Crystal Maraj, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor
Director, RAPID Lab


Partnership 2: 320


Crystal S. Maraj is a Research Assistant Professor employed by the Institute for Simulation and Training (IST) at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She has attained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as well as her M.S. and Ph.D. in Modeling and Simulation (M&S) from UCF. For the past four years, Dr. Maraj has worked for the Simulation & Training Technology Center (STTC) as a Researcher on medical simulation technology projects as well as developing and implementing empirically-based research experiments for Simulation-Based Training (SBT) platforms. Dr. Maraj has published research findings to inform the scientific and training communities to improve trainee performance and training system utility. Most recently, she is leading the Realistic Assessment of Performance in Devices (RAPID) lab that focuses on the evaluations of VR/AR technologies assessing capabilities, deficiencies, specifications, costs, maturity and risks. This information will inform the military community of the technology readiness of devices. In addition to leading the RAPID lab, Dr. Maraj also manages the Robotics Club at UCF. She mentors students as they prepare for local and national robotics competitions. Her interests in outreach programs had led her to actively participate in STEM activities that support Florida school communities.


  • Ph.D., Modeling & Simulation, University of Central Florida


  • Assistant Research Professor, SMST, UCF

  • Vice Chair to the Graduate Appeals Committee, UCF

  • Faculty Advisor to the Robotics Club, UCF


Research Approach

I utilize a human-systems engineering approach to research projects and managed sponsored and non-sponsored projects at different phases in the project management cycle. I design research experiments, perform usability testing, and conduct research experimentation (Lab-based studies and Field-based studies), and conduct statistical analyses for research studies. This approach is applying to live, virtual and constructive simulations.


Teaching & Mentoring Approach

I approach mentoring by understanding the educational needs of students to assist them in reaching their full potential. I adopt an experiential approach to mentoring students. My role is to guide them in finding answers to their research questions. I encourage students to complete the research process (e.g., complete an in-depth literature review, data collection, data analysis, and a write-up). Often, the results have a dual benefit: students have the opportunity to practice innovative and ground-breaking approaches to research, and secondly, students are able to present the findings in the form of publications and presentations.

Courses Taught

  • IDS 6918: Directed Independent Research Course

  • PSY 4903H: Directed Independent Research Course

Research Interests:

Cognitive Psychology
Education & Training
Game-based Technologies
Human-computer Interaction (HCI)
Human-in-the-loop Simulation Development
Medical Simulation & Training
Simulation-Based Training
Usability Testing
Virtual Environment Training

Areas of Expertise:

Augmented Reality (AR)
Head Mounted Displays
IRB Process and Procedures
Lab and Field Experimentation Design and Implementation
Mixed Reality
Statistical Data Analysis
Virtual Reality (VR)

Application Areas:

First Response
Human Factors
Product Design
Software Development