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SoTL Researcher Spotlight: Eva Ziemsen, Ph.D.

In this interview, Dr. Eva Ziemsen shares the rewards and challenges of conducting research, the inspiration behind it and advice for aspiring researchers.
Node read time
6 minutes
Eva Ziemsen holds a black and gold plaque.

By Janice Saji

Dr. Eva Ziemsen, Ph.D., professor in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts (FMCA) at Humber College, describes herself as an a/r/tographeran artist, researcher, and teacher. This is quite evident by her doctoral research methodology which was grounded in creative practice research and her interest in applied research. It is this interest that led her to conduct research at Humber 

Along with Elizabeth Fenuta, her co-research lead and a professor at Humber’s Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology, Eva decided to conduct initial research related to the metaverse, titled Harnessing Higher Education in the Metaverse. Their goal was to build a prototype of a sample metaverse learning space in the context of a higher education setting. 

The project received the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Seed and Cultivate grant(SoTL) from Humber’s Office of Research & Innovation in September 2022. 

While this project ended in December 2022, it shed light on various opportunities yet to be explored within the metaverse. This drove them to conduct a research project funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Applied Research and Technology Partnership (ARTP) grant 

We dive deep into their journey from SoTL research to an NSERC-ARTP project in the latest issue of Humber’s research and innovation quarterly SPARK.

Read on to learn more about Dr. Ziemsen’s experience conducting research at Humber.  

JS: What inspired you to conduct this research?  

EZ: I was an early adopter of virtual worlds and the metaverse in the context of film production education. When the world at large (e.g., tech giants like META) started to speak about virtual production and the metaverse, I was excited to see what we could do at Humber College, especially by involving women in building the Metaverse, since they are very much underrepresented in this fieldElizabeth and I share a vision that education should and must evolve and we must find more democratic ways of teaching highly technical subject areas – like architecture and virtual production in film. With this we embarked on our SoTL project, which we refer to as ‘Phase 1’ since we always had a bigger vision in mind. SoTL gave us the framework and structure at Humber to initialize our research journey.  

The world is changing, and we feel that it is a great time to do interdisciplinary research at Humber.”  

Eva Ziemsen, Ph.D., professor in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts 

JS: What has been the most gratifying and rewarding aspect of the project up to this point?  

EZ: Proving that this work of applied research in the Metaverse is timely and needed enables job creation and provides access to new teaching environments and approaches. Also, working with extremely talented students who have been our Research Assistants. I am constantly in awe of their work. Working with an industry programmer, Aditya Dutta, who is a graduate of Humber College’s Game Programming program, has also been great. Without his work, we could not have produced our SoTL or NSERC grant and we are indebted to his expertise in programming and mentoring the RA programmers. Finally, working with Elizabeth Fenuta has been so much fun. We met on a Humber College trip to Denmark, where we both knew we had to one day work together. Since architects and filmmakers rarely cross paths, this project was the perfect premise to collaborate. 

JS: What has been the most challenging aspect of the project up to this point?  

EZ: I think research is sometimes hard to get off the ground – because you have to prove a great deal. However, I want to give a shout out to the amazing leadership at Humber College, including Dr. Tania Massa, Associate Dean, and for SoTL we were working with Siobhan Williams. They have a great framework to help researchers get off the ground and they will invest in you for the long-term. They offer workshops, training, and very much an open-door policy.  

While research is hard work with lots of turns, it is a different part of yourself that is working, one that allows you to go back to your speciality in an applied way that is very complementary to being a professor.”  

Eva Ziemsen, Ph.D., professor in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts

JS: As somebody who has successfully embarked on their first research project, what advice do you have for others who would like to become researchers?   

EZ: Believe that your deep knowledge of your subject area matters to the world, and you have to find a way to frame your research question in a way that aligns with grants and goals of Humber College and funds available. The beginning is a lot of brainstorming – for example, Elizabeth and I actually worked on the SoTL proposal during the summer. So we would send each other about 10 links per day as we started to narrow down what our project would entail. It was not 100% concrete in the beginning. In my case, just like art or filmmaking, you ideate and then you discover what the right path is 

If you enjoy creation, reflection and iteration – you will enjoy applied research.”  

Eva Ziemsen, Ph.D., professor in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts 

Get to know more about Dr. Ziemsen

Favourite book, podcast or movie: 

On my desk is The Metaverse – and How it Will Change Everything by Matthew Ball. It was the foundational text to much of our work, so I will name it here in this context. One of my favorite movies is Good Bye Lenin. 

Favourite café, eatery, or restaurant: 

Tastus Bakery near Lakeshore campus.  

A practice, habit or a tool that helps you research better or get into the researcher’s mindset 

Listening to CBC radio in the morning has led me to so many ideas. The real world is the best place to start ideation. Coffee and conversations with like-minded people like Elizabeth. My iPad for jotting down ideas and mapping them when they come together. MIRO after this, if I want things to be legible.   

Favourite activity to de-stress or manage burnout: 

I should likely do this more – but walking by the lake is a great way to take time away and yet, it gives you so many more ideas. 

Check out SPARK Issue #8 to learn more about Eva and her research project.

SoTL Researcher Spotlight is a series of articles to shine the spotlight on Humber SoTL researchers who make positive impact on the wider community through their work.

If you are interested in learning more about SoTL,contact


We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Nous remercions le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) de son soutien.