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SPC Professors Featured on The Science Channel’s TV Show Weird Connections

Jersey City – Dr. Frederick Bonato, chair of Saint Peter’s College psychology department and Dr. Andrea Bubka, professor of psychology at Saint Peter’s appeared in December 2008 on Weird Connections, a television show on The Science Channel that plots relationships between unique experiments and their resulting scientific advances.
The optokinetic drum rotate around the participant and confuses the senses.
Episode 12 of Weird Connections, “The Sick Machine,” covered the work that Drs. Bonato and Bubka conducted using an optokinetic drum — a simulator that explores how vision affects self-motion perception and motion sickness. The drum’s spinning, patterned interior rotates around a stationary person, confusing the senses and creating motion sickness symptoms. 

The experiments that Drs. Bonato and Bubka conduct using the drum are an attempt to find a deeper understanding of how senses interact and affect not just motion sickness, but its variants such as simulator sickness and space sickness. This research is also important to NASA, because a new cure for space sickness could allow astronauts to travel to Mars.

“As both scientists and educators, we are, of course, in favor of anything that promotes an interest in science. We like the idea of scientific connections because it demonstrates how a basic experiment using an optokinetic drum can have practical applications down the road, such as solving some very serious problems for space exploration,” commented Dr. Bonato.

Drs. Bonato and Bubka built the drum apparatus, designed various experiments with the drum’s use, and have published 10 papers  regarding motion-sickness-related topics. Both professors are full members of the Aerospace Medical Association; their research on the topic of motion sickness began in 2000.

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Saint Peter’s College, founded in 1872, is a Jesuit, Catholic college in the liberal arts tradition located in the heart of Jersey City, N.J., with a branch campus in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and course offerings on the Jersey City Waterfront and at various corporate sites throughout New Jersey. Educating over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 50 programs, Saint Peter’s College is committed to academic excellence and individual attention, preparing students for a lifetime of learning, leadership and service in a diverse and global society.