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… Life as a researcher and everyday life in the time of coronavirus

04/15/2020 | Talking about ...

By Johanna Pirker

TU Graz computer scientist Johanna Pirker reports on whether and how the measures to contain the corona virus have changed her everyday work.

Johanna Pirker has many years of experience in developing games and VR experiences and believes in them as tools to support learning, collaboration and the solution of real problems. © TU Graz

In computer science in particular, we can carry out a large part of our research outside the office. In our Game Lab we develop and research games and virtual reality environments. Without the appropriate hardware, this is currently somewhat more difficult, and study programmes with students, for example, are also difficult to carry out.

So we’re using the time and quiet to finally process and write down data from past experiments and prepare new ones. Everyday life itself has hardly changed.

Get an insight into Johanna Pirker's research in the Planet Research article "Virtual Reality is Catching On".

Distance learning is not new

But it is a little more difficult in teaching. For one of my courses the students would need access to special hardware. For this semester, we were able to adapt the assignment a little bit, but that is not always possible. Digital teaching itself works very well for us. I also use the time to try out new tools.

Most of my lectures have always been accessible to the general public. I would like to maintain this principle even in spite of home teaching. For this reason I stream my game development lecture on the public platform Twitch. This is actually a tool for gamers. Not only students can watch, but also interested people from all over the world.

There is no lack of interaction. Directly during the lecture, more questions are actually asked via chat than in a traditional lecture. In addition, I can invite guest speakers every week via video (also international).


Johanna Pirker is an Austrian computer scientist with research interests in computer games, virtual reality (VR) and data science. In 2011/12 she started researching and developing VR experiences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently she is assistant professor for games engineering at the TU Graz and researches in the field of games with a focus on artificial intelligence, human computer interaction, data analysis and VR technologies. Johanna was on the Forbes Europe 30 under 30 Science & Healthcare research list.


Johanna PIRKER
Ass.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. BSc
TU Graz | Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science
Phone: +43 316 873 5625
E-Mail: johanna.pirkernoSpam@tugraz.at