Pioneering virtual spaces research earns presidential honor for visualization professor

McNamara earned the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Award.

For her pioneering research that reveals where a viewer’s gaze lands in virtual and digitally augmented spaces, Ann McNamara, Texas A&M associate professor of [visualization] ( , was named a [2018 Presidential Impact Fellow] ( — one of the university’s most prestigious recognitions for scholarly impact.

McNamara and 21 fellow honorees, hailing from the university’s 16 colleges and branch campuses, were recognized as Impact Fellows during an Oct. 25 ceremony.

In her research, McNamara learns where users are looking in virtual spaces, such as map apps, so that software developers will know where to place annotated information.

“With virtual and augmented reality poised to become part of our everyday lives, from driving, to work, to education, we’ll need to know where a user’s gaze is before AR or VR can provide real support for serious or critical actions,” she said.

Each Impact Fellow receives an annual stipend of $25,000 for the next three fiscal years to accelerate their teaching, research and service efforts. The honorarium helps foster opportunities to dialogue and collaborate with other leading scholars and create new partnerships. The award also confers the lifetime title of Presidential Impact Fellow.

“Texas A&M University is proud to invest in our amazing faculty who continue to make significant impacts through teaching, research and service,” said University President Michael K. Young. “These rising stars are meeting challenges in their field and demonstrating what influence they have toward creating a better world.”

The award winners were identified by their respective college and dean and confirmed by academic leadership.

“This honor is clear recognition of the excellence of these faculty in their scholarly endeavors,” said Carol Fierke, university provost and executive vice president. “They are among the nation’s very best and will continue for many years to make transformational impacts that reach far beyond the walls of Texas A&M.”

Last year’s inaugural group of Impact Fellows included Sam Brody, professor of urban planning, and Wei Yan, professor of architecture.

Richard Nira

posted November 8, 2018