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Student Profile: Katerina Stepanova
School of Interactive Arts and Technology doctoral student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology
I am a PhD candidate, a cognitive scientist, an educator and an emerging artist exploring how design of immersive technologies effects how we experience the world and our place in it. I have completed my bachelors in Cognitive Science at SFU and continued on to Masters and then PhD programs in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
Originally I choose SFU for my bachelors studies for its location in a beautiful Vancouver, rather than academic reasons. For my graduate studies I was looking for an interdisciplinary program, which would allow me to combine my interests across science, philosophy, technology and art. School of Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU was a perfect fit, because of its high interdisciplinarity and exciting innovative research that only exists in a short list of Universities.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
My research explores 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, I investigate the possibility of creating transformative and intimate experiences with the use of Virtual Reality and biofeedback technologies to foster the embodied feeling of genuine connection. For instance, I explore how installation art that invites participants to synchronize their movement or breathing with each other, or engage in a mediated interpersonal touch could render an experience of intimacy and connection.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I enjoy the openness of the program for research that explores novel fascinating questions, that may be difficult to study and don’t guarantee successful results. This freedom to combine research methodologies and tackle highly complex questions keeps me intrigued and excited about my research. This vibrant creative atmosphere is supported by other researchers at SIAT, who all engage in very diverse and fascinating research.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.
I am a recipient of SSHRC CGS Doctoral Fellowship in 2021, a IODE Seaman Morley Scott Memorial Graduate Scholarship in 2021, and a Tom Calvert Scholarship in 2019. These awards allow me to focus on my research and invest my time into opportunities that don’t provide an immediate pay-off but can push forward my academic career in a longer-term.