Joining PIxL Lab


Interested in supporting disaster response with gameplay? 

Excited about the opportunities to play afforded by wearable computers and mixed reality? 

The PIxL Lab is seeking talented Ph.D. students!

The Play and Interactive Experiences for Learning (PIxL) Lab generally has funded openings for new Ph.D. students in the New Mexico State University Computer Science Department. Selected student will undertake research with Prof. Zachary O. Toups in one of the following areas (or some intersection of them): game design, interface design, games for learning, mixed reality, wearable computing, and/or disaster response information technology. Any project that fits into the general scope of the lab’s research will be considered.

The PIxL Lab conducts research on games for education, with an emphasis on game user interfaces and real-world interaction (mixed reality, wearable computing). Current projects include mixed reality games for designing wearable computers, games for educating disaster responders, studying communication in Portal 2, wearable unmanned systems interfaces, and game arenas for testing AI agents.

Candidates should be motivated to research games and play, as demonstrated through an initial research proposal, and be prepared to demonstrate strong computer science skills. The NMSU CS Department requires that all incoming Ph.D. students complete qualifying exams within the first year in Design and Analysis of Algorithms and Data Structures; Programming Languages; Discrete Mathematics; one of either Operating Systems or Computer Architecture; and one elective subject. Qualified candidates are expected to show high scores in the previous subjects, with the expectation that they will succeed at the exams.

Required Application Materials: Applicants should provide the following application materials for a funded position in the PIxL Lab (application to the university and the department are independent processes; information on the other application processes is found at: and

  • A recent CV.
  • An unofficial transcript with relevant computer science courses highlighted; if the university uses a grading scheme different from the US 4-point scale, please provide the appropriate transformation to the 4-point scale.
  • An initial research proposal, no more than one page in length (excluding references), that identifies your research interests, outlines a program of study in computer science, and explains why your expertise is a good fit for the project.
  • Contact information for two references; for promising candidates, we may request a letter of recommendation from these references.

Please email all required materials to with the following subject: “PIxL Lab Ph.D. Application”.