Contact & Join Us

Interested in joining the iSpace team?

Interested in con­tribut­ing to inno­v­a­tive research at the inter­sec­tion of Virtual Reality/XR, Psychology/Cognitive Science, Informatics, Human Factors/HCI,  and Art/Design in an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary team?

I’m always look­ing for bright and moti­vated PhD and MSc stu­dents and post­Docs to join the iSpace lab at our School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT), Simon Fraser University in the greater Vancouver region in beau­ti­ful British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Coastal Mountain range. Greater Vancouver is known as one of the most eth­ni­cally diverse areas in Canada and has been ranked as one of the most liv­able cities in the world based on qual­ity of life (espe­cially for those who love the out­doors (skiing, hiking, water sports, beach volleyball…)).

Expectations & potential projects

Applicants should be highly moti­vated and have a strong inter­est in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sci­en­tific research aligned with the over­all goals and vision of the iSpace lab (see and at least one of our recent Projects. Most of our work can be sum­ma­rized under the over­ar­ch­ing goal of Designing and inves­ti­gat­ing Virtual Reality for pos­i­tive impact on indi­vid­u­als and soci­ety. In my TEDx talk on “Could Virtual Reality make us more human?” I pro­vide some exam­ples and an overview (tech­nol­ogy improved since then, but the vision and opportunities/challenges remained):

In par­tic­u­lar, I am look­ing for stu­dent to work in one of the fol­low­ing areas (some grant-supported / some grants are cur­rently under review/planning):

Designing and investigating intuitive interfaces for embodied flying in VR & teleoperation:

Design & eval­u­ate user-powered motion cueing inter­faces to enable more nat­ural and intu­itive loco­mo­tion through and spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion in VR, for both ground-based nav­i­ga­tion and espe­cially for full 3D nav­i­ga­tion (both vir­tual flying and tele-presence/tele-operation appli­ca­tions like drones). One of the aims is to create an empow­er­ing embod­ied and seam­less flying expe­ri­ences, sim­i­lar to and inspired by lucid dream­ing, as well improv­ing user expe­ri­ence, usabil­ity, and per­for­mance while min­i­miz­ing motion sickness.

Related prior projects include our work on embod­ied VR flying with HyperJumping to reduce motion sick­ness, leaning-based inter­faces for ground-based loco­mo­tion and flying, inter­faces allow­ing for con­cur­rent loco­mo­tion and inter­ac­tion in VR, and telep­res­ence.

Reducing motion sickness in virtual environments:

Investigate ways to better mitigate/reduce cyber­sick­ness in VR (and immer­sive tele-presence and tele­op­er­a­tion (incl. first-person view drones), and develop a tool­box for better assess­ing and reduc­ing cybersickness.

Related prior projects include our work on HyperJuming (merg­ing con­tin­u­ous and tele­port­ing into one seam­less inter­face, for ground-based loco­mo­tion as well as embod­ied flying) as well as design­ing more embod­ied and intu­itive VR loco­mo­tion inter­faces that also helped to reduce motion sick­ness, for both  ground-based loco­mo­tion and flying, and inter­faces allow­ing for con­cur­rent loco­mo­tion and inter­ac­tion in VR.

Designing and investigating Virtual Reality experiences towards enhancing health and wellbeing: 

We are explor­ing how ther­a­peu­tic exer­cises can be imple­mented within a VR inter­ven­tion to gen­er­ate insight towards VR as a ‘pos­i­tive tech­nol­ogy’ for indi­vid­u­als with chronic ill­ness. We are mod­i­fy­ing our exist­ing VR envi­ron­ment used in related recent stud­ies to explore how inte­gra­tion of ther­a­peu­tic exer­cises may enhance sub­jec­tive and psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing. Additionally, we will add fea­tures of inter­ac­tiv­ity such as biosen­sors and sensor-driven machine learning/procedural gen­er­a­tion of visu­als towards enhanc­ing the per­son­al­iza­tion, emo­tion elic­i­ta­tion, and immer­sion of the VR inter­ven­tion. We will inte­grate the lens of indi­vid­u­als who will be the users of the VR inter­ven­tion, with their par­tic­i­pa­tion and input cen­tral to the exploratory research process. Practical out­comes will be the devel­op­ment of an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary frame­work for design of the VR inter­ven­tion and result­ing pilot VR inter­ven­tion will be eval­u­ated for early indi­ca­tors of fea­si­bil­ity within tar­geted end users. This project pro­vides a unique oppor­tu­nity for inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion and knowl­edge trans­la­tion between human-computer inter­ac­tion, clin­i­cal prac­tice, and health sciences.


More gen­er­ally, how we can bring together immer­sive vir­tual reality/XR with artistic/creative prac­tices and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies such as AI and bio/neurosensing to pro­vide users with pro­found and mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences that have a pos­i­tive impact (on humans, soci­ety and/or our planet)?

Related prior projects include our work on Design Strategies for Genuine Connection, Virtual Earthgazing to tap into and better inves­ti­gate the ben­e­fits of the Overview effect and other awe-inspiring and self-transcendent VR expe­ri­ences, and immer­sive experiences/installations such as Virtual Transcendent Dream,JeL, LucidLoop, Body Remixer, StarStuffSynedelica, Breath of Light, etc.

Other poten­tial projects include

  • Investigating how we can use immer­sive vir­tual real­ity, biosens­ing, and brain-computer inter­faces to pro­vide users with pro­found and mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences such as the Overview effect
  • Devising new gam­i­fied research (or researchi­fied gaming) par­a­digms for bring­ing together advan­tages from research and gaming
  • Investigate and uti­lize multi-modal and higher-level syn­er­gis­tic ben­e­fits to enhance self-motion illu­sions (vec­tion) in VR, which con­tributed to fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge and can help to enable more com­pelling and effec­tive human-computer inter­faces for immer­sive VR.
  • Investigating the functional/behavioral sig­nif­i­cance of self-motion illu­sions (vec­tion): E.g., does vec­tion allow us to per­form tasks we could not oth­er­wise per­form as well? We have first evi­dence that vec­tion can facil­i­tate per­spec­tive switches, and sev­eral exper­i­men­tal par­a­digms lined up to inves­ti­gate fur­ther behav­ioral mea­sures (Riecke, Feuereissen, Rieser, McNamara, 2015).

and more generally

  • Human multi-modal spa­tial cog­ni­tion, spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion, spa­tial updating
  • Enabling robust and effort­less spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion in vir­tual envi­ron­ments and telep­res­ence (e.g., con­fer­ence robots, drones) — e.g., through design­ing improved loco­mo­tion inter­faces and par­a­digms for 2D and 3D locomotion
  • Self-motion per­cep­tion, illu­sions (“vec­tion”), and sim­u­la­tion; Multi-modal con­tri­bu­tions and interactions
  • Overview effect and other piv­otal expe­ri­ences and how to elicit them in VR
  • Theory, design guide­lines, and VR expe­ri­ences sup­port­ing pos­i­tive trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ences — from self-transcendent and awe-inspiring expe­ri­ences to VR4Good and address­ing Climate Change
  • Brain-computer inter­faces and biofeed­back (breath­ing, EEG…) for immer­sive, play­ful VR inter­ac­tion design to foster desire­able states (e.g., mind­ful­ness, relax­ation, overview effect, piv­otal experiences).
  • Design and iter­a­tive eval­u­a­tion and improve­ment of per­cep­tu­ally ori­ented, multi-modal human-computer inter­faces and human-centered, effec­tive vir­tual real­ity sim­u­la­tions and expe­ri­ences. This could include uncon­ven­tional VR inter­faces, immer­sive VR for med­i­ta­tion, and other novel ideas.

As the iSpace lab works at the inter­sec­tion of Informatics, Psychology/Cognitive Science, Human Factors/HCI/Immersive Interaction Design, and Virtual Reality, you should bring a strong back­ground in at least one of these areas and be excited to expand into the other areas.  PhD and MSc appli­ca­tions must also meet the reg­u­lar admis­sion cri­te­ria and will undergo the reg­u­lar admis­sions processes. Note that MSc appli­ca­tions will only be con­sid­ered if they show a strong inter­est in research, schol­arly dis­sem­i­na­tion (and poten­tially get­ting a PhD). Note that theses in my lab are writ­ten as a  cumu­la­tive thesis (i.e., based on schol­arly papers).


Students: Funding is pro­vided through a com­bi­na­tion of teach­ing assist­ant­ships, schol­ar­ships, fel­low­ships and research assist­ant­ships. Some stu­dents also take on addi­tional part-time jobs in indus­try (as the hourly rate is often higher). You will also receive finan­cial sup­port when pre­sent­ing your research in suit­able schol­arly conferences.

PostDocs: there are cur­rently no fully funded post­Doc posi­tions in the iSpace lab unfor­tu­nately, although I can pro­vide some interim fund­ing and am open to suit­able post­Docs that bring their own fund­ing (at least until we find addi­tional funds). I’d be happy to assist in apply­ing for exter­nal fund­ing — there are mul­ti­ple options includ­ing Banting, Mitacs, NSERC/SSHRC…. PostDoc Funding is pro­vided at stan­dard Canadian (NSERC) rates includ­ing vaca­tion pay and ben­e­fits. Additional top-up is nego­tiable if you con­tribute sub­stan­tially to the writ­ing of research grants.


If you are inter­ested in join­ing the iSpace team, please read on, then send me an email () and include the following.

  • your cur­ricu­lum vitae includ­ing your pub­li­ca­tion record,
  • your research inter­ests and how they relate to the above research areas or prior/ongoing projects (you do not need a con­crete research pro­posal — it’s typ­i­cally best devel­oped together)
  • unof­fi­cial tran­script, and any other information/documents/links to demon­strate your back­ground and interest.

Please indi­cate how you might see your­self fit in. This is essen­tial — please under­stand that I won’t respond to generic or mass-emails (I get many of them). You don’t need to have a spe­cific research project in mind to apply, though, as long as you are open and excited about the kind of research we do. It helps if you add “PhD/MSc/PostDoc Application” to the email sub­ject line.

Please also indi­cate if you have any expe­ri­ence in pro­gram­ming in gen­eral, VR-specific pro­gram­ming (espe­cially in Unity), VR hardware/software, and statistics/experimental design/data analy­sis and any expe­ri­ence in schol­arly writ­ing you might have. I don’t require exper­tize in all these areas, but it’s useful to under­stand where your back­ground and strengths are and how you’d fit into the team. Feel free to add any other skills (aca­d­e­mic or non-academic) that I should be aware of or that could be useful.

Positions are highly com­pet­i­tive, with appli­ca­tions due around January for a September start. Review of appli­ca­tions is ongo­ing and will con­tinue until all posi­tions are filled.

I’d be happy to arrange Zoom inter­views if there seems to be a good fit. Review of mate­ri­als is ongo­ing and will con­tinue until all posi­tions are filled.

I look for­ward to receiv­ing your application!


Prospective grad stu­dents: ALL grad­u­ate stu­dents at SIAT are rec­om­mended for admis­sion by the Graduate Admission Committee and then admit­ted by the Dean of Graduate Studies at SFU. Therefore you MUST sat­isfy all the require­ments set up by SIAT and SFU. Please check SIAT’s grad admis­sion pro­ce­dures and make sure to con­tact me before sub­mit­ting your appli­ca­tion. Off-cycle admis­sion is pos­si­ble for excel­lent can­di­dates. Please men­tion my name in your sub­mis­sion, and con­tact me before sub­mit­ting your application.

Below is a sum­mary of my main research agenda so you can assess if and how you might best fit into our team. There’s also an out­line of some of the skills, expe­ri­ence, and char­ac­ter­is­tics that we value  highly and will be useful for iSpace mem­bers. The appli­ca­tion process is com­pet­i­tive, and apart from your GPA the main admis­sion cri­te­ria are how well you’d fit into the iSpace team and can con­tribute to the over­all research agenda and vision (see below for details). I only super­vise MSc and PhD stu­dents with a strong research orientation.

If you have already research ideas when apply­ing, great! If not, and you are just really excited about con­tribut­ing to our research agenda and vision (and are capa­ble in doing so), that also fine, and we should dis­cuss ideas before you write your “letter of intent” to make sure it will be a good mutual match. In either case, please check the iSpace research agenda and vision and our recent projects and pub­li­ca­tions and talks/demos to get a better idea of our research scope and approaches (although I’m always inter­ested in expand­ing into new excit­ing research areas).


Do you fit in?

Below is a draft of some of the skills, expe­ri­ence, and char­ac­ter­is­tics that we value highly and will be useful for iSpace mem­bers. As the iSpace lab works at the inter­sec­tion of Informatics, Psychology/Cognitive Science, Human Factors/HCI/Interaction Design/UX, and Virtual Reality, you should bring a strong back­ground in at least one of these areas. Of course, I don’t expect you to have mas­tery in all of these skills when join­ing the team — but you should be excited to expand in these areas. Note that all join­ing mem­bers should have at least some back­ground in pro­gram­ming and be eager to do research.

Programming / computational literacy

Experience in pro­gram­ming, espe­cially in the con­text of VR or Computer graph­ics is quite valu­able. We cur­rently use mostly the pop­u­lar game/VR engine Unity3D which Bernhard also uses in his teach­ing of the immer­sive envi­ron­ments course IAT445 and the Semester in Alternate Realities. We occa­sion­ally still use Vizard from Worldviz, a python-based pro­gram­ming library for the real-time VR sim­u­la­tions. One of the tools we use for cre­at­ing nat­u­ral­is­tic 3D con­tent is the pro­ce­dural mod­el­ing mod­el­ing tool CityEngine.

Experimental design and statistics:

Experience in clev­erly design­ing, con­duct­ing and ana­lyz­ing mixed-methods exper­i­ments with human observers. [Bernhard occa­sion­ally teaches this also in the quan­ti­ta­tive research meth­ods and design course IAT 802. We typ­i­cally use JMP and SPSS for sta­tis­ti­cal analysis.

Writing, presentation, and communication skills:

Publishing and pre­sent­ing research is not only the cur­rency in aca­d­e­mics, but also a way to give back to the com­mu­nity, both pro­fes­sional and gen­eral public. Thus, we highly value good schol­arly writ­ing, pre­sen­ta­tion, and gen­eral social/networking/communication skills.

Proactivity, enthusiasm, perseverance/grit and team/interpersonal skills:

Working in an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary team can have it’s chal­lenges, but it is also incred­i­bly reward­ing, espe­cially for people with high proac­tiv­ity, enthu­si­asm & per­se­ver­ance, and good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and team/interpersonal skills — and a good sense of humour.

Technical & building skills:

Technical skills in build­ing, con­struc­tion, main­te­nance, and other geeky and MacGyver-ly skill (from elec­tron­ics to set­ting up com­put­ers to build­ing phys­i­cal struc­tures in the lab) can also be valu­able (but aren’t a pre-requisite for being an iSpacer). Experience with VR equip­ment is cer­tainly a plus. We’re cur­rently using a custom-designed 2-axis cir­cu­lar tread­mill, sev­eral visu­al­iza­tion setups includ­ing sev­eral wide-FOV HMDs (e.g., HP Reverb G2 Omnicept (that includes phys­i­o­log­i­cal user data), Oculus Quest (1÷2), Valve IndexHTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro Eye, Oculus Rift, and for­merly the NVIS SX 111), a large-screen pas­sive stereo pro­jec­tion setup and started inte­grat­ing var­i­ous sen­sors includ­ing the Leap motion con­troller as well as EEG sys­tems from Emotiv (EPOC & Insight) and Interaxon (Muse 2) inte­grated with a real-time 3D game engine (Unity3D) that we also use in our teach­ing. We’re cur­rently work­ing on improv­ing our real-time spa­tial­ized sound ren­der­ing (HRTF con­vo­lu­tion, and have the equip­ment for bin­au­ral record­ings. We’re devel­op­ing our own user-powered motion cueing inter­faces, in par­tic­u­lar, lean and ele­gant leaning-based loco­mo­tion inter­faces such as the NaviChair and NaviBoard or ear­lier a pimped Gyroxus gaming motion chair with addi­tional shaker for vibra­tion rendering.

What is SIAT & SFU?

Check out our SIAT webiste or watch the or check out SIAT’s YouTube chan­nel.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ranks con­sis­tently as one of the top uni­ver­si­ties in Canada. Bernhard Riecke’s lab is part of SIAT, a young, vibrant and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary depart­ment at SFU with research in HCI, inter­ac­tion design, media arts and many other areas. It is located at the SFU Surrey campus (directly on the sky­train tran­sit line) in Greater Vancouver. Greater Vancouver lies along the west coast of Canada where the Pacific Ocean meets the Coast Mountain range. With a pop­u­la­tion of over 2 mil­lion, Greater Vancouver is known as one of the most eth­ni­cally diverse areas in Canada and has been ranked as one of the most liv­able cities in the world. Moreover, Vancouver is a great des­ti­na­tion for those who love the out­doors and nature (e.g., skiing, hiking, water sports) and the indoors (e.g., muse­ums, art, the­atre, diverse ethnic food, coffee, and of course hockey).

Conferences we like to attend and publish in

(incom­plete list, see pub­li­ca­tions page for details)

Spatial Cognition

Psychology & Cognitive Science

Networking & Links

[Under Construction]


Contact Info

School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT)
Simon Fraser University Surrey
250 –13450 102 Avenue Surrey, BC V3T 0A3 CANADA

iSpace Lab (aka Alternate Realities Lab): SUR 3800 & 3850 (3rd floor)
my office: SUR 2770 (2nd floor)

Campus Guide & Maps & SIAT Contacts/Infos & SIAT direc­tions

Directions by Skytrain: take the expo line direc­tion King George, exit at Surrey Central, walk across the park­ing lot to the tall office tower (with the SFU sign above the Blenz), take the wide stairs/escalator up to the Mezzanine (=2nd) floor.
Take a right for my office (2770) which is in the SIAT cor­ri­dor, or walk up to the 3rd floor and take a right for the iSpace lab (room 3800/3850).

Note that the ele­va­tor won’t let you exit on the 2nd or 3rd floor.

phone: we don’t have office phones any more, so just text/message/email

Map and Directions (large map)


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