Biography

Maria C. R. Harrington Ph.D. is an American information scientist and artist. Research focus is on aesthetics in the perceptual ambient array and information science theory as it relates to reality and beauty found in natural environments using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), GIS simulations, and new media art to explore the phenomena of human reactions. Such tools are used to investigate human interaction of real-virtual environments and impacts on perception, learning, health, and creativity. Such systems influence scientific, human, social, and cultural transformations. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, director of The Harrington Lab, and has consulted on projects using AR and VR with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The Harrington Lab at UCF investigates virtual nature, using AR and VR as a technical artifact, to better understand perceptual phenomenon as it relates to human-computing-environment interactions that cause emotional, learning, and aesthetic outcomes. The lab is highly collaborative with several active multidisciplinary partnerships. Efforts focus on extending prior work in the development of Simulated Ecological Environments for Education (SEEE) used for research and art. The lab is under the direction of Dr. Harrington at the University of Central Florida. Find her publications on Google Scholar and ResearchGate.

She has a Ph.D. in information science from the University of Pittsburgh, and undergraduate degrees in art and economics from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with computer graphics artist pioneer, Harry Holland.  Her dissertation, “Simulated Ecological Environments for Education (SEEE): A Tripartite Model Framework of HCI Design Parameters for Situational Learning in Virtual Environments,” investigated the empirical inter-relationships between humans, computers, and the environment. She designed and developed the virtual reality software system, The Virtual Trillium Trail, and discovered: 1) Real Environments show more learning than Virtual, there is transfer from the Virtual to the Real, and Real to the Virtual, thus indicating that the best educational practice is to use the two environments together. 2) That when the content in the Virtual matches the Real, the learning outcomes are the same. 3) There is significant interaction between Visual Fidelity, as a design factor, and Navigational Freedom, as a design factor, and the combined condition of both High Visual Fidelity and High Navigational Freedom results in far superior Knowledge Gained on tests, thus proving that both of these factors must be present to have the greatest impact on learning.  4) There is no interaction of the two factors for Salient Events, or changes in student behavior from exploration to deep inquiry, and the main effect of Visual Fidelity is a critical software user interface design factor for increased informal learning activity, inquiry in virtual reality educational simulations. It alone, is responsible for significantly increasing learning activity. Navigational Freedom, as a factor, shows a strong trend. This one project resulted in several journal publications, Springer Virtual Reality, IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, and Children, Youth and Environment, as well as papers published and presented at ACM SIGGRAPH, ACM SIGCHI IDC and ACM DIS, Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the Proceedings of the Conference on Spatial Information Theory.

Her artwork, as both digital media and photographic prints, has been shown, and sold to private collectors, and promises a new genre of digital media art with augmented and virtual reality. Her artwork is an investigation of landscapes, much like the Hudson River School of the past, and Clifford Ross of the present, and explores ideas salient with humans’ connections and responses to the land.

Education

  • Ph.D. in Information Science from University of Pittsburgh (2008)
  • M.S. in Information Science from University of Pittsburgh (1990)
  • B.S. in Economics and Art from Carnegie Mellon University (1988)

Research Interests

  • Art and technology, both AR and VR as an aesthetic medium
  • Virtual nature, in AR and VR as geo-spatial virtual simulations of nature
  • AR and VR, simulations, and human-computer interaction for informal learning and creating
  • Emergent, co-creation activities, and design of technology to support human creativity
  • Perception, emotion, cognition, and active learning as responses to virtual nature and impacts on society and cultural transformations

Recent Research Activities

Her new research direction is to investigate the factors, from an information processing perspective, that drive individuals and societies to create and the role beauty plays in shaping human feelings, thoughts, and action in both art and science. AR and VR, when executed as both works of art and as realistic, simulations, are important as they influence scientific, human, social, and cultural transformations and growth, especially into the new and unknown.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Tatzgern, M. Langer T, Wenzel, J. W. (2019). Augmented Reality Brings the Real World into Natural History Dioramas with Data Visualizations and Bioacoustics at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Curator: The Museum Journal, 62(2), 177-193. First published in Wiley Online Library (April 19, 2019). https://doi.org/10.1111/cura.12308
  • Harrington, Maria C. R.. (2012, June). The Virtual Trillium Trail and the Empirical Effects of Freedom and Fidelity on Discovery-based Learning. Virtual Reality, 16(2), 105-120. Originally published in OnlineFirst™ Springer London, 1-15 (March 3, 2011). doi: 10.1007/s10055-011-0189-7
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, April-June). Empirical Evidence of Priming, Transfer, Reinforcement, and Learning in the Real and Virtual Trillium Trails. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 4(2), 175-186. doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/TLT.2010.20
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2009). An Ethnographic Comparison of Real and Virtual Reality Field Trips to Trillium Trail: The Salamander Find as a Salient Event. In Freier, N.G. & Kahn, P.H. (Eds.), Children, Youth and Environments: Special Issue on Children in Technological Environments, 19(1). http://www.colorado.edu/journals/cye
Creative Works as a Principal Investigator
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Bohlen, P., Beck, K., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Miller, J., Pring, T., Elliott, J., Jarrett, R., Lindsay, A., and Guziejka, J. (2016-2018).  The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project (Version 1.0).Unreal Game engine level complete October 2018.  Available from STEAM.com. (Launch 2019).
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Bohlen, P., Beck, K., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Miller, J., Pring, T., Elliott, J., Jarrett, R., Lindsay, A., and Guziejka, J. (2016-2018).  The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project (Version 1.0).VR complete November 2018. Available from STEAM.com. (Launch 2019).
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Bohlen, P., Beck, K., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Miller, J., Pring, T., Elliott, J., Jarrett, R., Lindsay, A., and Guziejka, J. (2016- 2018). The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project Website (Version 1.0) Launched October 2018. Available from UCF:  https://arboretum.ucf.edu/virtual/
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Bohlen, P., Beck, K., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Miller, J., Pring, T., Elliott, J., Jarrett, R., Lindsay, A., and Guziejka, J. (2016- 2018). The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project Website (Version 1.0) Launched January 2019. Published on PBS Learning Media https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/virtual-ucf-arboretum/virtual-ucf-arboretum/?fbclid=IwAR3Sur3GVnALQadQY1SLAOCrIIvxdMGBceGPcEOWG5nKjz8BzBI_Txa1oW4
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Wenzel, J. W., Tatzgern, M., Langer T., Oliver, M., Isaac, B., Guffey, A., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Dinic, R., and Tiefengrabner, M. (2017-2018). The AR Perpetual Garden Apps. Published on Apple iTunes App Store (Version 1.2) Launched October 25, 2018. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ar-perpetual-garden/id1438086490?mt=8
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Wenzel, J. W., Tatzgern, M., Langer T., Oliver, M., Isaac, B., Guffey, A., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C.  and Dinic, R. (2017-2018). The AR Perpetual Garden Apps. Published on Google Play Android Store (Version 6.6.6) Launched November 30, 2018. Available from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.carnegie.garden
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., Wenzel, J. W., Oliver, M., Isaac, B., Guffey, A., Bledsoe, Z. and Jones, C. (2015-2017). The Virtual Garden Timeline Website. (Launch 2017. https://virtualgarden.powdermill.org/)
Conference Papers (Peer-Reviewed)
  • Harrington, Maria. “Virtual Dioramas Inside and Outside Museums with the AR Perpetual Garden App.” MW19: MW 2019. Published February 14, 2019.   Consulted March 13, 2019. https://mw19.mwconf.org/paper/virtual-dioramas-inside-and-outside-of-museums-with-the-ar-perpetual-garden-app/
  • Larson, S. and Harrington, Maria C. R., (2012, November 1-4). “A Survey of ABET Accredited, Information Systems, Undergraduate Programs in the USA.” Presented at the Information Systems Educators Conference (ISECON), New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Harrington, Maria C.R. (2009, June 3-5). “Meta-ontologies for Learning in Virtual and Augmented Realities.” Proceedings of the ACM-SIGCHI IDC09: The 8th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children Workshop on Children and Mobile Technology: Interface Development for Mobile Touch Devices, Como, Italy.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2006, July 30-August 3). “Situational Learning in Real and Virtual Space: Lessons Learned and Future Directions.” ACM SIGGRAPH 2006, Boston, MA
Other Conference Proceedings (Peer-Reviewed, Extended Abstracts and Posters)
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2019). “A Virtual Nature Model: Experience Virtual Nature.” Presented to the Otronicon Speaker Series, Orlando Science Center; Orlando, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2018). “Successful Emergent Team Formation Methods and Process at UCF Digital Media, using Webcourses Discussion Feature and Ideation Techniques,” Abstract and presentation presented at the 2018 Sunshine State Teaching and Learning Conference, St. Petersburg, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2018). “Improving Psychophysical Well-being and Performance in Isolated, Confined, and Extreme Environments with Head Mounted Virtual Reality Photorealistic Simulations of Earth Based Natural Environments,” Abstract and poster presented at the 2018 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’’ Workshop  HRP RESEARCH: THE GATEWAY TO MARS, Galveston, TX.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2018). “The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project: An Educational Simulation of the Real UCF Arboretum using VR and Educational Website for STEM” Presented to the Otronicon Speaker Series, Orlando Science Center; Orlando, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2017). “Ripples in a Pond: How Virtual Reality may be a Tool of Impact for the Humanities.” HASTAC 2017 Conference Abstract and poster, UCF, Orlando, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R. (2017). “The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project: Work-in-progress Demonstration of a STEM Teaching Resource, the Website, and Virtual Reality Flowers and Plants,” Presented to the Plants Beyond Limits Conference, University of Central Florida, Department of Biology,  Orlando, FL, Nov.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, May 13-15). The Virtual Trillium Trail — An educational simulation of the North American forests. iED Summit: Immersive Education Initiative, Boston Summit 2011 at Boston College, Boston, MA.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2006, June 28). “Trees of life: Models of children’s creative processes.” Proceedings of the ACM DIS 2006 Doctoral Consortium, State College, PA.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2005, September 14-18). “Virtual Beechwood: Simulated Ecological Environments for Education.” Proceedings of the Conference on Spatial Information Theory 2005. Doctoral Consortium Abstracts, Ellicottville, New York.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2008, March 10-13). A demonstration of virtual trillium trail, a simulation of a fourth grade field trip to a wildflower reserve for ecology education. Open Learning Interplay Symposium 2008, demos and poster session, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
Co-Organized Conference / Workshops and Panels
  • Harrington, Maria C. R.  (May 2018).  Virtual Nature Workshop. Game Development and Mixed Reality, MultiMediaTechnology program of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria
  • Portnoy F., Smith, L., Harrington, Maria C. R.., Kremer, K., Nichols, T., & Zammitto, V. (2011, September 19-23). Facing the human factors challenges in game design: A discussion panel. Proceedings from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 55(1), 520-524, Las Vegas, Nevada. doi: 10.1177/1071181311551106
Conference Presentations without Proceedings
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R., Bledsoe, Z., Jones, C., Miller, J., and Pring, T., (2019). “UCF Virtual Arboretum Project Demonstration.” Exhibition, Orlando Science Center; Orlando, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria, C. R., (Jan. 2017). “The Virtual Trillium Trail Project,” Presentation at Otronicon 2017, Orlando Science Center; Orlando, FL.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2012, March 30-31). Birds-of-a-feather — Video game development: Overview of the torque 3D educational site license. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Spring Conference of the Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science Educators, Millersville University, Millersville, PA.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., & Kovalchick, L., (2012, March 30-31). Birds-of-a-feather — Virtual SRU: How a project management class used Google Earth and Google Sketch-up. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Spring Conference of the Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science Educators, Millersville University, Millersville, PA.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, November 3-6). Virtual environments, immersive learning simulations, and serious games as new instructional technology for information systems students. Proceedings of Information Systems Educators Conference, Wilmington, NC.
  • Hulick, F. and Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, November 3-6). The value of internships in the Information Systems curriculum: A case study. Proceedings of Information Systems Educators Conference November, Wilmington, NC
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, April 8-9). Social networks, use and misuse by businesses: What Information Systems students need to know. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Spring Conference of the Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science Educators, Shippensburg University.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2011, April 8-9). Video game development, a serious educational component of the curriculum. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Spring Conference of the Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science Educators, Shippensburg University.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2009, March 19-21). The Virtual Trillium Trail: An educationally effective simulation for ecology education. The Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators 2009 Conference, Entriken, PA.
  • Harrington, Maria C. R., (2008, February 29-March 1). A demonstration of Virtual Trillium Trail, a simulation of a fourth grade field trip to the Trillium Trail Wildflower Reserve. The Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators 2008 Conference, Ligonier, PA.
Conference Workshop Papers
  • Gennari, J., Harrington, M., Hughes, S., Manojlovich, M. & Spring, M. (2003). Preparatory observations on ubiquitous knowledge environments: The cyberinfrastructure information ether. Proceedings from NSF Post Digital Library Futures Workshop, Chatham, MA.

Art Shows

  • “EXHIBITION: SVAD Faculty 2017” Presented two works of computer art, “The Virtual Trillium Trail,” UCF Art Gallery, University of Central Florida, Aug. 2017
  • “EXHIBITION: SVAD Faculty 2016” Presented two works of computer art, “The Virtual Trillium Trail,” UCF Art Gallery, University of Central Florida, Oct. 2016
  • “LOST AND FOUND,” Garfield Artworks Art & Performance Space, Presented six works of computer art, and a multimedia collage, Pittsburgh, PA. Oct. 2006

Invited Talks

  • “Virtual Nature in Augmented reality and Virtual reality for Informal Learning in Museums and Arboretums.” Presented to the University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences. Pittsburgh, PA. Dec. 2018.  https://pitt.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=4b0724b6-4309-4960-a27f-a9af01247fe8
  • “Virtual Nature in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Art and Scientific Research, Applied to Informal Learning in Museums and Arboretums for Broader Impact.” Biology Seminar, Presented to the College of Sciences, University of Central Florida. Orlando, FL. Nov. 2018.
  • “Virtual Nature: AR, VR & MR  Knowledge Artifacts for Museums, Botanical Gardens, and Arboretums,” Presented to the University of Central Florida, Faculty Panel on Digital Media for the Fall 2018 Introduction to Ph.D. Text and Technology Program. Orlando, FL. Nov. 2018.
  • “The Virtual Trillium Trail and Educational Simulations,” Presented to the University of Central Florida, Faculty Panel on Digital Media for the Fall 2017 Introduction to Text and Technology course. Orlando, FL. Nov. 2017.
  • “A New Paradigm for Virtual Reality & Simulations for Education, Learning & Creating: The Virtual Trillium Trail Project – Empirical Evidence on Design Factors in Simulated Ecological Environments for Education and Causal Impacts on Emotions, Learning, Priming, Transfer, and Reinforcement.,” Presented to the University of Central Florida, Institute for Simulation and Training, Modeling and Simulation Seminar; Orlando, FL, Nov. 2016.
  • “Art and Technology,” Presented to the University of Central Florida, SVAD Gallery Artist Talk, School of Visual Arts and Design; Orlando, FL, Nov. 2016.
  • “VR and STEM Education,” Presented to the I/ITSEC 2016 Modeling & Simulation Conference: K-12 STEM; Orlando, FL, Nov. 2016.
  • “Reality matters in virtual reality for learning sciences research: The Virtual Trillium Trail empirical data and future fMRI studies,” Presented to the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA; Pittsburgh, PA, April 2010.  http://halley.exp.sis.pitt.edu/comet/presentColloquium.do?col_id=700
  • “The Virtual Trillium Trail: The value of Freedom and Fidelity in the child-computer-environment interface,” Presented to the Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute Seminar Series, Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA, September, 2008.
  • “Simulated ecological environments for education: Past and future realities,” Presented to the Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA, Nov. 2008.
  • “Tips and Tricks of Building Simulated Ecological Environments for Education: User Centered Design, Activity Analysis, Prototyping, and Techniques,” Presented to the Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center; Pittsburgh, PA, Oct. 2008.
  • “The Virtual Trillium Trail: What if you could fly over your favorite park, and explore the ecosystem from any vantage point that you wished?” Presented to the Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, Fox Chapel, PA, July. 2008.
  • “The Poetics of Games: Art, Poetry and Storytelling in Modern Game Design,” Presented to Art Institute of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA, Jan. 2008.
  • “Virtual Trillium Trail and Opportunities for Education in Metaverses and Virtual Environments.,” Presented to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Phipps Education Committee, Pittsburgh, PA, Nov. 2007.
  • “Generating High Fidelity, 3D Computer Graphic Models from Transects and Plot Population Data for Trillium Trail.” University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences: E&E Seminar, Pittsburgh, PA. Oct. 2007.

Technical Reports

  • Harrington, M.C.R. (2006, May). Simulated Ecological Environments for Education (SEEE): A tripartite model framework of HCI design parameters for situational learning in virtual environments. (Unpublished Dissertation Proposal. School of Information Sciences, Department of Information Sciences and Telecommunications, University of Pittsburgh). Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Harrington, M.C.R. (2005). Simulated Ecological Environments for Education (SEEE). (Unpublished State of the Art Literature Review Component of the Comprehensive Exam, School of Information Sciences, Department of Information Sciences and Telecommunications, University of Pittsburgh). Pittsburgh PA. “Generating High Fidelity, 3D Computer Graphic Models from Transects and Plot Population Data for Trillium Trail.” University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences: E&E Seminar, Pittsburgh, PA. Oct. 2007

News Media Coverage

Notes: News articles (N), radio appearances (R), and social media blog posts (M) are not peer-reviewed publications but considered to be an effective way to disseminate research findings for broader societal impact.