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Laura shackelford

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Anatomy Director for the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. My research focuses on the evolution of our species, Homo sapiens, as a background to understanding recent human diversity. I have a geographic focus in Southeast Asia, and since 2008 I have co-directed ongoing field research in northern Laos. More recently, my research explores virtual reality and technology in education in an effort to make human prehistory and archaeological field work accessible to more students.

You can find out more about my research and


Wen-Hao david huang

I study how individuals and organizations make informed decisions across learning and development contexts. By understanding how decision-making processes are made, it becomes feasible for me to design motivational and engagement systems to facilitate favorable decision-making behaviors by individuals and organizations. I work with a variety of learning environments, ranging from technology-enriched and enabled learning environments (TEELE) to community-based learning environments. Regardless of the characteristics and purposes of the learning environments, my work informs the underlying theoretical and empirical foundations in motivations, engagements, and design thinking.

For the Game-Based Virtual Reality Archaeology project, I am responsible for designing and implementing research and evaluative activities to delineate the relationships among motivational support, cognitive processes, and learning outcome perceived by study participants. I believe the output of this project can meaningfully inform the design and implementation of VR-based learning environments in terms of their instructional efficacy, accessibility, and scalability for learning and development applications across contexts.

Illinois News Bureau article:

My full faculty bio is linked here:

My LinkedIn profile:


alan b. craig

I serve as an involved advisor for this project.  I have written several related books including: Understanding Virtual Reality (first and second edition), Developing Virtual Reality Applications, and Understanding Augmented Reality.  I currently hold three patents.


cameron merrilL

I am a third year PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Illinois, where I study human computer interaction, virtual reality, and cybersecurity. I am the lead technical artist and project manager for the virtual experiences used within ANTH 399 using Epic Games' Unreal Engine.

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Emma VERStraete

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student studying patent medicine and consumer studies, particularly in Springfield, Illinois. I focus my questions on how the rise of advertising and "the death of expertise" led to the booming patent medicine market during the Gilded Age and what type of impact culture and tradition had on consumer choice. I create the site details and historical content for the archaeological excavation and am the Teaching Assistant for the VRchaeology class.


rajee shah

I am a second year student studying Computer Science + Anthropology and I am interested in the intersection between the two disciplines. I started working on the project during Fall 2018 because I wanted to contribute to the exciting, growing influence of VR technology in the world around us.

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Jin jang

I recently graduated from the University of Illinois and have been working on VRchaeology since Spring 2020.


Dan matis

I am an incoming graduate student in Anthropology, with an interest in photogrammetry and 3D modeling applications in archaeology. I was invited to join this project in the spring of 2019 as a part-time student employee and am very excited to be able to take part in making this project a (Virtual) reality.



Alexandra (allie) zachwieja

I am a PhD Candidate in Biological Anthropology, a National Geographic Explorer, and the current teaching assistant for Virtual Archaeology at the University of Illinois. My research focuses on paleoanthropology and human dispersal in Asia, but I am also interested in curricular development and student learning outcomes. Assisting with this course has become a unique opportunity to share my archaeological skills in a new type of classroom.


jamie arjona

I am a historical archaeologist and PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Illinois. As a research assistant for the Game-Based Virtual Reality Archaeology Project, I have assisted in archival and archaeological background research; storyline development; course content planning; and game task and asset development. Over the last few years, I have also served as co-principal investigator for the Santos Archaeological Research Project. My dissertation research explores the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship in rural African-American leisure spaces during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Janny chen

I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Human Resources Development program. My research interests include improving workplace performance, identity development and career decision making within higher education and organization level. I am originally from Singapore and have worked with the Workforce Agency in Singapore to improve my career development. Currently, I am working with my advisor on Game-Based Learning and Virtual Reality in education. Some of the tasks that I am involved in are data collections using both online survey and in-person interview, data analysis and coding, assisting students with the virtual reality technology, and making sure students are comfortable in the new environment. I hope to incorporate these new ideas in my future study.


monika janas

I'm a senior in Computer Science with a focus on media. I work as a software developer building features for the weekly labs. My interests in VR and game development led me to join this project. Prior to joining, I had no knowledge of archeology/anthropology, so I've had a lot of fun learning new things. I'm really excited to be a part of this project, and I'm looking forward to watching it grow and improve!


Alice (xuehui) chao

I work as a research assistant for Social Science Education through Virtual Reality Simulation of an Archaeological Research Site Project. My responsibilities are to collect data from Anth399 Virtual Archaeology class, assist Dr. Huang and project PIs to develop a literature review and synthesis pertinent to the project deliverables, and assist Dr. Huang and project PIs to collect and analyze project research and evaluation data. It’s a pleasant and creative journey to work with project team!


Aaron stocks

I'm a senior studying computer science and anthropology and looking forward to graduating this May. In fall of 2018 I participated in a demo of this project and a few months later I got word that there was a need for developers on the team. I reached out and began working on the project at the end of fall semester as a part-time student employee. I was particularly interested in this project because it combines my two majors perfectly and I like how VR can give students opportunities to simulate archaeological adventures without having to travel or pay for field school.


isaac smith

I am 3rd year student in Computer Science + Anthropology with a focus on sociocultural anthropology. I first began working on this project in the Spring of 2018 as the final project for CS 498, Virtual Reality. Since then I have rejoined the project as a part-time student employee eager to be a part of making this exciting project a reality!