Denise Quesnel



PhD Student


dquesnel at



Denise joined the iSpace team in Fall 2016 as a grad­u­ate student.

Denise stud­ies pro­found emo­tional shifts, like awe and wonder, that can occur through inter­ac­tion with immer­sive, mul­ti­sen­sory artis­tic arte­facts and tech­no­log­i­cal expe­ri­ences. She is a researcher of the immer­sive real­i­ties, specif­i­cally cre­ation and design of virtual/augmented real­ity (VR/AR) con­tent and interfaces.

After spend­ing over a decade in the film and VFX indus­try, she founded an immer­sive R&D studio, worked in University research depart­ments, and is now a PhD stu­dent with the iSpace Lab at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Her artis­tic and work expe­ri­ence feeds into her moti­va­tion around under­stand­ing how emo­tional shifts com­bined with tech­nol­ogy can help facil­i­tate com­pas­sion, under­stand­ing, inter­con­nec­tiv­ity for our­selves, one another, and our planet. As an active vol­un­teer with ser­vice to the global com­mu­nity, Denise cre­ated the SIGGRAPH VR Village in 2015 to help create a venue for inter­dis­ci­pli­nary immer­sive works in the sci­en­tific, enter­tain­ment, med­ical, and edu­ca­tion fields. She is also involved in advo­cacy and policy-making in the health care and tech­no­log­i­cal communities.


HyperJump flying to combat motion sickness

HyperJumping in Virtual Vancouver: Combating Motion Sickness by Merging Teleporting and Continuous VR Locomotion in an Embodied Hands-Free VR Flying Paradigm Motion sickness, unintuitive navigation, and limited agency are critical issues in VR/XR impeding wide-spread adoption and enjoyable user experiences. To tackle these challenges, we present HyperJump, a novel VR interface merging advantages ...

SIRIUS - Virtual Earthgazing to mitigate effects of sensory isolation

SIRIUS (Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station) is a series of on-land isolation experiments modelling long-term spaceflight in order to assess the psychophysiological effects of isolation on a crew and prepare for long-duration spaceflights, such as a trip to Mars. An 8-month-long isolation study commenced in Moscow on Nov 4th, 2021, where a crew of 6 people (from Roscosm...

VR/MR/AR 4 Good: Creating with a Purpose

Interested in connecting & joining? If you're interested in connecting to others engaged or interested in the xR4Good field, you could join the xR4Good facebook group, or fill out this online signup sheet and state what you're interested in Introduction Over the past five years, we have seen awareness and creation of Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality (VR/MR/AR or, the ‘immersive realit...

Connected through "AWE": creating immersive experiences for social connection

Do you get enough “awe” in your life? In our busy day-to-day lives, we often take our experiences for granted. While we have the technology to connect with one another, like smart phones, we don’t necessarily get outside with nature, or stargaze. Such activities may consist of common awe-inspiring moments, and we now understand that feeling awe is associated with all sorts of social and well...

Virtual Earthgazing - towards an overview effect in Virtual Reality

How can we use immersive VR to give people pivotal positive experiences without having to send them out into space?   “We went to the Moon as technicians, we returned as humanitarians” reflected Edgar Mitchell after his space flight. This describes the overview effect – a profound awe-inspiring experience of seeing Earth from space resulting in a cognitive shift in worldview, le...

Sonic Cradle

Sonic Cradle suspends the body is a completely dark chamber which encourages experiences comparable to mindfulness meditation.  Users compose peaceful soundscapes in real-time using only their breathing. [vimeo 35764652] Introduction and demo of the Sonic Cradle Sonic Cradle is a relaxing human-computer interaction paradigm designed to foster meditative attentional patterns.  The current p...


Prpa, M., Quesnel, D., Vidyarthi, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2016, May). Sonic Cradle - Immersive interaction design combining breathing- and neurofeedback to foster focused attention meditation on breath [Poster]. 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy.
Quesnel, D. T., & Riecke, B. E. (2017, October 6). Connected Through Awe: Can Interactive Virtual Reality Elicit Awe for Improved Well-Being? [Poster]. 3rd Annual Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality and Behavior Change, Stanford University, CA, USA.
Quesnel, D. T. (2017, November 12). Evoking Deep Connections by Embodying Another’s Reality [Talk]. TEDxESFU, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Quesnel, D., DiPaola, S., & Riecke, B. E. (2018). Deep Learning for Classification of Peak Emotions within Virtual Reality Systems. International SERIES on Information Systems and Management in Creative EMedia (CreMedia), 2017/2, 6–11.
Stepanova, E. R., Quesnel, D., Kitson, A., Prpa, M., & Riecke, B. E. (2017, November). Virtual Reality as a Tool for Inducing and Understanding Transformative Experiences [Poster]. Psychonomic Society 58th Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Cole, A. W., Quesnel, D. T., Pekcetin, S., Gromala, D., O’Brian, H., Antle, A. N., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Integrating Affective Responses and Gamification into Early Reading Acquisition Software Applications. CHI PLAY’17 Extended Abstracts, 73–85.
Quesnel, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2018). Are You Awed Yet? How Virtual Reality Gives Us Awe and Goose Bumps. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–22.
Stepanova, E., Quesnel, D., Kitson, A., Prpa, M., Aguilar, I., & Riecke, B. E. (2018, June). A framework for studying Transformative Experiences through VR [Symposium presentation]. 23rd Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference, Gatineau, Canada.
Stepanova, E. R., Quesnel, D. T., & Riecke, B. E. (2019). Space - a Virtual Frontier: How to Design and Evaluate a Virtual Reality Experience of the Overview Effect Promoting The Feeling of Connectedness. Frontiers in Digital Humanities - Human-Media Interaction, 6(7), 1–22.
Quesnel, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Awestruck: Natural Interaction with Virtual Reality on Eliciting Awe. 205–206.
Stepanova, E. R., Quesnel, D. T., & Riecke, B. E. (2019). Understanding AWE: Can a virtual journey, inspired by the Overview Effect, lead to an increased sense of interconnectedness? Frontiers in Digital Humanities - Human-Media Interaction, 6(9), 1–21.
Quesnel, D., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). AWE [Invited Virtual Reality Exhibition]. TEDxSFU, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Quesnel, D., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). AWE [Invited Virtual Reality Exhibition]. SPLASH, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Quesnel, D., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). AWE [Invited Virtual Reality Exhibition]. TEDxEastVan, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Quesnel, D. (2017, November 28). Inspired, magical, connected: How virtual reality can make you well. The Conversation.
Quesnel, D. T. (2017, December 1). How virtual reality is making people “well” again. World Economic Forum.
Quesnel, D., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I., Pennefather, P., & Riecke, B. E. (2018). Creating “AWE”: Combining artistic intuition and research-based design for an emotionally-profound art installation. 2018 IEEE Games, Entertainment, Media Conference (GEM) (Full Paper), 1–8.
Stepanova, E., Quesnel, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2018). Transformative Experiences become more accessible through Virtual Reality. 2018 IEEE Workshop on Augmented and Virtual Realities for Good (VAR4Good), 1–3.
Miller, N., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Adhikari, A., Kitson, A. J., Quesnel, D. T., Pennefather, P., & Riecke, B. E. (2021, October 1). Sirius [Curated & peer-reviewed Virtual Reality Exhibition]. V-Unframed, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Riecke, B. E., Pennefather, P. P., & Quesnel, D. T. (2018). VR/MR/AR 4 Good: Creating with a Purpose. ACM Siggraph Birds of a Feather, 1.