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xREZ Student Spotlight: Hannah

xREZ Student Spotlight: Hannah

Meet Hannah, a UNT math major studying robotics, machine learning, VR, AR, & more!

As soon as Hannah learned about the innovative interdisciplinary research happening at xREZ, she knew that she had to be a part of it. After connecting with Director West and John Lewis over the book Gödel, Escher, Bach in an interview, she became part of the lab in Fall of 2019. With her passion for math, design, and 3D graphics, she has been a part of the teams developing Elemental Mayhem, and INSTRUMENT | One Antarctic Night as well as working on our robotics and heterogeneous platform XR research. Hannah’s interdisciplinary research interests don’t stop at math and 3D graphics, they also include quantum computing, spatial computing, and machine learning. More than anything, she is fascinated with the idea of modeling an exact replica of reality and simulation of the real world in a computer.

Outside of the lab, Hannah is an expert personal trainer for people with disabilities and is an aspiring American Ninja Warrior, despite living with diabetes. She feels this is important for people to know about her and shares this with others so that they realize that a health condition does not have to define who you are or what you achieve in life. She also loves in-line skating, riding her motorcycle, and cooking.

Here’s a quick Q + A to get to know more about Hannah’s experience as a member of the lab and her life outside of it:

Q: What motivates you to pursue art + science research?

A: I was motivated by the insane level of dedication in the show One Piece. It’s about a group of pirates who have ridiculous goals that everyone laughs at but still pursue them and I value that. So I asked myself “If I had one of those, what would it be?” It would be to design and code a replica of the universe in a computer. Prof. West and the lab have done a lot of work in VR (such as INSTRUMENT | One Antarctic Night, ATLAS in Silico, and more), so I’m here to learn and research how to do that.

Q: What is your most memorable, meaningful, proud, or fun moment at the lab?

A: I think one of the most fun days of my life was when Ian and I got Elemental Mayhem working and we were just playing it and recording ourselves and pretending to do Kung Fu at the lab. It was way later than we should have been there, but we were so excited at the progress on our research in spatial computing that we lost track of time.

Q: What is your most meaningful, memorable, proud, or fun experience in your life?

A: My robotics team that I founded in high school went to three regionals together and we didn’t progress. The second year they had two regionals in Florida and at the second one we took 3rd place overall out of 75 teams. We then went on to win finals and that brought us to nationals. That trip to St. Louis was easily the greatest trip of my entire life. Even though we were from a smaller school and we were a new team, we were able to fundraise and bring everyone together with a passion for robotics and hard work to make this happen and it was so rewarding.

Q: What is something about you that might surprise your lab mates?

A: I’m diabetic and it affects every decision that I make. I was told when I was diagnosed that it’s not going to stop me from doing anything and then it did because I wasn’t allowed to join the AirForce. I was really upset. But after that I said, “No, I can literally do anything. I’m going to live my life as though to convince others that I don’t have this disease.” That’s part of why I focus on being a trainer for people with disabilities, and sharing this so that everyone knows there are no limits other than those you set for yourself. 

Q: What are your hobbies outside of the lab?

A: Practicing for American Ninja Warrior, in-line skating, riding my motorcycle, and cooking

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: The Digimon Movie

Q: What’s your favorite place to visit?

A: Denali National Park

Q: Who is your favorite musical artist?

A: Fleet Foxes

Q: What is your favorite charitable cause?

A: JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)

xREZ Art + Science Lab

Imagine. Discover. Create.
xREZ Art+Science lab forges productive paths that harness the unique creative forces found only at the intersection of the arts, sciences and humanities to open new portals of imagination, knowledge and communication.Our goal: alter the landscape of human endeavor to create transformative impact on our world and our future.

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