Kinesthetic Interaction with Simulations to Support Collaborative Discovery in Systems Biology

We develop tangible and embodied digital media tools to support and enhance collaborative discovery in computational science. Our research investigates how abstract scientific problems that are solved using advanced computational numerical methods can be re-represented in an embodied way. This allows researchers to couple visuo-spatial skills with computational techniques, to develop understanding and collaborate in the modeling of complex biological systems, such as metabolic pathways.

The project is integrated into the environment of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Georgia Tech, where the use of models combines learning with scientific discovery. We build on ethnographic research of the practice and problems in systems biology labs, where novice graduate students try to master a new area and immediately put their knowledge into practice to solve real problems. Using participatory and user-centered design methods, we design, develop, and evaluate tangible/embodied interactions that can facilitate collaborative modeling of biochemical processes by novice researchers. Our process engages students from systems biology research labs and introductory modeling courses. Our longer-term goal is to apply our research outcomes and use our system in research and education in biomedical engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.


Prof. Ali Mazalek

Watch a demo of the Pathways system: