Skip to navigation
Skip to sub-navigation
Skip to main content



Bimal Balakrishnan
Director, Immersive Visualization Lab
Coordinator, Design with Digital Media Graduate Program

Bimal Balakrishnan is an associate professor of Architectural Studies at the University of Missouri. His research and teaching interests are at the intersection of design thinking, advanced visualization, human-computer interaction, and media psychology. He draws on his academic training and research experience in architecture, media psychology, and human-computer interaction. At MU, he leads the Immersive Visualization Lab (iLab) where he works with talented graduate and undergraduate students on a variety of visualization and simulation projects involving virtual and augmented reality tools. His team's work cuts across disciplinary boundaries. Recent and ongoing collaborative projects include transportation visualization, healthcare simulation and training, and immersive journalism.

Bimal’s research interests in architectural computing are focused on the use of digital tools to represent, visualize and simulate architectural design. More specifically, he is interested in how these tools aid the cognitive process of design decision making and their impact on design communication and evaluation, particularly the experiential qualities of the space. He is also actively involved in technology development and implementation for 3-dimensional stereoscopic visualization, design collaboration and design presentation. His ongoing projects examine user strategies and cognitive process underlying 3-dimensional modeling, the impact of digital media tools on design cognition, communication and collaboration, and the impact of virtual reality system variables on spatial understanding and experience. He is also leading the development of environment-behavior simulations for emergency crisis management.

Before joining MU, he earned an M.S. in Architecture and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Penn State University with a graduate minor in applied statistics. He gained advanced visualization experience at the Immersive Environments Lab and Immersive Construction Lab, and psychophysiology training at the Media Effects Research Lab. He was also a research assistant at the User Science and Engineering Lab, Multi-Disciplinary Initiatives in Naturalistic Decision Systems Group and the Center for Network Centric Cognition and Information Fusion (NC2IF) where he worked on scaled-world simulations to study decision making during emergency crisis situations.

He started his career in India as a licensed architect having earned a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from College of Engineering (Trivandrum) at University of Kerala. He has worked with leading design firms - Matharoo Associates in Ahmedabad and Environmental Creations in Trivandrum on award-winning design projects. He also maintained a small, independent design and visualization practice focused on helping leading architectural firms win design competitions.

Graduate Students

Ehsan Naderi
Ehsan is a doctoral candidate in Design with Digital Media emphasis area. He has also taught as an instructor in the department and worked as a UX Researcher/Designer Intern at UPMC Enterprises during the summer of 2015, where he worked under the agile/scrum process on medical imaging products along with a group of engineers, researchers, and designers from GE Healthcare and Technology Development Center. Before joining the Ph.D. program at MU, Ehsan served as a full-time faculty of Industrial Design at the Azad University of Mashhad for over six years, during which he taught a variety of undergraduate courses such as User-Centered Product Design, Product Evaluation and Analysis, and Creative Problem Solving. Ehsan has professional work experiences as a design consultant, product designer, and interior designer for several companies. Some of his works have been recognized by international design awards in the U.S. and Europe such as "A Life with Future Computing: Fujitsu Design Award," "BREIL Milano Timepiece Design Award: The Next Icon in the Watch Culture,” and “Vision of the Future" at the World Future Society. Ehsan earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Industrial Design, and his current areas of research are user-centered design, user experience, and virtual environments.

James Hopfenblatt
James Hopfenblatt is a doctoral student in Design with Digital Media emphasis area. He has a Bachelor's degree in Interior Design and a Minor in Art that he acquired from the University of Missouri. His research focuses on the intersection between human and computer interaction by integrating emerging technologies and their impact on the user at various levels and across applications. Having worked on a variety of multidisciplinary projects as a lead developer, technical artist, and researcher, he has acquired a broad range of experience in advanced visualization and simulation. His skills include conceptual design and content development, advanced design visualization and simulation techniques, fabrication and rapid prototyping, machine and computer programming, usability, and user-testing. In the future, James plans on integrating his experience with robotics, behavioral simulation, interactive and creative content development and fabrication to larger projects that have a positive impact on the human experience.

Mohammad Dastmalchi
Mohammad is a doctoral student in Environment and Behavior emphasis area. He received his M.F.A degree in Design from the University of North Texas, where he served as a teaching fellow for three years. As an interior designer, he has worked in different companies in Dubai, UAE. In 2014, Mohammad joined a design consultancy group in Irving, Texas. His research interest focuses on design collaboration, design cognition, and creativity. Currently, he is working on multiple research projects where he is analyzing the design activity and behavior of collaborative design team members.

Zhaleh Khosravi
Zhaleh is a graduate student in Design with Digital Media emphasis area. She got her master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Art where her work focused on energy efficiency and sustainability of residential buildings. She also received her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Tehran. Beside her architectural practice at Sustainable Development Charter, she has taught several sections of Construction Details in Architecture at Azad University of Tehran, East Branch. Currently, Zhaleh works on virtual reality simulation for training of healthcare professionals.

Li Lin
Lin is currently a research assistant at the iLab. She has a master’s degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Missouri. Her research explores children’s perceptions towards their place experience, as well as examines the role of public space in shaping children’s playscape. Lin is also interested in the application of virtual reality for visual communication as well as its practices for artistic interaction. For future practices, Lin is passionate about experimenting on the interdisciplinary boundaries among art, technology, and design.

Undergraduate Students

Mohammad Al Subaie

Robin King

Lab Alumni – Graduate Students

Danielle Oprean (Post-Doctoral Scholar, Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, Penn State University)

Tilanka Chandrasekera (Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University)

Kenneth Jacquin (Univ. of Missouri Campus Facilities)

Yu-Fong Lin (Assistant Professor, Fu-Jen University, Taiwan

Benjamin Schrimpf (Connell Architecture, Columbia, MO)

Lab Alumni – Undergraduate Students

Malia Bucher (Intern Architect, Hunton Brady Architects, Tampa, FL)

John Bohlmeyer (Architectural Staff, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, Berlin, Germany)

Alyssa Jensen (Associate Interior Designer, Martha O’Hara Interiors, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN)

Jeffrey Lee (Junior Architect, Davis Brody Bond, New York, NY)

Rachel Liberty (Designer, Stantec, Chicago, IL)

Brad Martin (Owner and VR Developer, Another Reality Studio, St. Louis, MO)

Uros Pavjovic (University of Belgrade graduate program)

Hannah Schultz (Clemson University graduate program in Architecture + Health)

Nicole Wagy (Penn State University MLA Program)

Lindsay Webb (Designer, Gensler, Chicago, IL)

to top of page