Alumni Achievers

Larry Hodges (M.S. 1982, PhD 1988)

Expert in Virtual Reality and Chair of UNC Charlotte Computer Science Department

 Larry F. Hodges joined the computer science faculty at Georgia Tech in 1988 after receiving his Ph.D. at North Carolina State University. His dissertation was in the area of stereoscopic computer graphics under the Direction of Professor David McAllister in the Department of Computer Science. At Georgia Tech he was a founding member of the Graphics, Visualization & Usability (GVU) Center and also led the Virtual Environments Research Group which focused on the rapidly emerging area of Virtual Reality. 
In 1993 he organized a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and computer scientists who began to investigate the use of VR for exposure therapy of phobias. This work resulted in the 1995 publication of Effectiveness of computer-generated (virtual reality) graded exposure in the treatment of acrophobia in the American Journal of Psychiatry. This paper was the first published report of a controlled study on the use of VR for psychotherapy in the psychiatric literature and received wide media attention, including an announcement of the paper’s results on CBS Evening News the day the journal article was released and follow-up stories in a number of venues, including Scientific American Frontiers, CNN, Dateline NBC, Good Morning America, US News & World Report, MIT Technology Review, Discover, and the New York Times
Since that first study he has continued to expand the development of what has become known as VR Therapy or Virtual Therapy with two patents and over 25 journal publications in the clinical psychology and psychiatry literature on various clinical applications of VR, including treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Fear of Flying, Social Phobias, and Balance Disorders. 
In 1996 he, with research colleague Barbara Rothbaum of Emory University, founded Virtually Better, Inc., a company that specializes in creation, testing, and sales of virtual environments for clinical applications in psychiatry, psychology, and addiction. Virtually Better Therapy systems are currently in use by clinicians in many locations across the US and in eleven other countries. In 2006, Dr. Hodges was awarded the IEEE Virtual Reality Career Award for his work in clinical virtual reality.
In addition to his research work in Clinical Applications of VR, Dr. Hodges has also maintained an active research agenda in numerous other areas of Virtual Reality, Visualization, and 3D User Interface Design with over 150 published papers. He has served as General Chair of both the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference and the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the IEEE VR Conference and on the Editorial Board of IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics. He has graduated a number of M.S and Ph.D. students who have gone on to research and academic positions in VR and related areas at places such as Georgia Tech, the University of Southern California, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, UNC Charlotte, Fraunhoeffer, Disney, BAE Systems, and Sarnoff Corp.
In 2002 Dr. Hodges returned to North Carolina to serve as Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. There he has led an effort that, in five years, doubled the number of Computer Science faculty members and tripled the annual external funding for the Department.

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