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 and video game 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.

Prior to returning to the academic environment, Dr. Villano conducted research and development for various industries in e-commerce, web-based electronic performance support systems, human-computer interaction, ergonomics and computer-based simulation and training.

Research and Teaching Interests

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

Mentoring Statement

As a mentor, I strive provide graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities to develop both technical and professional skills while carrying out our research projects. I try to treat students as colleagues and collaborators and offer beneficial and constructive feedback on their work.


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 Human Factors. 2019 May 10;6(2):e12629. PMCID: PMC6533876.