Exploring Our Futures

The Stratford School is a hub for innovative interdisciplinary research. Our faculty come from a wide range of disciplines, including human-computer interaction, user-experience design and research, organizational behaviour, business, sociology, psychology, fine arts, information science and computer science. They work in areas wearable technologies, extended reality, game studies, disability studies, and extended reality (AR/VR) environments.

Research clusters approach the study of technology and innovation from a holistic perspective that takes into account both the technical and social aspects of these phenomena.

Person using VR Headset while researcher takes notes.

Research Clusters at the Stratford School

Safe Interactions Lab

Answering research questions relating to digital literacy, online privacy, and computer security.

User Experience (UX) Research

Studying human behaviour and design to create more intuitive and delightful user experiences.

HCI in Games

The HCI (Human Computer Interaction) Games Group conducts research in information and communication technologies, design, psychology, and human-computer interaction related to games and gamification.

Extended Reality (XR)

Exploring the boundaries of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies, fostering immersive experiences and understanding their diverse applications across various fields.

Fab Lab Maker Space

Brings creators, innovators, and researchers together to explore and experiment with hands-on projects, and wearable technology, fostering a vibrant community of making and knowledge sharing.

Grad student controlling a touchscreen computer.

Research Groups Across Waterloo

Championing interdisciplinarity, our faculty are involved in research groups across campus.

Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute

  • Jennifer Whitson
  • Leah Zhang-Kennedy

Games Institute

  • Cayley MacArthur
  • Daniel Harley
  • Jennifer Whitson
  • Leah Zhang-Kennedy
  • Lennart Nacke
  • Ville Mäkelä
  • Will Zhao

Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute

  • Jennifer Whitson

  • Jessica Thompson

  • Lennart Nacke

  • Will Zhao

Waterloo HCI (Human-Computer Interaction)

  • Leah Zhang-Kennedy
  • Daniel Harley
  • Ville Mäkelä
  • Lennart Nacke
  • Cayley MacArthur

Research Projects

Our research explores how we:

  • Use existing technology
  • Find solutions for digital challenges within existing companies, products and services
  • Create cultural and artistic expressions using novel technological applications
  • Discover new applications for technology in varying vertical markets
  • Explore the dissemination of cultural content through digital media
  • Identify unique uses for emerging technology
  • Develop novel digital media tools, art, processes, thinking or services
  • Commercialize products or begin new ventures
  • Support underrepresented communities

If you are interested in getting involved in the existing research or in discussing a new initiative, please contact our faculty directly.

Researcher and students look to a wall of sticky notes to discover patterns and solve problems

Safe Interactions Lab

The Safe Interactions Lab focuses on understanding and developing digital experiences that improve people's understanding, knowledge, and technology practices through research and design. We use human-centred research methods and tools that span multiple disciplines in human-computer interaction (HCI), user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) design to answer research questions relating to digital literacy, online privacy, and computer security. Our goal is to develop and nurture a collaborative multidisciplinary research team with diverse backgrounds to approach these issues from various perspectives.

Organized by Dr. Leah Zhang-Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Interaction Design and User Experience Research

Visit the Safe Interactions Lab Website →

Researcher and participant playing a video game to find engaging user experiences

User-Experience (UX) Research

Our researchers dissect user behaviour, preferences to help create meaningful interfaces, blending psychology, design, and other disciplines.


Dr. Cayley MacArthur

Dr. Leah Zhang-Kennedy

Dr. Lauren Kilgour

Dr. Lennart Nacke

Dr. Ville Mäkelä

Person stands in Exergaming station

HCI Games Group

Our current research areas include:

Gamification: Involves the use of game design principles in systems that primarily support non-game tasks, with the goal of increasing fun, engagement and motivation

Games user research: Developing new methods and tools for improving player testing and user research in games and entertainment systems.

Games for human health, wellbeing, and fitness: research on making sports, physiological exercise, health, and wellbeing applications more playful, especially in light of the recent increase in sensor use and the quantified self movement.

HCI for games: Finding novel sensors and interaction paradigms that drive the manner in which we interact with computers in a meaningful and engaging way.

Social relationship-building games: Developing games and installations that can be used in public spaces to build relationships and foster social interaction in groups.

Organized by Dr. Lennart Nacke

Visit the HCI Games Website →

Dr. Daniel Harley and Dr. Ville Mäkelä holding Meta Quest Virtual Reality headsets

Extended Realities (XR)

The XR lab at the Stratford School is co-led by Dr. Daniel Harley and Dr. Ville Mäkelä and brings together researchers focusing on extended reality technologies and experiences, including virtual, mixed, and augmented reality.  

As an interdisciplinary and collaborative research environment, the XR Lab focuses on analyzing and prototyping novel use cases for emerging technologies. Our research covers many overlapping areas of XR development, including tangible and embodied interaction, storytelling, entertainment, collaboration, social experiences, healthcare and medical applications, education and learning environments, and much more.  

Interdisciplinary and collaborative research space, developing and examining the impacts of emerging technologies.

  • Dr. Ville Mäkelä - Virtual Reality, mobile and ubiquitous computing, games
  • Dr. Daniel Harley - Critical examinations of interactive technologies, proposed tangible and embodied interactions for multimedia storytelling
  • Dr. Cayley MacArthur - Equity, diversity, and inclusion in HCI, Virtual Reality, Maker Groups
  • Dr. Lennart Nacke - Player experience and gamification, well-being in games and XR, Realism in XR, Deception in XR
Cayley MacArthur moves pieces of paper on a table.

If you are interested in getting involved in the existing research or in discussing a new initiative, please contact our faculty directly.