Michael Villano

Research Assistant Professor

Co-Director of the Virtual Reality Lab

Research Assistant Professor
E464 Corbett Family Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556

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Professor Villano is NOT open to admitting graduate students for fall 2024 matriculation.

Primary Area: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Research and teaching interests

Virtual Reality and 3D Video Game Development, Simulations for Moral Dilemmas and Business Strategy, Human-Robotic Interaction, Human-Computer Interaction, Research Programming


Dr. Mike Villano is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology where he provides research computing consultative services in all phases of the research software development life cycle: feasibility studies, requirements gathering and analysis, software architecture and user interface design, implementation (coding in more than 20 computer languages/environments), testing/calibration, deployment and maintenance. He collaborates with faculty, graduate students and undergraduate research assistants to facilitate and promote effective and efficient use and integration of research computing resources and audio/video technologies within their labs, the department and the university. Dr. Villano conducts research in human robotic interaction and applications of VR, video game and robot technology to a variety of health and social issues. Current projects include investigating moral decision-making of drone pilots in a simulated 3D game environment and utilizing VR for the study of proxemics (personal space) and human-robotic interaction. Dr. Villano is also the Co-Director of the Virtual Reality Laboratory where he developed a VR simulation of an on campus building atrium to study VR acrophobia exposure therapy, a shopping mall for the study of prospective memory and a virtual boardroom to study corporate strategic decision-making.


Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, New York University

M. A., Experimental Psychology, New York University

B. A., Psychology; Certificate in Computer Applications (CAPP) , University of Notre Dame

Representative Publications

Hubbard, T.D., Aliberti, D. & Villano, M. (2022) "Crossing the Uncanny Valley: Understanding Board Gender Composition Using Virtual Reality Simulations." Presented paper at the Strategic Management Society’s Special Conference. Milan, Italy.

Mujica, A., Crowell, C., Villano, M., & Uddin, K. (2022). "Addiction by design: some Dimensions and Challenges of Excessive Social Media Use." Medical Research Archives, 10(2). doi:10.18103/mra.v10i2.2677

Christen M, Narvaez D, Zenk JD, Villano M, Crowell CR, Moore DR. "Trolley dilemma in the sky: Context matters when civilians and cadets make remotely piloted aircraft decisions." PLoS One. 2021;16(3):e0247273. PMCID: PMC7987167.

Crowell CR, Deska JC, Villano M, Zenk J, Roddy JT "Jr. Anthropomorphism of Robots: Study of Appearance and Agency." JMIR Hum Factors. 2019 May 10;6(2):e12629. PMCID: PMC6533876.

Zenk, J., Crowell, C. R., Villano, M., Kaboski, J., Tang, K., & Diehl, J.J. (2017). "Unconventional Students in Robotics and HRI Education: A Review of Two Initiatives." Journal of Human Robot Interaction: Special Issue on HRI Education. Vol. 6, No. 2 (pp. 92-110) https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.5898/JHRI.6.2.Zenk