a blond woman with red glasses sitting in a chair, with a VR headset in the foreground.

Picture by Emma Eglinton.

I am a Senior Scientist at the Singapore-ETH Centre, where I am responsible for building a new research programme: Future Embodied Learning Technologies (FELT), focusing on exploring embodied learning interventions at scale to support all learners in developing the core skills necessary to adapt and thrive in this fast-paced world. Previous, I led the EduTech group at LET, ETH Zürich, conducting Research and Development of educational technology through co-design with lecturers and students.

I completed my Computer Science doctorate at ETH Zürich between the Game Technology Center and the Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education. As part of the Future Learning Initiative, I explored how embodied interaction can support mathematics education, and in particular, make mathematics more graspable (literally). Besides this, I enjoy taking part in outreach events to teach mathematics and computer science, and publishing blog articles to popularize Learning Sciences at thediverter.


You can find my resume here: (pdf) (LinkedIn).

You can also follow my work on: (Google Scholar) (ResearchGate) (ORCID) (Web of Science)

Selected Publications

Chatain, Julia, Venera Gashaj, Bibin Muttappillil, Robert W. Sumner, Manu Kapur. "Designing for Embodied Sense-making of Mathematics: Perspectives on Directed and Spontaneous Bodily Actions". In DIS ’24: Designing Interactive Systems Conference. (2024). (link) (pdf)

🏆 Chatain, Julia. "Embodied Interaction in Virtual Reality for Grounding Mathematics". Doctoral dissertation. Recipient of the ETH medal for outstanding dissertation. (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Manu Kapur, Robert W. Sumner. "Three Perspectives on Embodied Learning in Virtual Reality: Opportunities for Interaction Design". In CHI EA ’23: Extended Abstracts of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (2023) (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Rudolf Varga, Violaine Fayolle, Manu Kapur, Robert W. Sumner. "Grounding Graph Theory in Embodied Concreteness with Virtual Reality". In TEI '23: Proceedings of the Seventeenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction. (2023). (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Virginia Ramp, Venera Gashaj, Violaine Fayolle, Manu Kapur, Robert W. Sumner, Stéphane Magnenat. "Grasping Derivatives: Teaching Mathematics through Embodied Interactions using Tablets and Virtual Reality". In Interaction Design and Children (IDC’22). (2022). (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Danielle M. Sisserman, Lea Reichardt, Violaine Fayolle, Manu Kapur, Robert W. Sumner, Fabio Zünd, Amit H. Bermano. "DigiGlo: Exploring the Palm as an Input and Display Mechanism through Digital Gloves." In Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY ’20), November 2–4, 2020, Virtual Event, Canada. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 12 pages. (2020) (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Olivier Bitter, Violaine Fayolle, Robert W. Sumner, and Stéphane Magnenat. "A Creative Game Design and Programming App." In Motion, Interaction and Games, pp. 1-6. (2019). (link) (pdf)

Brock, Anke M., Julia Chatain, Michelle Park, Tommy Fang, Martin Hachet, James A. Landay, and Jessica R. Cauchard. "Flymap: Interacting with maps projected from a drone." In Proceedings of the 7th ACM International Symposium on Pervasive Displays, pp. 1-9. (2018). (link) (pdf)

Other Publications

Chatain, Julia, Gerd Kortemeyer, Andreas Fender. "AIt: Intention-preserving Automatic Alt-text Generation for Educational Content". In EARLI SIG 6 & SIG 7 Conference. (2024).

Chatain, Julia, Venera Gashaj, Bibin Muttappillil, Robert W. Sumner, Manu Kapur. "How do learners move when grasping derivatives?". In EARLI SIG 6 & SIG 7 Conference. (2024).

Chatain, Julia, Bibin Muttappillil, Robert W. Sumner, Manu Kapur. "How do students move when making sense of derivatives?". In Symposium "Embodied Learning in Mathematics: Nurturing Cognitive Development through Motor Skills, Finger-Based Strategies, and Bodily Actions" at the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society conference (MCLS). (2024).

Lenz, Lara Sofie, Andreas Rene Fender, Julia Chatain, Christian Holz. "Comparing Synchronous and Asynchronous Task Delivery in Mixed Reality Environments." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (2024). (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Robert W. Sumner, Manu Kapur. "Embodied interaction in virtual reality for learning mathematics." In the 20th Biennial EARLI Conference. (2023).

Weibel, Dominic, Julia Chatain. "Resources for Co-Designing Games with Children". (2022). (pdf)

Grübel, Jascha, Tyler Thrash, Leonel Aguilar, Michal Gath-Morad, Julia Chatain, Robert W. Sumner, Christoph Hölscher, and Victor R. Schinazi. "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fused Twins: A Review of Access to Digital Twins In Situ in Smart Cities." Remote Sensing 14, no. 13 (2022). (link)

Sansonetti, Luigi, Julia Chatain, Pedro Caldeira, Violaine Fayolle, Manu Kapur, Robert W. Sumner. "Mathematics Input for Educational Applications in Virtual Reality". In International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence and Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments (ICAT-EGVE). (2021) (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Anke Brock, and Martin Hachet. "SyMAPse: Design and Evaluation of an Augmented Reality Map." (2016). (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia, Marie Demangeat, Anke M. Brock, Didier Laval, and Martin Hachet. "Exploring input modalities for interacting with augmented paper maps." In Proceedings of the 27th Conference on l'Interaction Homme-Machine, pp. 1-6. (2015). (link) (pdf)

Chatain, Julia. "SyMAPse: Augmented Interactive Maps for Subjective Expression." (2015). (link) (pdf)


🏆 Helena Klein - Master Thesis - June 2024 - Learning beyond sight: Making scientific visualizations more accessible to people with vision impairments - Nominated for the ZHdK Förderpreis Design (link) (video)

Tianyi Liu - Master Thesis - May 2024 - AI-Assisted Grading of Mathematical Answers Using GPT-4

Romain Puech - Bachelor Thesis - March 2024 - StratLayer: A Modular System to Control the Dialog Strategy of Large Language Models Tutors

Ruhi Pungaliya - Internship - July 2023 - Evaluation of an innovative math learning application based on Productive Failure

Martina Kessler - Master Thesis - February 2023 - Playful Experiences with Embodied Interaction in Augmented Reality

Robin Hänni - Bachelor Thesis - December 2022 - Virtual Reality Cytology Lab for Risk Awareness

Dominic Weibel - Master Thesis - September 2022 - Co-Designing a Computer Science Learning Game for Girls with Girls

Bibin Muttappillil - Bachelor Thesis - March 2022 - Design and Evaluation of Embodied Interaction in Virtual Reality for Learning Derivatives

Bodo Brägger - Master Thesis - February 2022 - Gender Equality in Computer Science: Video Games as Preparation for Future Learning

Rudolf Varga - Master Thesis - September 2021 - Learning Graph Theory with Embodied Interaction in Virtual Reality

Luigi Sansonetti - Master Thesis - May 2021 - Mathematics Input for Educational Applications in Virtual Reality

Virginia Ramp - Master Thesis - October 2020 - Embodied Analysis in Virtual Reality

Lea Reichardt - Bachelor Thesis - December 2019 - VR Game Prototype for Hand Tracking and Projection

Jennifer Labun - Matura Project - April 2018 - Entwicklung eines Games in der Erweiterten Realität

Charles Coeurderoy and Violaine Sudret - Engineering Project - November 2015 - Application mobile intégrant un GPS narratif


Revolution im Klassenzimmer - Bildund, Tages Anzeiger, March 2023.

EPFL-ETH Joint Doctoral Program in the Learning Sciences - Meet Julia Chatain, Center for Learning Sciences LEARN - EPFL, 2022. (link)

«There’s nothing intimidating about computer science», Simona Bochsler, 2022. (link)

Le Coding Club des Filles, 2019. (2019) (2021)

Interview for ETH Zürich, 2019. (link)

Interview for We Shape Tech, 2019. (link)

The Future of Digital - Augmented Reality, Talk and Panel with We Shape Tech, 2018. (link)

Invited talks, Outreach, Service and Volunteering

PC Member @ International Symposium on Learning, Design and Technology (LDT), 23rd annual ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference, 2024 (link)

Talk "Embodied Learning Technologies for Mathematics - An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Design Space" @ Future of Education for Virtual and Augmented Reality (FEVAR), Arizona State University (ASU), April 2024. (link)

Talk "Embodied Interaction in Virtual Reality for Learning Mathematics" @ Future Learning Initiative Colloquium (Advisory Board meeting), November 2023. (link)

Talk "Teaching with AI" @ "AI for Education" workshop, AI+X summit 2023. (link)

Talk for "Creative collaborations and innovation through Embodied Methodologies" @ IdeaSquare, CERN 2023. (link)

🏆 Selected Young Scholar, talk "Learning math with embodiment in VR" @ Jacobs Foundation Conference 2023. (link)

Member @ Communications Committee, Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction (SIGCHI) 2023.

Talk "Grounding Abstract Mathematics with Embodied Interaction" @ Saarland University, Germany, 2022.

Panelist "Children & computing: increasing gender diversity" @ Interaction Design and Children (IDC) 2022. (link)

Talk "Grasping Mathematics with Embodied Interaction in Virtual Reality: The Case of Derivatives" @ Future Learning Initiative Colloquium, 2022. (link)

Panelist "IDC for Gender Balance: How can we engage more girls in informatics?" @ Interaction Design and Children (IDC) 2021. (link)

Talk "Grasping Mathematics in Virtual Reality" @ Future Learning Initiative Colloquium, 2021. (link)

Talk @ European Girls' Olympiad in Informatics (EGOI) 2021. (link)

Web chair @ CHI Play 2021. (link)

Talks @ Le Coding Club des Filles (EPFL) - May 2019, November 2020, June 2021. (link)

Talk @ Girls Can Code - March 2021. (link)

Talk "Grounding abstract mathematics through interactive multi-representations" @ Future Learning Initiative Colloquium, 2020. (link)

Talk "Reconnecting Mind & Body" @ Ludicious "Game Design and Learning Research - How to promote understanding" - July 2020 (link)

Student Volunteer @ CHI Play - November 2020. (link)

Talks @ Schnupperstudium (ETH) - September 2017, February 2018, September 2019, February 2020, September 2020, February 2022, September 2022. (link)

Coach @ Django Girls Bordeaux and Django Girls Lausanne - November 2015, April 2016, June 2016, March 2017, November 2018. (link)

🏆 Grants, Awards and Recognitions

Jacobs Foundation “Young Scholar” grant, 120’000 CHF for the project "Achieving Adaptive Mathematics Knowledge through Embodied Causal Learning" together with Liz Lapidow - 2023.

ETH medal for "Outstanding dissertation" - 2023. (link)

Outstanding Investment award from École polytechnique - 2013.