Hello. I’m Lei Zhang.

I am a Ph.D. student at University of Michigan, School of Information, luckily advised by Professor Steve Oney and Professor Anhong Guo.


My research interests lie primarily in the area of Human-Computer InteractionVirtual/Augmented Reality, and End-user Programming. More specifically, I do research in building systems and interaction techniques that enable novices, namely people with little to no technical background, to easily create content in VR & AR.


Previously, I have interned at Snap Research (Summer 2021 & 2022), working with Dr. Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Dr. Rajan Vaish, and Dr. Fannie Liu. I was an undergraduate in the School of Software at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. I was a research member at the Digital ART Lab of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, supervised by Prof. Xubo Yang and Prof. Shuangjiu Xiao. During undergrad, I also worked as a research intern at the Computer Science Department in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


In my leisure time, I am a rapper & producer (semi-pro) and a skateboarder (beginner). Check out some of my music on 网易云音乐, Spotify, or here.


Google Scholar

Twitter | Github | Instagram


VRGit: A Version Control System for Collaborative Content Creation in Virtual Reality
Lei Zhang, Ashutosh Agrawal, Steve Oney, Anhong Guo. (CHI 2023)
[DOI] [PDF] [Demo Video] [30s preview]

We introduce VRGit, a new version control system for collaborative content creation in VR. VRGit enables novel visualization and interactions for version control commands such as history navigation, commits, branching, previewing, and re-using. VRGit is also designed to facilitate real-time collaboration by providing awareness of users’ activities and version history through concepts of portals and shared history visualizations.

Auggie: Encouraging Effortful Communication through Handcrafted Digital Experiences
Lei Zhang*, Tianying Chen*, Olivia Seow*, Tim Chong, Sven Kratz, Yu Jiang Tham, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Rajan Vaish, and Fannie Liu. (CSCW 2022)
[DOI] [PDF] [Demo Video] [Medium Post]
Best Paper Award

Digital communication is often brisk and automated. From auto-completed messages to “likes,” research has shown that such lightweight interactions can affect perceptions of authenticity and closeness. On the other hand, effort in relationships can forge emotional bonds by conveying a sense of caring and is essential in building and maintaining relationships. To explore effortful communication, we designed and evaluated Auggie, an iOS app that encourages partners to create digitally handcrafted Augmented Reality (AR) experiences for each other.

FlowMatic: An Immersive Authoring Tool for Creating Interactive Scenes in Virtual Reality

Lei Zhang and Steve Oney (UIST 2020)

[DOI] [PDF] [Demo Video] [30s preview] 

In this paper, we introduces FlowMatic, an immersive authoring tool that raises the ceiling of expressiveness by allowing novice programmers to specify reactive behavior.

Studying the Benefits and Challenges of Immersive Dataflow Programming
Lei Zhang and Steve Oney (VL/HCC 2019)
Best Short Paper Award

In this paper, we study the benefits and challenges of immersive dataflow authoring, a paradigm that allows users to build VR applications using dataflow notation while immersed in the VR world.

Cubicle: An Adaptive Educational Gaming Platform for Training Spatial Visualization Skills

Ziang Xiao, Helen Wauck, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Lei Zhang, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu (IUI 2018)


We study gamification as a way to motivate first year engineering students to take part in an online workshop designed to train their spatial visualization skills. Our game contains eight modules, each designed to train a different component of spatial visualization.

Find more side-projects I have done here.