(Feb. 12, 2018) -- John Quarles is an associate professor of computer science at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He specializes in using cutting edge technology to create video games and other devices to help people in need.
Last year, he received a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his game, “Shark Punch,” an aquatic virtual reality game for people with multiple sclerosis. This year, he’s created an augmented reality program to train first responders and has teamed up his game development students with a local nonprofit to create video games for injured veterans.
Can you talk about the project you’re currently most excited to be working on?
We are partnering with a local rehabilitation institute, the Teleton Children’s Rehabilitation Institute, to use our virtual reality aquatic therapy games to help kids with disabilities. We are planning to adapt some of our lab’s current games so they can be used for rehabilitation by children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
Our first project together is going to be an in-water virtual reality game where the player plays the role of a frog that jumps on lily pads in a pond to catch bugs. For this effort, I’m collaborating with Paula Geigle, adjunct assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland and a renowned clinician and expert in aquatic therapy research.
How has your personal journey influenced your work?
I have multiple sclerosis, which directly influenced my choice to research assistive technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality for rehabilitation. One of the games I created in that arena is called Shark Punch. It’s a therapeutic underwater virtual reality game aimed at people with multiple sclerosis. Many people with MS get overheated when exercising, which can make the symptoms worse. Exercising in the pool keeps the body’s temperature down and helps with balance.
What is the most important thing going on in your field that no one is talking about?
Virtual reality is great, but its not accessible to many persons with disabilities. There needs to be more research and development toward making virtual reality universally usable.
This past semester, I encouraged students in my game development class to use their skills to create a game tailored to the abilities and interests of a specific injured veteran. The results were very impressive. Some of my students even took the opportunity to use virtual reality devices to make their games accessible to veterans who otherwise wouldn’t be able to play video games.
What advice do you usually give to your students?
Network, network, network. The connections you make in the professional world are invaluable. Take as many opportunities as you can to reach out to people in the field that you want to be a part of.
What do you think makes UTSA unique?
Our diversity. UTSA is diverse in so many different ways, but what is most exciting is the fact that our students come from so many different walks of life—so many different cultures—and that contributes to a very unique, inclusive community.
If you weren’t an associate professor of computer science, what career do you think you would have?
I'd be a research scientist at a government lab making simulations to better train soldiers. Back in 2009, I actually had an offer from the Army that I turned down to take the assistant professor position at UTSA.
Learn more about John Quarles.
Explore the UTSA Department of Computer Science.
Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.
UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.
In partnership with Metro Health, HCAP will host a lecture discussing the life and body of work of Dr. Fernando Guerra, longtime director of the Metropolitan Health District.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Join our team to reflect on the students’ achievements and challenges during the semester and explore techniques, strategies, and tools to address growth mindset, self-reliance, and what it takes to keep students committed and on the path to successMultidisciplinary Studies (MS 240) and Virtual
This course will introduce you to this popular graduate program, providing a review of UTSA’s Employee Educational Benefit program and MPA info. Free lunch will be provided!Mesquite Living Lab, Main Campus
Día en la Sombrilla, formerly Fiesta UTSA, is a festival hosted each spring as a part of Fiesta® San Antonio events. Sponsored by Roadrunner Productions, the event features music, food, confetti, games, event t-shirts, and more.Sombrilla Plaza and Central Plaza , Main Campus
Fiesta Arts Fair is a party with a purpose! The annual art-focused fundraising celebration provides operating support for UTSA Arts, which is dedicated to community arts education for children and adults, public-facing performances and exhibitions, and arts-based research and partnerships to enhance the accessibility of the arts for the public.UTSA Southwest, 300 Augusta, San Antonio TX 78205
This year’s UEA ceremony will be an in-person event that will take place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25 in the H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106) on the UTSA Main Campus. The ceremony will feature UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Myron Anderson, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Veronica Salazar and representatives from Staff and Faculty Senate.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
San Antonio’s treasured Asian Festival returns on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Downtown Campus. In observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month the one-day performance, entertainment, and food event will celebrate the diverse Asian diaspora represented in South Texas and San Antonio. Come and enjoy one of San Antonio’s premier family-friendly events, with hands-on activities and opportunities to learn through experience.UTSA Downtown Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.