work with me

(info for students).

Update for Spring 2021:  The IV/LAB is overflowing with students at the moment, and I am sorry that I cannot accept any more students at this time through my normal open process outlined below.  If you are a current student and will be around for a few more semesters, please check in with me next academic year!  If you are a prospective graduate student, please apply through our normal channels, and I will review all of our applications at the normal time.  Also, for all students landing here, let me point you to several closely related research labs from my faculty colleagues that you may also wish to check out.  We regularly collaborate in our research with:

Prof. Evan Suma Rosenberg's Illusioneering Lab

Prof. Victoria Interrante's VR Lab (focusing on perception and design)

Prof. Stephen Guy's Applied Motion Lab

Prof. Lana Yarosh and the whole GroupLens Research Group

I am always interested in meeting enthusiastic and creative students, and I particularly encourage students from groups with longstanding underrepresentation in our discipline to talk to me about potential projects.  I look for students who demonstrate commitment, creativity, communication skills (including visual communication), and courage. 

How can I get involved in research?  Students who wish to work with me should complete the IV/LAB New Student Challenge, which involves either taking (and doing really well in) a class with me or doing one of the starter projects listed in the challenge. You also need to show me a sample of your writing.  If you are interested, you don't even need to contact me first, just go ahead and try the challenge, then come see me to talk about it during my office hours.  Please also read more below to learn more about the different specific ways for students to participate in research!  

May I and how do I contact you?  This page answers the question "how can I get involved in research?"  If you have a more specific question or need clarification, please email me and include the phrase "daring greatly" in your email subject line so that I know that you have already read this page.  (I apologize to those who have not read this page if I do not respond to your emails -- I have instituted this policy because I receive too many requests to respond to each potential domestic and international student who has not at least made the effort to understand what it means to work in the lab by reading this webpage.)  It is a real privilege to work in the lab, if/when you contact me, please make it clear that you have visited our lab webpage and learned what we are about and that you are not just spamming numerous professors with a generic request.



The Interactive Visualization Lab (IV/LAB for short) is a vibrant collaborative research environment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.  Our physical lab space is located in room 2-203 Keller Hall on the East Bank Campus of the University of Minnesota.  Our lab webpage includes links to our active projects and past publications, which are a great indication of the types of projects that students do in the lab.  Students can get involved in this research at several levels:

iv/lab affiliate students.​

Affiliate students are generally interested in a smaller commitment to the lab, such as a summer or single semester of working together.  To be accepted as an affiliate student, you should complete the IV/LAB New Student Challenge and discuss it with me in office hours.  Affiliate students are asked to work under the guidance of a current Ph.D. student on an established project.  Specific onboarding tips and work guidelines are outlined in the IV/LAB Student Guide.

iv/lab student researcher.

Student researchers are expected to commit three consecutive semesters (a summer counts as one of these) to working in the lab, with at least two of these semesters being for credit or pay (see funding section below).  In addition to all of the points outlined in the IV/LAB Student Guide, the following behaviors are expected of student researchers:


  • Complete the New Student Challenge and discuss it with me.

  • Attend the weekly lab meetings in 2-203 Keller Hall, currently Tuesdays at 9am.

  • Commit at least 9 hours per week to your research work (similar to how you would treat any other 3-credit course).

  • Attend office hours every week to update me.

  • Have your name on a submitted publication by the end of the 3 semesters.

These guidelines are based on years of working with student researchers in the lab.  My goal is to help you succeed as a researcher, and these are concrete steps to help you get there.

Depending on your current program or affiliation, here is some additional guidance:

undergraduate students.

Undergraduate students seeking to gain research experience in my lab should choose between the "affiliate" and "student researcher" ways of getting involved.  Honors thesis students must plan on a "student researcher" level of commitment.  Students who hope to move on directly into a Ph.D. should also plan on the "student researcher" level of commitment for a strong recommendation letter from me.

There are several funding opportunities for student researchers. One such opportunity is an NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) fellowship, which may be available on specific funded projects, usually as summer research experience.  Talk to me about this opportunity.  The department also routinely hosts theme-focused REU sites.  You can check the department web pages for info on these and apply directly.  If you say in your application statement that you wish to work with me, then the organizers will make sure that I see the application.  One thing to note is that all REUs require students to be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.


Another opportunity is the university UROP program, which is open to all students. I highly recommend that each of my undergraduate students apply for this program, as it not only provides a stipend but may also be used to defer the costs of conference travel if your paper is accepted.

masters students.

If you are a Masters student interested in working with me on a Plan A or Plan B project, you should follow the "student researcher" instructions in the section above.  Unfortunately, I cannot advise Masters students for smaller commitments, such as "affiliate."

Generally, I do not fund Masters students. However, I may make exceptions for students who make substantial and continuous contributions to funded projects. I will also recommend you for other opportunities for funding, if appropriate, such as TA positions if you meet the requirements and there are available positions.

prospective ph.d. students.

Students seeking a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota should apply to the graduate school, specifying an interest to work with me in the application form and the essay.  If you indicate this in your application, then I guarantee I will see review your application -- there is no need to email me in addition to tell me that you are applying or ask if I will be taking any new students this year.  If you or your current advisor would like to connect with me to share some additional information that does not fit in the application, then you may send me email -- remember to include "courage" in the subject so that I know you have read this page!

umn ph.d. students.

If you are currently a University of Minnesota Ph.D. student are are looking to find an advisor, change advisors, or are in a complementary program, such as Cognitive Science or Human Factors, I suggest following the "student researcher" instructions above.  As we get to know each others' work styles and skills better, we can jointly make a decision about your future status.


ph.d. student funding.

Ph.D. students whom I accept directly to work with me will have funding as a fellowship, RAship, or TAship through the first 5 years (10 semesters) of their Ph.D. as long as they are making acceptable progress in the program.  I will also either provide similar RA funding for the summer or work as hard as I can to help you find a summer internship or some funding TA-like position within the department over the summers so that you can feel secure for all 12-months of the year.

post-docs and visiting researchers.


Generally, my ability to accommodate post-doctoral students and visitors is limited by funding.  I do not have such funding at this time, but I will update this page with a call for applications and post to relevant VR, 3DUI, and VIS mailing lists should funding become available.  If you are interested in applying for your own funding to work with me or have a current source of funding to support yourself, then you should certainly reach out to me via email to see if it would be a good fit.

© 2018 Daniel F. Keefe