Using Unity for Scientific Visualization as a Coursebased Undergraduate Research Experience

Idunnuoluwa Adeniji, Michael Casarona, Leonard Bielory, Lark Bancairen, Melissa Menzel, Nan Perigo, Cymantha Blackmon, Matthew G. Niepielko, Joseph Insley, and David Joiner

Volume 15, Issue 1 (March 2024), pp. 35–40

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  author={Idunnuoluwa Adeniji and Michael Casarona and Leonard Bielory and Lark Bancairen and Melissa Menzel and Nan Perigo and Cymantha Blackmon and Matthew G. Niepielko and Joseph Insley and David Joiner},
  title={Using Unity for Scientific Visualization as a Coursebased Undergraduate Research Experience},
  journal={The Journal of Computational Science Education},
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We have developed a series of course-based undergraduate research experiences for students integrated into course curriculum centered around the use of 3D visualization and virtual reality for science visualization. One project involves the creation and use of a volumetric renderer for hyperstack images, paired with a biology project in confocal microscopy. Students have worked to develop and test VR enabled tools for confocal microscopy visualization across headset based and CAVE based VR platforms. Two applications of the tool are presented: a rendering of Drosophila primordial germ cells coupled with automated detection and counting, and a database in development of 3D renderings of pollen grains. Another project involves the development and testing of point cloud renderers. Student work has focused on performance testing and enhancement across a range of 2D and 3D hardware, including native Quest apps. Through the process of developing these tools, students are introduced to scientific visualization concepts, while gaining practical experience with programming, software engineering, graphics, shader programming, and cross-platform design.