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Donna Davis, PhD
Donna Davis is an expert in virtual reality (VR), digital embodiment, tech equity and inclusion, and digital social capital. At the University of Oregon, she is an associate professor and director of the School of Journalism and Communication’s Strategic Communication Master’s Program in Portland. She also now serves as director of the University’s Oregon Reality Lab, also in Portland. The OR Lab is a testing ground where students, faculty researchers and industry can collaborate in the use, development and study of the uses and effects of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies, always with an ethical lens.
Her ethnographic research focuses on the potential uses of social virtual worlds, gamification, and other emerging social media, with a special interest in marginalized and vulnerable communities. Her research on embodied experience and identity among people with disabilities in virtual reality resulted in the SOJC’s first NSF grant in the school’s 100 year history. She is also an inaugural faculty fellow for the SOJC Agora Journalism Center for Innovation and Civic Engagement, extending her work with people with Parkinson’s disease who are participating in a support community in a virtual world.
She has also extensively studied people with Parkinson’s disease who find and build support in the virtual world. Her interests continue to explore the impacts of these experiences on both the promise and peril of technosolutionism, recognizing both isolating and connecting power of these emerging immersive environments.