Want to join us?

If you are a graduate or an undergraduate student who has a passion for using technology to help others contact us!


Undergraduates are welcome and do not have to have any prior experience.


If you would like to join our group contact the director Dr. Lok at lok@cise.ufl.edu




Andrea Kleinsmith

Dr.Kleinsmith is interested in affective human computer interaction, virtual humans and automatic affect recognition systems with a focus on nonverbal communication. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher focusing on the Neurological Exams Teaching & Evaluation Using Virtual Patients grant. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher on Dr. Marco Gillies' EPSRC funded project Details about that project can be found here. Dr.Kleinsmith received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Oregon, USA. Several years later she moved to Japan where she received a Masters in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Aizu and then moved to London where she received a PhD in Computer Science from University College London in 2010. Her Masters and PhD research was in the area of Affective Computing.

Regis Kopper

Dr. Regis Kopper is a Post-Doctoral Associate at the Virtual Experiences Research Group at the University of Florida, where he researches the value of virtual humans in interpersonal skills training. His research interests include 3D user interfaces, virtual human interaction, novel interaction techniques and large high-resolution displays. After receiving a BA (2004) and MS (2006) from the Pontifical Catholic University in Porto Alegre, Brazil, he went on to obtain his PhD (2012) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Dr. Kopper is a recipient of the best paper award in the IEEE Symposium in 3D User Interfaces and was a member of the first team to be awarded the 3D User Interfaces Grand Prize. Earlier on, he was invited to present his B.S. graduation thesis at the Third Young Investigator's Forum in Virtual Reality, where he was the only undergraduate to participate.

Graduate Students

Shiva Halan

"I am a 6th year Computer Science PhD student with a Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UF. My interests are in using virtual humans and virtual reality technology to create opportunities for learning, therapy and behavior change. At VERG, I have been investigating having healthcare students create virtual patients for training them with their interviewing and interpersonal skills. Working at VERG on enabling end users create their own virtual humans has allowed me to work closely with healthcare students and experts from healthcare."

Michael Borish

"I am a fifth year PhD student working with virtual humans.  I want to know how people can be leveraged to improve the virtual humans we work with.  My research focuses on virtual human improvement through a combination of crowd-sourcing and machine learning techniques.  The crowd can assist in everything from virtual human creation to animation and language processing.  This assistance can implicitly inform machine learning models that drive the next iteration of virtual humans."

Diego Rivera-Gutierrez

"I am a senior Ph.D student. My work uses in-action reflective learning to help medical professionals understand their own cultural biases and improve their empathy towards patients. This technique give students an opportunity for self-assessment and gives them hints to help them improve their performance. Using this technique students can reflect about their performance and identify what skills they need to develop to become better professionals. I enjoy video game design and development and I also play the guitar."

Andrew Robb

Andrew's research focuses on the use of virtual humans to support protocol-driven team training. Team training is of great importance in many fields, including medicine and aviation, yet busy schedules mean people rarely have opportunities to practice together. Virtual humans can increase opportunities for team training by serving as drop-in replacements for missing teammates. Protocols which drive these scenarios can be used to augment the effectiveness of virtual humans, and to help them respond to unexpected or incorrect behavior on the part of other teammates. Andrew joined VERG in Fall 2009 as a PhD student. He graduated from the University of Florida in Spring 2009 with a bachelor of science in Computer Engineering.

Doaa El Sheikh

Doaa was a MS student at UF’s CISE department. Prior to joinnig VERG, she attained a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from Cairo University in Egypt. Doaa’s research at the University of Florida focused on using virtual humans to show the effect of parental language barriers on the quality of health care that children receive. By using a virtual mother with low English proficiency (LEP) to communicate her child's medical needs to an English proficient (EP) doctor in a medical examination scenario, she found that there were some obvious discrepancies in the way that medical student reacted to and treated the children patients as compared to children of EP parents.


Joon Hao Chuah

Joon joined VERG as a PhD student in the fall of 2008. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006 with both a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Asian Cultures and Languages. In the years between graduating and enrolling at UF, Joon worked as a software engineer for a start-up in Austin called 21st Century Technologies. Virtual humans typically have low physicality, that is, they exist in purely virtual environments with little awareness of the physical space. Virtual humans created using mixed reality technology can have higher physicality, that is, begin to share the physical space with the user. Joon's research questions how a virtual human's physicality affects the way people treat them.


Vaishnavi Krishnan

Vaishnavi Krishnan obtained a M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida in 2012. She graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Engineering from Anna University (India) in 2006 and worked with Oracle India for 4 years before joining VERG the summer of 2010. Models for easy and rapid generation and application of virtual human personalities carry huge research potential. Vaishnavi's research at the lab was focused on modeling personalities for virtual humans. She studied how virtual humans' personalities affect their interactions with humans, with one of the most significant applications of her research being inter-personal skills training. Vaishnavi stemmed her work off of the belief that adding realistic personalities could be a major value addition to the richness of interactions while simultaneously increasing educational value.


Xiaoning was a Visiting Scholar in the CISE department and a PhD Candidate at the Ocean University of China. His research interests include virtual reality, computer graphics and geographical information systems. During his time with VERG, Xiaoning helped develop the Cranial Nerve project. Considering that language, cultural background, and level of education are all factors that affect interpersonal medical interactions, he also researched the differences in these between American and Chinese populations.

The Virtual Experiences Research Group

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