In December 2020, UCI Beall Applied Innovation (BAI) named its second cohort of Faculty Innovation Fellows, and Informatics Professor Theresa Tanenbaum was among the 18 faculty members selected to serve as “ambassadors of innovation.” The program, now totaling 35 members between the two cohorts, recognizes UCI faculty conducting research with real-world impact. The fellowship is a two-year appointment that involves participating in lectures, workshops and retreats to encourage increased interdisciplinary collaboration across campus, fostering innovative work that can positively impact the broader community. Fellows also receive a stipend to support their own research.
“I’m excited about this fellowship,” says Tanenbaum, a founding member of the Transformative Play Lab in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). “I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline that I’m hoping to develop through this program.”
One is a collaboration with Vincent Oliveri in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts focused on developing a new tool for sound design called Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation (VirDAW). Tanenbaum and Oliveri are reimaging the interface of the typical digital audio workstation — with its knobs, faders and buttons — and exploring how virtual reality might make sound design more immersive and interactive. “We believe [VirDAW] has significant commercial applications, especially for sound designers working in spatial audio mixing and themed entertainment.”
Another project is a new artistic work that uses augmented reality to enhance musical theater to help participants “explore questions of identity, gender, sexuality and transformation,” says Tanenbaum. She is confident the project “will benefit from the kinds of relationships and multidisciplinary collaborations that this fellowship facilitates.”
The Faculty Innovation Fellows program was “designed to accelerate innovation out of the lab and into the marketplace,” says BAI Executive Director Richard Sudek. “It creates a unique platform for faculty members from various backgrounds and disciplines to share their knowledge, learn together and trigger new ideas and innovation paths.”
— Shani Murray