Charles E. Hughes

Synthetic Really Laboratory


Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Research Council, 1972

Ph.D., Computer Science, Penn State University, 1970

M.S., Computer Science, Penn State University, 1968

B.A., Mathematics, Northeastern University, 1966

Phone: 407-882-1344

Charles Hughes is Pegasus Professor of Computer Science in the University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. He is also Professor of Digital Media, an Affiliated Faculty member in Text & Technology, a member of the Modeling & Simulation Graduate Program faculty, and co-director of the university's Synthetic Reality Laboratory (SREAL). He has held prior faculty positions at Penn State and the University of Tennessee. He has been PI or co-PI on over $20M in grants, is author or co-author of over 200 refereed research publications, and is one of the co-inventors of the patented TeachLivE paradigm and technology. Dr. Hughes holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from Penn State University and a B.A. in Mathematics from Northeastern University. 

Research Interests

Virtual Environments

Affective Computing

Human-Centered Computing

Application of VR Experiences to Interpersonal Skills Development

Theory of Computation

Tree of Life (Tree Manipulation and Reasoning)

CV Link

Personal Web Site



TeachLivE is a virtual learning environment supporting teacher practice in classroom management, pedagogy and content. The environment provides pre-service and in-service teachers the opportunity to learn new skills and to craft their practice without placing “real” students at risk during the learning process. It is also being used in graduate teacher and medical internship preparation. The system has been licensed by UCF to a commercial partner, Mursion Inc.,and is now used in many unique ways, including to train desk staff at Best Western Hotels and middle-level managers at Amazon.

Virtual Body Ownership

This research extends earlier work involving body continuity by investigating if the presence of real body cues (legs that look like and move like one's own) alters one's sense of immersion in a virtual environment. The main hypothesis is that real body cues increase one's sense of body ownership and spatial presence, even when those body parts are not essential to the activity on which one is focused. 

Affective Computing

This research focuses on people's emotional responses in virtual settings. The emphases are on body posture, facial gestures and vocalizations. Research papers include: 

Barmaki, R., & Hughes, C. E. (2018). Embodiment Analytics of Practicing Teachers in a Virtual Rehearsal Environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, in press.

Nojavanasghari, B., Hughes, C. E., Baltrusaitis, T., & Morency, L-P (2017). Hand2Face: Automatic Synthesis and Recognition of Hand Over Face Occlusions. Proceedings of Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII 2017), San Antonio, TX, Oct. 23-26, in press.


Phylogenetic trees are used by researchers across multiple fields of study to display historical relationships between organisms or genes. Due to their complexity and the amount of data they present in visual form, phylogenetic trees have generally been difficult to render for publication and challenging to directly interact with in digital form. To address these limitations, we developed PhyloPen, an experimental novel multi-touch and pen application that renders a phylogenetic tree and allows users to interactively navigate within the tree, examining nodes, branches, and auxiliary information, and annotate the tree for note-taking and collaboration. 

Applied Software Tools for Supporting Children with Intellectual Disabilities

We conclude that it is possible to employ mobile, cloud-based technologies to better support children with cognitive and related disabilities, and that teachers will use such technology when they afford non-intrusive, user-friendly applications. The frameworks and their applications presented here provide a basis for further development and dissemination of software tools that support the education with the goal of longer-term independence for children with intellectual disabilities.