2020 Positions for PhD Students and Postdocs

UPDATE: We have received more than 30 applications from students interested in joining the research of Professor Michael Nebeling and his team. We’re very excited by that. Thank you! We will internally review applications and start contacting shortlisted candidates after January 9th, 2020. It is our hope that final decisions are made and can be communicated by the end of January.

The Michigan Information Interaction Lab will have several open positions in 2020 at different levels. People joining in these positions will work directly with me (Michael Nebeling):

  • 1-2 PhD student positions: If you’re thinking about doing a PhD and applying to UMSI or CSE at Michigan (I can supervise in both, and am happy to co-supervise with other professors in either department, in fact, I consider many close colleagues and friends!), with broadly defined interests in mixed reality (any angle really, UX/interaction design, arts, computer graphics, ML, robotics are all fascinating to me!), definitely get in touch! Don’t just apply, and don’t just consider UMSI or CSE (they are both great, but also quite different, so you may increase your chances of finding the right spot for you at U-M by applying to both). I’m happy to chat with you before your application and share my experience.
  • 1 postdoc position: I originally posted about this here. I did my postdoc at CMU and it was one of the best parts of my academic career. U-M has great resources and UMSI (my home department) is so inter-disciplinary, it’s really eye-opening. If you want to push yourself after your PhD to work on your next career steps, be it in academia or industry, I would really like to meet you!
  • 1 visiting PhD researcher position: The next step after the PhD can be a critical career decision, and I have personally experienced this and know too well how difficult it is to make that decision. I would like to offer a 6-12 months funded research stay in my lab, with possibility of conversion into a postdoc, if it works for both you and me. U-M is great, you should definitely consider it!
  • Presidential Postdocs: We also have the presidential postdoc fellowship program, which means you could end up in a position that will be converted to a tenure-track assistant professor after 1-2 years. Applications are now open (until October 15, 2019).

For any of the positions above, don’t just apply. Reach out to me and express your interest first, so I can guide you through the process. Please include a short statement of interest and a CV, if you can.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Fall 2018/Winter 2019 Research Positions

Update: Thank you to everyone who has applied with the lab. It was exciting to see so much interest. We have added 8 new research assistants and 8 new independent study students to the lab. This was really the maximum we could do for next semester.

The Information Interaction Lab at the University of Michigan School of Information is looking for up to three new master’s students to assist with a range of ongoing AR/VR projects. We offer two types of positions:

  • technical positions focus on technological aspects and typically involve a variety of programming and technical HCI research tasks around emerging toolkits and tools;
  • design positions focus on HCI/UX and interaction design aspects and typically involve complex UX design tasks and experimentation with new kinds of prototyping methods.

We are looking for students with solid AR/VR design and development experience. Students that have completed Professor Nebeling’s SI 559 AR/VR Application Design, or have completed workshops as part of the Alternate Reality Initiative (ARI) run by Michael Zhang and others, are especially encouraged to apply. For technical positions, you should consider yourself an expert in Unity and/or Three.js/A-Frame, and have experience working with AR frameworks including HoloToolkit, Tango, ARCore, ARKit, AR.js, etc. For design positions, we expect that you are familiar with state-of-the-art prototyping methods and tools.

We realize that there is only a tiny fraction of students at U-M that have such a background, so a compromise might be that you can at least demonstrate significant front-end design and development experience, and the potential to quickly navigate the AR/VR space and learn a range of new technologies as required for our ongoing research projects.

For students with the required background and skills, positions can be converted into paid temporary research assistant positions (pay commensurate with experience) after a short trial period. For students that do not yet have the necessary experience, but want to deepen their knowledge in AR/VR as they are experimenting with new devices and technologies, we also consider independent study projects. Finally, we have been working with several UROP students over the years and are always eager to consider new UROP applicants as well. 

If you think that could be you, please send an email to Michael Nebeling. Make sure to include a short paragraph about yourself and your interests in working with us. If you have it ready, please also include a CV.

Josh Guberman joining as PhD student

We’re happy to announce that Joshua Guberman will enter the UMSI PhD program in Fall 2018, and will be working in the Information Interaction Lab as a research assistant. He will be advised by Michael Nebeling and Sile O’Modhrain.

Josh describes himself as a social-sciences researcher, a tinkerer/inventor, and a UI/UX enthusiast. He is a recent Illinois Tech graduate with a B.S. in Psychology. Josh is very passionate about accessibility and will help the lab explore new research avenues with accessibility as an important application domain. We’re excited about this, and look forward to him joining our lab and the UMSI community!

Rob Rumble joining as PhD student

We’re happy to welcome Rob Rumble as a PhD student in the Information Interaction Lab starting in Fall 2018. He will be advised by Michael Nebeling and Steve Oney.

Rob has already been working in the lab since Summer 2017, then joined the MSI program as a master’s student, and was recently accepted into the UMSI PhD program. This is an exciting switch and will allow Rob to spend more time on research.

Rob’s interests are in AR/VR. Over the last two semesters as a research assistant in the lab, he has worked on several smartphone-based AR projects, including ProtoAR which we will present at CHI 2018, and has also been exploring the potential of VR, and the ability to switch between AR and VR in an independent study project. We’re glad to have him as a PhD student in our lab!

AR/VR Courses starting in the Fall

We’re happy to announce that a new set of courses focused on AR/VR will be offered starting in the Fall 2018 semester. These and other courses we are teaching can also be found under Teaching.

First, there is an Intro to AR/VR (SI 559). We are currently working hard to make it accessible to the entire community at Michigan. While there is a number of students on the wait list, we will have to start small in the Fall semester. Based on this experience, our plan is to scale the course to larger student groups and perhaps multiple sections.

Second, there will be an Advanced AR/VR course. This course is targeted at more technical students interested in diving deeper into AR/VR interface development and content creation. Importantly, the Intro course is not a prerequisite for this course, though it is recommended. Prerequisites are SI 506 and SI 539, or similar courses, to make sure that students have a background in programming. Ideally, students would have experience with Three.js/A-Frame/JavaScript or Unity/C#.

Both courses will be taught by Professor Nebeling and will be supported by members of the Information Interaction Lab. We are working hard with various partners from industry, ranging from prototyping tool developers, to device manufacturers, to content providers. It will be a very exciting experience for us, and we hope you will be able to join us on this journey!

Google Daydream & Jump VR Pilot Programs

We are happy to announce that the Information Interaction Lab was selected as one of a few university labs to participate in two virtual reality (VR) pilot programs around Google Daydream and their Jump camera. These are two main VR initiatives by Google and we are happy to support them.

Daydream is a smartphone display wrapper with a tracked controller (like a wand) that turn an existing smartphone into a fully immersive headset. We already use Daydream in several of our research projects and so we are glad to participate in a broader pilot program to bring these technologies to campus and into classrooms.

What is of course also very exciting for the lab is that we have been selected as participants in Google Jump’s loan program. This is a highly sophisticated and expensive piece of equipment that we will install in the lab and use in various ongoing projects around AR/VR usability. Our current plan is to make use of this equipment specifically in a funded 12-week summer research position in our lab.

12-Week Paid Master’s Student Research Opportunities

The University of Michigan School of Information is hosting a 12-week intensive summer Research Experience for Master’s Students (REMS) from other iSchool master’s programs, schools of library and information science, or related programs, May 29–August 17, 2018.

Our lab is offering a project on AR/VR Usability Testing. You will work with UMSI professor Michael Nebeling in the Information Interaction Lab where we are investigating how multiple different types of devices can be combined and used in interesting ways to provide new interaction possibilities and enable tasks that are difficult to do using any of the devices alone. The project will focus on translating traditional methods and principles from user study design and usability testing to AR/VR usability. Depending on your interests, you could help with the development of new tools to support such studies, the design and evaluation of new kinds of AR/VR interfaces with a particular focus on usability testing, or both.

We hosted a REMS student last year. It was a very successful project and experience for both the student and the lab, which also resulted in a paper that will be presented by the student at CHI 2018.

Please check out more information on the REMS program and the AR/VR Usability Testing project. For project related questions, feel free to get in touch with Professor Nebeling directly.

Rapid Physical-Digital Prototyping with ProtoAR

We’ve just finished shooting a video summary illustrating some of the main features available in ProtoAR, our rapid prototyping tool for mobile augmented reality interfaces.

We created ProtoAR specifically for interaction designers. There are two key innovations in ProtoAR: (1) cross-device multi-layer authoring tools for live editing of mobile AR apps on phones; (2) interactive capture tools to generate mobile screens or AR overlays from paper sketches, and 3D models from Play-Doh. These are described in detail in our CHI 2018 paper.

We look forward to presenting the work at CHI 2018 in Montreal this April, and we have some more plans with ProtoAR. So stay tuned! For now, here is a preview of what one can do with ProtoAR:

Postdoc/PhD Student Positions

The Information Interaction Lab at the University of Michigan School of Information has the following openings for Postdocs and PhD students:

  • one opening for a Postdoc (ideally, with a strong publication record in premier HCI conferences and experience with AR/VR technologies) starting 2018
  • between one and two openings for PhD students (with experience in interactive systems and devices including, but not limited to, AR/VR technologies) starting Fall 2018 (applications are due 1 December 2017).

Our lab is a rapidly growing group of talented researchers and students working on a mission to create and study next-generation user interfaces that make it easier to work with information and technology in more natural and powerful ways. We are working to push the state of the art in interface software and technologies, most recently focused on AR/VR, but also including voice-based assistants like Alexa, wearable devices such as smartwatches, and cross-device interfaces.

Be sure to check out our research page. You can find more information on how to apply on the Jobs & Internships page.