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Science Pub RVA | Virtual Reality: A Path to Empathy

human behavior

Join other curious minds on December 9 for Science Pub RVA as we begin a series of conversations exploring human behavior. In our first program of the season, explore how combining the arts, medicine, and the emerging technology of Virtual Reality (VR) can increase empathy in others. 

This evening will feature the work of movement artist Jill B. Ware and installation artist John Henry Blatter of Embodied Empathy, a new interdisciplinary project lab at VCUarts. In Embodied Empathy projects, participants wear an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to simulate the experience of being in someone else's body. Ware and Blatter are currently working with VCU Health faculty on several research projects that combine medicine, art and VR.  Their work with Dr. John Nestler, VCUarts Physician-Scientist in Residence will be the focus of the evening.  In this research study, they are exploring how VR can promote empathy and reduce bias towards gerontology patients among first-year medical students.

Where and When

Monday, December 9, 2019

Doors open 5:45 p.m.  Program is from 7:00 - 8:45 p.m.

Located at The Hof: 2818 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230

What to Expect

A short talk and moderated panel discussion followed by a lively Q & A.  The evening will conclude with an Embodied Empathy performance, "Wooded Dance." A member of the audience will have the opportunity to use VR to "embody" one of the artists and then be led through a series of movements.

This free event is for adults 21 and up.  Doors open at 5:45 p.m.  Program begins at 7:00 p.m.  Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Featured  Scientific Thinkers:

Jill B. Ware is a movement artist and embodiment virtual reality researcher at VCUarts where she is a member of the VCUarts Dance and Choreography Department as a teacher of improvisation and other dance forms.  She is also an Artistic Associate with Amaranth Arts, a contemporary dance company that tours nationally and internationally.  Ware was a 2017/2018 faculty fellow for the Center for Teaching Excellence for her work with RVArts Cultural Passport, and the creator of the daily drawing project, 125 Images. Ware holds a BFA in dance performance from SUNY Purchase and an MFA in dance from George Mason University.

John Henry Blatter is an installation artist and researcher, who has been exploring the themes of identity, body and self. Currently, he is working with hemispherical video and virtual reality (VR) to create fully immersive or embodied experiences. His installations and collaborative works have been exhibited nationally and internationally. He was Artist in Residence in the High Arctic, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and the Vermont Studio Center and a recipient of the Jacob Javits Fellowship.  In 2014, he collaborated with Ryan Holladay, Artisphere’s New Media Curator, to mount the region's first major sound art exhibition. Blatter received a BFA in Sculpture from The Ohio State University and an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University.

John E. Nestler, MD, MACP is a Professor at VCU’s College of Medicine and the inaugural Physician-Scientist in Residence at VCUarts.  Dr. Nestler explores how art can be applied to enhance medical education and the healing of patients. Nestler is the former chair of VCU’s Department of Internal Medicine and a member of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He presently holds joint appointments as professor in the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Nestler’s past research has focused on the role of insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome. He has been a principal investigator on numerous research projects and received two of VCU School of Medicine’s highest honors, “Outstanding Research Achievement Award” and the “Distinguished Mentor in the Clinical Sciences Award. 


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