Faculty & Students

  • Katherine Isbister


    Katherine Isbister, Director. Katherine Isbister is a full professor in the University of California, Santa Cruz's Department of Computational Media, where she directs the Social Emotional Technology Lab, and the Center for Computational Experience. She has a Research through Design practice at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction and Games/Play, focused on interactive experiences that heighten social and emotional connections and wellbeing. She is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and has shown games and playful experiences at IndieCade (Yamove! and SceneSampler), as well as at museums including the San Francisco Exploratorium and the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. Her most recent book from MIT Press is How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, winner of an American Library Association award. Isbister is a recipient of MIT Technology Review's Young Innovator Award, and is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Personal page: http://www.katherineinterface.com / Email: katherine.isbister@ucsc.edu


  • Raquel Robinson

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    Dr. Raquel Robinson is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is the lead of an NSF-funded research project, designing and implementing a summer camp curriculum for middle school girls focused on designing wearable technologies to support social interactions through educational live-action roleplay (edu-larp) as the primary mode of teaching. She received her PhD from the University of Saskatchewan in 2022; her dissertation work focused on affective gaming, particularly designing games that utilize physiological sensing technology to help facilitate and support social connections over a distance. Her research interests include fostering collaborative, social experiences in both co-located and remote environments, and the way games and other technologies can be used to support these interactions. In 2018, she completed her M.S in Computational Media as part of the SET Lab, where she designed a tool called `All the Feels'—an overlay which adds game live streamers' biometric data onto the stream in order to enhance the spectator experience. Email:rbrobins@ucsc.edu


  • Ella Dagan

    Ph.D. Candidate

    Ella Dagan creates interactive artifacts and experiences. She works at the intersection of fashion, technology, social psychology, storytelling, remembrance, and wonder. Currently she is a Computational Media Ph.D. student at UCSC. Ella's research explores ubiquitous and embodied technology interventions and its potential to enhance co-located social experience and support people's psychological wellbeing. Before starting her doctoral research, Ella earned a Masters degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of The Arts at New York University. The topic of her thesis there was an interactive, fully functioning installation exploring notions of intimate relationships and means of sharing memories with others through tangible artifacts infused with digital content. Previously, Ella worked for several years as a fashion designer in various market categories, and as a costume designer for art performances. Her familiarity with and experience in fashion design inspired her interest in wearable technology as a social mediator. Ella also earned dual Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Film & Television from Tel Aviv University, and a diploma in Fashion Design from Istituto Marangoni. Personal page: www.elladagan.com / Email: ella@ucsc.edu

  • James Fey

    Ph.D. Candidate

    James Fey is a current Computational Media Ph.D. student and thought leader that has been a member of the SETLab since 2016. While completing his BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, he worked on various branches of the Social Wearables Project exploring applications of wearable technology in serious and game-based social settings. Since becoming a graduate student, he has continued working on social wearables along with expanding his research into maker kits and DIY learning. He is a frequent collaborator on hardware projects in the SETlab and in 2019 he was a visiting researcher in the interaction lab at the Univeristy of Saskatchewan. Email:jfey@ucsc.edu

  • Anya Osborne

    Ph.D. Candidate

    Anya Osborne is a UX designer and a PhD Candidate in Computational Media at J Baskin School of Engineering at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on advancing user experiences in social Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) platforms, fostering multidisciplinary approaches and games industry collaborations in design and development processes. With BS and MS degrees in Psychology from St. Petersburg State University (Russia), and Master of Arts degree in Human Computer Interaction and Game Design from Michigan State University, Anya has dedicated her professional journey both in academia and industry to create interactive and engaging virtual products that serve people's needs, bring more fun to the world, and support social interactions.

    LinkedIn: in/anyaosborne

    Twitter: @anya0sborne

    GitHub: anyaosborne

    Email: anyaosborne@ucsc.edu

  • Chen Ji

    Ph.D. student

    Chen Ji makes games, interactive music experiences, and AR/VR pieces. Currently, she is a Computational Media Ph.D. student at UCSC. Chen’s research interest is using games and other playful interactive experiences to enhance people’s psychological well-being through promoting social connection, growing empathy, and encouraging self-regulation. While completing her BS in Electrical Engineering at the University of Nottingham and MA in Music, Science and Technology at Stanford University, she realized her passion for combining technology, music, and design to unlock the power of each of them. In this journey, She hopes to explore how games and other interactive media can bring people together, for a better life with more empathy, understanding, and empowerment. Email: cji40@ucsc.edu

  • Samir Ghosh

    Ph.D. Student

    Samir Ghosh, Ph.D. student. Samir Ghosh is a computational media PhD student focusing on multi-user and networked VR/AR applications, especially those with societal impact. Their interests include WebXR based development, open source, and creative code. Previously they were the Assistant Director at the Ahmanson Lab at USC, where they managed a makerspace, produced a wide array of interdisciplinary VR and AR projects, and taught practical workshops concerning generative art and rapid prototyping. They hold a BS in Computational Linguistics and a BA in Cognitive Science from USC. Email: sghosh17@ucsc.edu

  • Nate Laffan

    Ph.D. Student

    Nate Laffan creates interactive experiences and practical tools that help people construct meaning from their lived experience. His work focusses on environmental psychology, reflection, externalized memory and emergent narrative. Currently, Nate is studying reflective practices in VR, and how precepts from landscape architecture and environmental psychology can help individuals relate to virtual space.

    Before starting his doctoral research, Nate was Head of Design at PolySync, an autonomous vehicle startup in Portland, Oregon. He has also worked in various freelance capacities as a designer, photographer, illustrator, developer and book binder. Nate has a BA in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College with a minor in Studio Art.

    site: natelaffan.info / email: nlaffan@ucsc.edu


  • Victor Jialang Li

    Masters Student

    Victor Jialang Li, MS student. Victor Jialang Li is a Human Computer Interaction Master's student with a focus on UX Design and Social VR research. He completed his undergraduate degree in Intensive Psychology B.A. also at University of California, Santa Cruz. During his undergraduate time, he was fascinated by the methods of interactive design after taking a human factors project class. Which propelled him to explore ways to improve people's lives through product design in projects like Mental Health Chatbots with Pro Steve Whittaker. His work includes research on UX design of mobile & web applications, embodiment of conversation agents, design of Privacy Policy UI and the use of playful interactions in VR space to improve group experiences. His website is www.victorjialangli.com /contact at jli394@ucsc.edu


  • Andrew Moshkovich

    Research Assistant

    Andrew Moshkovich, Research Assistant. Andrew is a computer science student who contributes backend development expertise to multi-user VR applications at the SET Lab. His interests include machine learning and telemetry.

  • Anthony Angeles

    Research Assistant

    Anthony Angeles, Research Assistant. Anthony creates VR development tools and is persuing a degree in Computer Science and Game Design at UC Santa Cruz. Anthony has experience through internships at Nvidia Inc. and actively participates in developer communities such as, Google Developer Student Club and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In his free time Anthony is a goalkeeper for the UC Santa Cruz Men's Soccer Team. You can reach him at: aneangel@ucsc.edu

  • Samantha Wang

    Research Assistant

    Samantha Wang, Research Assistant. Samantha is interested in VR development for scientific simulation and is pursuing a degree in Physics in UC Santa Cruz. She uses Three.js for WebXR based applications. You can reach them at: ywan1115@ucsc.edu

Visiting Students / Interns

  • Nahid Nasiri

    Research Assistant

    Nahid is a research assistant at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a research assistant, she has three years of experience working on hands-on projects at UCSC. With a passion for technology and a love of problem-solving, she excels in her studies and consistently pushes herself to learn more. Her works highlight extracting implicit features from touch's cognitive and affective content. It involves identifying and analyzing subtle cues and sensory information conveyed through a tangible device equipped with IMU (pressure sensors, gyroscope, and accelerometers). She runs machine learning analyses to find explicit features from touch traces and perform gesture recognition. Later, she may transform affective touch into music or visual art, map affective touch to diagnostic and therapeutic responses, or empathize affective touch to parameterize game interactions.


  • Ferran Altarriba Bertran


    Ferran Altarriba Bertran, Ph.D. Ferran is a playful interaction designer. Ferran's research explores how to design everyday-use technologies that afford playful engagement with mundane activities and situations. As part of his research into playful technology, Ferran also investigates how to add an element of play to Human-Food Interaction—that is, the interplay between humans, food and technology. Ferran holds a double BA (Hons) degree in Multimedia and Interaction Design from the University of Girona (Spain) and the University of Lincoln (UK). He also graduated as an MSc in IT Product Design at the University of Southern Denmark, where he specialized on Participatory Innovation, and Playful and Embodied Design. In between his BA and MSc studies, Ferran did a one-year visiting scholarship in the Human Sensing Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. He\'s also been a visiting student at PHL Hasselt (Belgium) and TU/e Eindhoven (Netherlands). Personal page: www.ferranaltarriba.com / Email: ferranaltarriba@gmail.com

  • Suzanne B. da Camara


    Suzanne B. da Camara, Ph.D. Suzanne is broadly interested in using technology to gain insights into human behavior. Her doctoral research concerns the research space of fidget objects and focuses on gaining new insights into fidgeting patterns, behaviors, and possible benefits. Her work includes both the study of the use of fidgets as well as the design of a smart fidget that records fidgeting interactions.

  • Peter Cottrell


    Peter Cottrell, Ph.D. Peter Cottrell has been studying at UCSC since 2009. He completed his BS in Bioengineering with a concentration in Rehabilitation under Sri Kurniawan working on LASSIE, an assitistive-living robot designed to help older people living alone. He continued onto his Ph.D. looking at designing embedded sensor devices to help record daily usage of objects for stroke recovery in hopes of improving recovery and tracking fidgeting habits of young children through Fidgit Widgets for detection of anxiety. He works in robotics, computer vision and user testing.

  • Jared Duval


    Jared Duval, Ph.D. Jared Duval double majored in Computer Science and Information Technology for his Bachelor’s degree at Western New England University. He is currently a PhD student in the Computational Media Department studying under Sri Kurniawan in the ASSIST Lab and Katherine Isbister in the SET Lab. Jared is the creator of SpokeIt, a speech therapy game designed to improve the speech therapy experience for children born with orofacial cleft. He is interested in creating serious games for health and therapy that make use of novel technology that integrate into existing healthcare contexts. Jared has experience working as a respite nurse and has worked with people with developmental disabilites since he was a child. Jared is a performer at heart, funneling his creative passions into the games he makes. Research interests include serious games for health, Human-Computer-Interaction, assistive technology, participatory methods, and user testing. Personal page: www.jareduval.com

  • Sabrina Fielder


    Sabrina Fielder, MSc Sabrina holds a Master's degree in Computational Media at J. Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. Sabrina completed her B.S. at UCSC in 2018 in Cognitive Science with concentration in AI and HCI. Between her undergraduate and graduate programs, she spent time working in industry in Silicon Valley, specifically in AR/VR and avatar technology. She is continuing to work through receiving her Master's degree. Her research interests are in avatars, non-verbal communication of the face and body, and how to foster better interpersonal relationships in virtual reality through understanding how humans emote and communicate. Visit her website at www.sabrinafielder.com / contact at ssfielde@ucsc.edu

  • Sean Fernandes


    Sean Fernandes, MSc student. Sean Fernandes holds a Computational Media Master's degree and focused on Social VR augmentation. His work explores the use of playful interactions in VR space to improve group experiences, particularly with problem solving tasks. He also holds a BA degree in Cognitive Systems from the University of British Columbia.

  • Elena Márquez Segura


    Elena Márquez Segura is a design researcher in the areas of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction Design (IxD), and Games & Play and works in application domains involving movement and social interaction, such as physical training, and movement-based social games. She designs and studies technologies that are closely and intimately related to the body, including bio- and movement-sensing technologies, and wearables, and she has led several wearables projects in the domains of games and physical training. Currently Elena works as a Beatriz Galindo Distinguished Researcher at Carlos III University in Madrid. Elena specializes in novel embodied design methods for the design of technology-supported physical and social activities. During 2016- 2017, Elena worked at the SETLab as a postdoctoral researcher, where she kicked off and led two projects: the Social Wearables and the Social VR project.

  • Joshua McVeigh-Schultz


    Joshua McVeigh-Schultz is an assistant professor in the School of Design at San Francisco State University. He holds a PhD in media arts and practice from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He completed a postdoctoral position at UC Santa Cruz where he studied how virtual reality designers can shape pro-social interaction in social VR. He has published on a range of topics spanning: speculative ritual design, virtual reality, design fiction, animistic design, lifelogging, affordance theory, and civic media. At USC he worked as a design researcher in the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab (MEML). He has researched and consulted for a range of industry partners including Intel Labs, Microsoft Research, Mozilla, BMW, Cisco, and the Institute for the Future. He earned an MFA from UC Santa Cruz's Digital Arts & New Media program and an MA in Asian studies from UC Berkeley. He also holds a BA in anthropology and cinema & media studies from the University of Chicago.

  • Pardis Miri


    Pardis Miri, PhD, recently received her doctorate in the area of human computer interaction from University of California Santa Cruz. As a PhD student, she spent the last 3 years of her training at Stanford University under the supervision of Dr. Marzullo, Dr. Gross, and Dr. Isbister. For her dissertation, she took a multidisciplinary approach in using technology for affect regulation. More specifically, she explored the placement and pattern, and personalization of a vibrotactile breathing pacer system that she developed during her graduate studies. Her work was funded by the National Science Foundation and Intel labs. Prior to being a Ph.D. student, Miri earned her Master’s degree in computer science from the University of California San Diego in the area of Systems and Networking. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University conducting research in using vibrotactile technology to aid affect regulation in neurotypical and neurodiverse populations.

  • Jimmy Zhou


    Jimmy Zhou obtained his M.S. in Computational Media from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2019. For his thesis project, he created a collocated, cooperative, dance VR game that used social touch and proximity to augment both the players and the spectator experience. After graduation, he moved on to become a UX Lab Analyst at Epic Games for a year. Currently, he\'s working at Riot Games as a researcher focusing on the gameplay side of League of Legends.

  • Muskan Gupta


    Muskan Gupta. Muskan is a final year Industrial Design Undergrad at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India. How we can create rich human experiences that make us feel is something Muskan is passionate about. Contemplating human existence, observing people and inquisitive questioning are some of her other interests. Being deeply fascinated by the subjective nature of humans, she adopts an emotion-driven approach in her design process. In her past projects, she has worked on the themes of wellbeing, human connection and communities. Some explored topics were using technology to implicitly encourage family bonding and designing immersive experiences for relaxation among students. As a project trainee at Bosch UX studio, she worked on projects involving conversational UX and visual design. At SET lab, she wishes to further her goal of creating people-centred delightful and meaningful experiences. Personal Page: https://issuu.com/muskanguptamay / Email: muskanguptamay@gmail.com

  • Alexandra Pometko


    Alexandra Pometko is a Masters student in cognitive engineering at the Graduate School of Cognitics in Bordeaux (France). Her interest lies at the intersection of human factors and technology. She participated in academic and industry projects involving new technology for senior citizens and immersive experiences for chronic pain reduction, assessing their usability and acceptability in living labs. Alexandra also engaged in entrepreneurship in the fields of playful physical activity and disability with the goal to make physical activity enjoyable for people with chronic diseases. Her interest for interactive experiences with strong emotional impact led her to an internship at the SET lab to further investigate the social and emotional aspects of technology. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-pometko / Email: apometko@gmail.com