Research team

Principal Investigators

Sergei Gepshtein, Ph.D.

Sergei is a vision scientist at the at the Systems Neurobiology Laboratories at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Trained in Neurobiology (Weizmann Institute), Psychology (University of Virginia), and vision science (University of California at Berkeley), Sergei is interested in foundations of perceptual psychology and sensory neuroscience. Much of his research dwells on the interface between two aspects of vision: the entry process called early vision and the constructive process called perceptual organization. Sergei studies the computational principles and biological mechanisms underlying these processes, in particular how visual systems organize information for the perception of motion and change. He also studies sensorimotor integration: how visual and haptic information are used to guide action: in view of the dynamic nature of the environment, its varying uncertainties and risks. As a founding member of the 5D Institute, Sergei is increasingly involved in the translational studies and design of visual media and built environments.

Alex McDowell, R.D.I.

Alex is one of the most influential designers working in narrative media, with the impact of his ideas extending far beyond his background in cinema. With over 30 years experience in narrative design, he advocates an immersive design process and the key role of world building in storytelling. Alex is teaching at University of Southern California (the School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division and Production) with classes on world building and transmedia, and he was a Visiting Artist at MIT Media Lab. He is a co-founder and the creative director of the 5D Institute recently renamed to World Building Institute - a global series of distributed events and an education space for an expanding community of storytellers in industry and academia - and the 5D Organization, which is devoted to building tangible worlds and immersive narratives.

Greg Lynn, M.Arch.

Greg is an architect well-known for redefining the medium of design with digital technology and pioneering the fabrication complex ergonomic forms using numerically controlled machinery. Because of his early combination of degrees in philosophy and architecture, Greg has been involved in combining the realities of design and construction with the speculative, theoretical and experimental potentials of writing and teaching. He is a Studio Professor at the University of California in Los Angeles (School of Architecture and Urban Design), where he is developing an experimental research robotics lab. He has been the Davenport Visiting Professor at Yale University for more than a decade.

Principal personnel

Brad Newman

Brad is a hybrid of artist and engineer. He creates immersive experiences which he uses to explore topics of interactive narrative, virtual embodiment, and the dynamics of relationship between the physical and the virtual in multi-user cooperative games. His research interests include design of tools for rapid content creation, real time pre-visualization and virtual production. He has been involved in a variety of projects including the Leviathan Project, Virtual Iraq: VR Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gesture Games for Motor Rehabilitation and Immersive Journalism. With 15 years of experience in computer graphics and virtual reality his knowledge spans a wide variety of fields and tools. From traditional art skills in drawing, painting, film and photography to 3d animation and motion capture, level editing, programming, game design, and development of mixed reality displays. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from Iowa State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media from the University of Southern California.

Peter Jurica

Trained in signal processing and neural networks, Peter worked as a software engineer at Siemens before he joined RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan as a scientific programmer. He programs with and for scientists. His research interests include visual neuroscience and psychophysics, and stochastic optimization as a model of biological sensory tuning.

Guvenc Ozel

Guvenc is an architect, artist, and researcher. He is the Technology Director of cross-disciplinary platform IDEAS at UCLA, and the principal of Ozel Office, an interdisciplinary design practice located in Los Angeles, USA, working at the intersection of architecture, technology, visual arts and research on urban culture. A native of Izmir, Turkey, Guvenc studied architecture, sculpture, and philosophy in Bennington College, USA. In addition, he holds a Masters of Architecture degree from Yale University, where he graduated with multiple awards. Prior to establishing his own practice, he worked in the architecture offices of Rafael Vinoly, Jurgen Mayer H. and Frank Gehry, among others. His projects and experimental installations are exhibited in museums and galleries in the USA and Europe. He formerly taught at Yale University, Woodbury University, and University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Studio Greg Lynn. His recent work has been featured by CNN, Boston Globe, Architectural Digest, Gizmodo, Creators Project/Vice, Archdaily, Archinect, Designboom and many others. His current research on emerging technologies is focused on creating interactive environments that challenge traditional fabrication techniques and spatial assemblies.

Peter Vikar

Peter is an architect and designer. His design work focuses on spatial typologies and intricate geometries combined with motion-control and manufacturing methods. Peter received his Master degree with distinction in Architecture from the Masterclass of Greg Lynn at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 2008. During and after his studies, he worked professionally on various public and residential building projects as an architectural designer at UNstudio in the Netherlands, GLform in the US, Chalabi Architects and Wolfgang Tschapeller in Austria, among others. His large scale installation “Spikloud” was featured at the Vienna Art Fair and in the MAK, and published internationally. In 2009 he co-founded an open design platform, Madame Mohr in Vienna, of which he is currently an ex-pat member. In 2011 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his interest in robotic fabrication research and motion based design. In 2012 he received the degree of Master of Design Research from the Southern California Institute of Architecture under the tutelage of Peter Testa and Marcelo Spina. Currently, Peter oversees a laboratory for large-scale robotics and digital fabrication at UCLA IDEAS cross-disciplinary platform.