Research – C3 Lab

lab-logo-v1#PositiveComputing #SocialComputing #InclusiveDesign

Welcome to the C3 Lab!

Our research explores the design of human-centered technologies to bridge Cultural barriers, improve Collaboration, and build Community. On a high-level, our lab aims to tackle timely, high-impact, human-oriented societal challenges. Our goal is to design socially-conscious, technological solutions that can benefit social good. Check out our C3 Team and current research projects here!

Diversity is a key focus of this work. The solutions we develop aim to embrace and leverage the many benefits of diversity, rather than being hindered by its challenges. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, and we regularly collaborate with psychologists and artists. Our work explores the following application areas:

  • Re-thinking social media design to foster meaningful connection
  • Biofeedback and artistic technologies to promote emotional regulation 
  • Technologies to support new immigrants and newcomers to Canada
  • Collaboration systems to mitigate culture and language barriers in distributed work teams
  • Interactive technologies to prompt spontaneous joyful encounters between strangers in public spaces
  • Meaningful data tools for emergency shelter staff
  • Empowering the public with open data and visualizations
  • Indigenous technology and data (In collaboration with Prof. Melanie Zurba, Dalhousie University)

This work is situated within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Inclusive Design, Social Computing and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Information Visualization (InfoVis). We draw heavily from psychology, cultural anthropology, media art and urban studies to design creative technological interventions and nuanced studies of the interplay between humans and machines.

Prospective students

Thank you for your interest — I am currently recruiting MSC/PHD students for Winter 2024.

Welcome students! I’m Helen. Great that you’re here. The Interactions Lab (iLab) is one the largest HCI labs in Canada and includes five professors and over forty students from both Calgary’s Computer Science and Computational Media Design programs. University of Calgary is one of Canada’s top research universities, located in one of the world’s most livable cities (ranked #5 on the Economist’s global livability index). 


I’m seeking technically-skilled, highly creative students with keen intrinsic interest in issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and a passion for developing socially-conscious technologies. In particular, I welcome applications from students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds to contribute their unique expertise to these challenging research domains. Before contacting me though, first take some time to read through my past work. Then, think about these questions:

  1. From the research domains that I work on, what problems or societal challenges do you find most fascinating or interesting?
    • The key idea here is to think about what are you naturally drawn to. (Why? Because grad studies are hard and intrinsic interest is the best motivator!)
  2. Given your personal life experiences, what skills or perspectives could you uniquely contribute that no one else could? Importantly, how can your skills or perspectives contribute to equity, diversity or inclusion?
  3. Read through some papers from my past work. Do you have ideas of where this research could be taken in the future?
    • Draw from your own experiences, e.g. about culture or language barriers you’ve experienced while using email, Zoom or Slack.  Or, how to redesign social media systems to foster high-quality. meaningful social connection to address loneliness and isolation. Or, during this global pandemic, how data and visualizations can better engage and empower the public.
    • Be specific and concrete about your ideas (as it helps to better distinguish your application from other students). If you like, you can include a hand-drawn sketch of a rough idea, or whatever helps you best communicate your idea. Good writing and creativity are valued.
  4. And finally, the most important question – why do you wish to pursue graduate studies?
    • As I mentioned before, doing a MSc or PhD in a novel reserach domain can be hard. So its important to clarify for yourself (and to me) why you want to do this. e.g. Is it to gain new skills? To receive mentorship on how to advance scientific knowledge? Is it to challenge yourself and push out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to fail? Do you have a desire to tackle creative endeavours that others haven’t done before?

Only after you’ve thought about these questions, send me an email (helen.he1 [ at ] with the subject line: “[C3 Lab: Prospective MSC/Summer/ Student]”. Please attach your:

  • CV (Please indicate your technical / programming skills)
  • some brief answers (1-2 paragraphs) to these 4 questions. Please label each question with Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4.
  • your transcripts (unofficial is fine)

I look forward to hearing from you.  (Please note that positions in the C3 Lab are extremely competitive, and due to a high volume of emails, I may not be able to reply to every message).

For more details for prospective students, go here. To check out the exciting research going on at the Interactions Lab (iLab), go here.

To submit an official application through the University of Calgary, go here. Deadline for the Fall 2021 start date is January 1, 2021 (international students) and May 1, 2021 (Canadian citizens and permanent residents). 

Research areas

Below is a selected sample of previous research areas. New and ongoing research may not be featured here yet. For Dr. Helen Ai He’s Google Scholar profile, see here.

Cross-Cultural Collaboration Systems for Global Virtual Teams


Loneliness and Isolation in an Increasingly Digital World


Empowering the Public With Open Data & Visualizations


Persuasive Eco-Feedback Technologies


Art & Science Collaborations

Screenshot from 2018-09-07 19-22-55

Media Spaces for Casual Awareness


Image credits from Unsplash: rawpixel, kyle-glenn, thomas-lambert, eberhard-grossgasteiger.