James (Jim) Oliver


University Professor
Pithan Director of Innovation
Student Innovation Center


Student Innovation Center
606 Bissell Rd. Rm. 2118
Ames, IA 500111096


Student Innovation Center
606 Bissell Road, Room 2118
Iowa State University, Ames Iowa 50011-1096


James Oliver is the inaugural Director of Iowa State University’s new Student Innovation Center (SICTR). He was awarded the title of University Professor in 2012 and was recently appointed as the Pithan Director of Innovation. He is a Professor of Mechanical engineering with courtesy appointments in several other departments.

As the Director of SICTR, Oliver provides overall leadership of the center, including facility operations, development of innovation-based academic programming, strategic planning and engagement with external stakeholders. 

Previously Oliver directed Iowa State University’s Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC), an interdisciplinary research center focused on emerging interface technologies. Professor Oliver developed and directed the university’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) which complements the VRAC’s research mission by conferring Ph.D. and MS graduate degrees as well as Professional Certificates.

Professor Oliver’s research career spans a wide array of emerging interface technologies, encompassing computer graphics, geometric modeling, virtual and augmented reality, and collaborative networks for applications in product development, complex system operation and training. His research has been funded by several federal agencies including the NSF, NASA, ARPA-E, ONR, AFRL, US Army, as well as numerous industry partners. A fellow of the ASME, Oliver holds three U.S. patents, and is the recipient of numerous professional honors and awards. In addition to his Iowa State responsibilities, Oliver co-founded BodyViz, a technology startup focused on low-cost, easy-to-use medical visualization for the medical, education, veterinary and legal markets. He also formerly headed software product development for Engineering Animation Inc., (NASDAQ: EAII), and served as Vice President of Product Development for Cognicty, a Minneapolis-based startup in the internet marketing business.

Courtesy Appointments

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University (1986)

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University (1981)

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Union College (1979)

Interest Areas

Design and manufacturing process automation using:

  • Geometric modeling
  • Computer graphics
  • Visualization
  • Simulation
  • Optimization
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Human computer interaction


J.H. Oliver and J.H. Hollis, “Virtual Reality as a Tool to Study the Influence of the Eating Environment on Eating Behavior: A Feasibility Study,” Foods 2021, 10, 89. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10010089

T. Garrett, S. Debernardis, R. Radkowski and J.H. Oliver, “Poisson Mesh Reconstruction for Accurate Object Tracking with Low-Fidelity Point Clouds,” ASME Transactions, Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, doi:10.1115/1.4034324, Vol. 17, March 2017

D.A. Angulo, C. Schneider, J.H. Oliver, N. Charpak and J.T Hernandez, “A Multi-facetted Visual Analytics Tool for Exploratory Analysis of Human Brain and Function Datasets,” Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, No. 23. http://10.3389/fninf.2016.00036, August 2016

G.M. Re, J.H. Oliver and M. Bordegoni, “Impact of Monitor-based Augmented Reality for On-site Industrial Manual Operations,” Cognition, Technology & Work, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 379-392, January 2016

R. Radkowski, J. Herrema and J.H. Oliver, “Evaluation of Augmented Reality Visual Annotations Based on Task Difficulty,” International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 31, No. 5, pp. 337-349, May 2015

R. Zou, V. Kalivarapu, E. Winer, J. Oliver and S. Bhattacharya, “Particle Swarm Optimization Based Source Seeking,” IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 865-875, July 2015

W.E. Marsh, J.W. Kelly, J. Dickerson and J.H. Oliver, “Fuzzy Navigation Engine: Mitigating the Cognitive Demands of Semi-Natural Locomotion,” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, Vol. 23, No. 3., pp. 300-319, Summer 2014

R. Radkowski and J.H. Oliver, “Enhanced Natural Visual Perception for Augmented Reality Workstations by Simulation of Perspective,” IEEE Journal of Display Technology, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 333-344, May 2014

J.S. Casallas, J.H. Oliver, J.W. Kelly, F. Merienne and S. Garbaya, “Using Relative Head and Hand-Target Features to Predict Intention in 3D Moving-Target Selection,” Proc. IEEE Virtual Reality Conference, Minneapolis, MN, March 2014

R. Radkowski and J.H. Oliver, “Monocular Depth Cues for Augmented Reality Applications to Enhance Spatial Perception Tasks,” to appear, Proc. Tenth International Symposium on Tools and Methods of Competitive Engineering (TMCE 2014), ISBN 978-94-6186-177-1, Budapest, Hungary, May 2014

M.A. Mirzaei, F. Merienne and J.H. Oliver, “New Wireless Connection Between User and VE using Speech Processing,” Virtual Reality, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 235-243, November 2014

W.E. Marsh, J.W. Kelly, V.J. Dark and J.H. Oliver, “Cognitive Demands of Semi-Natural Virtual Locomotion,” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 216–234, Summer 2013