David (Ed) Edwards

Technical specialist for visualisation and simulation, BE(Hons)


Since 2009, I have been involved with great white shark research, conservation and outreach in South Africa, where there is an ever-increasing demand for innovative, non-invasive research technologies. The same can be said for approaches to education, ensuring that the wider impact of any conducted research can be effectively communicated to both Government and the general public.

Alongside this, I have pursued an interest in videogames and their associated technologies. Specifically, I am interested in how digital environments can be used to enhance our understanding and dissemination of the natural world. This culminated in a project begun in early 2018. Myself and two colleagues (Richard Harper and Tom Vine) within Technical Services at Staffordshire University, began experimenting with 3D photogrammetry and virtual reality. Our general goal was to develop an intuitive platform for object interaction and exploration, for both research and educational purposes. We felt that existing solutions were let down by their approach to user interface, resulting in experiences that are limited by, rather than maximising the unique properties and potential of Virtual Reality. Part of this would involve developing a pipeline for capturing 3D photogrammetry data. While each of us had experience in photographic techniques, we needed to consider the wider implications of importing such data in a useable state, into our chosen software. The early version of the toolset developed proved to be both effective and accessible, with a range of initial test audiences responding strongly to the content and approach to interaction. This application of this approach will be further investigated, in collaboration with the Centre, in the visualisation of archaeological data.

We are currently authoring a number of short communications, focused on our initial experiments, while acquainting ourselves with some of the team’s existing datasets and adapting our VR solution accordingly. My ambition throughout all of this, is to develop pipelines and interactive digital tools which enhance data collection, preserve natural and archaeological subjects, engage public interest and generate measurable support for conservation.

Research Interests

  • Development of real-time, digital environments for crime scene investigation
  • Digital archiving of biological and archaeological subjects through photogrammetry
  • Advancing user experience in virtual reality for improved educational engagement

Recent Publications

Towner AV, Wcisel MA, Reisinger RR, Edwards D, Jewell OJD (2013) Gauging the Threat: The First Population Estimate for White Sharks in South Africa Using Photo Identification and Automated Software. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66035. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066035

G. C. A. French, M. Stürup, S. Rizzuto, J. H. Van Wyk, D. Edwards, R. W. Dolan, S. P. Wintner, A. V. Towner and W. O. H. Hughes (2017) The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth: tooth shape and ontogenetic shift dynamics in the white shark Carcharodon Carcharias. Journal of Fish Biology 91 (4): https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.13396

Jewell OJ, Edwards D. (2016) Tracking white sharks in a dynamic system at the southern tip of Africa. PeerJ PrePrints 4:e1689v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1689v1


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