Jonathon Ayavar


I’m a proud NMSU senior double majoring in 3D Computer Animation, Visual Effects, and Computer Science. I was born and raised in Mexico, but now my family and I are happily living in El Paso. At the moment I’m working on creating a simulation of real-life in virtual reality. The simulation is a replica of Regent’s Row here in NMSU. After I graduate I would love to get into the video game industry. Creating my own characters/environments and making them come to life in the form of animations and/or videogames has quickly become a passion of mine and I can’t see myself giving up on this passion of mine.


Project Description:

Our primary goal is to create a virtual duplicate simulation of the real world in virtual reality. After the virtual simulation is complete, we will start conducting visual search studies in this virtual simulation, as well as in the real world. With this research, we will be able to observe and compare behavioral patterns in the real-world and in virtual reality simulation thereof. At the same time that we are establishing this proof of concept, we will also analyze human behavior while search and rescue responders looking for clues. We will explore what aspects of behavior better help them find the clues (e.g., crouching and turning around while scanning in 360 degrees) and what made it more difficult for them to do so (e.g., aspects of clue visibility that preclude identification).


Project Benchmarks:

  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Author or co-author a manuscript submitted for publication
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media



Jonathon’s mentor: Dr. Michael C. Hout:



Michael C. Hout grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for his bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University, and an Associate Editor at the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. His research focuses primarily on visual cognition (including visual search, attention, eye movements, and memory) and the development of alternative methods of collecting similarity data for use in multi-dimensional scaling. He has won several awards for research and teaching, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, and currently engages in outside consulting for organizations such as Major League Baseball. In his limited free time, he enjoys walking his dogs, hiking, playing hockey, and riding his motorcycle.