Ian Ruginski Photo

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Geography, University of Zürich


Hello there! My name is Ian Ruginski, and welcome to my small piece of the digital frontier. Currently, I am a cognitive scientist interested in applied perception, action, and spatial cognition research. I am currently working under Dr. Sara Irina Fabrikant on the GeoViSense Project as a part of the Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis (GIVA) group and Digital Society Initiative at the University of Zürich. I received my Ph.D in Psychology with a focus in Cognition and Neural Science from the University of Utah in May 2018, after which I completed a year-long postdoctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Cashdan for the Spatial Cognition and Navigation Project. I made this website myself for free, deployed using GitHub via Netlify.

Trained as a cognitive scientist, I use interdisciplinary approaches from psychology, anthropology, statistics, computer science, and geography to study visual processing, 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.

Specifically, my research focuses across two areas. The first focuses on individual differences in spatial cognition (such as people's ability to mentally rotate objects, which contributes to STEM field success) and navigation ability, including a consideration of how and how often we navigate. Similarly, I am interested in the effects of emotion on perception, spatial cognition, and perception. My work hopes to enhance our basic understanding of spatial cognition and navigation processes, especially considering 1) how these processes are affected by navigation aids such as GPS devices and 2) how we can better design devices to support navigation across users with differing needs.

My second research area focuses on using cognitive theory to test and understand uncertainty visualizations, such as visually presented hurricane forecasts. The goal of this work is to improve design for communication of risk to the general public and communication of results to scientists.

Get to know me better outside of work and learn a little more about my research.