphia, PA: Mosby/Elsevier.

2. Bronstein, A.M., Visual vertigo syndrome: clinical and posturography findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 1995. 59(5): p. 472-6.

3. Brown, K.E., et al., Physical therapy outcomes for persons with bilateral vestibular loss. Laryngoscope, 2001. 111(10): p. 1812-7.

4. Horak, F.B., et al., Effects of vestibular rehabilitation on dizziness and imbalance. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 1992. 106(2): p. 175-80.

5. Whitney, S.L., et al., The effect of age on vestibular rehabilitation outcomes. Laryngoscope, 2002. 112(10): p. 1785-90.

6. Guerraz, M., et al., Visual vertigo: symptom assessment, spatial orientation and postural control. Brain, 2001. 124(Pt 8): p. 1646-56.

7. Pavlou, M., et al., The effect of repeated visual motion stimuli on visual dependence and postural control in normal subjects. Gait Posture, 2011. 33(1): p. 113-8.

8. Viirre, E. and R. Sitarz, Vestibular rehabilitation using visual displays: preliminary study. Laryngoscope, 2002. 112(3): p. 500-3.

9. Pavlou, M., et al., Simulator based rehabilitation in refractory dizziness. J Neurol, 2004. 251(8): p. 983-95.

10. Pavlou, M., et al., The effect of virtual reality on visual vertigo symptoms in patients with peripheral vestibular dysfunction: a pilot study. J Vestib Res, 2012. 22(5-6): p. 273-81.

11. P.J.S. S.L. Whitney, K.B., J.M. Furman, J.L Jacobson and and M.S. Redfern, The Potential Use of Virtual Reality in Vestibular Rehabilitation. Preliminary Findings with the BNAVE Neurology Report, 2002. 26: p. 72–78.

12. P.J. Sparto, J.M.F., S.L. Whitney, L.F. Hodges and M.S. and Redfern, Vestibular rehabilitation using a wide field of view virtual environment,. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2004. 7: p. 4836–4839.
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