Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

The SPIN Lab is generally looking for new people who are interested in human-computer interaction (HCI), human-robot interaction (HRI) and haptics. There are many ways to get involved with our research.

Graduate and Postdoc Research

external links: [UBC CS Programs & how to apply]  [SPIN Open Grad / Postdoc Projects]  

Graduate student recruiting for UBC Computer Science happens between approximately November and February each winter, for entry in the following September. 

Look here for a list of open projects, which might evolve even during the winter admissions period. If you are already a graduate student at UBC, grant funding timelines meant that sometimes we have opportunities at other times, so it never hurts to inquire.

Email to MacLean to inquire about specific projects, but be aware that we receive a large number of inquiries and will not be able to respond in every case.

Undergraduate Research

external links: [Current Undergraduate Research Opportunities]

We have a lot of undergraduate researchers working on exciting projects!  Opportunities to get involved in research in SPIN lab vary depending on your background and experience, how much time you'd like to put into it, and what's available. Typically, students new to SPIN will start by volunteering on something small, and if the fit is good (including, from SPIN's side, strong skills and ability to work with some independence within a team), we can talk about moving into a course-credit or paid role that has a greater research component and in many cases leads to co-authorship of an academic paper.

The majority of roles require at least introductory HCI (human computer interaction) training, e.g. CPSC 344 or equivalent, but you may also find a chance to try out your skills in machine learning, signal analysis, software development (e.g. web and mobile apps), mechatronics and Maker prototyping.

We typically format undergrad project involvement in a "tri-mentoring" arrangement, where the student works closely with one or more grad student mentors, and the lab director (MacLean) oversees at a higher level, including regular 3-way meetings and occasionally one-on-one with the undergrad.


You can volunteer to help run studies, participate in student challenges, develop interfaces, and more. Contact our Volunteer Manager at <spin-info AT cs dot ubc dot ca> with details about the kind of work you're interested in and a little about your background.

Research projects for course credit or pay

There are three ways to do an individual research project in SPIN, with a substantial independent component.

  • Many programs offer project-based courses, including CPSC 448 (directed studies) and COGS 402.
  • Undergrad research fellowships (e.g. NSERC USRA or UBC's SURE) - competitive and must be topped up by the supervisor
  • Undergrad research associate (typically only used in SPIN to continue/finish a project begun through one of the above mechanisms).

For all, we typically pair the undergrad with a grad mentor who has contributed a research topic of interest to him or her.

If you're interested in this kind of role, please contact MacLean direclty, but ideally after some volunteering experience in the lab.

Student challenges

Some conferences (such as WorldHaptics and UIST) create student challenges. Usually, the challenge centres around a new and interesting piece of technology. Students will form a team, develop a pitch and an application, and if the application is succesful, build something with the new technology. 

If interested, you can inquire of any lab member, and watch here for a current call which might come about once annually, typically in the fall.

Curious about what we do?

To meet the group, and see some demos or talk about specific research, come to our :

  • open lab hours: (best place to start) Wednesdays 11am - 12pm in ICICS x508 - MUX Lab
  • weekly research meeting: Tuesdays 10am - 11am in ICICS x836 (Reading Group announced when pertinent)

You may also be interested in participating in a study. The SPIN Lab has regular ongoing studies that are in need of participants like you!