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Shared Facilities

In addition to individual faculty research laboratories, the Anthropology & Heritage Studies Department has shared facilities to support collaborative research and teaching.

Wide-Area Visualization Environment (WAVE)

The University of California, Merced, welcomes virtualization with its adoption of the Wide-Area Visualization Environment (WAVE). The massive display, consisting of twenty 4k resolution screens, provides student and faculty researchers at UC Merced to work with the cutting-edge of virtual reality hardware.

In clarity and resolution 10-20 times higher than an IMAX theatre, the WAVE is able to take its audience to research environments otherwise inaccessible--like the hidden chambers in the Great Pyramid of Giza, or to microscopic cellular interactions within the human brain. The half-pipe-shaped structure of the WAVE captures the scale whatever is being shown and helps maintain the viewer's perspective within the environment.

The WAVE will also help to connect UC Merced and the other 9 UC campuses with research universities through the Pacific Research Platform, a high-speed network for collaborative science and scholarly research. As a joint research facility supported by all departments at UC Merced, The Merced WAVE will also promote collaboration between the Schools of Engineering, School of Social Sciences and Arts, and the School of Natural Sciences.

The WAVE's design has been evolving over 20-years. In its current form, the 20-screen display makes use of consumer electronics, which allows the display to be modular, upgradeable, and offsets the cost by tapping into the mass-produced consumer electronics market. It's panel in the display is a top of the line OLED 4K TV--and the formidable 10 PC cluster (with best-in-class components) also allows researchers to handle big-data projects and during data processing.

Like much of UC Merced, the WAVE will also provide opportunities for community engagement, Lercari said. The campus has already started a collaboration with the Mariposa County Unified School District through which high school students will engage in citizen science initiatives, including documenting places of historical significance and studying the preservation of natural places, such as Yosemite National Park.

The WAVE is one of the first products of UC Merced's commitment to Virtual Reality immersion and visualization--an initiative that has been underway for the last two years. The massive display was constructed, set up, and adopted by researchers within just the last few months of 2016 with collaboration from HIVE Lab, one of the first labs to embrace and do research with the exhibit.

Anthropology Teaching Laboratory

The department maintains a dedicated teaching laboratory to support undergraduate courses in archaeology and biological anthropology. Accommodating 18 students for close interactions with faculty and peers, the lab has a variety of microscopes, scales, digital calipers, fossil casts, casts of human and non-human skeletal materials, and lithic artifact, faunal, and ceramic teaching collections.

Updated 2021