Research – C3 Lab

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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 here!

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are key focuses of this work. The solutions we develop aim to embrace and leverage the benefits of diversity, rather than being hindered by its challenges. Our team works on four application areas:

  • Collaboration systems to mitigate cultural barriers in distributed work teams
  • Interactive technologies to foster meaningful social connection
  • Empowering the public with open data and visualizations
  • Creating meaningful data tools for vulnerable youths

This work is situated within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), 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. For Dr. Helen Ai He’s Google Scholar profile, see here.

Research areas

Cross-Cultural Collaboration Systems for Global Virtual Teams

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Loneliness and Isolation in an Increasingly Digital World

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Empowering the Public With Open Data & Visualizations

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Persuasive Eco-Feedback Technologies

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Art & Science Collaborations

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Media Spaces for Casual Awareness

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

Prospective students

Thank you for your interest — My lab is currently full and I am no longer recruiting students for Fall 2022.  I’ll update this site when my lab is open to accepting students again.

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). 

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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 and inclusion?
  3. After reading through 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. The key is – 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 is 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 ] ucalgary.ca) with your:

  • CV
  • some brief answers (3-5 sentences) to these questions
  • your transcripts (unofficial is fine)

I look forward to hearing from you.  (Please note that 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).