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Ms. Rachel Mc Donnell

Associate Professor (Computer Science)


  Computer & Video Games   Computer Animation   Computer Graphics   Computer Graphics & Vision   Computer Science   HUMAN COMPUTER INTERACTION
Details Date
Associate Editor for ACM Transactions on Applied Perception 2013-current
Associate Editor for the Journal of Eurographics, the European Association for Computer Graphics (Computer Graphics Forum) 2012-2015
Program Chair for Symposium on Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization, Los Angeles, U.S.A. 2012
ACM SIGGRAPH Program Committee Member 2014
Eurographics Program Committee Member 2012
Program Committee Member for ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Applied Perception 2009
ACM SIGGRAPH Asia Sketches and Posters Program Committee Member 2010
Program Committee Member for CASA: Computer Animation and Social Agents conference 2012
Program Committee Member for ACM SIGGRAPH Conference on Motion in Games 2012
Program Committee Member for IEEE VR 2019
Program Committee Member for ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation 2009
Program Committee Member for ACM SIGGRAPH Interactive 3D Graphics and Games (I3D) 2018
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Basic Basic Basic
Irish Medium Basic Medium
Details Date From Date To
Association for Computing Machinery
Wisessing P, McDonnell R, Evalu-light: A practical approach for evaluating character lighting in real-time, Proceedings - SAP 2020: ACM Symposium on Applied Perception, 2020, 2020, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Basak S, Javidnia H, Khan F, McDonnell R, Schukat M, Methodology for Building Synthetic Datasets with Virtual Humans, 2020 31st Irish Signals and Systems Conference, ISSC 2020, 2020, 2020, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Ferstl Y, Neff M, McDonnell R, Understanding the Predictability of Gesture Parameters from Speech and their Perceptual Importance, Proceedings of the 20th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, IVA 2020, 2020, 2020, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Zibrek K, Niay B, Olivier A.-H, Hoyet L, Pettre J, McDonnell R, Walk this way: Evaluating the effect of perceived gender and attractiveness of motion on proximity in virtual reality, Proceedings - 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces, VRW 2020, 2020, 2020, pp169 - 170, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Carrigan E, Zibrek K, Dahyot R, McDonnell R, Investigating perceptually based models to predict importance of facial blendshapes, Proceedings - MIG 2020: 13th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference on Motion, Interaction, and Games, 2020, 2020, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Ferstl Y, Neff M, McDonnell R, Adversarial gesture generation with realistic gesture phasing, Computers and Graphics (Pergamon), 89, 2020, p117 - 130, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Zibrek K, Niay B, Olivier A.-H, Hoyet L, Pettre J, McDonnell R, The effect of gender and attractiveness of motion on proximity in virtual reality, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, 17, (4), 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Carrigan E, Zell E, Guiard C, McDonnell R, Expression Packing: As-Few-As-Possible Training Expressions for Blendshape Transfer, Computer Graphics Forum, 39, (2), 2020, p219 - 233, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Wisessing P., Zibrek K., Cunningham D.W., Dingliana J., Mcdonnell R., Enlighten MeMe: Importance of Brightness and Shadow for Character Emotion and Appeal, ACM Transactions on Graphics, 39, (3), 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Ferstl Y, Neff M, McDonnell R, Multi-objective adversarial gesture generation, Proceedings - MIG 2019: ACM Conference on Motion, Interaction, and Games, 2019, 2019, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL

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Daniel Thalmann, Carol O'Sullivan, Barbara Yersin, Jonathan Maim, Rachel McDonnell, Populating Virtual Environments with Crowds, Eurographics Tutorials, 2007, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
McHugh, J.E., McDonnell, R., Chan, J.S. & Newell, F.N., The Multisensory Perception of Emotions in Real and Virtual Humans, British Psychological Society Annual Conference 2008, Dublin, April 2008, Poster, PRESENTED


Award Date
Career Development Award (SFI) 2013
Best paper award (top 5) at ACM SIGGRAPH Conference on Motion in Games 2013
Creating virtual replicas of human beings, in both appearance and motion, is one of the greatest challenges in the field of Computer Graphics and beyond. Faces in particular have still not reached the levels of realism required to convince our perceptual systems that a virtual face is real. However, with the rise of interest and investment from major technology companies (e.g., Microsoft, Intel, Oculus, Google, Facebook) in augmented and virtual reality, the requirement for virtual avatars that can communicate across these platforms is at an all-time high. Advancing the state-of-the-art in virtual faces is therefore a highly competitive field. However, I am credited with a unique approach to this topic that merges new industry-standard technological advancements with results from perceptual experiments. I have made a significant impact by exploring the use of novel perceptual experiments in order to guide computer graphics algorithms to achieve higher levels of realism and plausibility, and to investigate the trade-off between available resources (such as computation power, time, and budget) and acceptability. This approach has proven to both deepen our understanding of how virtual faces are perceived, and also directly provide new algorithms and guidelines for industry developers on where to focus their efforts. I am also currently expanding my research to collaborate with the school of psychology to use virtual characters to improve communication and skills for those with behavioural and developmental problems. I have been awarded >€1M funding on a number of projects that align with this agenda and have published my findings in the top-ranked international conferences and journals (e.g., 6 papers in ACM TOG, the highest ranking journal in Computer, IEEE VR, CGF). According to a recent SFI site review panel of international experts, I have "acquired high visibility in the domain of facial animation", an " "exemplary record" with "outstanding quality" research that "deals with very innovative research questions", whose results have "very strong impacts in the research community and in the industry".