" I chose SFU due to its reputation for innovative research and design, its abundance of distinguished extended-reality (XR) scholars, and, of course, its location in beautiful British Columbia! "

Meet More Students in Communication, Art + Technology


Curate your digital footprint

Want to be featured on our website? Complete our online submission form.

Submit your profile

Jacob Sauer

June 11, 2024

Interactive Arts & Technology master's student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I'm a software systems engineering graduate, a self-taught virtual reality (VR) experience developer in Unity and Unreal Engine, and an aspiring scholar. In part due to prior lived experiences, I have a deep desire to explore immersive treatment solutions for anxiety- and trauma-driven disorders, including isolated phobias and PTSD. VR-based exposure therapy has displayed immense power in treating these disorders over the last three decades, and I want to be part of the movement that facilitates widespread implementation of this technology into clinics and treatment centres.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I chose SFU due to its reputation for innovative research and design, its abundance of distinguished extended-reality (XR) scholars, and, of course, its location in beautiful British Columbia!

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My research focuses on co-designing VR-based exposure therapy experiences with licensed psychiatric professionals for use in a clinical setting.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Virtual reality, exposure therapy, trauma disorders

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

My experience taking graduate-level courses at SFU, interacting and collaborating with members of my lab, and working as a TA for multiple writing courses has been tremendously beneficial. Despite having been at this institution for less than a year, I can notice how much I've improved at disseminating information, envisioning and designing studies from the ground up, interpreting results, and both providing and receiving feedback.

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 was awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters Category (CGSM) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in Spring 2024 for a PTSD-focused VR development project in conjunction with West Coast Resiliency Centre. This is a tremendous opportunity for not only professional development, but networking and collaborating with eager clinical personnel. I'm honoured to receive this award.

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

When I began my research career as an undergraduate student, I was thrilled whenever a professor (or anyone with more qualifications than me) expressed genuine interest in my area of research. I try to pay this feeling forward to anyone I speak to at networking events. If the conversation goes well, I try to connect with them on LinkedIn right then and there -- but if I forget this step, then at least I can usually remember their name later!

What are some tips for balancing your academic and personal life?

Set regular goals for yourself, both academically and professionally -- it doesn't matter how small they are. What matters is developing and refining the ability to hold yourself accountable. Also, when you achieve your goals, give yourself permission to rest and recharge.


Contact Jacob:jacob_sauer@sfu.ca

Additional Links