EAC’s Team at UALR is focused on a broad mission of innovative economic development for the future of Arkansas and our nation.
Carolina Cruz-Neira is a pioneer in the areas of virtual reality and interactive visualization, having created and deployed a variety of technologies that have become standard tools in industry, government and academia. She is world-known by being the creator of the CAVE virtual reality system, which was her PhD work. Her work with advanced technologies is driven by simplicity, applicability, and providing value to a wide range of disciplines and business. This drive makes her work highly multi-disciplinary and collaborative, having receiving multi-million dollar awards from the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Lab, the Department of Energy, Deere and Company, and others. She has dedicated a part of her career to transfer research results in virtual reality into daily use in industry and other research teams and to lead entrepreneurial initiatives to commercialize mature results. She is also recognized by having founded and led very successful virtual reality research centers, like the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University, the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise and now the Emerging Analytics Center. She serves in many international technology boards, government technology advisory committees, and outside the lab, she enjoys extrapolating her technology research with the arts and the humanities through forward-looking public performances and installations. She has been named by BusinessWeek magazine as a “rising research star” in the next generation of computer science pioneers, has been inducted as an ACM Computer Pioneer, received the IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award and the Distinguished Career Award from the International Digital Media & Arts Society among other national and international recognitions.
Dr. Dirk Reiners has been at the heart of immersive visualization and Virtual Reality (VR) for more than 20 years. He has a MS and PhD in Computer Graphics from the Technical University Darmstadt, Germany, and worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, the largest Computer Graphics research institute in the world, for more than 10 years on different topics in interactive graphics and VR. He was instrumental in pioneering VR deployment for many of the German car manufacturers. His primary research interests are in interactive 3D graphics, immersive and high-resolution display systems and the software fundamentals needed to do all of this effectively and efficiently. He has been an active member of the virtual reality community and has been the Chair for Demos, Videos, Exhibits and the Program Chair at IEEE Virtual Reality and other conferences.
Tom Coffin is the Senior Visualization and Operations Manager at the EAC. He is a Fine Artist (MFA) and Certified Project Manager (PMP), Tom brings over 2 decades of experience working with virtual reality application development and advanced collaborative environments and 3 decades of project management to the EAC. Prior to the EAC, Tom worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in the University of Illinois where he managed the programmatic and technical operations of the ACCESS facility in Washington DC. Tom is a graduate of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he assisted the University with the commercialization of the CAVE technology into the private sector.
Senior Research Scientist
Carsten Neumann is a senior research scientist at the EAC. He has been working in Virtual Reality for over 13 years, initially at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Darmstadt Germany and later at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In both positions Carsten has been responsible for defining, designing, and implementing Virtual Reality and interactive graphics applications. Before joining the EAC team he was with the Virtual Reality and Integrated Systems group of the German Aerospace Center in Braunschweig, Germany working on the immersive visualization of Mars topography data. Carsten holds a MSc in Mathematics from the Technische Universitat Darmstadt in Germany.
Juan D. Gomez
Senior Research Scientist
By training, Dr. Gomez is a Computer Scientist awarded two master degrees: MSc. Computer Vision & Artificial Intelligence (University of Barcelona, 2009) and MSc. Information Technology (University of Madrid, 2010). He pursued and received his PhD at the University of Geneva in Switzerland (Geneva Neurocenter), in 2013, after successfully defending his PhD on non-invasive neural prosthetics for the blind. His work was honored with the Latsis distinction awarded to the best thesis of the year. Likewise, he became a recipient of the Dalle Molle prize for his scientific advances in Artificial Intelligence. In 2014, he held a postdoctoral position at the Brain & Mind Institute (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL), where he explored the use of engineering techniques such as robotics and virtual reality within the domain of cognitive neuroscience. Right afterwards, he began his term as Scientific Director of BIOS Colombia (Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Computation), a period in which he was awarded the Democratic Medal by the Congress of the Republic of Colombia. Recently, he has served as a senior technology and data advisor for institutions such as the Interamerican Development Bank in Washington, US.
Lead 3D Artist
Jason Zak is a Lead Artist at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He received two Bachelors of Arts degrees one from The Art Institute of Phoenix in Game Art & Design and the other from New York Institute of Technology in Computer Animation. He has had the privilege of developing games over 10 years in the game industry. In addition to 3D modeling his primary focus for development included texture painting, 2D vector creation, motion graphic animations and player interaction design. He has been responsible for art content across multiple project platforms such as browser based games, XBox Live, PC downloadable, Nintendo DS, IOS and Android systems. His portfolio websites can be found at: http://jz3d.com/ and https://www.behance.net/jzak
Business/Program Project Manager
Kendra has over 20 years of executive level operational, entrepreneurial, and strategic planning expertise. She specializes in project management; logistics, problem solving, and strategic and sustainability planning.
As the EAC Program Project Manager, Kendra supports new project development including the preparation of grant proposals, presentations to funding sources, and business development proposals. She serves as the fiscal manager and the liaison for administrative and academic personnel, community members, external organizations, and government personnel.
In addition to her functional scope, she brings operational leadership in the areas of:
Senior level project and financial management
Seasoned administrator experience; working within multi-leveled organizational structures; coordinating and managing internal and external committees, and an effective campus-wide network.
A broad scope of work experience that also includes planning and facilitating workshops, seminars, training forums, and coordinating community involvement initiatives.
Kendra received her under graduate degree, in Business, from the University of Memphis. She completed her MBA at Bethel University and is now pursuing her doctorate in Business Administration.