The Games Institute welcomes 4 new faculty members

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Games Institute is very pleased to welcome four new faculty members (in alphabetical order): Robert Burns from Kinesiology, Dr. Daniel Harley from the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, Dr. Luke Potwarka from Recreation and Leisure Studies, and Dr. Muhammad Umair Shah from Management Sciences. In lieu of walking them around the Institute for face-to-face introductions, we asked them a few questions so our community can get to know them better...

Rob Burns (he/him) - Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

What is your research about in general? I am interested in the efficacy of online learning objects in student outcomes in the courses I teach. The most recent/current project is related to a LITE grant that a number of members of our department are involved in which comprised developing a musculoskeletal palpation guide for a number of different courses and tracking usage as well as changes in outcomes for students in those courses. 

What are you looking at currently and what are you going to do next? I have also been developing formative scenario based multimedia ‘games’ for my fall offering of KIN 491- Clinical Assessment. I am trying to develop the students’ clinical assessment reasoning skills, an area that takes practice and repeated exposure to ‘clients’. This is difficult to do, even in a face to face setting, as students rely on partners to ‘act’ out the scenarios we give them to practice with in labs. Using some available software platforms we have been able to develop various scenarios digitally so that the students can practice on their own time, in a low risk setting, with branching scenarios. We have 3 different platforms that we hope to test to gauge student satisfaction as well as the best platform for feedback.

Ideally we would also work with others to develop some more robust scenarios and techniques, using various new technologies such as VR, AR and haptic feedback, to simulate injuries, scenarios and let the students virtually ‘feel’ what a positive test might feel like on an injured subject, which is impossible to do without exposure to an injured client.

I am happy to collaborate with any other members in any of those areas if there is interest, and happy to share any of my current projects for feedback, sampling, etc.

  • What do you teach? Primarily the sports injury related courses in the department; Sports injury lab, Injuries in Work and Sport, Rehabilitation of Injuries, Clinical Assessment
  • What is your dream for your research? My research might work to inform others in the same area, or even other disciplines, as to what the most effective mechanism is for student learning enhancement, or broadly what general guidelines should be used when developing new technologies for student learning, in an effort to maximize return on investment or bang for the buck when creating these types of learning tools. 
  • What are your favourites… Book: “Why We Sleep”- Dr. Matthew Walker; TV Show: Ozark; Movie: Planes, Trains and Automobiles/Slapshot/Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
  • How do you take your coffee? Cream only

Daniel Harley (he/him) - Assistant Professor at Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, Faculty of Arts

What is your research about in general? I have two overlapping strands of research -- the overarching theme is to ask questions about the status quo of particular design spaces, and who or what that leaves out. My first strand of research is design-based, looking specifically at tangible and embodied interactions for storytelling ( Those are collaborative projects, and for the last few years our focus has been VR. My second strand of research is about feminist/political examinations of technology, asking broader questions like who gets left out of tech design, how can we make tech spaces more inclusive, and what are some strategies to intervene on overarching systems of discrimination.

What are you looking at currently and what are you going to do next? Currently working on a couple collaborative narrative design projects, and wrapping up a paper on VR industry discourse. A theme for upcoming projects is surveillance technologies. 

  • What do you teach? Digital culture (undergrad), Design principles and practice (grad)
  • What is your dream for your research? I enjoy collaborative research am interested in the connections between academia and industry. I'm involved on a project that was interrupted by COVID about bringing together academics, artists, industry folks, etc. to propose action that addresses ethical and equity issues across the XR sector. The dream is to see that kind of change happen. 
  • What are your favourites… My favourite media at the moment is thanks to an app called Libby -- I'm listening to audiobooks from the library by the bucket. 
  • How do you take your coffee? Black. 

Luke R. Potwarka (he/his/him) - Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

What is your research about in general? My research focuses on consumer behaviour related to sport events. It addresses the overarching question: under what conditions do sport events have positive impacts for individuals and organizations in host communities? My research draws from diverse disciplinary perspectives (e.g., social psychology, geography) and methodological approaches. The knowledge generated from my work is aimed to improve event management practices in ways that maximize participation and economic-related impacts that can result from hosting elite-sport events. To this end, my research falls within two broad themes: (i) Exploring the role of elite-sport events in the promotion of physical activity and sport participation; and (ii) exploring commercial and tourism-related responses to elite sport events. Link:

What are you looking at currently and what are you going to do next? Starting this Fall term (2020), I am officially launching the UW Spectator Experience and Technology (SEAT) Laboratory. Our international team of researchers will examine the role of sport spectator experiences play in the promotion of individual health and wellbeing. To achieve this goal, we employ various technologies as both a methodology (e.g., social neuroscience, eye-tracking, etc.), and a means of experiencing sport events (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile devices).

  • What do you teach? Recreation and Sport Business (Event Management and Marketing)
  • What is your dream for your research? To date, sport consumer research has almost exclusively relied on self-report measures to assess the extent to which people are psychologically engaged  and involved with particular sports they consume (e.g., Baker et al., 2019; Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Funk & James, 2001 Kyle et al., 2008; Madrigal, 2006). However, researchers have yet to consider how self-report measures of sport viewership engagement and involvement might interface with (and be related to) biologically-based cognitive systems such as that which can be captured with brain imaging systems (i.e., fNIR devices). We hope SEAT fills this gap in the sport consumer literature, and offer novel insights into neural correlates of sport viewer experiences.  
  • What are your favourites… Book: Anything by Malcolm Gladwell; TV Show: Parks and Recreation; Movie: Back to the Future Trilogy.
  • How do you take your coffee? One cream!  

Muhammad Umair Shah (he/his/him) - Department of Management Sciences, Faculty of Engineering

What is your research about in general? My research is interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on technological designs, ethics, cybersecurity, gaming behaviour, and various facets of business sustainability.

What are you looking at currently and what are you going to do next? I am currently working on research projects that create awareness about factors that could improve user designs. Going forward, I want to explore a multi-stakeholder perspective in technology designs, which also caters for objectives beyond economically defined priorities.

  • What do you teach? I teach these undergrads and grads courses: Organizational Behaviour, Operations Management, and Foundations of Senior Management. I am an advocate of experiential learning and strongly believe in fostering industry-academe partnerships. I am actively using a third-party tool, called, Riipen in my online teaching for this purpose. So far, I have worked with over fifteen industry-partners, and successfully delivered over seventy-five student projects (involving over 1000 students), all in an online setting. URL:
  • What is your dream for your research? To witness widespread benefits of my academic research; ideally to build effective online teaching programs for underprivileged communities in underdeveloped countries.
  • What are your favourites… Book: Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela; TV Show: Mythbusters; Movie: The Shawshank Redemption.
  • How do you take your coffee? One cream, One sugar.