Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

The SPIN Lab is often 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.

Send an email to <spin-info AT cs dot ubc dot ca> 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 - now updated for Summer 2021] [Volunteer application form]

Please read this entire section before contacting us, including the "How to Apply" process below.
When you're ready, please either contact us with a general statement of interest, or following this, apply more specifically by completing the application form above. Email it to our Volunteer Manager at <spin-info AT cs dot ubc dot ca>. 

SPIN has been home to many undergraduate researchers working on exciting projects!  Opportunities to get involved in research in SPIN vary depending on your background and experience, how much time you'd like to put into it, and what's available. It’s often best to start by volunteering, then moving up to a research project for course credit or pay once you’re oriented and the lab knows you.

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


You can volunteer to help run studies, build hardware, develop interfaces and interaction techniques, and more. If you are new to SPIN, you would typically start by volunteering on a small, well-defined project, and if possible, as part of a group. If the fit is good (including, from SPIN's side, strong skills and ability to work with some independence within a team), there will next be a discussion about moving into a course-credit or paid role with a greater research component.  

Research projects for course credit or pay

There are three ways to do an individual research project in SPIN, with a substantial independent component. These often lead to participation in an academic publication. 

  • Many programs offer project-based courses. The most commonly seen in SPIN are CPSC 448 (Directed Studies) and COGS 402.
  • Undergrad research fellowships (e.g., NSERC USRA or UBC's SURE/WLIUR). These are competitive and must be topped up by the supervisor.
  • Undergrad Research Associate: fully paid out of a SPIN grant, these are rare and typically used 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. In exceptional cases, students who have worked with us before may propose new research projects, and/or work directly with the SPIN director; however, the topic still needs to align well with the research going on in the lab.

How to Apply

The diagram above outlines the general process for undergrad students interested in getting involved with SPIN. The application form is linked above (Undergraduate Research). We suggest that applicants, especially those interested in paid/credit roles, contact us one-two months before the start of the term of interest. Plan on at least two months if you need to develop a proposal, e.g., for a Directed Studies.  

We encourage applicants to make use of opportunities to learn more about HCI (human computer interaction) and ongoing SPIN projects (see link above). You don’t need to be an expert to apply, but some familiarity with the area and our work is expected. The majority of roles require at least introductory HCI 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.

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 when the pandemic's over): Will be in ICICS x508 and x521 - MUX Lab - Time to be updated when we're back in the lab.

weekly SPIN meeting: Tuesdays at 11am - 12pm, online during the pandemic. Contact <spin-info AT cs dot ubc dot ca> to express interest and get coordinates.

be a user study participant: You may also be interested in participating in a study. The SPIN Lab often has studies that are in need of participants like you!