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Graduate Student Profile: David Landry

A doctoral student in anthropology, David Landry uses remote sensing to look at Paleo-Inuit archaeological sites in the interior of southern Baffin Island in non-invasive and non-destructive ways. His aim is to explore how the Arctic landscape has changed over time and how this may have changed the built environment, and organization of the peoples who inhabited this region.

Landry’s project, part of the larger projects of Brooke Milne, also involved the long-term dissemination of research to local community members, the public, and stakeholders. Landry makes use of surface 3D laser scans from each of the research sites to provide the opportunity to bring the remote areas to each interested community. To make for more engaging displays, knowledge mobilization for Landry and Milne in local museums, information centres, and at conferences includes the use of virtual reality headsets, allowing visitors and interested parties to explore the remote regions being researched without having to leave their homes.

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David Landry operating the LiDAR scanner used to create virtual models of the research area in Nunavut.

Landry and Milne are working collaboratively on the use of virtual reality in their research projects to bring the remote research areas they image using LiDAR to communities near and far from the area in which they work, as well as to stakeholders and educational institutions. Rather than having to take a very expensive journey north, the areas where the research is undertaken can be brought to interested parties through a virtual reality headset and a mobile phone, allowing a person in Winnipeg to explore the research areas in Nunavut without ever leaving a museum, a laboratory, or a classroom. Landry and Milne’s non-invasive work in these areas then can also continue to be minimally invasive, by allowing communities to explore the site without disturbing it with feet on the ground.

On the subject of using virtual reality to mobilize knowledge in Anthropology, Landry says, “knowledge mobilization in the twenty-first century has become exceptionally linked to the rapid development of technology and its ease of access to most communities around the world […] virtual experiences are beginning to play an important role in the way archaeologists and other social scientists disseminate information about field sites, cultural landscapes, and sites, features and artifacts that can otherwise end up destroyed during the process of excavation.” Landry goes on to say that while virtual reality has yet to become widespread across the social sciences, the community of scholars engaged in its use is lively.

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