What are virtual humans?

Virtual humans are computer-generated characters that are intended to look like and behave like humans – sort of like an avatar or video game character. Virtual humans are characters that we generate to facilitate interactions to help people develop communication skills and improve their own health. You can see a few of the virtual humans we’ve developed in the Projects page.

What is the purpose of the New Student Challenge?

The New Student Challenge is for prospective undergraduate students who are interested in joining the VERG Lab. The challenge is designed to show a willingness to learn and demonstrate creative thinking. Undergraduate students who are interested in joining the lab can review the challenge here! [Link]

Prospective graduate students, especially those interested in a PhD, should contact Dr. Lok directly. The link to his website is here

Can I do internships while I am a graduate student in the VERG Lab?

Internships are encouraged, especially if you have an interest in working in industry and are early on in your PhD program. First and second-year students typically will have more opportunities to explore internship opportunities, but we’ve also had students pursue internships in their fifth year as well. 

The VERG lab has had students intern at places such as USC ICT, Lincoln National Labs, Meta, LinkedIn, Google, and Amazon.

What does the first year look like?

The first year will typically be a lot of onboarding, classes, and learning. Ideally, you will be paired with a senior PhD student so that you can have a safe environment to learn and develop your own skills. We’ve found that an early “win” for students can help build a lot of confidence, so we also want to help students put together their own study in their first year.

What can I do to prepare before joining the VERG Lab?

The most valuable skill you can bring is a willingness to learn and a drive to be curious. The goal of your PhD is to teach you how to become a researcher, and you will have plenty of opportunities to cultivate those skills – when you’re actually here! While learning about the tools we use here can be helpful, it’s likely that you will help drive the future of our lab and what tools we’ll be using during your time here. 

Here are a few answers about what you can do instead to prepare from some current and former members of the VERG Lab:


What do I need to join?

Undergraduates, master’s students, and PhD students who are considering working with Dr. Lok and the VERG Lab should have an interest in virtual environments and human-computer interaction. This may include interaction, rendering, avatars, digital characters, and 3D interfaces. For more information on what a prospective student should do, please visit Dr. Lok’s website: https://www.lokben.com/info-for-prospective-students.html.

What are the current research projects in the lab, and how can I contribute to them?

Please see the Projects page for a list of current and previous projects in the lab. In general, undergraduate students will likely be paired with a graduate student on a separate project.

Are there any funding opportunities available for students in the lab?

PhD students may receive funding from a variety of sources such as in the forms of research or teaching assistantships. Fellowship opportunities also exist.

Undergraduate students should speak to Dr. Lok on potential funding opportunities. In general, many undergraduates choose to work in the VERG Lab for credit (e.g., Independent Study).

What are the opportunities for publication or presenting research findings?

Publication and presentation of research is highly encouraged within the lab. We would love to support you in pursuing research opportunities within the VERG Lab.

How do I join the lab? How do I learn more?

Please see the Join Us page!

Do you do any fun activities outside of lab things?