Associate Professor & Graduate Program Director
Communication and Media
Yalun Helen Zhou has an interdisciplinary background in applied linguistics, curriculum design, and program evaluation. Her work involves second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, multimodal literacy design with emerging technology, and user experience research on virtual platforms (e.g., gamified, game-based, and cognitive immersive). Before joining RPI, Zhou worked at Michigan State University, collaborating with Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute to offer an online Chinese program through massively multiple-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs). At RPI, besides teaching, she is among the core faculty of The Mandarin Project, a research initiative between Rensselaer's CISL (Cognitive Immersive Systems Laboratory) and IBM. She is also affiliated with the Games & Simulation Arts & Sciences (GSAS) Program and Critical Game Design Graduate Program. With CISL, she leads the content development and instructional design of The Mandarin Project. She collaborates with virtual immersive learning environments teams in designing 360-degree panoramic language interaction, multimodal conversation with embodied AI agents, game narratives, and pitch tone contour analysis systems. Her multi-disciplinary faculty and student researcher collaborators come from diverse disciplines, including computer science, cognitive science, game design, simulation arts, and architectural acoustics.
Ph.D., University of Missouri, Kansas City