Journey to the centre of the cell

Virtual reality immersion into scientific data

Angus P.R. Johnston, James Rae, Nicholas Ariotti, Benjamin Bailey, Andrew Lilja, Robyn Webb, Charles Ferguson, Sheryl Maher, Thomas P. Davis, Richard I. Webb, John McGhee, Robert G. Parton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Visualization of scientific data is crucial not only for scientific discovery but also to communicate science and medicine to both experts and a general audience. Until recently, we have been limited to visualizing the three-dimensional (3D) world of biology in 2 dimensions. Renderings of 3D cells are still traditionally displayed using two-dimensional (2D) media, such as on a computer screen or paper. However, the advent of consumer grade virtual reality (VR) headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive means it is now possible to visualize and interact with scientific data in a 3D virtual world. In addition, new microscopic methods provide an unprecedented opportunity to obtain new 3D data sets. In this perspective article, we highlight how we have used cutting edge imaging techniques to build a 3D virtual model of a cell from serial block-face scanning electron microscope (SBEM) imaging data. This model allows scientists, students and members of the public to explore and interact with a “real” cell. Early testing of this immersive environment indicates a significant improvement in students’ understanding of cellular processes and points to a new future of learning and public engagement. In addition, we speculate that VR can become a new tool for researchers studying cellular architecture and processes by populating VR models with molecular data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalTraffic
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • educational resources
  • electron microscopy
  • endocytosis
  • virtual reality

Cite this

Johnston, A. P. R., Rae, J., Ariotti, N., Bailey, B., Lilja, A., Webb, R., ... Parton, R. G. (2018). Journey to the centre of the cell: Virtual reality immersion into scientific data. Traffic, 19(2), 105-110. https://doi.org/10.1111/tra.12538
Johnston, Angus P.R. ; Rae, James ; Ariotti, Nicholas ; Bailey, Benjamin ; Lilja, Andrew ; Webb, Robyn ; Ferguson, Charles ; Maher, Sheryl ; Davis, Thomas P. ; Webb, Richard I. ; McGhee, John ; Parton, Robert G. / Journey to the centre of the cell : Virtual reality immersion into scientific data. In: Traffic. 2018 ; Vol. 19, No. 2. pp. 105-110.
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Johnston, APR, Rae, J, Ariotti, N, Bailey, B, Lilja, A, Webb, R, Ferguson, C, Maher, S, Davis, TP, Webb, RI, McGhee, J & Parton, RG 2018, 'Journey to the centre of the cell: Virtual reality immersion into scientific data', Traffic, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 105-110. https://doi.org/10.1111/tra.12538

Journey to the centre of the cell : Virtual reality immersion into scientific data. / Johnston, Angus P.R.; Rae, James; Ariotti, Nicholas; Bailey, Benjamin; Lilja, Andrew; Webb, Robyn; Ferguson, Charles; Maher, Sheryl; Davis, Thomas P.; Webb, Richard I.; McGhee, John; Parton, Robert G.

In: Traffic, Vol. 19, No. 2, 01.02.2018, p. 105-110.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Parton, Robert G.

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