University of Southern California Awards Honorary Degree to U.Va. Engineering Professor

July 9, 2009 — Anita K. Jones, an engineering professor at the University of Virginia, has received an honorary degree from the University of Southern California in recognition of her efforts to encourage the U.S. military training community to utilize the technology rising out of the entertainment and gaming communities.

As director of defense research and engineering at the Department of Defense in the mid-1990s, Jones' activities directly led to the establishment in 1999 of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Jones is the Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Engineering and Applied Science in U.Va.'s Department of Computer Science. She joined the U.Va. faculty in 1988.

The institute, funded by the U.S. Army, was established to produce virtual humans, computer training simulations and immersive experiences for decision-making, cultural awareness, leadership and health. The institute relies upon a revolutionary collaboration between the Pentagon's researchers in simulations to support military training and imaginative members of the entertainment industry.

"The Institute for Creative Technologies was established to give the U.S. Army tools to materially improve the training of individual and team decision makers," Jones said. "This research delivers more immersive experiences and better training that in turn lead to a higher and better level of decision-making that can save lives."

Today, the institute continues to advance U.S. military training through research that expands immersive learning, strengthens decision-making skills of individuals and groups, instills a unique and effective approach to leadership and provides virtual reality therapy to support the health of troops during and after their assignments. Jones serves on the institute's technical advisory board.