North Texas Daily

‘The Lab’ YouTube series shares university research, real-world impact with students

‘The Lab’ YouTube series shares university research, real-world impact with students

‘The Lab’ YouTube series shares university research, real-world impact with students
September 29
13:30 2022

The university’s YouTube channel is home to a new series titled “The Lab” that showcases various forms of real-world research based on science, art and technology from the faculty to students.

“The idea for ‘The Lab’ video series came from a brainstorming session where our video team was discussing how to provide an entertaining way to showcase the real-world research happening at UNT,” said Gary Payne, director of photography and videography.

It released the first video titled “What If VR Games Could Create Empathy?” on Sept. 19, led by assistant professor of information Aleshia Hayes. The video asked if virtual reality games could create empathy for students in a natural disaster setting.

“The purpose is to show students what specific research to get involved with,” Hayes said.

The VR game, named “Stemming from Disaster,” places players as wealthy heirs who must spend millions to put towards improvements in quality of life from a natural disaster’s aftermath.

The player must make choices based on civil and network engineering and public health and safety. It ends with a score that determines what STEM or engineering career to pursue.

“Look, ultimately this is all for the development of STEM,” Hayes said. “One of the students started out as a history major but now is a science major.”

“The Lab” strives to educate students on the multiple ways research is performed on campus.

“We wanted to tell our research stories in a creative way that introduces our audience to our faculty expertise on a variety of world events and show how faculty research impacts everyday people and our communities,” Payne said.

The game’s goal is to inform and encourage students from sixth through 12th grade about potential majors and careers in STEM by the time they consider college.

“With ‘The Lab,’ we wanted to highlight the amazing research happening at UNT but package it in a fun, entertainment-based format,” said Timothy Stevens, a video producer in the Division of University Brand Strategy and Communications.

Each video has a retro ’80s visual and audio aesthetic. The colorful visual effects and cyberpunk music can be credited to Stevens, who drew on his knowledge of classic science-fiction, like the 1980s sci-fi adventure “Tron,” for inspiration.

Every video is researched and led by a different university professor who is knowledgeable on specific topics and subjects.

“The university reached out to me, did a couple of Zoom calls to determine research in the lab and then focused on the project people want to hear about,” Hayes said.

There is a team that collects B-roll (supplemental footage) and pictures in the VR game. Then, they bring the selected professor into the studio to give their expertise.

“I hope that we will feature the most interesting research from the faculty and students on campus,” Hayes said.

The university is a Tier One research university, where the faculty are given the opportunity to make discoveries.

“The series really has potential to grow as a part of our YouTube channel and expand Tier One research,” Stevens said.

There is only one video in the series so far but there are multiple videos based on various research topics planned for the coming months.

“Our plan right now is to build a bank of these kind[s] of shows,” Stevens said. “Yet this one has the potential to last for a long time. Our current plan is to do two a month but could change as we go.”

Both Stevens and Hayes said that the series’ format and subjects are not permanently decided and can shift over time.

“I want to get to the point where ‘The lab is binge-able for future viewers,” Stevens said. “To grow into an exciting place through YouTube.”

The first episode in the series can be watched on the University of North Texas YouTube channel.

Image Credit: University of North Texas Photo

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Joaquin Fernandez

Joaquin Fernandez

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