Damian Schofield

Academic, Film Buff, Juggler, Drinker, Philosopher ...
OK, so maybe I'm not really a philosopher.

See More About Me

All About Me

Director of Human Computer Interaction (Full Professor), State University of New York (Oswego), U.S.A.
Visiting Associate Professor of Digital Forensics, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Director, Aims Solutions Ltd. (VR Simulation Company), Nottingham, England

Mining Industry, Africa

On the Mines, Africa ...

I grew up in the north west of England, and started working on the local coal mines. I took a student apprenticeship with the National Coal Board (NCB), attended Staffordshire University and graduated with a first class honours degree in Engineering.

I spent two years travelling around southern Africa working on a number of mines : I worked on coal mines in Zambia, copper mines in Zimbabwe, exploration drilling projects in Botswana, diamond mines on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia and gold mines in South Africa. I am probably the only computer science professor you will ever meet who is qualified to handle and use blasting gelignite.

I returned to the UK and took a job with British Petroleum (BP) in London. I was based at the headquarters of BP Minerals in London, programming geological modelling software on Vax mainframe computers. Even though the money was good, I hated this job and realised I needed to change direction.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality, UK ...

I went back to school, and in 1992 I completed an artificial intelligence based PhD at the University of Nottingham. For a number of years I worked as a post-doctoral research assistant on a variety of expert system, genetic algorithm, computer graphics and virtual reality based research.

I took my first tenured professor position at the University of Nottingham in 1999. The turn of the new century also saw the formation of my spin-out company Aims Solutions Ltd. (a company creating VR simulation systems), of which I continue to be a director.

While at the University of Nottingham I was on the management team of the prestigeous Mixed Reality Lab (MRL) - while here I worked oon a wide range of virtual reality, computer graphics, and augmented reality projects. The MRL holds three BAFTA nominations and an Ars Electronica Golden Nica award for Interactive Art. My time here was great fun as I got to play with all their toys.

Game Design, Australia

RMIT, Australia ...

In 2005 I made some big changes in my life. I decided to emigrate overseas, I packed up and shiped myself and my belongings off to Australia. I accepted a position as an Associate Professor of Computer Games, in the School of Creative Media at the Royal Melbourne institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Melbourne.

At RMIT University I was in charge of six undergraduate degree programs, ranging from fine art to computer science. These included digital art, game design, multimedia, artificial intelligence and games programming. I also supervised a number of PhD students in completion in a number of computer games related research areas.

Melbourne is an amazing city, often voted as one of the best places in the world to live, and I had a great time there. I still work regularly with academic collaborators over in Australia and regularly organise trips back, often taking students with me as study abroad opportunites.

Research

I have been involved in research examining the use of digital evidence in courtrooms, particularly virtual reconstructions (using computer games, graphics and virtual reality technology), for many years.


I am specifically interested in the representation and understanding of visual evidentiary information in the courtroom environment. Much of this academic research in the forensic area has concentrated on the investigation of the prejudicial effect of digital evidence, validation and verification procedures, admissibility of digital evidence and the mathematical uncertainty concerned with digital evidence. I have been recognised internationally as a leading academic in this field, and have been used as an expert witness in courts all over the world.

Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI)

F.B.I. Project

The computer-assisted facial recognition project involved the development of novel methods of evidential facial comparison in a collaborative research programme that provides a benchmark for the understanding of human facial variation in three dimensions.

The work involved statistical analysis of variation in facial measurements in 3D and the development of novel algorithms for making 2D and 3D comparisons between faces, facial image capture from video streams and automatic detection of facial landmarks.

The results from this project were published in a book. You can also read articles on the project from the Guardian and the BBC.

Facial reconstruction of Queen Nefertiti

Queen Nefertiti

For many years I have undertaken research into developing new methods of facial reconstruction. Forensic case work is sometimes undertaken when unidentified skeletal remains are found.

This is a facial reconstruction undertaken for a documentary on the Discovery Channel. Working with a team of archaeologists, anthropologists, Egyptologists, radiologists and forensic scientists we created a facial reconstruction of a mummy from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. This mummy is believed by a number of archaeologists to be Queen Nefertiti.

You can read articles on the project from USA today and Biomedical Scientist. There is also an animated clip showing how the face was reconstructed.

Screenshot from HIV Game

Gates Foundation

Working with organisations such as the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) I was part of an international team developing multi-media resources for HIV/AIDS awareness. This project was based in the red light area of Kolkota, India - where we worked with sex workers and peer educators to gather best practice in H.I.V. prevention and create sharable digital resources.

My particular interest was in the use of interactive three-dimensional visual representations which negated the use for text or language dependant learning. This project was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We worked with the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (D.M.S.C.), a union of 65,000 sex workers based in Calcutta. There is an article in the Times of India that describes this project.

Image from a Forensic Pathology Reconstruction

Forensic Animation

I have created a range of graphical reconstructions and virtual environments as evidence, which have been used in a number of courtrooms around the world. There are a number of fundamental implications inherent in the shift from oral to visual mediation and a number of facets of this modern evidence presentation technology need to be investigated and analysed.

My research in this field often involves experiments undertaken to assess the impact of the technology on jurors and describes some of the issues raised by the results, identifying potential benefits and problems of implementing this technology in courtroom settings.

Read more in this article on the use of forensic animation in courtrooms from Evidence Technology.

Image from the Redfern Train Station Terrorist Attack Reconstruction

The JIVE Project

The Juries and Interactive Virtual Evidence (JIVE) project brings in the key players as industry partners - police, prosecutors and judges - working alongside academic experts in law, architecture, media studies, psychology and criminology. Blending observation and experimental approaches, the study tracks how jurors in simulated court settings use visual evidence in making decisions, and identifies ways of using interactive technologies most effectively, while minimizing negative impacts.

In January 2008, the JIVE project team ran a number of mock trials in the supreme court in Sydney where a range of forensic animations and interactive reconstructions of evidence relating to a terrorist bombing (at Redfern Train Station in Sydney) were shown to a number of different groups of jurors.

Screenshot from Robot Theatre

Robot Theatre

This project has attempted to push the boundaries of what is traditionally defined as theatre; providing a sterile environment where cyborg mecha perform on a stage, robotically reciting the lines – allowing an interesting re-examination of the ‘sensually different atmosphere’ of theatre. The initial play chosen for this robot experimentation was a relatively recent example of tragicomedy, Samuel Beckett’s 'Waiting for Godot'.

The concept of cyborg theatre reflects a form of engagement with technology that has shifted over time, theatre is often seen as a space for experimentation, for introducing old ideas anew, for developing what hasn’t been able to be articulated in other forms. The use of robot actors in cyborg theatre introduces ideas about the representation and signification of the body and affects change through their technological equivalents.

Teaching

I am currently Director of of the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) masters level programs in the School of Computer Science at the State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego.


Over my many years of teaching I have taught courses in a range of subjects : from engineering surveying to finance, from artificial intelligence to computer graphics, from programming to physics. A few of the courses I currently teach are described below :

Introduction to HCI

Intro to HCI

Introduction to Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is an interdisciplinary course that explores the design of computer interfaces that are based on how people use different technologies to accomplish their goals, given their own limitations and abilities.

Through the review of current research and practices in the design of various technologies, including social media and mobile devices, you will be introduced to the principles and processes underlying usable interface design and learn how to think critically about technology interfaces.

This is an introductory course so we will not be studying any topic in too much depth, but rather we will skim over a set of relevant material taken from the fields of psychology, computer science, design with lots of other cherry picked material from other academic areas thrown into the mix as and when required.

Computer Game Design

Computer Game Design

This course allows students to study the technology, science, and art involved in the creation of computer games. This is intended as an overview course covering a range of topics related to this interesting and novel academic field. However, the course is also be academically rigorous, exploring and examining multiple facets of the complex game development process.

The course intends to introduce some of the underlying scientific concepts from computer science and related fields including: human computer interaction, simulation and modeling, graphics, artificial intelligence, real-time processing, and game theory. Finally, the course will touch on the art and design principles for developing useable and engaging games including: software engineering, thematic structure, graphic design, narrative and game aesthetics.

Transhumanism

Transhumanism

This graduate course has an innovative, cross-disciplinary focus, bridging the worlds of computer science, literature, philosophy and art, exploring the complex relationship between humans and robot technology.

The course will focus on three main areas, each taught by a different professor :
1. Computer Science – Technology theories, A.I. andplaying with the NAO robots available at SUNY Oswego.
2. Literary/Philosophy – Analysing literature and questioning what it means to be human in our technological age.
3. Artistic/Creative – Experimenting with the robots in a creative project setting of the students choosing.

The need to work together in this manner will ensure that the students interact across international borders and manage their work across time zones and cultural boundaries.

Fun Stuff

I have always been fascinated by computer technology and enjoy exploring new developments. My interest in visual arts such as theatre, cinema, comic art, painting and computer games has led to a enduring fascination with the integration some of these art forms with computer graphics techniques. In my spare time I have been involved in a number of collaborative projects with different artists, developing innovative computer animations and virtual environments. These have included comic book adaptations, film special effects, museum exhibits, theatre set design projects and even the development of interactive projection screens at all-night ‘rave’ dance events.

Me as a Zombie

Film Star

Recently I have also been trying my hand at acting for the first time, playing roles in Australian ‘art-house’ films. I was originally in a trilogy of movies about memory and loss entitled Uber Memoria, Gothic Memoria and Uber Nocturnes. These movies received a nationwide Australian release and limited worldwide release at film festivals and in a number of galleries and museums in 2010/2011 (including showing at the Tate Modern in London and the Director’s Lounge in Berlin)

On my last trip to Australia I played a zombie extra in a science fiction movie called 'The Last Man in Vegas'.

Me Juggling

Juggler

I have always loved circuses and performance/acrobatic skills. I am a competent circus performer and can juggle balls, clubs, knives and fire clubs.

I can also eat fire, twirl devil sticks, spin poi, flip diablos and ride a unicycle - but not all at the same time.

I always often end up juggling fire in the dark ...
when drunk ...
not ideal conditions.

Forensic Art Show

Artist

Graphic Violence: An Exhibition of Forensic Fact and Fantasy. Field 36 Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 2008.

Curators: Damian Schofield and Rusalka JohnstonThe Graphic Violence exhibition in Melbourne's Field 36 Gallery featured a range of media and examined the boundaries between science and art. The forensic evidence on display ranged from the archaeological and historical to the modern day crime scene. Each exhibit invited the viewer to question the truth of what they are seeing and investigate the evidence.

Tarantula

Arachnologist

For many years (in the UK) I kept and bred tarantulas, scorpions and snakes. At one time I owned over 80 tarantulas, including some of the rarest (such as the attilies pinktoe tarantuala) and largest (such as the goliath bird eating tarantula) spider species in the world. I was a member of a number of worldwide, ecological breeding programs for endangered species.

I stopped keeping such exotic pets upon my move to Australia; I seemed to have enough of them living in my garden while I was there.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Consumer

I am obsessed by pulp fiction, crime novels from the 1950s. Often identified by their lurid covers and noir themes, these books are usually badly written and unintentionally funny.

I scour second hand stores and yard sales searching for copies of these things. My favourite authors include Richard S. Prather (the Shell Scott series) and Hank Jansen (the Investigative Reporter series).

My Neighbour Totoro

Movie Critic

I have had a lifelong passion for cinema, particularly classic, independent and Asian films. I also love B-Movies and have an encyclopedic knowledge of exploitation cinema.

I have taken a number of film studies courses, particularly focusing on aspects of Asian cinema. My passion is Japanese Cinema, from classic Akira Kurosawa through to the modern extremes of Takeshi Kitano and Takeshi Miike.

Contact Information

Dr. Damian Schofield

Director of Human Computer Interaction
429 Shineman Building, Department of Computer Science
State University of New York (at Oswego)
7060 Route 104, Oswego, New York, 13126-3599, U.S.A. (map)
Office : (+1) 315 312 4628 Mobile : (+1) 410 504 3178
Work: schofield@cs.oswego.edu Home: iamdrdee@gmail.com