Prospective students

Learn about SIAT graduate research areas and available support.

The School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary school with a focus on technology and the human experience. Located at the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Surrey campus on the main rapid transit line to downtown Vancouver — one of the central nodes of Canada’s cultural and entertainment industry and home to much of its digital media production.

SIAT MA, MSc., MA, and PhD students develop and apply innovative multi-disciplinary research methods to explore the broader implications of advanced information and media technologies. Guided by internationally recognized faculty, our grad students design new technologies and media experiences to develop creative responses to cultural, organizational, and societal issues.

How we support our graduate students

Admission to the program is competitive and depends largely on prior academic preparation, intended focus of study, and academic supervisory availability. SIAT graduate students receive financial support, professional mentorship, and access to our extensive network of organizational and industry partners.

If qualified, students can expect to receive:

  • funding in the form of scholarships and/or research and teaching assistantships during the course of their program
  • mentorship in interdisciplinary research methods and various forms of dissemination, such as academic publishing, conference presentation, project curation and exhibition
  • access to SFU’s state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities as well as our network of academic collaborators and private and public sector partners

Areas of research at SIAT

SIAT brings together experts and students from diverse backgrounds. We prepare our graduates to hold leading positions in industry and in tenure-track positions in institutions around the world.

Research at SIAT is characterized by the major themes of Computing, Media, Design, People, and the Science of Interaction which are fully defined in our Research Themes section. Below is a summary of the areas in which faculty are looking for students:

Interactive Computing

  • visualization and visual analytics
  • human-computer interaction
  • artificial intelligence
  • tangible interfaces
  • virtual and augmented reality
  • learning technologies
  • game design and technology

Media, Visual Arts & Performance

  • performance technology
  • interactive animation
  • interactive environments and installations
  • game narrative
  • film and video
  • audio/music
  • digital curation

Design

  • computational design
  • sustainable design
  • interaction design
  • game design
  • immersive experience design

People

  • science and technology studies
  • intersectional technology studies
  • cognitive, perceptual, and social psychology
  • anthropology and ethnography of media
  • history of technology and culture
  • user modeling
  • chronic pain management
  • health data management

Science of Interaction

  • human perception and cognition
  • human interaction and communication
  • design and prototyping of interaction
  • evaluation of interactive systems

Examples of graduate student projects

Chronoscope

The Chronoscope project was conceived as a new way for individuals to engage with their vast and growing photo archives over time. Leveraging the temporal metadata of each digital photo, Chronoscope is a domestic technology that reorganizes the digital photos based on when the photo is taken (date and time) to encourage rich, ongoing and open-ended experiences of curiosity, exploration and self-reflection of one’s photo memories.

Chronoscope enables and supports new ways to revisit and interact with personal photo archives through and across time using three rotational controls.

Project by: Amy Chen

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Breath of Light

Breath of Light is an interactive art installation exhibited at the 13th Shanghai Biennale. The installation aims to foster a feeling of connection and awareness through the process of breathing synchronization. In the Breath of Light installation, two participants can generate their own light with their breath. Sound sensors send the signal data into a custom algorithm which drives fluid particles in real-time. The participants’ breaths are then synchronised and a ripple of light is generated along with ethereal ambient sounds.

When breathing starts, the Breath of Light installation awakens and the gallery is transformed into a communal meditative space.

Project by: Pinyao Liu

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Featured alumni

Gökhan Cetin, MSc 2018
Business Intelligence Engineer, Amazon

"My research at SIAT opened the gates of visual analytics and the science of data visualization for me. My SIAT experience has refined my interests, helped me determine what I ultimately want to do, and provided me with the skills and expertise to apply to the careers I wanted to pursue."

Read Gökhan's full feature →

Mayra Donaji Barrera Machuca, PhD 2020
Data Analytics, Virtro

"SIAT is one of the best places for human-computer interaction research in Canada and I wanted to study with the best. During my Master's degree, I was constantly referencing the work of SIAT professor Dr. Wolfgang Stuerzlinger on 3D user interfaces and based on these two reasons, when it was time to do my PhD I applied to SIAT."

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Audrey Desjardins, PhD 2016
Assistant Professor, University of Washington

“When I applied to SIAT, I thought I wanted to learn about interaction design to become an interaction designer. I didn’t know that design research was a field, or that people could have a career as a design researcher. It is only once I started to do research, with my advisor Dr. Ron Wakkary, that I realized I wanted to be a researcher more than a designer.”

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Aynur Kadir, PhD 2018
Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo

"I chose SIAT because of the interdisciplinary nature of the school and because its prominent scholars appealed to my intellectual curiosi. The strong, supportive environment for collaborative research and involvement in large research projects provided me with the skills I needed to become an independent scholar and researchers."

Cheryl Qian, PhD 2009
Professor, Purdue University

"I benefitted greatly from the variety of professors at SIAT. It was a new program when I started and being able to collect such a diverse group of professors who are all very unique is rare. I’m very fortunate that I was able to learn at SIAT, a friendly environment that combines a lot of different knowledge. The uniqueness of SIAT is hard to replace."

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Erick Oduor, PhD 2015
IBM Research Scientist, IBM Research Africa

“As a graduate student, I pursued highly interdisciplinary research that spanned the areas of computer science and human interaction design. At IBM, I am now a Research Challenge team lead performing in the cross section of machine learning and human-computer interaction. The skills I acquired at SIAT provided me with the breadth of knowledge needed for my current research on developing a UX for technology that can support the collaboration and improved communication beeen data scientists and decision optimization experts.”

Read Erick's full feature →