Carolina Cruz-Neira

Former Director

Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, 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 the industry, government, and academia. She is known worldwide for being the creator of the CAVE virtual reality system. She has dedicated a part of her career to transferring research results into daily use by spearheading several Open Source initiatives to disseminate and grow VR technologies and by leading entrepreneurial initiatives to commercialize research results. She has over 100 publications as scientific articles, book chapters, magazine editorials, and others. She has been awarded over $75 million in grants, contracts, and donations.


She is also recognized for 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 has been named one of the top innovators in virtual reality and one of the top three greatest women visionaries in this field. BusinessWeek magazine identified her as a “rising research star” in the next generation of computer science pioneers; she has been inducted as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, 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. She had given numerous keynote addresses and has been the guest of several governments to advise on how virtual reality technology can help to give industries a competitive edge leading to regional economic growth. She has appeared in numerous national and international TV shows and podcasts as an expert on her discipline and several documentaries have been produced about her life and career.

Areas of Expertise

  • Virtual Reality Systems
    • Design of software frameworks for hardware-agnostic applications
    • Design of new VR platforms beyond headsets
  • Simulation and Training
    • Context-sensitive collaborative environments
    • Multi-platform environments
  • Applications for Virtual and Augmented Reality
    • Practical applications for the use of virtual and augmented reality in a wide range of disciplines and domains
  • Software Engineering