Denise Quesnel

Denise Quesnel

Vanier Scholar and PhD Student at Simon Fraser University


Denise is a researcher of the immersive realities, with an interest in how self-transcendent and transformative experiences can be elicited with immersive technology and environments, chiefly virtual and mixed reality (VR & MR). She was introduced to VR/MR/AR in the early 2000s and after trying some immersive realities installations and applications, realized the potential for VR/MR/AR to help self-empathize and communicate. Her experiments explore how we can generate self-transcendent experiences for wellness purposes. This work draws upon psychology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and art/design to place theoretical understanding into practical, functional prototypes. She utilizes a participatory design process between expert designers and technology users to create new VR/MR applications.

After working for ten years in the film/VFX industry, she founded an immersive R&D studio, worked in University research departments, and is now a PhD student with the iSpace Lab at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. As an artist and scientist, Denise is motivated to understand how virtual environments and experiences can help facilitate compassion and understanding for ourselves, one another, and our planet.

In addition to her work, Denise is a volunteer. After forming local communities from 2011-2014, she created a new Immersive Realities technical and cultural program at the annual non-profit SIGGRAPH conference (world’s largest computer graphics and interactive techniques event) in 2015. She is involved in non-profit organizations responsible for advocacy and policy-making in the health care and technological fields, on a national and international level.

– Specialties: VR, UX, physical/virtual environments.
– Tools: Unity3D, UE4; programming C#, Python, Pure Data, MaxMSP; Sensor technology (incl. biosensors and wearables); Post-production.
– Research: (quantitative/qualitative/mixed methods); AI for emotion recognition; R&D for VR interfaces.