Shulan Lu


I am an associate professor of psychology. I received my Ph.D. training in Cognitive Science from the pioneer of Artificial Intelligence in Education and worked on the country’s leading intelligent tutoring system at the University of Memphis. My current research is on embodied and grounded cognition. In my NSF funded research, this embodied perspective guides my work in human computer interaction, more specifically, in understanding the cognitive processes that get deployed in interacting with reality-based learning environments.  Gestural interactions such as swiping and pinching on iPhones and iPads are examples of reality-based interfaces. 

For the past few years I have investigated avatar-based simulations in perceiving and enacting risky actions.  This work speaks to the theoretical and practical issues in training skills that involve risks and physical harm (e.g., medical simulations). For example, how does touch-free manipulation of medical data impact a surgeon’s work in an operating theatre? I am also interested in basic research on cognitive science in educational practice. For example, my work on how people comprehend illustrated texts for problem solving. Recently, I am working with students on doodling and visual / tactile note taking. 


Lu, S., Harter, D., Kosito, P., & Kotturu, P. (2014). Developing low cost virtual training environments: How do effector and visual realism influence the perceptual grounding of actions? Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 13, 1-17.

Lu, S., Harter, D., & Pierce, D. (2011). Potentials and challenges of using virtual environments in psychotherapy. Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Health, 1, 56-66.

Lu, S., Harter, D., & Graesser, A. C. (2009). An empirical and computational investigation of perceiving and remembering event temporal relations. Cognitive Science, 33, 344-373.

Graesser, A.C., Lu, S., Jackson, G. T., Mitchell, H., Ventura, M., Olney, A., & Louwerse, M. M. (2004). AutoTutor: A tutor with dialogue in natural language. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36, 180-192. 

Graesser, A. C., Lu, S., Olde, B., Cooper-Pye, E., Whitten, S. N. (2005). Question asking and eye tracking during cognitive disequilibrium: Comprehending illustrated texts when the devices breakdown. Memory and Cognition, 33, 1235-1247.