Katerina Stepanova

profile

Position:

Phd Student

Contact:

erstepan [at] sfu.ca
http://ispace.iat.sfu.ca/person/Katerina-Stepanova

Affiliations:

Biography

Katerina grad­u­ated from the Cognitive Science pro­gram with hon­ours from SFU and con­tin­ued into a grad­u­ate pro­gram at iSpace lab where she com­pleted her MSc and con­tin­ued into PhD program.

She strives to under­stand how the immer­sive powers of modern tech­nol­ogy can be lever­aged to help people become more con­nected with them­selves, each other and the world around them.  Through an embod­ied cog­ni­tion and phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal lens, she explores the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing trans­for­ma­tive and inti­mate expe­ri­ences with the use of Virtual Reality and biofeed­back, and study­ing them in con­trolled lab con­di­tions as well as in a public set­ting in a form of art installations.

She is fas­ci­nated by dif­fer­ent ways of cre­at­ing knowl­edge in art, sci­ence and human­i­ties, and as such engages with a vari­ety of quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive method­olo­gies, such as research through design, exper­i­men­tal design, phys­i­o­log­i­cal mea­sures, behav­ioural mea­sures, obser­va­tional stud­ies, micro-phenomenology, hermeneu­tic phe­nom­e­nol­ogy, autoethnog­ra­phy, and close reading.

In 2022 Katerina has con­ducted research visits and intern­ships with Kristina Höök at KTH University in Stockholm spon­sored by SSHRC Michael Smith Foreign Study Scholarship Supplement, and with Alexander Stahn at Charité Universitaetsmedizin in Berlin spon­sored by DAAD research grant.

Outside the lab she explores the out­doors by climb­ing moun­tains, biking, kayak­ing and snow­board­ing, find­ing her inspi­ra­tion in expe­ri­enc­ing a con­nec­tion with the spec­tac­u­lar nature of British Columbia, or prac­tis­ing yoga or swing danc­ing to foster bodily aware­ness which in turn informs her research.

Select Grants & Awards

SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Doctoral Scholarship (2021−2024)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Short-term Research Grant (2022)

 

Projects

Design Strategies for Genuine Connection

There is a prominent interest in the potential of technology for mediating social connection, with a wealth of systems designed to foster the feeling of connection between strangers, friends, and family. In this project, we are exploring this design landscape to derive a transitional definition of mediated genuine connection and design strategies employed by artists and designers to support the f...


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...


Virtual Transcendent Dream

Flying dreams have the potential to evoke a feeling of empowerment (or self-efficacy, confidence in our ability to succeed) and self-transcendent experience (STE), which have been shown to contribute to an individual’s overall well-being. However, these exceptional dreaming experiences remain difficult to induce at will. Inspired by the potential of Virtual Reality (VR) to support profound emoti...


Breath of Light

One must first come to know, through observing oneself — just what one does with breathing. - Elsa Gindler Breath of light is a generative interactive installation, exhibited at the 13th Shanghai Biennale. The installation aims to foster a feeling of connection and awareness through the process of breathing synchronization. Each of the two participants generates their own light with their breat...


Body RemiXer

Extending Bodies to Stimulate Social Connection in an Immersive Installation Body RemiXer connects bodies through movement. It is an experiential projection based Virtual Reality installation that explores novel forms of embodied interaction between multiple participants where their bodies mix into a shared embodied representation producing a playful interaction that aims to support the feeling o...


Connecting through JeL – bio-responsive VR for interpersonal synchronization

Can a bio-responsive generative art installation foster interpersonal synchronization and connection? JeL is a bio-responsive, immersive, interactive, generative art installation designed to encourage physiological synchronization between the immersants. In this project, we will be exploring how novel forms of interaction can be included in immersive technology to foster the feeling of connection...


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...


Lean and Elegant Motion Cueing in VR

How do we best design locomotion interfaces for VR that provide "enough" physical motion cues (vestibular/proprioceptive) while still being effective, affordable, compact, and safe? Despite amazing progress in computer graphics and VR displays, most affordable and room-sized VR locomotion interfaces provide only little physical motion cues (e.g., vestibular & proprioceptive cues). To provide...


Immersive & Embodied Teleoperation Interfaces

Developing virtual interfaces for embodied tele-operation and locomotion. How can we best design and implement an embodied telepresence system for tele-robotics, so we can safely explore remote, hard-to-reach, or potentially hazardous areas or situations? The goal of the "TeleSpider" project is to design and implement a telepresence system where users can remotely operate a robotic spid...


Spatial Updating With(out) Physical Motions?

How important are physical motions for effective spatial orientation in VR? Most virtual reality simulators have a  serious flaw: Users tend to get easily lost and disoriented as they navigate. According to the prevailing opinion, this is because physical motion cues are absolutely required for staying oriented while moving. In this study, we investigated how physical motion cues contribute ...


Publications

Stepanova, E. R., Heyde, M. von der, Kitson, A., Schiphorst, T., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Gathering and Apply Guidelines for TeleSpider Design for Urban Search and Rescue Applications on a Mobile Robot. In M. Kurosu (Ed.), Human-Computer Interaction. Interaction Contexts (HCI 2017) (Vol. 10272, pp. 562–581). Springer.
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.
Kitson, A., Buie, E., Stepanova, E., Chirico, A., Riecke, B. E., & Gaggioli, A. (2019). Transformative Experience Design: Using Interactive Technologies and Narrative to Support Transformative Experiences. ACM CHI 2019 Special Interest Group, 1–4.
Wrainwright, N., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2019, June). Transcending the Lab: Supporting Self-Transcendent Experiences in VR. Talk presented at the FCAT Undergraduate Conference, Surrey City Hall, BC, Canada. Retrieved from https://www.sfu.ca/fcat/events/ugc.html
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. http://interactivemediainstitute.com/cypsy23/
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. https://doi.org/10.3389/fdigh.2019.00007
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., & Riecke, B. E. (2019, June 25). Body RemiXer [Curated & peer-reviewed Virtual Reality Exhibition]. Fun Palace Carnival of Mixed Realities, Center for Digital Media (CDM), Vancouver, BC, Canada. https://thecdm.ca/events/2019-06-25/the-fun-palace-carnival-mixed-realities
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. https://doi.org/10.3389/fdigh.2019.00009
Kitson, A., Nguyen-Vo, T., Hashemian, A. M., Stepanova, E. R., & Riecke, B. E. (2017, November). A User Study Comparing Two Low-Cost Chair Interfaces for Embodied Virtual Locomotion [Talk]. Psychonomic Society 58th Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Stepanova, E. R. (2018). Virtual Reality as a Medium for Designing and Understanding Transformative Experiences: The Case of the Overview Effect [MSc Thesis, Simon Fraser University]. https://theses.lib.sfu.ca/4847/show
Stepanova, E. R., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Riecke, B. E., & Pasquier, P. (2019, June 25). JeL – bio-responsive VR for interpersonal connection [Curated & peer-reviewed Virtual Reality Exhibition]. Fun Palace Carnival of Mixed Realities, Center for Digital Media (CDM), Vancouver, BC, Canada. https://thecdm.ca/events/2019-06-25/the-fun-palace-carnival-mixed-realities
Kitson, A., Stepanova, E. R., Hashemian, A. M., Riecke, B. E., Nagy, G., Choo, A., & Chen, D. (2016, May 14). TeleSpider: investigating motion-cueing interfaces for control of a remote robotic spider [Project exhibition]. Consumer Virtual Reality (CVR) conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Kitson, A., Hashemian, A. M., Stepanova, E. R., Kruijff, E., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Comparing Leaning-Based Motion Cueing Interfaces for Virtual Reality Locomotion. Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces 3DUI, 73–82. https://doi.org/10.1109/3DUI.2017.7893320
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.
Riecke, B. E., Stepanova, E. R., & Kitson, A. (2016, May). New response patterns in point-to-origin tasks depending on stimulus type and response mode [Talk]. International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Granada, Spain. https://youtu.be/miiPjAUb77Y
Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., & Stepanova, E. R. (2015). Influence of Movement Expertise on a Virtual Point-to- Origin Task. 100–103. https://doi.org/10.1145/2790994.2791014
Pennefather, P., Rizzotti, P., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, K., Riecke, B., Danenkov, L., Ryzhov, V., Saroyan, J., Beltran, W., & Chak, R. (2020). A Fun Palace: A Mixed Reality Event Through the Looking Glass of Cybernetics. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 27(2), 61–80.
Stepanova, K. (2021, October 31). Virtual reality can combat isolation with awe and empathy — on Earth and in space. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/virtual-reality-can-combat-isolation-with-awe-and-empathy-on-earth-and-in-space-170189
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Riecke, B. E., & Pennefather, P. (2020). Body RemiXer: Extending Bodies to Stimulate Social Connection in an Immersive Installation. Leonardo, 53(4), 394–400. https://doi.org/10.1162/leon_a_01925
Kitson, A. J., Stepanova, E. R., Aguilar, I. A., Wainwright, N., & Riecke, B. E. (2020). Designing Mind(set) and Setting for Profound Emotional Experiences in Virtual Reality. Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems (ACM DIS) Conference. ACM DIS, Eindhoven, Netherlands. https://dis.acm.org/2020/
Kitson, A. J., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Miller, N., Adhikari, A., Stepanova, E. R., & Riecke, B. E. (2020). Can We Trust What’s Real? Using Fiction to Explore the Potential Dissociative Effects of Immersive Virtual Reality. Ethics of MR’20  Workshop at ACM CHI 2020 (Exploring Potentially Abusive Ethical, Social and Political Implications of Mixed Reality Research in HCI), Honolulu, HI, USA.
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Pasquier, P., & Riecke, B. E. (2019). JeL: Connecting Through Breath in Virtual Reality. Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290607.3312845
Stepanova, E. R., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Höök, K., & Riecke, B. E. (2022). Strategies for Fostering a Genuine Feeling of Connection in Technologically Mediated Systems. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491102.3517580
Liu, P., Stepanova, E. R., Kitson, A. J., Schiphorst, T., & Riecke, B. E. (2022). Virtual Transcendent Dream: Empowering People through Embodied Flying in Virtual Reality. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491102.3517677
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. https://doi.org/10.1109/GEM.2018.8516463
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. https://doi.org/10.1109/VAR4GOOD.2018.8576881
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Riecke, B. E., & Pennefather, P. (2020, October). Body RemiXer [Online] [Curated Virtual Reality Exhibition]. Recto VRso Vancouver 2020, Vancouver, BC, Canada. https://www.alliancefrancaise.ca/rectovrso2020/
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. https://www.alliancefrancaise.ca/v-unframed/the-artworks/sirius/
Liu, P., Riecke, B. E., Kitson, A. J., & Stepanova, K. (2021, October). In air we dream [Curated Virtual Reality Exhibition]. Recto VRso Vancouver 2020, Vancouver, BC, Canada. https://www.alliancefrancaise.ca/v-unframed/
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Riecke, B. E., & Pennefather, P. (2020). Body RemiXer Virtualization for Recto VRso 2020 [Virtual Reality Archival Work]. Recto VRso 2020, Online. rectovrso.laval-virtual.com/en/virtual-edition-2020/
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Riecke, B. E., & Pennefather, P. (2022, April 12). Body RemiXer Virtualization for Recto VRso 2022 [Virtual Reality Archival Work]. Recto VRso 2022, Laval, France. rectovrso.laval-virtual.com/en/virtual-edition-2020/
Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Stepanova, E. R., Riecke, B. E., & Pennefather, P. (2021, November 23). Body RemiXer Virtualization for Recto VRso 2021 [Virtual Reality Archival Work]. FIAV - Festival International d’Art Vidéo de Casablanca, Laval, France. https://www.fiav.ma/assets/pdf/installations/6.pdf
Stepanova, E. R., Brauns, K., Friedl-Werner, A., Miller, N., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Adhikari, A., Riecke, B. E., & Stahn, A. C. (2022). A Neurophenomenological Approach to Bet ter Understand the Efects of Eliciting Positive Experiences in Virtual Reality [Poster]. Phenomenological Methods in Neuroscience and Consciousness Research workshop, University of Zürich.