Our Team

Our GeoViSense Team is part of the GIVA group within the Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Prof. Dr. Sara I. Fabrikant

GIVA group head and project leader

As a Swiss mapematician and geography professor, I am currently leading the Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis (GIVA) group at the GIScience Center of the Geography Department at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA). My research and teaching interests lie in geographic information visualization and visual analytics (geovis), GIScience and cognition, graphical user interface design and evaluation, including dynamic cartography. I currently have the honor to serve the world-wide cartography community in my role as a vice president of the International Cartographic Association (ICA).

Dr. Tyler Thrash


My previous work has focused on empirical investigations of spatial cognition and navigation but spans several different fields, including psychology, geography, biology, computer science, and statistics. As part of the GeoViSense project, I am currently pursuing research on geographic information displays (GIDs) that are human- and context-responsive. One theoretical consideration is the extent to which the responsiveness of GIDs (e.g., to a stressful situation, to a disoriented user) can improve user experience during navigation. Better user experience may then translate into a more successful mobile application or increased patronage at a particular public space. In addition, there is some evidence that modern navigation aids can hinder spatial learning, but progress in the development of such technologies will inevitably continue. As part of the Digital Society Initiative, I will attempt to
determine whether we can design GIDs to facilitate navigation efficiency without sacrificing spatial memory. In order to address these challenges, we will employ a combination of virtual reality experiments and real-world observations.

Dr. Sara Lanini-Maggi


I have a Master and PhD of Science in geography. Currently, I am working for the GeoViSense project as a postdoc. My research focuses on questions about the interaction between users and geographic information displays (GIDs). In particular, I am interested in analyzing users’ emotional reactions using mobile maps and in the development of personalized GIDs.

Dr. Ian Ruginski


Trained as a cognitive scientist, I use interdisciplinary approaches from psychology, anthropology, statistics, computer science, and geography to broadly study spatial cognition and navigation. From an applied perspective, my research investigates interactions between users and technologies with the goal of better designing computer systems for user interactivity. I received my Ph.D in Psychology with a focus in Cognition and Neural Science from the University of Utah in 2018, after which I completed a year-long postdoctoral fellowship for the Spatial Cognition and Navigation Project.

As a part of the GeoViSense ERC Project in the Geographic Information and Visualization (GIVA) group at UZH and Digital Society Initiative (DSI), I plan to continue work in these areas. My current work examines how individual differences in user needs and abilities affect spatial processing and utilization of GIDs during navigation. Can we better design GIDs to be responsive to user abilities and contextual needs? My work also considers how spatial cognition, learning, and navigation behaviors are affected over time by GIDs. My research methods include real-world behavioral experiments, usability tests, and virtual reality.

Bingjie Cheng

PhD Student

I am currently working as a PhD student on the GeoViSensce Project. I am interested in psychological factors during navigation and using mobile map devices. During my PhD project, I am focused on investigating the relationship between mental workload, spatial memory and mobile map feature design by employing brain-computer-interface and virtual reality. Before joining GIVA, I was studying Natural Sciences and Psychology at Zhejiang University and at the University of Zurich.

Armand Kapaj

PhD Student

As a holder of a Master of Science in Geography and a Master of Science in Cartography, my research interest lies within GIScience, visualization of geodata, indoor/outdoor navigation and designing cartographically appealing maps for tailored user groups. Currently, I`m working for the GeoViSense project as a Ph.D. Student. My research within the GeoViSense focuses on applying cartographic design principles on maps for Geographic Information Displays and how it affects participants’ spatial cognition and engagement, stress level and spatial acquisition of relevant geographic information.