Blog Post

PARCians in Second Life


Cathy Davidson asked me in Comments to keep you all updated on our progress with PARC community-building. During the past month, three others on the PARC admin team have been exploring Second Life with me to prepare for the "virtual" part of our experiment.

PARCians in Second Life


A couple of weeks ago all of us (plus my collaborator from Boston and Second Life - front row) attended an in-world talk on the creation of 3D virtual structures using real life GIS data.

We even managed to get the Wash U CTO, an Assistant Vice Chancellor, to come along. Chimera is sitting next to him. WooHoo!


Building Berkeley: Mirror-World Creation from Geospatial Data

= Event info is at =

Video of GIS process

The build, an avatar-sized version the Shattuck Avenue BART station in Berkeley, was prototyped in Second Life back in 2007.

Chimera ran across it fairly early in her Second Life days and had a special fondness for it because her typist (me) used the station often during grad-school days.

Avatar Darb Dabney

Avatar Darb Dabney spoke at the SmarterTechnology Forum and showed a video of the creation process.

We are hooking up with a couple of researchers from Purdue in addition to the PARC crew and Robin. I've been an SL resident since November of 2006, but I still go to classes as often as I can because it's challenging, and so much fun. Any of you from HASTAC are welcome to get in touch and join in!

In the tradition of my last HASTAC blog post, I'm re-purposing something I wrote elsewhere about our plans for PARC. GovLoop at is a network for government employees AND those who interact with them on projects. The membership is now over 23,000! I hope to connect there with someone from the US Department of Energy who might be able to help us to get access to the new DOE Second Life sim.

Here is a slightly edited version of what I wrote on GovLoop. Note that I slipped in a pitch for HASTAC. :-)

My background is in college chemistry teaching (over 35 years) and as a program director at the National Science Foundation in EHR/DUE (2003-04). I am on several NSF project advisory boards and frequently travel to Washington DC to review education grant proposals.

As a committed Web 2.0 networker across the boundaries of education (college teaching, learning, visualization, and technology), business, and government, I have some favorite social media venues: Second Life, twitter, Facebook, HASTAC, and a whole bunch of Ning networks. HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation recently announced that they are an official part of the Obama Administration education reform efforts and their Digital Media and Learning Competition is accepting applications at

I'm currently the Communications Director for the new DOE-EFRC at Washington University. PARC: Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center is comprised of 10 institutions, including 2 international, with 17 PIs. The public website at is just getting started, and we have a Facebook page where you can become Fans of PARC at We are developing as a private internal network. Other social media-related plans include streaming and archiving monthly seminars from/to all the PARC sites.

I learned recently that US Department of Energy is about to open a Sim in Second Life, mainly for recruiting purposes. My source is long-term Second Life resident and GovLoop participant Eric Hackathorn (SL Hackshaven Hartford).

NOAA Weather Map in SL

Eric is the builder of this new DOE sim and is the creator of the fabulous NOAA area in Second Life. He also happens to be the male avatar in the background of the group photo at the event above.

The NOAA live-streaming and life-size interactive weather map is one of my favorite spots on the grid.


See for more information.

Eric tells me that the new DOE sim now has the needed security clearance to open from the highest levels of the Department of Energy. I am certain we could leverage this "opportunity" into a PR and collaboration bonus for DOE-funded EFRCs (Energy Frontier Research Centers) like PARC. We could do virtual displays on energy issues and schedule talks by avatar-scientists. I sincerely hope that we convince DOE staff to let us try the experiment.

Regards and best wishes for the New Year,

Liz Dorland

PARC Communications Director

Washington University

St. Louis, MO 63130

Mobile: 480-518-2846


Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education (Co-Chair for 2011)

A few of my Social Media sites:

= Visualization and Education Network: =

= HASTAC Blog: =

= Second Life: Chimera Cosmos =

= Twitter: ldinstl_chimera =

= ldinstl =

= Slideshare: ldorland =

= Flickr: : ldinstl_chimera =

= Koinup: ChimeraCosmos =

= Linkedin: =

= Facebook: =

= Skype: LDinSTL =


1 comment

Well, I tweaked the text format on my computer till it looked kind of OK. But your mileage may vary. I'm still getting the hang of the interface! Comments very welcome (on the content, not the format).

Liz D.