Graduate Supervision

This page is linked from my home page (see screenshot to the right where these links are in the dotted red lines) in order to provide access to a number of notices regarding supervision of students and postdocs that I ask people who are interested in working with me to read. You can jump to the section below that applies to you after you read this first section or you can jump now to the links for the sections.

I often receive requests for undergraduate summer internships, graduate student supervision, or postdoctoral fellow positions with me. If you sent an email of that type to me and received back simply a pointer to this web page and the words “PLEASE READ THIS”, one or more of the following applies to your situation.

  • You requested a position with me as an undergraduate intern. I am not accepting any interns at this time.
  • You requested admission and supervision by me in my department's graduate program. I am not accepting any graduate students except those who apply through my department following the normal procedures.
  • You requested that I accept you as a postdoctoral fellow (and perhaps you asked about funding). I am not accepting any postdoctoral fellows at this time.
  • Your research interests do not overlap at all with mine. I do not work in any of the following areas: artificial intelligence, computer vision, machine learning, or a host of others that people who have sent me email have indicated as being a good fit between their interests and my interests.

You may find further information below that is helpful to you in one or more of the sections that follow.

Here is what Prof. Jeffrey D. Ullman (Stanford University) says about graduate admission and undergraduate internship requests.

If you want to find out more about my research and supervision opportunities, look at the sections below, but keep in mind the caveats listed above.

Table of Contents

The October 2012 version of this web page was translated into Serbo-Croatian by Jovana Milutinovich at Geeks Education. Some version was later translated into Indonesian by Jordan Silaen at Most recently, the page was translated into Dutch by Johanne Teerink in August 2018 (seems to be missing now) and into Ukrainian by Sandi Wolfe in August 2019. Use at your own risk.

General information (top)

I am a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science (CS) at The University of British Columbia (UBC). My research is primarily in the area of human-computer interaction (HCI) and is conducted in the MUX Lab within the Imager Laboratory. You can find out more about each of these by looking at the following World Wide Web pages:

Postdoctoral positions (top)

I am currently not accepting applications for postdoctoral positions, although colleagues in my research group may be. If you are working in areas related to my research or to other research underway in the MUX group, you are welcome to contact me for advice about possible positions at UBC. Please look at the five previous sections above, starting with "Are you looking for graduate thesis supervision" before contacting me. Many of the issues discussed there apply equally well to postdocs, but at a more advanced level.
Are you looking for graduate thesis supervision? (top)

I do not respond directly to queries about admission to the graduate program. Admission is through the department. Details are on the web.

The deadline for applications is December 15 each year for admission in September of the following year or January of the year after that. Applications to the Graduate Program in Computer Science are processed by the Graduate Admission Committee in the Department of Computer Science. After initial screening, applications are directed to faculty members working in the research areas of interest to the applicants. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Computer Science (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) please contact the department directly. The Graduate Secretary, Joyce Poon ( ) can provide further information on the application process. All students admitted to our program receive financial support, which is guaranteed by the department as part of the offer of admission.

I will be looking primarily at applications in the area of HCI (human-computer interaction) that are sent to me by the department after initial screening by the Admissions Committee. I will not be reviewing any applications sent directly to me, only those forwarded to me by the department. If your interests are not primarily in HCI, it is unlikely I will be looking at your application.

Arrangements for supervision of master's students is normally made in the second term of enrollment. Supervisors are normally not assigned as part of the admission process. For doctoral students supervision is often arranged as part of the admission process. In either case, the first step is to apply for admission to the department.

If you are interesting in talking to me about supervising your master's thesis, be prepared to answer the following questions:

Undergraduate summer internships (top)

I do not have any current openings for undergraduate internships. I get many requests from students, especially international students, for summer internships. Because of the large number of these requests, and because many of the requests are from students who have not taken the time to consider whether their skills and interests match what I am doing in my research, I am not able to reply individually to any of these requests. If I do have internships available, positions will be announced and there will be an application process. The best place to look for internships in Canada is through the Globalink program operated by MITACS.

Are you considering a bachelor's thesis? (top)

I am only able to supervise bachelor's theses that are in my area of expertise and that are fairly directly related to the research projects that are currently underway. Please don't assume that you can choose any topic related to this list -- I have specific things that need to be done. Contact me if you are interested.

A bachelor's thesis involves reading some of the literature to gain background information, formulating a research plan, carrying out the plan, and writing a document (the thesis) to describe what you did, why you did it, and what you learned by doing it. If you are supervised by me, you will expected to do the following:

You need to have taken whichever of CPSC 314 or CPSC 344 is most relevant to your thesis topic (sometimes both!), unless your topic is not related to either graphics or human-computer interaction (not very likely, since most of my research interests are in these two areas). For exceptional students, you can be taking CPSC 314 concurrently with starting a bachelor's thesis with me, but taking CPSC 344 concurrently is not possible.

Expectations if I supervise graduate work (top)

I expect any master's student to complete all of the three required courses for the HCI sub-specialization as part of their course work. Usually whatever thesis or essay you do with me will satisfy the requirements for the major research project, which means you will complete the sub-specialization if you take the one additional HCI elective. Whether you take the fourth elective is up to you (i.e., it is your choice whether you wish to have the HCI Specialization on your transscript). But you do have to take the foundations course, an empirical methods and analysis course, and a design and evaluation course so you are prepared to do research with me. If you have not had these already, taking them will be part of any superivsory agreement.

I expect any doctoral student to have already completed the equivalent of the HCI sub-specialization, either at UBC or elsewhere, prior to starting to work with me.

In addition to the HCI courses, I expect students to have reasonable programming skills, some knowledge of theoretical computer science, and experience with at least some aspects of GUI design and implementation, 3D graphics programming using OpenGL, and using devices such as the various trackers and other input devices commonly used in HCI research. If you don't already have these skills you may need to acquire them. You definitely need to be able to write well because you will need to complete a thesis or dissertation and in most cases co-author one or more papers on your research. If you have not had much experience with technical writing, you will by the time you graduate!

All students I supervise are expected to attend the MUX meetings, which happen most weeks, and the Imager Lab events, which happens more or less monthly. I am a member of both MUX and Imager (all of MUX is part of Imager, but Imager also includes graphics and visualization faculty, postdocs, and students as well as various fellow travelers). My students are de facto members of MUX and Imager. This comes with a commitment to contribute to both lab by taking on one or more tasks (such as assisting with organizing and giving demos, responsiblity for specific equipment, or other duties that help the labs function so they are enjoyable places to conduct research).

I schedule weekly meeting with each student, usually jointly with co-supervisors for students who are co-supervised (many of my students choose this option, which I encourage). Often the schedule changes to accommodate other meetings, but on average I expect to meet at least every second week with each student, and more regularly when there are particular deadlines looming that require more collaboration.

Possible thesis or dissertation topics (top)

Here are four areas for thesis topics that are high on my list of priority projects. Some are likely to be co-supervised with other faculty members. Each has scope for multiple master's thesis or doctoral dissertation projets, as well as smaller sub-projects suitable for bachelor's theses, COGS 402 projects, or summer undergraduate internships.

Are you still interested in working with me? (top)

After you have looked at the information above, if you think you might be interested in working on a graduate degree under my supervision, here are some more things you should know about me, my research, and my style of supervision.

If you have read this far and are still interested, contact me by e-mail and we can discuss things further. Before we enter into a supervisory agreement, we will have a meeting to discuss the type of research you want to do and how that research fits into my own research program.

When we meet to discuss supervision, bring a copy of your most recent academic transcript, a list of the courses you have taken (what they are as well as what marks you got), a summary of your work experience, and a statement of what you expect to do in graduate school. These are for me to keep on file so I have the information when it comes to writing letters of reference for scholarships. It will also help to focus our conversation.

If you have not already been accepted into the graduate program at UBC, you must apply directly to the program(s) you are interested in prior to expecting any decision from me regarding supervision. I am happy to meet with prospective students to discuss possible supervision, but students are not admitted to the program by individual faculty members, they must apply through the normal procedures.

Other things to consider about graduate school (top)

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Last modified: Tuesday, 13-Aug-2019 14:08:33 PDT
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